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JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes [In-Depth Hotel Review]

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Nick Ellis
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Nick Ellis

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Nick’s passion for points began as a hobby and became a career. He worked for over 5 years at The Points Guy and has contributed to Business Insider and CNN. He has 14 credit cards and continues to le...
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During a recent trip to Florida, I found myself in Orlando for a few days.

I wasn’t in town to visit Walt Disney World Resort — or any other theme park — so proximity to parks wasn’t a concern when I was looking for a hotel. I was, however, concerned about having a nice pool since I knew I’d have an entire afternoon to relax and enjoy.

After the typical wrestling match within my brain over which hotel would be best, I found myself checking into the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes, a massive property set within an even more massive complex of hotels and other amenities.

I’d long wondered about this huge hotel, and I finally got the chance to check it out! Read on to find out what my stay was like and what you can expect if you’re considering booking a stay at the property.

Booking the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes

I was set on redeeming Marriott Bonvoy points for my stay in Orlando. As I was looking for options in the area, my mentality shifted a bit. I could have booked my 2-night stay for 98,000 points — not a bad deal at all — but I found a special cash rate for the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes, that caught my eye.

Regular cash rates for my stay started at $424 per night, but a special rate was available for $387 per night, inclusive of taxes and the $53-per-night resort fee. The rate also offered a $50 property credit per day and a bonus of 7,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes booking
Booking for Guest room, 1 King, Sofa bed, Resort view. Image Credit: Marriott

I have several weddings to attend later in the year, so I decided to forgo redeeming my Marriott Bonvoy points in favor of paying the special cash rate and earning a bonus of 14,000 points. I can redeem those points during pricey wedding trips.

I paid $744 for my 2-night stay. I used my Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card to pay for the room rate and incidentals, earning 6x points per dollar spent at the property.

Shortly after checkout, I noticed that I’d been credited 2 elite-qualifying nights and a total of 10,832 Marriott Bonvoy points — 7,221 base points and 3,661 points as an elite member bonus (I’m a Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite member).

However, the bonus points didn’t show in my account. Just about 24 hours after a quick call to Marriott’s customer service line, the 14,000 bonus points were in my account. If you come across a similar rate with bonus earnings, check your account statement to ensure that you receive the points you’re entitled to.

In total, I earned 24,832 Marriott Bonvoy points (worth about $174, according to our valuations of Marriott Bonvoy points) for the quick 2-night stay — not a bad haul!

Location of JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes

The JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes, is part of the larger Grande Lakes development, a massive 500-acre destination that has 3 hotels, a 43-acre fishable lake, hiking trails, protected natural habitats, an 18-hole golf course, a “harvest house” with a garden, a chicken coop, and apiaries, and much more.

The 1,010-room JW Marriott shares grounds with The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, and Marriott’s Lakeshore Reserve, a Marriott Vacation Club property.

While there are plenty of hotels and resorts in Orlando that cater specifically to theme park guests, Grande Lakes is not necessarily one of them. It felt more like a convention destination with more than 100,000 square feet of event space available.

That said, it’s not a bad choice for parkgoers by any means — it’s just about 10 miles and 15 to 20 minutes in the car to Walt Disney World, about 15 minutes to Universal Orlando Resort, and just 10 minutes to SeaWorld Orlando.

The complex is only 11 miles from Orlando International Airport (MCO). Without traffic, it shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes to reach Grande Lakes. I drove to Orlando from Miami, but Uber quoted $30 to $35 for a ride from the airport to the hotel in an UberX.

Hot Tip:

Planning a trip to the happiest place on earth? Read up on all the ways to use your points and miles for a Walt Disney World trip on the cheap.

Checking In

I drove to Orlando from Miami, which is about 3.5 hours away by car. As I neared the hotel, I could see its imposing tower from the expressway, and as I got closer, it became even clearer just how large of a property this was.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Drive In
First glimpse of the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes.

I pulled into the Grande Lakes complex at around noon on a Tuesday and followed signs to the JW Marriott.

It was quite a beautiful entrance, with the rust-orange hotel juxtaposed against the bright blue sky and the green, perfectly manicured grass.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Exterior Zoomed Out
Entrance to JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes.

The porte cochere felt appropriately sized for a hotel with over 1,000 rooms — based on its size alone, it almost reminded me of an entrance to a Las Vegas hotel.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Porte Cochere
I almost felt like I was arriving at a Las Vegas hotel.

While check-in wasn’t until 4 p.m., I was hoping that my Tuesday arrival would get me a room well ahead of that time.

I entered the lobby and immediately noticed how cavernous it was. Wood beams reached the top of a rotunda. Below that was an impressive fountain with small groupings of seating around it.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Lobby Rotunda
The lobby was imposing with its soaring beams.

The front desk area was to the left, where I found a few people in front of me getting checked in or out.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Front Desks
Check-in was fairly busy, but I didn’t have to wait long to be helped.

After a few minutes — no more than 5 — I was speaking with an agent. Unfortunately, my hypothesis was proved incorrect. A room was not, in fact, ready for me upon my arrival, though she very politely told me that I’d receive a text as soon as my room was ready.

She thanked me for being a Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite member and explained that I could choose a welcome amenity of bonus points or breakfast at Citron, An American Brasserie. Obviously, I chose breakfast!

Next, she explained the resort fee ($53 daily) to me, which included the following:

  • Enhanced high-speed internet
  • Mountain bike rental (2 bikes for 1 hour per day, per room)
  • Complimentary driving range privileges
  • 2 pool floats at the JW Marriott lazy river pool
  • Access to waterslides at the JW Marriott pool
  • Access to AquaVenture 360 Interactive Waterpark (2 guests per room)
  • Complimentary shuttle service to SeaWorld, Disney World, and Universal (reservations required at least 24 hours in advance)
  • Tennis: 1 hour of court time for 2 guests per day
  • Fitness classes for 2 guests per day per room

Finally, she explained that as a guest at the JW, I’d have access to the facilities at the neighboring Ritz-Carlton, including its pools, spa, and fitness center.

After that, a bellman approached to take my bag into storage and told me it’d be waiting in my room when it was ready.

I grabbed my laptop and set up in the lobby bar area to catch up on some work while I waited. About an hour later, around 1:15 p.m., I got the text that it was ready.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes EvrBar Seating
I camped out in this area while I waited for my room.

Elite Benefits

As a Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite member, I was entitled to numerous on-property benefits, the highlights of which being:

  • 50% bonus points on stays
  • A room upgrade (subject to availability)
  • Choice of welcome gift (at JW Marriott properties, complimentary breakfast is an option, which is what I chose)
  • 4 p.m. late checkout

The agent recognized my Platinum Elite status and got me set up for my complimentary breakfast (I’d find out later it was just a continental breakfast — more on that later). And while I didn’t get upgraded to a suite, I was given a larger corner room on a high floor with pretty fantastic views.

Finally, I requested a late checkout while I was checking in. She said to call back the morning of my departure to confirm it, but that it likely wouldn’t be a problem. Sure enough, on the morning of my checkout, I called down to the desk and asked for a 3 p.m. checkout, which was granted with no issue!

The Room

The JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes, completed a massive, multi-million dollar renovation project toward the end of 2022, and my guest room still felt fresh and modern. Let’s take a look at what it was like.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Guest Room Overview
My room was spacious, bright, and nicely furnished.

Bedroom

I opened the door to my 20th-floor guest room and was met with a long corridor leading into the room. The entrance to the bathroom was on my right, while a closet was to the left.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Guest Room Entrance
I opened the door to my room into a long hallway.

The closet came equipped with numerous hangers, an iron, an ironing board, a robe, a safe, and a luggage rack.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Closet
There was 1 robe in the closet and another behind the bathroom door.

Moving into the main part of the room, I found the king-sized bed against a wall.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Bed and Slider Door
The sliding glass door allowed tons of natural light to flow into the room.

The bed was so comfortable, and the selection of pillows was just right. Behind the bed was a wood unit with integrated lighting and side tables on either side. Each side of the bed had plenty of charging opportunities, which is always appreciated (and, frankly, expected in a hotel nowadays).

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Bedside Detail
I liked the bedside lights (and the power outlets beneath them).

Behind that was an accent wall that added some visual interest to the otherwise gray room.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes King Bed
I slept like a champ in the king-size bed.

Across from the bed was the room’s media unit and desk area, trimmed in calming gray wood. The TV was large, but the desk area was pretty tight.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Media Unit
The media console took up an entire wall, but the desk area was a little cramped.

Below the TV was a small refrigerator stocked with 2 mini water bottles and nothing else. I appreciated that, as it provided a place to put restaurant leftovers!

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Minifridge
An empty minifridge is a win in my book.

Directly to the right of the minifridge was the room’s Illy coffee maker. The hotel provided several pods and to-go cups.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Coffeemaker
Illy coffee machine.

On the exterior wall, adjacent to the sliding door, was a small sofa. It looked a little strange to me with no ends to it, but I suppose there likely wasn’t enough room with all the other furniture that needed to fit in the area.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Seating Area
This sofa with no arms on the ends looked a little out of place to me.

I loved my room’s balcony, which provided an awesome view of the rest of the JW and the sprawling pool complex below.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Balcony View Building and Pool
I caught a glimpse of the golf course from my balcony as well.

To the right, I could see the spa and fitness center building, the spa pool, and The Ritz-Carlton hotel.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Balcony View Ritz Carlton
From my balcony, I could also see the spa and fitness center, the spa pool, and The Ritz-Carlton.

I really liked my room. It was clean, modern, and comfortable. It felt luxurious enough to justify the price point but not over the top.

Bathroom

The bathroom continued the gray theme found in the rest of the guest room, but there were some pops of color.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Bathroom Vanity
The single vanity was fine for me, but it might get tight for couples or friends traveling together.

The single vanity was clad in white marble, which added some brightness. I had plenty of space for just myself, but had I been traveling with someone, it may have been a bit tight around the sink.

I loved the irregular shape of the mirror along with its exterior frame. It added a cool, modern-industrial look to the space.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Mirror Detail
The mirror was visually the most interesting part of the bathroom.

There was a shower/tub combination with 2 showerheads: 1 rainfall and 1 handheld. The rainfall showerhead’s pressure was underwhelming, so I switched to the handheld showerhead, which had far better pressure.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Shower
The rainfall showerhead was nice, but I ended up using the handheld one.

Toiletries were provided by Aromatherapy, which is standard for the JW Marriott brand.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Toiletries
Aromatherapy toiletries are at just about every JW Marriott property worldwide.

Finally, there was a separate water closet with an interesting bird-centric piece of art that added a bit more color to the space.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Water Closet
I liked the bird artwork in the toilet room.

Amenities

The Grande Lakes complex is huge. Many of the amenities found at the JW Marriott are shared with the neighboring Ritz-Carlton, which I learned upon check-in. This setup provides guests of either hotel with many options, depending on the type of stay they prefer.

Let’s take a look at what’s on offer.

Pools

JW Marriott Pool Complex

Amenity-wise, the massive pool complex is the main draw at the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes. It contains a small waterpark, distinct pool areas connected by a giant lazy river, a water-based jungle gym, and more. The complex is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Balcony View Pool Complex
Check out that pool!

The pool area was gigantic. I first encountered the cluster of 3 water slides that looked like they’d be a whole lot of fun, though, sadly, I never tried them!

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Waterslides
I regret not going for a run or 2 on the waterslides.

The water slides were predictably a hit with the kids and families at the property. I noticed quite a few repeat guests running back toward the slide entrance after a run.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Waterslides Close Up
You don’t have to leave the hotel to get a taste of theme park action.

Continuing on, I found a sun deck with rows upon rows of loungers packed very close to one another, making me think that it’d be hard to nab a seat around this pool.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Pool Loungers
The loungers were arranged very tightly together on the sun deck.

I passed by a few reserved seating options that could be rented for an extra charge.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Cabana Rental
Cabanas were dotted around the entire pool deck.

An edge of the pool had a zero-entry feature, perfect for families with small children or for anyone who likes to gradually acclimate to the water temperature before entering.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Zero Entry Pool
The zero-entry portion of the pool was ideal for kids.

This pool was so large that it could easily have been multiple pools, but they were all connected by the lazy river that snaked throughout the entire complex. I thought it was a pretty brilliant design!

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Lazy River Bridge
The lazy river.

Continuing on, there was the AquaVenture course, which seemed to be a water-based jungle gym reserved for participants 48 inches or taller.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes AquaVenture Course
I passed on the AquaVenture, but I imagine kids would have a blast here.

As I walked toward the back of the property, I noticed a separate area with cabanas and small plunge pools. These were available by reservation only and at an extra charge.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Private Plunge Pool
Had I been with a group of friends, I would have considered renting one of these cabanas for a day.

If I’d been with a group, it might have been fun to reserve one of the cabanas next to a plunge pool. That would offer a way to avoid hunting for chairs and dealing with the crowds at the main pool area.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Cabana Plunge Pool
I loved the look of the small infinity-edge plunge pool.

From here, I got a great overview of the pool area looking toward the back of the hotel tower.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Back of Hotel View
Looking toward the hotel from the back of the property.

Behind this cabana area was a lake that stretched from the JW Marriott down to The Ritz-Carlton, as well as a walking path between the 2 properties.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Lake View
The lake spanned from the JW Marriott to The Ritz-Carlton.

I spent the majority of my pool time at the Ritz, but I headed to the JW pool when the Ritz pool closed down in the early afternoon for a private event. By that time, it was packed, and it was hard to find a seat. I eventually did, though, and enjoyed myself, but it wasn’t nearly as serene as my pool experience next door.

The Ritz-Carlton Pool

I was really excited to learn that I had access to facilities at The Ritz-Carlton next door when I checked in. I’d hoped to swing a stay at that property, but the rooms were far too expensive for my liking during my stay, both in cash and points. That ended up not mattering in the slightest, though, since I could use that property’s pool as a guest of the JW!

The JW and Ritz were connected by the aforementioned walking path and a (very long and mostly indoor) walkway that contained numerous conference rooms and event spaces.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Corridor to Ritz Carlton
This corridor led to the property’s many conference rooms and then to The Ritz-Carlton.

If you don’t mind a 5-minute walk or so, you can easily access The Ritz-Carlton pool from the JW, which is exactly what I did. This pool was far less busy and more my speed.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Ritz Carlton Pool and Deck
The pool at The Ritz-Carlton was a beautiful place.

The loungers were topped with fantastically comfortable cushions and arranged in groups of 2 instead of jammed in seemingly endless rows in which every chair touched the one next to it.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Ritz Carlton Pool Loungers
The Ritz-Carlton loungers were comfortably padded and more spread out.

I very much enjoyed my morning at this pool until it, unfortunately, closed for a private event. Still, having access to The Ritz-Carlton pool (and other facilities) really increased the value of my stay at the JW Marriott.

Spa and Fitness Center

The JW Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton share a spa and fitness center in separate buildings between the 2 hotels.

I entered the building and found a lobby area with the fitness center off to the left and a check-in desk for the spa to the right.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Spa and Gym Lobby
The spa and fitness center are housed in the same building.

I inquired about the spa — specifically the attached spa pool because the other Ritz pool was closed. The friendly agent said that she couldn’t extend complimentary access because of the number of spa appointments that were scheduled for that afternoon.

The spa offers a whopping 40,000 square feet of space, including 40 treatment rooms, a full salon, a barbershop, and the aforementioned dedicated pool reserved for spa guests.

I understood that they wanted to maintain a serene environment for paying spa guests, so I just headed over to the JW pool to finish off my day of relaxation.

Before I left, I took a look at the gym, which was pretty gigantic. It’s a good thing it was, too, to cater to the 1,000+ rooms at the JW and the 500+ at The Ritz-Carlton.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Fitness Center
The fitness center is shared by the JW Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton.

It had state-of-the-art equipment for cardio, including treadmills and ellipticals.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Fitness Center Cardio
At peak times, I’d imagine this gym gets pretty crowded.

There was also a weight-lifting area complete with machines and equipment for free weight exercises.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Fitness Center Weights
There were plenty of machines available for working out.

The Ritz-Carlton Spa is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Appointments are required, though the spa’s restaurant, Vitality Cafe, is open to the public.

The fitness center is open 24/7.

Grande Lakes Sports

Grande Lakes Sports is at The Ritz-Carlton, a small outlet offering numerous sporting activities that guests can purchase for an additional fee. These include eco-tours of the property, “sunrise safari expeditions,” fishing trips in the lake, and falconry lessons.

The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club offers an 18-hole course designed by Greg Norman. The grounds also have tennis facilities (1 hour of court time is included with the resort fee) and bocce courts.

Wi-Fi

As a Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite member, I received free enhanced Wi-Fi for the duration of my stay. It worked well throughout the property — even at the pools — and maintained a connection without me having to sign in multiple times.

Parking

The JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes, offers self and valet parking. Self-parking costs $38 per night, while valet parking costs $54 per night, not including tips. I chose the self-parking option because the lot was very close to the hotel’s front entrance.

Pets

The JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes, allows a maximum of 2 cats or 2 dogs per room with a 40-pound maximum weight. Pet owners must pay a nonrefundable $250 pet fee per stay.

Food and Beverage

At a large property such as this, there are many places to eat and drink. I didn’t have an outside chance of trying them all, but here’s what you can expect if you stay here.

Citron, An American Brasserie

Citron, An American Brasserie, is on the ground floor, 1 floor below the lobby, at the JW Marriott. It’s dedicated entirely to breakfast, as it’s only open from 7 to 11 a.m. daily.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Citron Brasserie Sign
Citron, An American Brasserie, is on the hotel’s ground floor.

While the rest of the hotel received a thorough renovation and modernization, it looks like Citron didn’t get much of a facelift. That’s fair enough, as it’s meant to be a brasserie, which implies dark wood and dimmer spaces — exactly what Citron offers — but to me, it felt a little dark and stuffy for a restaurant dedicated to breakfast.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Citron Seating
The interior of Citron felt a little dated to me, but maybe that’s the point!

Decor quibbles aside, I happily ventured down to Citron for breakfast each morning of my stay. With my Platinum Elite status, I received a complimentary continental breakfast, which included pastries, breads and bagels, fruit, yogurt, cereal, lox, avocado toast, steel-cut oatmeal, charcuterie and cheese, fresh juices, coffee/tea, and soft drinks.

The upcharge to access the full buffet was just $9, which seemed more than reasonable to me. I probably wouldn’t have upgraded every morning had I been staying there longer, but for just 2 mornings, it was acceptable, so I went ahead and splurged.

Now, let’s get to the good stuff. I began my exploration of the buffet at the bread and pastry station, which offered a variety of delectable-looking carbohydrates.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Breakfast Pastries and Breads
A selection of breads and pastries was available at breakfast.

The star of that show was definitely the pastel de nata, a Portuguese egg-custard pastry that was absolutely delicious. I was so excited to have one that it didn’t even make it back to my seat with me. Oops.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Pastel de Nata
The pastel de nata was almost as good as the ones I tried in Lisbon.

Moving along, I encountered a cold station, which featured a selection of yogurts, fruit, cold cuts, cheeses, and more.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Cold Options
Cold options at the breakfast buffet.

Next to that station was a small display dedicated to plates of avocado toast — the millennial in me was in heaven.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Avocado Toast
Plentiful avocado toast, a millennial’s dream.

Next up were some traditional hot options, including bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, and oatmeal.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Hot Buffet Options
Classic hot food options at breakfast.

Finally, there was the egg station, where I was able to request an omelet with all the vegetables and breakfast meats I desired.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Omelet Station
I can’t refuse an omelet at a hotel buffet breakfast.

I fixed myself multiple plates of entirely too much food but found it all to be delicious.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Breakfast Plates
Way too much food, but it was worth it.

Knife Burger

Knife Burger is the JW Marriott’s casual poolside eatery. Its primary focus is hamburgers by Michelin-award-winning chef John Tesar, though it offers numerous other poolside favorites.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Knife Burger Exterior
Knife Burger is known for its … burgers (shocking).

I didn’t find the time to have a proper sit-down meal here, though after I had to leave the pool at The Ritz-Carlton and decamped to the JW Marriott pool, I ordered a plate of chicken tenders and fries ($19) that were served with a delightful aji amarillo ranch. It was a hefty portion, so I feel like I got my money’s worth, especially at a resort.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Knife Burger Chicken Tenders
You can never go wrong with poolside chicken tenders and fries.

Knife Burger is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

EvrBar

EvrBar is the hotel’s lobby bar.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes EvrBar
EvrBar pictured before the evening rush.

It felt appropriately sized to me, and the best part was that it spilled out onto a beautiful terrace that overlooked the JW Marriott pool and the lake further in the distance.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes EvrBar Terrace
I loved hanging out on this terrace on a balmy Florida evening.

The evening of my arrival, before I headed to dinner off-property, I headed to the terrace to have a drink or 2 and use my $50 daily property credit. I had a couple of the agave picante ($20), a cocktail made with mezcal, tequila, jalapeño, lime, and grapefruit and served with a sweet and spicy Tajín rim. It was a perfect blend of sweet, sour, and spicy. I loved the drinks and the setting in which I enjoyed them!

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes EvrBar Cocktail
A great cocktail served with a great view.

EvrBar is open daily from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m.

Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen

Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen is located in the lobby of the JW Marriott and offers locally inspired fare with ingredients sourced from nearby farms.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Whisper Creek Farm Exterior
Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen focuses on using locally sourced ingredients.

When I visited on the second night of my stay, it was a casual, lively scene. I was excited to grab a light bite before heading out to another off-property dinner.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Whisper Creek Farm Dinnertime
In the evening, the environment was lively.

I landed on the buffalo cauliflower flatbread ($18), a flatbread crust with a boursin-ricotta spread, house-made buffalo sauce, blue cheese, smoked heirloom carrots, pickled carrots, a celery-fennel salad, and dill.

This dish was excellent, and I cannot stress this enough. I loved every single bite and considered ordering another to go so I could have it as a midnight snack later that night. The flavors came together so well. Frankly, I wish I were back in Orlando so I could enjoy it again at this very moment.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Buffalo Flatbread
This buffalo cauliflower flatbread was excellent in every way.

Whisper Creek Farm also featured a large selection of local, national, and international beers on draft. I enjoyed a sour beer from a local brewery that was on special for $10, though I can’t remember the name as I was so caught up in my flatbread!

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Whisper Creek Farm Seating and Bar
The interior of Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen was bright and airy during the afternoon.

Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen is open Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Bleu (at The Ritz-Carlton)

Bleu is at The Ritz-Carlton next door. I enjoyed an early poolside lunch here during my stay.

The Ritz’s poolside cafe offered plenty of poolside classics, including quesadillas, nachos, salads, and sandwiches. I went for the tropical fish tacos ($27), which were served with blackened mahi mahi, red cabbage coleslaw, mango salsa, passion fruit aioli, pickled red onion, and a puffed corn crumble, all on soft corn tortillas.

My trio of tacos was delicious, and even though they seemed to be stuffed to the brim with toppings, they tasted light and very fresh.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Ritz Carlton Fish Tacos
These fish tacos were a genuine delight.

To accompany the tacos, I enjoyed a Lazy Day Lemonade ($19), made with vodka, frozen lemonade, and a Chambord float. If this drink doesn’t scream “pool day,” I don’t know what does.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Ritz Carlton Frozen Lemonade
I couldn’t have dreamed up a better poolside drink.

Bleu is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and until 6 p.m. on Friday.

Cafe Bodega

Cafe Bodega is in the long corridor at the back of the JW Marriott lobby toward the conference rooms and The Ritz-Carlton.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Cafe Bodega
If you’re on the move, you can stop at Cafe Bodega for grab-and-go meals.

It’s the property’s grab-and-go cafe, serving açai bowls, breakfast sandwiches, baked goods, sandwiches, salads, wraps, and more.

Cafe Bodega is open daily from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Starbucks

Next door to Cafe Bodega is where you’ll find a Starbucks, so you won’t have to go far to satisfy your caffeine craving. It’s open daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Starbucks Exterior
Coffee addicts don’t need to venture far to get their fix.

Primo

Primo is the JW Marriott’s signature restaurant, serving up Italian fare in a beautiful environment. It’s helmed by award-winning Chef Melissa Kelly and was awarded a Michelin recommendation in 2022 and 2023.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Primo Exterior
Primo is the hotel’s signature Italian restaurant.

Primo is open daily from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

In-Room Dining

Room service is available daily from 7 a.m. to midnight. Breakfast is served from 7 to 11 a.m., while all-day dining is available from 12 p.m. to midnight, with dinner-specific dishes entering the rotation daily at 6 p.m.

Service

Service at the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes, gets top marks all around. From the moment I checked in, I felt taken care of, even though I was just 1 guest in a genuinely massive hotel. Even though I had to wait a bit for my room to be ready, I was there well before the published check-in time, and the front desk staff was apologetic about it even though they didn’t need to be.

My interactions with restaurant servers were particularly positive, and I enjoyed making small talk with almost every one of them.

I was impressed by the fact that such an enormous property could still provide a high level of service.

Final Thoughts

Orlando is not typically my first choice for a vacation destination, but I’m glad I stayed at the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes. Despite being close to theme parks with a waterpark on-site (and even offering complimentary shuttle service to several of them), it didn’t feel like a property designed specifically for park visitors.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes EvrBar Bridge
Looking from the EvrBar terrace out to the pool area and the lake in the distance.

I also loved the fact that I was entitled to use many of the facilities at the neighboring Ritz-Carlton. This provided a lot of variety to the stay, as I wasn’t confined to using only the mega-pool at the JW and could get some quality relaxation in at the much quieter pool at the Ritz. Plus, it made me feel like I had hacked the system by booking a much less expensive room at the JW!

Speaking of my room, it was spacious and thoroughly modern, with just the right amount of luxury thrown in. Combine that with the outstanding food and great service I experienced, and I’d definitely book another stay at the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes, should I find myself in the shadow of the Mouse House again in the future.

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® card, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many rooms are there at the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes?

The JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes has 1,010 guest rooms and suites.

How far away is Disney World from the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes?

The JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes, is just about 10 miles away from Walt Disney World, and should take about 15 minutes to reach the park by car.

Does the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes, offer a shuttle to the theme parks?

Yes, you can arrange (with at least 24 hours of notice) complimentary shuttle service from the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes, to Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, and Universal Orlando Resort.

Is the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes, kid-friendly?

Yes, absolutely. The JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes, offers plenty of amenities for kids, including a gigantic pool complex with 3 waterslides, an AquaVenture course, and a lazy river.

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About Nick Ellis

Nick’s passion for points began as a hobby and became a career. He worked for over 5 years at The Points Guy and has contributed to Business Insider and CNN. He has 14 credit cards and continues to leverage the perks of each.

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