The Lap of Luxury: The Ritz Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
The Ritz Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes is truly the lap of luxury. Beautifully attentive staff, an opulent pool, excellent dining choices, amazing spa. It’s only a 20-minute ride to Disney World and even closer to Universal Orlando and SeaWorld, and at the end of a long day it’s quite the oasis to return to after a day in the parks.
Nothing is more welcome on arrival than the legendary Ritz Carlton service at the resort’s gorgeous lobby, making for a wonderful first impression. Hip, yet sophisticated, you’ll find loads of white marble, contemporary and shimmery furnishings with gold accents, even a dedicated children’s area right off the check-in area for the kids to relax with miniature beanbag chairs, plush toys, and a TV.
Step over to the Lobby Lounge for small plates and cocktails, a spot totally transformed with a long bar fronted by canary yellow chairs and below a comfortable seating area overlooking the pool through massive windows.
A Suite Life
A stay in one of the Executive Suites makes a vacation extra special with plenty of room to spread out in your living area and separate bedroom. At just under 1,000 square feet, there are two balconies (the balcony in the bedroom is extra large and quite deep), two 65” TVs, and an additional half bath.
Deluxe linens on a cushy king bed with perfect pillows assures a great night’s sleep, and the bath was large enough to roam in with a double sink vanity, separate tub and large shower, and walk-in closet.
And the view! Overlooking the resort’s pool and lake, lush golf course, and as far as the eye can see for miles and miles in the distance, you can even catch the area fireworks in the evenings. Seriously, you’ll never want to leave!
I highly recommend upgrading to Club Level—Orlando’s best!—where the lounge, staff, and food offerings are worth any additional cost. I love this place!!
With a hearty breakfast, delicious lunch spread, afternoon snacks, evening heavy hors d’oeuvres, and after-dinner dessert, candies, and cordials, it’s a dream come true. Add to that specialty coffees, great wines and champagne, beer, beverages, even mixed drinks, this is about as full-service as it comes. The concierge staff goes out of their way to please, and can arrange whatever your heart desires in the way of activities and dining.
There’s a spacious balcony the length of the lounge where you’ll find me mornings and evenings enjoying the view of the pool, lake, golf course, and beyond. And the big temptation is the cookie humidor and jars of candy on your way out. It makes it difficult to want to leave the property when this is always waiting for you!
To complete the picture is a world-class spa, where I enjoyed one fantastic massage, to many superb dining options. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at Fairways Pub, located in the Golf Club, servicing the resort’s 18-hole Greg Norman-designed golf course. From super appetizers of mini pretzel balls with smoked gouda cheese dip to fried calamari with spicy sriracha mayo, juicy hamburgers and truffled fries, and Cajun crusted grouper, the food and atmosphere is perfect for a lazy afternoon.
I adore Highball & Harvest, the resort’s casual breakfast, lunch, and dinner, farm-to-table restaurant featuring updated Southern cuisine and hand-crafted cocktails. The Southern Spread of pimento cheese and pickled vegetables, the rightly famous Parker House rolls, shrimp & grits, or the ever-changing market fish served with groats and marmalade—you simply can’t go wrong.
All the Rest!
If that isn’t enough to keep you busy there’s always a plethora of outdoor activities such as kayak eco-tours, a mountain bike trail, tennis, bocce ball courts, guided fishing excursion and instruction, sunrise resort safaris, falconry experiences, and the Aquacourse 360, a water obstacle course. And kids will love Ritz Kids, a supervised activity program for children ages 4-12. What more can I say—this is one amazing place!
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Cara Goldsbury is the author of The Luxury Guide to Disney Vacations. She is Chief Executive Concierge at Glass Slipper Concierge®, a travel agency specializing in selling Disney vacations, and has appeared as a leading Disney expert on two Travel Channel specials, Disney Splurge! and Disney Royalty. She has also been cited numerous times in national news articles, in such notable publications as The New York Times, New York Post, Travel Weekly, and Forbes Traveler, as an expert on the Walt Disney World® Resort. Visit her Luxury Travel & Life blog at Cara Goldsbury.com.
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