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JW Marriott Orlando – The Ritz Carlton’s Luxe Little Sister

jw marriott orlando luxe hotel review
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JW Marriott Orlando Luxury Travel Disney Family Vaction

All lazy rivers should be this posh

Grande Lakes Orlando, two luxe properties, a pile of pools and chocolates all around. The perfect spot for the luxury travel family visiting any of the many attractions in Orlando. Fun fact, Orlando is the tourism capital of the world welcoming over 56 million visitors last year. I love Orlando, I hate crowds. This is why I love Grand Lakes, I’ve never had to fight for a seat at the pool or a massage at the spa.

Here’s the 411:

Marriott owns Ritz. Within their brand they have several levels of properties. The JW brand is fancier than the Marriott brand. I don’t know what comes below that because I don’t care.

At Grande Lakes you will find: a lake (really, in Orlando, I didn’t know either), a Ritz, and a JW Marriott. The two properties share all common areas. This means you can stay at the JW but hang at the Ritz pool, or vice versa.

The pools:

Ritz Carlton Orlando Pool Luxury Travel Mom

Yes please

The Ritz Pool has a posh vibe, staff to fluff your towel pillow and orange flavored water. The JW Marriott pool has lush lazy river, a cafe, toddler playground and fun, party vibe.

The rooms:

The JW is the less expensive property. The rooms are a tad smaller, a little less luxe (but not much) and if you have a balcony – you can stand there and enjoy the view but it’s not deep enough for a chair. When I finally bring the entire brood down, we will stay at the JW. As much as I love the Ritz, the easy access to the lazy river will trump thread count in my boys’ books.

The Ritz is, well, a Ritz. The thread count is high and the staff are trained to always tell you “yes”. One of the many reasons I love staying at Ritz properties. The Ritz only has 583 rooms compared to 934 at the JW, so it’s a more hushed atmosphere. If you ask directions at the JW a staff person will of course be more than helpful, but at the Ritz, they will escort you. Every room has a balcony you can sit on to enjoy the view while drinking your morning coffee, or champagne, no judgement. Yes, I am really in to the balconies.

The Spa:

The uber luxe 40,000 square foot spa, complete with private pool, is nestled directly between both hotels. A stay at either property wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the spa, in my opinion. Sadly for my daughter you have to be 18 to go to the real spa or drift in the exclusive spa pool. However she was able to join me at the salon for a mother/daughter pedicure, and even got to wear the spa robes.

Insider secret:

You can score the crack of candy at either property, but you need to know to ask. Grande Lakes makes a Peanut Butter and Jelly truffle that will make you call your mother. It’s like those old commercials – two great tastes that taste great together. You might think pb&j wrapped in chocolate wouldn’t be good – you’d be wrong – it’s divine. Just like real crack, it’s not easy to come by. These are classified as a “VIP Amenity”. Not a VIP? You are now. Call at least a day ahed to in-room dining and send them to yourself. I don’t know what they cost, and I don’t care, they are worth it.

I was the guest of the Ritz Carlton last year and wrote a review of the property and my um, hospital stay. This year the JW Marriott hosted me and my daughter Macie for our first ever Disney Princess Half Marathon. I loved both properties, both times. Macie likes the lazy river, but prefers the pool valet at the Ritz. Sometimes she makes me so proud.

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