I'm planning on taking my family to Orlando for 5 days. I'm trying to decided between these 2 hotels. They both look fabulous. I have 3 children - 14 year old daughter, 12 year old boy and ann 8 year old boy. They all enjoy the outdoors, love to swim, explore, etc. We'll probably spend most of our time at the hotel and do a side trip to SeaWorld, Universal, etc. I'd love to hear from someone who knows both properties and could make a recommendation
Your family will love either hotel and the amenities each offers. The TripAdvisor reviews are on-point and favorable for both. Because of it's proximity to Disney, SeaWorld & Universal, I prefer the Orlando World Center. Request a room on a high floor in the main building overlooking the pool. The elevators are glass enclosed and will provide a real treat to the kids. OWC is a mere 2.5 miles from the Magic Kingdom, Downtown Disney, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. Less than a 1/4 mile from I-4, you can be at Universal in 20 minutes. The kids especially the 2 boys will enjoy the OWC pool. It has a waterfall and a slide. (Grande Lakes has a lazy river) All 3 children will appreciate the convenience of the Marketplace on the lower level at OWC.
The JW Marriott is more remote, closer to SeaWorld and candidly 'zippered-up' for an 8, 12 and 14 year old; plus the OWC has more amenities that are kid-friendly vs. the JW business crowd. (The JW is unique in being among the few places in Florida where people wear suits and ties - when you don't have to!)
Do consider renting a car in Orlando. Both the OWC and JW have excellent valet services. However, if you prefer to self-park, you'll find the OWC more convenient. Rather than the OWC parking garage, request parking beside the new wing in back of the hotel near the tennis courts and the entranceway for Sabal Palms.
OWC is home to two wonderful restaurants, Tuscany and Hawks Landing. We look forward to dining there every year. Solaris offers a great breakfast buffet. For more guest reviews, check out the comments on TripAdvisor.com
As Superchief recommends, the villas at Imperial Palm, Royal Palms and Sabal Palms that are on property at the Orlando World Center may be ideal. Imperial's 3 bedroom villas will allow you and your wife to have the privacy of a king size master bedroom suite; your daughter will have her own queen-size bed and sofa and bathroom and the boys can have their own twin beds*. There's ample FREE parking, complimentary wireless internet, DirecTV a fully equipped kitchen, W/D and tennis, basketball, golf plus 24/7 access to all the amenities, restaurants, spa and pools over at the World Center. Royal Palms ** and Sabal Palms *** feature 2 bedroom/2 bath floorplans with all of the above, too.
We just returned from the JW Marriott Grande Lakes and have also stayed at the OWC in previous years so my vote is the JW -- without hesitation!
First -- we travelled this time with 2 of our 3 children, 16(boy) and 13(girl). Both are adventureous and well travelled and collectively agreed that this was their favourite Orlando resort to date. Here are some things that help it surpass the OWC for fun...
Pool -- by far - the best in Orlando. The lazy river is an outstanding feature...and not only is it tons of fun -- it's is well shaded. It connects to 4 pools throughout and even though we were there during a peak period (Easter) the pool never seemed overcrowded. Unlike alot of pool areas - -there is also a few areas that offer full shade -- not my cup of tea...buta real change from the norm. Poolside food (at pool bar OR at your lounge chairs is top rate). Service during peak hours may be a little slow....but worth the wait. Things to note: if you want lounge chairs together -- you need to be @ the pool to reserve your spot before 9 am. We learned our lesson after day 1. Just put down your towels, a book & your lazy river floats down and return later when you're ready. Also -- river tubes come in two sizes...very small and small/medium. They really aren't comfy for adults. If you have a rental car -- I would recommmend hitting a target or publix and buying a more comfy float for the same (or less) $$$. We were happy we did after and then (for the price) -- gave them away at the end of our stay to new guests.
Adventure Course - The JW just opened (officially) their new adventure challenge -- a high ropes course -- on property. You need to book in advance (I think they're only running it on weekends right now -- and only for resort guests). It is worth EVERY penny -- in fact -- our daughter loved it sooo much - she went back again the next day. The mgt. & adventure team involved are fantastic and really encouraging to the participants. See Romain or Eddie @ the consierge desk -- they'll give you the details. Your kids will LOVE it...and you may decide to join them.
Other activities...Dive in movies -- fun for the kids or for the whole family. Lots of kids participate and it's a good way to meet kids their own age. Bike rentals, fly fishing, life size chess, beach volleyball (always a game going ) etc. More to do than you'll have time. They also offer scuba lessons @the pool.
Food -- the food at the JW is outstanding. If you research -- you'll find that they select the finest quality healthy selections for guests -- and organic foods wherever possible. The breakfast buffet @ Citron is really great with an extensive list of options but it's pricey (@ $25)...you need to be a real breakfast person to get your money's worth. We ate last night snacks (pizza & salad) at the lobby bar/lounge one night and the service & food were 10/10. Ambiance is pretty great too.
The JW offers fresh iced tea & lemonade in the lobby all day/night and fresh fruit for guests on the run. A really nice perk.
Location -- quite frankly -- if you have a rental car -- proximity to parks doesn't really matter. OWC is closer to Disney -- but if you're driving -- the extra distance isn't a factor worth considering. JW is close to Seaworld -- and neither are close to Universal by a LONG way.
I should note that the World Centre is a lovely resort with a great pool area - but if your kids are adventureous -- the JW is the place for you. And don't skip the adventure course -- it's one of the best attractions in Orlando.
Good luck and have fun :-)
Great question. In addition to asking Marriott Vacation Club sales, I took a look at the information at My-VacationClub.com*
Marriott's Lakeshore Reserve is in pre-construction, my wife and I took a sales tour last October; but there is a lot of information online.** It's worth exploring, we really like the exclusivity and extra privacy that comes with a lakeside townhome villa. In addition to the onsite dining and recreational facilities that are planned, owners will enjoy full access to dining and recreational amenities of the adjacent Grande Lakes Resort at the JW Marriott; as well as the dining amenities of the Ritz Carlton. (With the exception of the spa, it's not clear from My-VacationClub.com if owners have access to the Ritz-Carlton pool and recreational facilities.)
* My-VacationClub.com (MVCI owner login required)
I stayed in the World Marriott last week. Here are some relevant points:
1. This primarily a convention hotel, not a family resort. I would admit that probably around peak vacation season it is more of a resort, but when a convention is in town, you are surrounded by convention goers and not families. The nights in the lobby are absolutely raucous as the bars open right onto the atrium. I could not imagine the noise in one of the rooms nearby.
2. This is really 2 hotels: The east tower, which is fully renovated, with modern furniture, flat screen TV, and the usual feel that you get from a business Marriott hotel, and the other towers, which are outdated and badly in need of renovation. This is made worse by the fact that small things like the rotting numbers over the elevator buttons, cheap moldings that could be bought at Home Depot for $1 a yard, and peeling wallpaper could all be fixed if they would send a maintenance guy over there for a couple of days. The grout around the sliding door is degrading so badly that there is a significant temperature gradient from one end of the room to the other. The problem is that Marriott treats these as the same hotel, and you could just as well end up in one tower as the other. I found this very disappointing and unacceptable.
3. The breakfast buffet is great - lots of very fresh fruit and other high quality items.
4. I thought the pool complex was spectacular. Very well designed, lots of hidden pools and grotttos, a nice slide for the kids. The fake rocks, however, are blackened and need a cleaning. Otherwise well serviced and nice.
5. The parking issue as described by others is legitimate.
6. We spend $199 a night and got the free breakfast, the $25 nightly credit, free parking and the 10% off. I would not pay any more to stay at this place. I especially would not use rewards points and spend 30k points per night, especially since the Grande Lakes is the same.
"I stayed in the World Marriott last week."
I was there six months ago and dined at Hawks Landing. The Hotel Manager came over to greet us as we have been loyal for nearly two decades. Because of multiple factors, hotel occupancy hovered around 35-40% throughout 2009. The impact cascades from reduced headcount to postponed maintenance issues as outlined in your review. Sounds like this property is really struggling. Much of the reliable labor in the Orlando market is from the Caribbean especially, Haiti. The recent earthquake may have had an impact. The OWC slid from Category 6 to Category 5, recently. With a newly built Convention Center less than 3 years old, it's really surprising. There may be regional management issues that warrant scrutiny.
"I would not pay any more to stay at this place. I especially would not use rewards points and spend 30k points per night, especially since the Grande Lakes is the same."
FYI - By tomorrow, the OWC will slide into Category 5. It will cost 25,000 points.
The JW is outstanding. The OWC is a hotel for convention folk only. Anything esle they might say is empty marketing. It is nothing like the friendliest kids hotel. The valet service at OWC is run by punk kids with bad attitudes. The hotel overall is fine for a oft drunk convention goer or the like. But for kids.....the JW is tops. The lazy river is nice. The feeling there are not drunk 'slimeballs' about (like at the OWC) all the time is nice especially if you have pre or teen daughters with you. JW is preferred. Not Maybe.
Both the JW and OWC target the convention market but in different ways. The OWC has 4x the amount of meeting space. At the JW meeting space is distributed across the JW and the Ritz. Both hotels are served by MEARS, a local transport vendor; and also rely upon 3rd party valet services and parking services.
While the JW has a lazy river which is a wonderful water feature, the OWC has a slide and waterfalls plus a children's pool. The other OWC feature is the Marketplace with fresh prepared healthy offerings which kids love. It's on the same level as the pool making it easy for kids and families to have a quick bite.
Another big difference is that the JW has ~half~ the number of rooms and less than half the number of suites than the OWC. I'm sure the suites at the Ritz make up the difference. So if you're hoping to get upgraded to a larger room to accomodate a family, stand in line and be prepared to pay the price.
The best thing about the OWC is it's proximity to Downtown Disney, the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot. The best thing about the JW is the fitness center and spa at the Ritz. If your kids like that and you can afford it, they'll love it.
Another huge difference about the OWC are the glass elevators in the main lobby. Kids of all ages love riding them all day.
We're at the JW Marriott Grande (not Gande) Lakes, and it's, as advertised, an impressive property.... Observations:
I have stayed at both, and both are wonderful. The JW is more business, the dining selections more formal. The lazy river is great, it is on a golf course, and the spa is tops. The Orlando World Center is huge, the pool is marvelous, with a great slide and waterfall. If you have little ones, the kiddie pool helps. Lots of dining, lots of families. I went for the JW for business, but took the kids to the OWC. We did ask for two adjoining rooms. The person who checked us in spent quite a long time finding us rooms. However, when we got the the rooms, we saw why! Huge suite for my wife and I, and a connecting regular room for the kids. Our balcony faced Disney, and we could watch the fireworks at night. It is a resort, so no concierge or free breakfast. The breakfast buffet, while pricey, is something out of a cruise ship, so many great things it numbs the mind. In the end, I guess it is a personal choice. We tend to be excitable, loud and rambunctious, so the OWC fit our tastes perfectly.
I have stayed at both a couple times over the last 5 years, each have pluses and minus.
The World Center as everyone says is more conventions folk and wile large layout and GREAT NEW WATER SLIDES, the kids ( 9 and 7 yrs as of now) have had fun at her activities and pool. BUT thier favorite is the JW because of the lazy river, both have good restaurant choices and a good golf course. Pool is warmer in the winter months at the JW then the World Center. We just spent 5 days at JW this january and the pool was comfortable when the air temp dropped into the 60's.
Food choices are more at the World but my wife prefers the spa at the JW because it is next door at the Ritz Carlton.