• Beyond the Border: Escape the Madness at J.W. Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes

    FROM THE Fall 2016 ISSUE
  • Beyond the Border: Escape the Madness at J.W. Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes

    FROM THE Fall 2016 ISSUE
  • Beyond the Border: Escape the Madness at J.W. Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes

    FROM THE Fall 2016 ISSUE

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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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.

Incorporating the host city into the framework of the meeting is an effective way to enhance the content of the conference.

Host in Local Hotel
While attendees might flock to flag hotels, consider a boutique hotel as overflow to showcase the destination. In Lubbock, the DoubleTree by Hilton offers a local flair through design and cuisine; meanwhile, just a few streets over, the Cotton Court Hotel pays tribute to the area’s cotton history. 


Plano, Texas is truly the land of plenty. Blending historic charm with modern luxury, the city brims with attractions and amenities. With nearly 60 hotels of various price points, 1000+ restaurants, world class shopping, a lively arts and nightlife scene, abundant natural beauty, and four walkable districts, Plano is the perfect city for a meeting of any size.  


Located smack dab in the middle of Dallas and Fort Worth, less than a three-hour flight from either the West or East Coasts, is the city of Irving.