Orlando is synonymous with Disney. It’s almost Pavlovian. You hear the name and you immediately conjure up an image of the Mouse. What if you could visit Orlando but stay far from the madding crowd? The J.W. Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes fits the bill. This palatial resort is blissfully free of the hustle and bustle of nearby Disney and offers a regal style reminiscent of Europe. The best part? Partnered with the adjacent Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes, this resort is truly a world unto itself. Orlando’s convenience and conference-friendly attitude has always lured groups (the city ranks behind Las Vegas as one of the top spots for conventions), but this resort appeals to groups that want it all at their fingertips with the ability to escape it all. 

Stay

The J.W. Marriott has 26 floors with 934 rooms and 64 suites. The rooms and suites share a fresh, contemporary sophistication with soft colors and upscale finishes. Should your group need even more accommodations, The RitzCarlton, accessible by a short walk from the J.W., has 525 guest rooms and 60 suites. 

Meet

If you’re a planner who feels like you never have enough space, this resort is your salvation. Between the two hotels, there is a mindbending total of 150,000 square feet! There are six ballrooms (the largest holds up to 2,300 rounds, 3,123 reception-style or 3,248 theaterstyle) and 40 breakout rooms. Both hotels feature A/V provided by in-house vendor PSAV. Outside of the ballrooms and breakout rooms, the resort has plenty to offer in the Florida sunshine. From the pool deck and patios to various lawns and even Whisper Creek Farm, the resort’s own vegetable garden down the road, there are plenty of ways to plan a freshair celebration. 

Eat

The J.W. Marriott ups the ante when it comes to dining. Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen, named for the resort’s farm, has a very California ambiance with gourmet farmfocused small plates (short rib macaroni and cheese, anyone?). Open for dinner only, the restaurant’s terrace is the place to be.

The lobby lounge is just right for sushi and cocktails, either indoors or out on the terrace overlooking the pool and lazy river, while Citron, An American Brasserie has fantastic breakfast buffets. Primo by celebrity chef Melissa Kelly is the resort’s fine-dining flagship. The upscale Italian restaurant also features a stunning private room (accommodates 14) that opens out to a charming terrace.

Over at The Ritz-Carlton, don’t miss Highball & Harvest, an all-day dining outlet that has a distinctly southern flavor. There are two private dining rooms and a chef’s table, plus a terrace perfect for groups. 

Play

Let’s face it, the best business takes place outside of the meeting room when you get clients and colleagues away from their screens and enjoying each other’s company. The J.W. Marriott knows how to bring groups together with a stunning array of activities. In fact, the resort has a team of 10 event managers and two event concierges to keep events running smoothly. Choose from the 18-hole Greg Norman golf course or head to the impressive spa at The Ritz-Carlton, where 40 treatment rooms, a fitness center and adultonly spa pool await. The eco-garden treatment, a massage performed while you swing with the gentle breezes in a hammock, is sinfully relaxing. The pool and lazy river is certainly a centerpiece of the J.W. Marriott and perfect for unwinding after a long day of meetings. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the headwaters of the Everglades on a guided kayak trip—it’s just a short walk from the lobby but a world away.

In a city known for its magic, Grande Lakes makes a big impression.