Oh Orlando. The first time I went to Orlando I was 16 and my high school dance team had made the National Dance Championships competition for the first time ever. A week in Florida, without parents dancing on the big stage and getting to roam around Disneyworld with my best girlfriends? To say I was estatic, would have been an understatement. Our Bring It On time in Orlando was epic.
However, some 20 years later I was not so stoked to realize that I would be presenting at a professional conference in Orlando. I could think of many other cities I’d rather return to, but hey, why not try an make the best out of it. I brought the husband and kiddo and we did the Disney thing, of course, but it was more practical to stay near the convention center for the business part of our stay in Orlando.
All I can say is that the right hotel can make all the difference. We decided on the JW Marriott, Grande Lakes and here are my top five reasons why I would stay there again in a heartbeat:
- Pools: Three. Count ’em, three swimming pools connected by a lazy river. Tons of room and tons of great spots to lay out in the warm Florida sun. Trust me, my family was more than happy to hang out all day while I was working.
- Close to the convention center: Just a 5 minute drive from the venue and Ubers were available at all times of the early morning into the night. The hotel still manages to make you feel like you are on your own little majestic island.
- Food options: As far as food goes, the JW had fantastic options for us. The poolside restaurant, Quench, is perfection for lazy days in the sun. Hearty salads, chicken strips and virgin versions of mommy’s drinks for my daughter were staples for us. We also dined more than once at Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen; one of the best charcuterie boards I’ve ever had. And for early mornings heading out the door, there’s a Starbucks in the hotel.
- Decor: May I dub the decor “classy Floridian?” It’s the pastel colors you want to expect, but also not overdone. The perfect amount of palm leaves greet you each time you step out of your room. And let’s not downplay the wow factor when you first see that soft coral building rising up out of all the greenery. Stunning.
- Beds: We were growing weary at the end of our stay in Orlando and the beds were perfection after a long day in the sun (my family) or a long day in heels (um, me). The entire room was clean, roomy and “hang out” approved.
After a few days by the pool, some fantastic meals and service beyond expectation, I was honestly a bit sad to leave Orlando. But then the skies opened up and it rained again…