JW Marriott Orlando: A Luxurious Oasis in a Kid’s World

kids pool (ritz)

When I think of an Orlando vacation, I don’t know if “vacation” is exactly the word that comes to mind. It’s more of an experience, especially for the little ones. A chaotic, activity-packed experience that leaves us buzzing and smiling and in desperate need of an actual VACATION once the trip is over.

You feel me?

To me, a vacation is where I can relax. Soak in sunshine, feel pampered by luxurious accommodations, and maybe enjoy a pitcher of margaritas while my son is happily playing in a trusted kids’ club.

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Except that’s exactly the kind of Orlando vacation (with a capital “V”) I experienced, thanks to our stay at the JW Marriott Orlando at Grande Lakes — right in the heart of the Theme Park Capital of the World.

I was so utterly blown away by the entire experience that I feel the need to shout across the blogosphere: IT’S POSSIBLE TO HAVE A VACATION FOR KIDS AND ADULTS AT THE SAME TIME.

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I mean, sure you can stay at a Walt Disney Resort or a hotel right in Universal  Studios, but the JW Marriott gave us our own oasis to turn off the chaotic frenzy and enjoy our time in Florida. (When you’re not standing on lines or walking through theme parks, the weather is actually quite beautiful, especially in the spring. Who knew! And if you have preschoolers, the off-season of May is the PERFECT time to visit.)pool - 3


The JW also freed us up to spend a little time at each park, rather than devote an entire trip to one location. It’s 20 minutes from Universal Studios, even closer to Disney World, and right down the road from SeaWorld. (The hotel offers free transportation to those parks, as well!) Legoland Florida is a little further — around 45 minutes by car — but it’s an easy ride, and worth the trip.

I was so focused on the attractions we’d see in Florida (Hogwarts at Universal Studios! Fantasyland at Disney World! The new water park at Legoland!) rather than where we’d be sleeping, and yet our hotel was the best part of our stay.

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They have an incredible pool area with a heated lazy river, which, I’ll be honest, was all I needed.

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The entire Grande Lakes property is breathtaking, which the JW Marriott shares with the Ritz-Carlton Orlando. (And yes, JW guests have full access to the Ritz-Carlton pool, spa, golf course, kids’ club, and restaurants!). The winding pathways through lush, tropical plants, the fragrant and well-manicured gardens, the glittering lake and multitude of pools — it’s simply gorgeous. This hotel is enough of a vacation, all on its own.

ritz pool

In fact, the morning we spent in a Ritz-Carlton cabana — next to their fountain-adorned pool and (heaven-sent) “Ritz Kids” kids’ club — was magical. Several times I shared glances with my husband that whispered, “Can you believe we’re in Orlando right now?!” We might as well have been lounging in the Caribbean.

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Later that day we went to Universal Studios, and the day after that we spent in the Magic Kingdom, but we were thankful to have our lovely hotel to return to — even our son, who now says, “I miss the hotel” more than he’s ever said “I miss Disney World.”

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We loved everything about the hotel — the rooms (those beds!), the service, and my goodness THE FOOD. But I most appreciated that both the JW and Ritz-Carlton were incredibly kid friendly — with their versatile and healthy kids’ menus, their activities, and their attitude. I suppose any hotel in Orlando needs to accommodate children, but I’ve never experienced such a beautiful “best of both worlds” balance.

Find out more about Orlando, and book your next trip at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes.

Michelle Horton is the founder of EarlyMama.com — a community for 20-something “Early Mamas” that proves young motherhood doesn’t define or limit us. She’s a contributing writer for Babble.com and Mom.me, and has appeared in a variety of publications, including Parenting magazine, The Huffington Post, and CNN.com. She lives in New York with her husband and 5-year-old son.

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