My first opportunity to cover an on-location post for MomTrends led me to discover the Ritz Carlton-JW Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando, Florida. While the typical perception of Orlando is theme parks, Grande Lakes offers an amazing spa and resort experience for any family--peaceful, relaxing, and posh.
Upon arrival, I was shown to my room. It was beautifully decorated in soft blues and tans with an amazing view of the pools and golf course from the balcony. The hotel decor has been recently redone and muted color scheme is simply beautiful.
The hotel itself is situated on over 500 acres, including natural waters and vegetation. The grounds are amazing--large palm trees, bright blue pools, everything a perfect resort should have.
Our three days at Grande Lakes were filled with a combination of exciting activities and amazing food. There is truly something for everyone at the resort.
First up was a kayaking eco-tour of the resort property! I've never actually kayaked before, but our guide was patient and helpful, and within minutes we were kayaking down the little streams on the property. The waterways are tucked behind the main area of the hotels and so peaceful, it is hard to imagine you are minutes from very busy Orlando
Fly fishing lessons are another option at Grande Lakes and take place on property at Shingle Pond. Our instructor, who had also been our kayaking guide, was extremely helpful in teaching our group of newbies the basics of fly fishing. Within the hour, we had a tenuous grasp on casting, reeling and attempting to fly fish, and were ready to test our knowledge on the pond. As fun as fly fishing was, I learned it's quite the arm and shoulder workout, especially the morning after.
While at Grande Lakes, I had my very first golf lesson ever. Thankfully, I was paired up with a great new instructor and two other writers with zero golf experience, so the fun and laughter made up for my lack of natural golfing ability.
Grande Lakes hosts a Golf Digest Golf School, where instructors are PGA professionals as well as certified through Gold Digest. A highlight, to me, was the video sent after the trip, showing an analysis of the lesson. The golf school provides detailed swing analysis in video format; for an avid golfer, this tool alone would be invaluable.
A busy afternoon ended with a trip to the Grande Lakes Spa. Don't be too jealous, I think I earned the signature rooftop eco-garden hammock massage. The rooftop garden is a combination of natural and repurposed items--plants, herbs, reconstructed wood from Hurricane Katrina, and completely peaceful. A large hammock hangs in the center, where a masseuse is able to work above, below and next to the person.
After the massage, the spa set up a private scrub bar for our group, which is one of the Grande Lakes spa offerings. A mixologist created body scrubs or salts based on our preferences and needs. I opted for a salted scrub with lemongrass oils, which were recommended for headaches. Other choices included mints, rosemary, lavender and more; the mixologist provided detailed explanations of the choices and their benefits.
Our tour received just a sampling of the amenities offered at Grande Lakes, but discovered the beauty of the resort and Orlando without ever having to visit a theme park. For more information on the resort and booking your trip visit www.grandelakes.com
Full Disclosure: Hotel and airfare were included to give us a true taste of the resort.