Pros: Pool area a resort in itself. Good food on site.
Cons: Hard to figure out how to get into the complex.
My wife can be critical of many areas of a hotel whereas I would not give it a thought. She rated the JW Marriott a 10 out of 10. I give it a similar rating. If you need to relax in a self contained environment pleasing to the senses, this is it. We live in the Bay Area of California, in itself a nice place, but crowded. We arrived at the JW Mariott on Saturday, hailing to the property via instructions from maps.yahoo.com. The experience from the Orlando airport was good. Orlando rental cars - some companies are located at airport terminal B. So, skip a rental car bus ride and use those vendors. Once out of the airport, we were soon on a toll road and went through two toll gates. The Marriott and Ritz property share a common grounds at Grande Lakes. As the property is massive, it is hard to decide how to enter the property, even with instructions in hand. We picked an entrance and drove in toward the JW Marriot tower, only to find ourselves at shipping and receiving at the complex. About 20 minutes of trial and error and we found ourselves at the main entrance of the JW Mariott. The grounds are incredible. As soon as you are in the grounds, you are surrounded by palm trees and winding through the grounds on roads which seem windy and interesting. As it was Saturday, we parked the car in the front of the hotel at the main entrance and proceeded in with our luggage. Note: I am a person who does not like staff to fuss over me, so, I was happy with bell persons not grabbing my luggage. They seemed to sense I did not want to have it handled and that was fine with me. At the reception desk, a person was standing in front of the desk and personally handled our check in. Our reservation was in order. I requested a room high up with two double beds and not near elevators or ice machines. This is what I received. We were delighted at the room initially, but then noted it was over the front parking lot of the hotel and that there was a view of the highway in the distance. I could not hear any noise from cars, but, did hear a siren. At that point, I requested a new room. A different front desk person then handled my request. This person was very interested in keeping me happy and soon I was assigned a different room on the 20th floor, just a few doors down from the end of the hall, but on the other side - the pool side of the hotel.
You get into the room and the first thing one wants to do is open the balcony door and see the view. Incredible. Below you is palm trees, the lazy river pool complex, two or three large pools and to the right one can see the Ritz.
Immediately in front is the Grande Lake and it has two running and lighted fountains in the middle of the lake. Those fountains produce a noise not unlike a constant ocean wave. Very nice. Also ahead in the view is the golf course.
The room itself is very comfortable. The bed was beyond expectations and easy to sleep in. The air conditioning works extremely well and is not a unit in the wall, but, from the buildings infrastructure. I had it down to 67 degrees and had cool air all night, the way I like it.
The TV worked well, but, I am not a person who lives for it. The internet connection worked well. You had to pay for it each day - about $12.99 plus tax. There is a fridge in the room which you need a key to open and it has a lot of food and the usual which is expensive to enjoy. As I was on a company expense account, I did not want to run it up to the hilt. Instead, I drove to the Publix market and brought in enough bottled water for a week and some cookies to eat on those off times. The pillows on the beds were decent. They were not the queen sized pillows that should have been on a queen bed, but, twin sized pillows. The pillows were feather and that was perfect for me.
All in all, I look for a quiet experience in the room without noise from other guests. This is a combination of the quality of the room and the quality of the guests staying at the hotel. For the conference, we had no kids on the floor and that added to the quiet factor as no random noise. Our first night there, we had some door slamming at 8am on Sunday morning. We guessed this was an enmasse checkout from the conference which had happened a week before and the stragglers smart enough to enjoy an extra day were heading home. And, after that, no noise what so ever. The shower head has an adjustment for water output - from regular shower to a water jet. I would have liked to see just a bit more water pressure. I am sure the shower head is adapted to regulate the water pressure to save water. The bath tub is the deepest tub I had been in for a long time. It could stand to be a bit longer, but, it was deep. The fixtures on the tub were very nice and in good condition. The tub had good water pressure and soon you are soaking in very hot water and really deep.
The other way to enjoy hot water are the two hot tubs on the pool grounds. One hot tub is very large and the other is smaller. I spent hours in these and really enjoyed the experience. The smaller hot tub has a waterfall from faux rocks and you can stand underneath it and get a good soaking from hot water and a nice back rub that way too.
The hotel itself is mostly marble and large area rugs set into the marble flooring. The feel is of a more casual Ritz. The large bar off of the lobby is perfect for smoozing and closing a deal. The staff is professional and well trained. This is not a place which comes on the cheap, but, if you can gain a reservation off season, it is worth it. The price of the hotel keeps it nice and you are afforded a stay with like minded people who enjoy similar- the hotel as a destination, not just a place to sleep.
The french inspired Citron is good for breakfast and dinner. As we were on a company expense account, we did not do the buffet, but ordered a more modest breakfast consisting of French Toast. Orange Juice is $5 a glass, so be wary of loading on too many extras. Of course, many people staying don't care about budget as they have arrived in life.
We found that the International Drive is close by, near the Orlando Convention center. This is a 10 minute drive and there are many nice places to eat. Find excellent steak at Charlie's Steakhouse. We did not try the other restaurants at the hotel besides Citron nor did we try any at the Ritz. They looked very inviting. The hotel provided food during our conference was very good. The catered food during the special dinner events was also exceptional. The hotel knows how to run business functions very well and would be an excellent place to hold your conference as I really enjoyed the ambience of the hotel whilst attending my conference.
Another worthwhile excursion from the hotel is driving on interstate 4 to Winter Park. Find Park Ave in Winter Park. It offers blocks of boutique shopping with mostly real locals.
You will enjoy the JW Marriott.