Archive For The “Florida Hotels & Resorts” Category

Top 10 Marriott Villas in Florida

 

Marco Island Beach

Marco Island Beach

 

Marriott Villas — A Home Away from Home

So.  You’ve decided to take the family to Florida…  the whole family!  A family reunion, of sorts.  Then you started pricing hotel rooms for the clan and almost changed your mind.  Where in the world can a larger family stay without booking multiple rooms per night?

Instead of the traditional tiny, cramped hotel room, there’s another option: Marriott Vacation Villas!  Did you know you do not have to be a Marriott Vacation Club Owner in order to stay in one of their spacious villas?  They are available for anyone to rent on a daily basis, and the Marriott Villas can be booked through the Marriott.com web site.  (Of course availability and prices vary from season to season just like a traditional hotel room.)

One of the best parts is this: You get so much more than simply a room.  A Marriott Villa is kinda like a ‘home away from home!’

 

3 Benefits of Vacationing in a Marriott Villa

  1. Size, size, size… that’s a no-brainer!  (This is one of those times when size does matter!)  Many of the Marriott Villas are 2 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, a full kitchen (includes dishes, utensils, cookware, etc.), bar/counter stool dining, a dining room, living room, laundry room (with washer and dryer), and balcony/lanai.  Most Marriott Villas can accommodate 8-10 people, very comfortably.  (A few locations even offer 3-bedroom units.)
  2. With the added benefit of a full kitchen, there is no need to purchase all of your meals at costly restaurants.  Typically, hubby and I like to have breakfast or brunch at the villa (works well when you’re not a morning person and prefer breakfast in your jammies!).  Then, we usually splurge on dinner each evening, and quite often take a doggie-bag back to the villa to be reheated for lunch or snack the next day.
  3. Another ‘at home’ convenience for us is the in-villa laundry room.  I don’t know why we women (finger pointing at me) feel the need to pack a different outfit for every day of the week… with matching shoes and purse!  Having the convenience of the washer and dryer has enabled me to pack a little lighter. Also, I’ve gotten into the habit of doing all my laundry on our final night at the villa, then I don’t have tons to do when I get home.  If you’re vacationing for multiple weeks at a time, the washer and dyer option is a God-send.

 

Marriott Villas in Florida — Take the Virtual Tour

As a Florida resident for the past 17 years, I’ve had the opportunity to visit virtually every Marriott Vacation Club Villa in Florida… many multiple times.  I’ve compiled a Top 10 list of my favorites, including a brief description and photo tour for each one.  Enjoy!  (Have a more specific question?  I’ll do my best to answer it; simply reply in the “comment” box at the end of the article.)

 

# 10 Royal Palms — Orlando

Royal Palms is a delightful destination if you are heading to Disney.  Of all the Marriott Villas, this is the closest one to the Walt Disney World Theme Parks.  In fact, it’s only about 2 miles to the Disney World entrance.  The Marriott Royal Palms Villas are located adjacent to the full-service Marriott Orlando World Center Resort; and the beauty of this Marriott Villa is that guests have access to all the hotel’s facilities and amenities via a free shuttle.

As one of Marriott’s smaller Vacation Club properties, the grounds and landscaping at Royal Palms are not nearly as extensive as most of the other resorts, but still very beautiful and well maintained.  The villas are strategically placed along the Hawks Landing 18-hole golf course.

 

Marriott Royal Palms Fire Pit

 

# 9 Harbour Lake — Orlando

Keyword: Kids!!!  Extensive and creative water features make this a haven for happy kids.  Also conveniently located to all the major Central Florida theme parks and attractions… although, you may have to bribe the younger members of the family in order to get them to leave the Pirate-ship-themed pool.

The atmosphere throughout this property is bright and fun.   I enjoyed the 9-hole miniature golf on premise, but not nearly as much as hubby enjoyed his gourmet hotdog from the pool bar and grill afterwards.

I was super excited to have my 20-month-old grandson the last time I visited Harbour Lake.  He had a blast, as I knew he would!

 

Marriott Harbour Lake - Lakeside

 

# 8 Beach Place Towers — Fort Lauderdale

For the young and young at heart!  Marriott Beach Place Towers is a high-rise condo right in the middle of the Fort Lauderdale Beach action that becomes quite lively [noisy] at night.  The street is lined with restaurants, bars, and clubs.  Upon check-in we were asked which side of the building we would like to have.  Since hubby is a boat fanatic, we chose the intracoastal waterway view instead of the ocean view… GREAT choice!  Turns out this was the quiet side of Beach Place Towers for us party-poopers.

The parking garage was a challenge for us with narrow ramps and spaces, and was also a very busy public garage as well.  On a positive note, we spent endless hours on our balcony watching the multi-million-dollar yachts pass by on the intracoastal.  Equally enjoyable were our leisurely strolls on Fort Lauderdale beach, which is [conveniently] right across the street from Beach Place Towers.  We also enjoyed the plethora of dining choices within a 5-minute drive.  Oh, and the famous Las Olas shopping district… well, what woman doesn’t like to shop?  Enough said!

 

Marriott Beach Place Towers

 

# 7 Doral — Miami

When I think of Doral (on the outskirts of Miami) 3 words come to mind — golf, golf, and golf!  Anyone familiar with the PGA Tour has likely watched a telecast from the famous ‘Blue Monster’ course, one of 5 championship courses offered (for a not-so-small fee!).

During our 7-night stay, we took advantage of the amenities at the adjacent ‘Trump National Doral Resort‘ with its incredible pool where we rented a luxury cabana for the day.  On another occasion, we had the buffet lunch at the hotel which included unlimited made-to-order sushi, which made hubby happy!  Our daughter’s destination that day was a couples massage at their highly acclaimed Spa.  Marriott Doral offers free shuttle transportation to Trump’s Resort, which is directly across the highway.

Our day-trips from Marriott’s Doral Resort included the popular Miami Bayside (awesome shopping and dining), the historical Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, the shops at CocoWalk in Coconut Grove, lunch at the prestigious Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, and the world famous Miami South Beach art decor district (better known as SoBe).

 

Day Trip to Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

 

# 6 Lakeshore Reserve — Orlando

I fondly remember a Mediterranean mindset at this gorgeous old-world-inspired resort.  Elegant, quaint, and traditional were the feelings evoked during our September stay at Marriott Lakeshore Reserve. Bronzed-finished fountains and distressed golden furnishings added to the charm.  Stunning old-world architecture provided endless photo opportunities.

The zero-entry heated pool was outstanding and the lazy river so relaxing.  The sprawling pool area was most certainly a tropical oasis.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the two upscale, luxury hotels that comprise this Marriott complex known as Grande Lakes — the 4-star J.W. Marriott Hotel, and the 5-star Ritz Carlton.

 

4-Star J.W. Marriott Hotel at Grande Lakes

 

# 5 Grande Vista — Orlando

Living in Florida for the past 17 years, and only 40 minutes from the Central Florida attractions, has provided ample opportunity for us to use the Marriott Villas in Orlando on a regular basis.  Marriott Grande Vista is one of our favorites for hosting out-of-state friends and family that come to visit.  It’s not unusual for us to stay here 3 or more times a year.  We especially like the ‘lock-off’ feature in the villas, which gives a much greater level of privacy when hosting another family.

Grande Vista is the largest of all the Marriott Vacation Club properties — a family friendly resort with an activity schedule, bar none, for both children and adults.  During our last stay we enjoyed the Butterfly Release, the Florida Reptile Show-and-tell presented by Gatorland, and a Wine Tasting, just to name a few. My adventurous friend, Donna, was brave enough to try the unusual hair braiding, offered poolside. Hubby always manages to squeeze in a round of golf on the short 9-hole course that meanders throughout the property.  We also appreciate the 5 different food outlets available at Marriott Grande Vista, without having to drive off-property to dine.

 

Beautiful Grounds at Grande Vista

 

# 4 Ocean Pointe — Palm Beach Shores

Great location, right on the Atlantic ocean!  Marriott’s Ocean Pointe has an abundance of boating activity, including daily sightings of cruise ships as they slowly navigate through the channel en route to the Atlantic Ocean.  Water sports abound at Ocean Pointe; jet skies, parasailing, and snorkeling gear are all available for rentals.  We loved the boat tour we took through the intracoastal waterway aboard a water taxi, which gave us a birds-eye view of many mansions owned by various celebrities.  The nearby Sailfish Marina is within walking distance, where we enjoyed multiple meals throughout the week (as a salmon freak, the potato-crusted salmon is always my favorite here).  The fish is so fresh, we literally watched them clean and fillet the ‘catch of the day’ right on the boat docks as we entered!

Our day-trip excursions included the Henry Flagler Museum in Palm Beach, shopping and lunch at the popular City Place in Palm Beach, and a scenic drive down coastal A1A.

 

Channel to Atlantic Ocean

 

# 3 Cypress Harbour — Orlando

A sentimental favorite!  Cypress Harbour was the very first Marriott Vacation Club Resort we toured, 27 years ago.  We were so impressed by the Marriott quality and service… that we went back home to Pennsylvania as a Marriott Vacation Club Owner!  We have never regretted that decision.  It has served us well for almost 3 decades, and now as brand new Grandparents, we’re looking forward to many memory-making vacations with yet another generation.

In a few words, Marriott’s Cypress Harbour Resort is immaculate, well maintained, and very well managed. Activity programs for children are ‘off-the-chart.’  We’ve enjoyed outdoor grilling, boat rides on the lake, and walks on the nature trail (with sightings of turtles, ducks, exotic birds, and even alligators).

We especially enjoy spending time here during the holiday season, as Cypress Harbour is so close to all the festivities that the Greater Orlando area has to offer.

 

Cypress Harbour Maze Activity Zone

 

# 2 Oceana Palms — Palm Beach Shores

Truly an ocean oasis!  (This is one of Marriott’s newer Vacation Club Villas in Florida.)  Marriott Oceana Palms consists of twin ocean-front high-rise towers overlooking the majestic Atlantic Ocean.  Oceana Palms is contemporary styled with exceptionally appointed spacious villas with upscale surroundings.  We have always experienced superior service during our many visits to this location.

I love the little touches at Oceana Palms, like the variety of fruit-infused water selections available (complimentary) all day in the lobby, and their signature scent of ‘melon awapuhi’ that permeates the lobby and common areas.  It’s such a fresh fragrance upon entering the building.  On a more important note, several times we had lunch or snacks on premise, and hubby says our Jamaican friend at the Reflections Bar & Grill makes one mean mojito!  And, the fish tacos are hard to beat… anywhere!

Our adventures from here included the historic Jupiter Lighthouse and Museum, and a day-trip to the Bahama Islands by boat.

 

Day Trip to Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse

 

And The Winner Is…

 

# 1 Crystal Shores — Marco Island

Upscale utopia!  Marriott Crystal Shores is a luxury beach-front resort located directly on the Gulf of Mexico — Marriott’s only Gulf Coast Vacation Club property.  The blue/green waters of the Gulf are reminiscent of those I’ve seen in the Caribbean Islands.

Marriott Crystal Shores villas are spacious with a well designed, open floor plan.  The shower is big enough for a small car wash (so says hubby!).  The balcony is the largest we’ve ever had in any Marriott villa — the entire length of the villa, with plush outdoor furniture that you would expect only at a 5-star hotel.  When we are able to pull ourselves away from this ‘heaven-on-earth’ property, it is usually to go to nearby Naples for shopping or dining.  Additionally, one of my favorite day-trips from Crystal Shores was to the Naples Botanical Gardens.

 

Sunset at Marriott Crystal Shores

 

Have you been to any of the Marriott Vacation Club Resorts in Florida?  Please share your favorites in the “reply” box below.  Our readers would love to know!

Read more »

Volterra: Resort-Style Senior Living at ChampionsGate in Florida

 

Resort-style Senior Living at Volterra in ChampionsGate Florida

Resort-style Senior Living at Volterra (Photo Credit: Volterra)

 

Upscale Senior Living: A New Trendy Option

Have you ever vacationed or visited a beautiful resort and wished you didn’t have to leave so soon?  Or perhaps, like me, silently thought, “Wow, this is the life.  I think I could live here forever!”  Well, if you’re a senior, age 62 or older, I have fantastic news for you.  Although resort-style independent senior living has existed for decades, there’s a newer, trendy option for those searching for a retirement community. Recently, I attended a presentation for Volterra® Senior Living located at ChampionsGate in Central Florida.

The sales presentation for the unveiling of this new property was expertly demonstrated; not to mention the yummy free lunch at the gorgeous Omni Hotel at ChampionsGate!  It included talks from several different individuals, highly skilled in the arena of senior living.  Their experience in this field, along with a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of senior living, was outstanding.  If you’re considering this type of housing for yourself or a loved one, here’s what I learned…

Volterra®: A Tuscan Isle Community

Volterra is a walled town southwest of Florence, in Italy — a charming medieval town in central Tuscany. That was the inspiration for Volterra® at ChampionsGate.  Granted, it’s not as well-known as Venice, Milan, Naples, or Verona, but the old-world ambiance is just as spectacular.  And, the developer of Volterra® Senior Living just so happens to have strong family ties to that gorgeous mountaintop town.

Although Volterra® at ChampionsGate is modeled after an ancient town, everything here is brand new and modern.  It’s like living in a Tuscan village that has been warmed by the Florida sun.  Everything you love about Italy is here: red tile roof, walls adorned by Tuscan art, lively conversations in the piazza, and the aroma of freshly brewed cappuccino as it wafts throughout the indoor Villaggio.

But even though Volterra® looks and feels like Italy, you will have a ChampionsGate address, with views of the 4-star Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, including the ChampionsGate golf club.

 

Volterra's Neighbor: The 4-star Omni Resort at ChampionsGate

Volterra’s Neighbor: The 4-star Omni Resort (Photo Credit: Omni Hotels)

 

Volterra® Residences

Volterra® is unlike any other upscale senior living opportunity that I have toured.  Unlike most retirement communities, Volterra® Senior Living residences are all-inclusive apartment homes.  There are no single-family units, and you do not own your home.  You will be renting, on a month-to-month basis.

There are five one and two-bedroom floor plans to choose from.  Volterra® partners with a professional interior design company that specializes in senior living.  The apartments are bright and contemporary and include stainless steel kitchen appliances, washer and dryer, and some offer private balconies, terraces, or breakfast bars.  The apartment homes are unfurnished enabling you to decorate according to your own style preferences.  Obviously, pricing is dependent upon the floor plan chosen.  There is a limited number of extra storage spaces available on premise.

 

Cozy Common Sitting Areas at Volterra in ChampionsGate Florida

Cozy Common Sitting Areas at Volterra (Photo Credit: Volterra)

 

Volterra® is All-inclusive Senior Living

I was pretty impressed when I found out Volterra® is all-inclusive senior living.  But, what exactly does all-inclusive include?  Well, here’s a partial listing of the hotel-like amenities:

  • Housekeeping (twice monthly)
  • Maintenance
  • All utilities (except land-line telephone and cellular phones)
  • Wifi (entire property including in-residences)
  • Scheduled transportation (physicians, retail, etc.)
  • Concierge services (5-star, around-the-clock)
  • State-of-the-art fitness center
  • Head-to-toe wellness programs
  • Recreational programs
  • Activities and craft room
  • Theater for movie screenings
  • Pool and cabana

 

5-star Around-the-clock Concierge Service at ChampionsGate in Florida

5-star Around-the-clock Concierge Service (Photo Credit: Volterra)

 

State-of-the-art Fitness Center at Volterra in ChampionsGate Florida

State-of-the-art Fitness Center at Volterra (Photo Credit: Volterra)

 

Dining Options at Volterra®

Not all meals are included, however, each resident receives a $300 per month dining card.  In other words, if there are two residents in one apartment home (ex: husband and wife), each would receive a dining card, for a total of $600 to spend each month.  It may be used at several on-property dining options.  Ciao is their exclusive Italian fine dining restaurant featuring steak and seafood.  There is also a Sports Bar for casual dining and a Cafe featuring specialty coffee drinks.  The dining card is accepted at all three venues. The money does not carry over from month to month so it’s important to use the available balance in full by the end of the month.

 

Volterra Fine Dining Options at ChampionsGate Florida

Volterra Fine Dining Options (Photo Credit: Volterra)

 

Casual Dining Options at Volterra in ChampionsGate Florida

Casual Dining Options at Volterra (Photo Credit: Volterra)

 

Outdoor Patios at Volterra in ChampionsGate Florida

Outdoor Patios at Volterra (Photo Credit: Volterra)

 

Assisted Living and Memory Care Options at Volterra®

Here’s a really practical feature of Volterra®.  If you’ve been living in the independent senior apartment homes, and the time comes when independent living is a challenge, you can move into the assisted living and/or memory care residences right on the same property.  (Obviously, pricing will be higher for the specialized care residences.)  Volterra® uses only extensively trained staff that will prepare a customized service plan on an individual basis.

The seniors in the assisted living and memory care residences can continue to live an active life, including social events and a full roster of programs.  The pet-friendly residences are equipped with an emergency response system for added peace of mind.  There’s a dedicated dining room for memory care residents as well as a separate beauty salon.  Even when you require a little extra care, you’ll continue to enjoy an active life.

More information on assisted living residences at Volterra® can be found here.

More information on memory care residences at Volterra® can be found here.

Volterra: The Good Life!

Volterra® is very different than most other senior living opportunities, in a good way.  It’s the charms of Italy, the comforts of home!  It’s the perfect place for those who feel like you’ve worked hard for decades, and now it’s time to enjoy the good life.

Volterra is not cheap — but neither is single-family residences.  I live in one of the premier active-adult communities in the state of Florida.  Last week my air conditioner broke, in the middle of summer… in Florida!  $1100.00 to fix it, even with a service contract.  And then, in addition to repair bills, there’s property taxes, pest control, monthly utilities, HOA fees, Club fees, homeowners insurance, etc.  It all adds up pretty quickly, and makes the all-inclusive resort-style living at Volterra® an attractive alternative.

The Volterra Collection™

The Volterra Collection™ currently consists of Solivita Marketplace in Kissimmee, and the brand new ChampionsGate, opening summer of 2017.  One more location, in Lake Ashton, is scheduled to be built in order to complete the collection.  Residents of all three southwest Orlando locations will be able to share amenities, programs, and dining venues.

 

Have you or a loved one toured a Volterra® location?  Please share your thoughts (in the reply box below), our readers would love to know!      

 

Read more »

Marriott Grande Vista Orlando Florida – Review and Photo Tour

 

The Sandy Beach Area at Marriott Grande Vista Resort - Orlando Florida

Marriott Grande Vista Resort – Orlando Florida

 

Marriott Grande Vista — A Home Away From Home

Marriott Grande Vista Resort in Orlando Florida has become my ‘home away from home.’  I go there frequently to host out-of-town family and friends.  Grande Vista is a Marriott Vacation Club (timeshare) property, although you do not have to be a timeshare owner to stay there.  The majority of their reservations are booked through timeshare exchange companies, but anyone can go to the Marriott website and make a reservation, just like you would for any Marriott hotel.  In fact, many people book Grande Vista not even realizing it is a timeshare resort (the Marriott.com website doesn’t make that clear). Some of them are ultimately disappointed to find a humongous, busy facility where kids are plentiful and the noise level in the villa units can, at times, be bothersome.  But again, Grande Vista is a family oriented timeshare resort, not an upscale full-service Marriott hotel.  There is no room service (other than Pizza Hut delivery), room upgrades, or other perks that savvy hotel travelers have come to expect.

I’ve been a Marriott Vacation Club owner since 1991, currently celebrating my 25th year with them. Although timeshare is not for everyone, it was one of the best vacation decisions my hubby and I have made.  It has, and continues, to serve us well.  (Since this article is not about the pros and cons of timeshare ownership, I’ll save that for a future publication.)  Marriott has a total of 13 Vacation Club properties throughout the state of Florida; I’ve been to all but 3 of them, and most of them multiple times.  Each one has its own flavor, and activities and amenities can vary significantly between them. Some are peaceful and relaxing like the ones that are ocean-front properties where the repetitive lapping of the waves and cool ocean breeze can be nothing short of therapeutic.  Others, like Grande Vista, are less tranquil and more difficult for the mind and body to unwind and decompress, but serve a purpose nonetheless.  Grande Vista’s close proximity to the Central Florida Theme Parks and attractions is, in my opinion, its number one asset.  And that’s what we primarily use it for.

For the past 17 years I’ve been a Florida resident.  Back then, when we moved to our active-adult community, we also downsized our home.  Now with only a futon in the spare bedroom (technically, it’s my office) we have very little space to host overnight guests.  But when you live 40 minutes from ‘the MOUSE‘ you have a continual flow of visitors from out-of-state family and friends.  That’s when we rely heavily upon Grande Vista.  It’s not unusual for us to go there 3 or 4 times a year.  Grande Vista has become my favorite place to host our visitors, for the following reasons.

 

  • The Lock-off Feature:  A 2-bedroom lock-off villa is essentially a 1-bedroom villa that is connected to a deluxe studio villa, so we get 2 very separate quarters.  There is an adjoining door that we can choose to keep open or closed.  (In the photo below, the lock-off door is closed and located between the kitchen and dining room on the left-hand side.)  For us, the connecting door provides an extra level of privacy when we’re hosting another family.  (The door is usually only closed at night while we sleep or during the day when someone is getting dressed, taking a nap, making a phone call, etc.)  The 2 bedrooms are on opposite sides, nicely separated with the main living quarters in the middle.  Each bedroom, of course, has its own bathroom, sitting area, and private balcony.  Each section also has its own front entrance door, so families that choose to do separate activities can enter and exit the villa without disturbing the other family members.  Additionally, the lock-off has its own mini fridge and microwave, allowing those midnight snack people to indulge without making noise by going into the main kitchen.  And last, but certainly not least, is the separate thermostats in each unit.  That may not sound like a big deal to you, but here’s why it’s important to me — without exception, all of our Northern friends and family who come to Florida want to set the air conditioning in the low 60’s.  They freeze me out!!!  Most Floridians keep their inside temperatures higher, not only because we’re more accustomed to the heat, but the heat and humidity outside is better tolerated if the inside temps are not too low.  Separate thermostats in the lock-off villas allow everyone to be comfortable and happy.

 

Marriott Grande Vista 2-bedroom Lock-off Villa Layout

Grande Vista 2-bedroom Lock-off Villa

 

  • Grande Vista is the Largest of All Marriott Vacation Club (timeshare) Properties:  Because of its size, Grande Vista has an amazing activity schedule that is second to none.  The daily calendar is jammed-packed from morning till night with offerings for toddlers, kids, teens, and adults.  From beach campfires to Vacationology classes, there is literally something for everyone.  (Note: some activities require a nominal fee for food or supplies.)  On a recent visit we enjoyed the Butterfly Release, the Florida Reptile Encounter show-and-tell presented by Gatorland, and a poolside movie after dark, (all freebies) just to name a few.  Donna, my best friend with an adventurous spirit, was brave enough to hold a baby alligator and hip enough to try the unusual hair braiding techniques (small fee required) being done at the main pool.  Hubby always manages to squeeze in a round of golf (fee required) on the short 9-hole course that meanders throughout the property.  Boredom is not an option at Grande Vista!

 

Holding An Alligator at the Gatorland Reptile Encounter Show

Gatorland Reptile Encounter

 

The Butterfly Release Activity at Marriott Grande Vista Resort

Yes, There’s a Butterfly in There About to be Released!

  

Poolside Wraps and Hair Braiding Offered at Grande Vista Resort

Poolside Wraps and Hair Braiding

 

A Little Girl Watching the Saturday Night Dive In Movie at the Main Pool

Saturday Night Dive In Movie at the Main Pool

 

Here’s a list of the fun on-site activities and events during my last visit May 2016:

(a dollar sign ($) represents a required fee)

 

Crayons and Cereal Craze

Lemonade Bar

Paint and Swap Social

Dive In Movie (always family friendly)

Teen Basketball Shootout

Salt Scrub $

Texas Hold ‘Em

Treasure Adventure

Photo Scavenger Hunt

Viva Flamenco

Play-dough Making

Ping Pong Tournament

Gatorland Encounters

Dueling Pianos

Science Lab

Pickleball

Moscow Mule Making $

Teen Ping Pong Tournament

Kids Basketball Shootout

Jelly Bean Tasting

Marriage Madness

Stuff-A-Buddy $

Blind Chocolate Tasting

Karaoke

 

Lil Chef’s Kitchen $

Jackpot Bingo $

Survival Bracelets $

Kinetic Sand Sculpting

Family Feud

Tequila Tasting $

Wine Social $

Tennis Match Free Play

Craft Beer Tasting $

Teen Challenge Emoji Wars

Bead Buddies $

Tie Dye $

Margarita Making $

Ice Cream Making $

Coffee Cup Creations $

Poolside Crafts

Kids Night Out $

Fishing Derby $

Name that Tune

Dodgeball

Nineties at Nine

Poolside Activities

Scavenger Hunt

Teen & Tween Social Hour

 

 

Cornhole Competition

Sangria Making $

S’mores Galore Campfire

Ceramic Craft Hour $

Salsa Making $

Salsa Dance Lessons

Bedtime Stories & Snacks

Kids’ Candy Bar Bingo

Wine Glass Etching $

Campfire

Bocce Ball and Brews $

Dirt Cups $

Duct Tape Wallets $

Barstool Trivia

Barstool Bingo

Soda Floats $

Polynesian Revue

Gator Races

Wine & Design Workshop &

Blackjack

Sidewalk Chalk

Boathouse Happy Hour $

Cocktail Creations $

***Grande Vista also offers a complimentary group wellness schedule with activities such as Aerobics, Strength Conditioning, Nature Walks, Power Walks, Cardio Workouts, Senior Wellness Options, Yoga, Zumba, Juicing Demonstrations, and Smoothie Sampling. The Wellness Wagon offers rental supplies like yoga mats, healthy cookbooks, pedometers, and resistance bands.

As if that were not enough, additional recreation activities include Fishing Rentals, Boat Rentals (sun loungers, chaise loungers, kayaks, paddle boats), Tennis Program (with tennis pro Bob Newsome), Scuba Lessons, Marriott Golf Academy (private lessons), FootGolf, and The Spa At Grande Vista (massage and beauty services).  WARNING: You may have to go back home to get some rest!   

With such an outstanding array of activities, it’s no wonder children sometimes prefer to stay at Grande Vista rather than tackle the crowds and notorious long lines at the Central Florida Theme Parks.  In fact, during my stay in May, my visiting family had two 5-year-old girls who they treated to a day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom.  To my surprise, they were back at Grande Vista within 4 hours.  Even though they had paid a premium price for the Disney tickets, the small girls were miserable and not able to handle the heat and people-packed Disney park.  Kind of an expensive lesson learned.  The young girls were happier at Grande Vista than the “Happiest Place on Earth!”

 

2 Little Girls Posing in Colorful Matching Beach Attire

Grande Vista – The Happiest Place on Earth for These 2 Beach Babes!

 

3 Children at the Grande Vista MAZE Activities Center

The Girls and My Grandson at the MAZE Activities Center

 

3 Small Children Out for an Evening Stroll at Grande Vista

Enjoying the Family Oriented Atmosphere at Grande Vista

 

  • Grande Vista Has 5 Different Food Outlets On Premise:  Very different then most Marriott Vacation Club properties is the selection of food outlets at Grande Vista.  I appreciate the option to dine without having to drive off-property.  Yes, they’re a little pricey as with all resort food, but sometimes a burger just tastes better in a bikini!  The convenient choices include:
  1. The Grill at Grande Vista (a full-service clubhouse-style restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner)
  2. Copa Loca Bar and grill (poolside fare like burgers, fish tacos, quesadillas, salads, etc. open for lunch and dinner)
  3. The Grande Cove (a casual food court with sandwiches, pasta, rotisserie chicken, Pizza Hut Express, etc. open for breakfast, lunch and dinner)
  4. The MarketPlace (a small convenience store and deli with snacks, fresh Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Starbucks and necessities)
  5. Lighthouse Sweetery (whimsical ice cream parlor and candy shop)

 

Lighthouse Sweetery Ice Cream Parlor at Grande Vista

Lighthouse Sweetery Ice Cream Parlor

 

Best Friends Making Memories at Marriott's Grande Vista

Making Memories at Marriott’s Grande Vista

 

The Negative Aspects of Marriott’s Grande Vista Resort

As with any resort, restaurant or attraction, there are pros and cons.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the negative aspects of Grande Vista.  Certainly, the good out-weighs the bad, but here is what I dislike about Grande Vista:

 

  • The Check-in Process:  Just as the huge size of Grande Vista can be a benefit when it comes to amenities and activities, I’ve found that it also becomes its weakness.  There are usually very long lines at the check-in counter and the lobby becomes lively with children who have been cooped up in planes, trains and automobiles for many hours, looking to release stored up energy.  On more than one occasion we have had issues with the check-in process.  During a visit in 2015, it was so bad we had to summon the intervention of a manager.  In all fairness, the manager was extremely apologetic and offered her assistance in the future, but… the incident should not have occurred in the first place. Also, because Grande Vista is a high volume resort, parking by the front lobby is always challenging.  There are designated employees for traffic control, but typically hubby drops me off then searches for a hard-to-find parking space.  Of course, these issues become more pronounced during prime check-in times of 3:00 – 6:00.

 

  • Maintenance Issues:  I’ve been to Grande Vista probably 15+ times, and it’s a rare occasion we don’t have to call for the maintenance team to come fix something.  We’ve dealt with replacing the mini-fridge, broken shower doors, patio sliding doors that won’t open and everything in between.  As a Marriott Vacation Club owner, I fully understand they have a prescribed schedule for routine maintenance and about every 7 years the villas get a complete make-over.  But again, because of the shear volume of guests (and an abundance of hard-playing children) this facility seems to have more maintenance issues than any other Marriott Resort we have frequented.  For instance, during our May 2016 visit, we had the luxury of being placed in a newly refurbished building.  My family had two 2-bedroom lock-off villas.  Even though they had been renovated within the past few months, both villas had to call for maintenance.  We had a broken kitchen cabinet door, broken master bathroom vanity door, shower door issue, and broken kitchen faucets in both units.  All of these items were present upon check-in.  And yes, these were newly remodeled units!  One would expect issues as the units age and especially as they approach the 7-year period for renovation, but it came as a surprise in these units that were newly updated.  My personal opinion is that oftentimes Marriott does a temporary fix so as not to disturb and interfere with the guests’ precious vacation time, rather than take the [extended] time to fix it right.  Although, as a customer service advocate, the latter solution would produce a much higher guest satisfaction rate!  On a positive note, every time we call for maintenance they respond very quickly, sometimes within minutes.  And, as with most Marriott employees, they are always friendly and apologetic.

 

Enjoy the Photo Tour of Marriott’s Grande Vista Resort in Orlando, Florida

 

 

Marriott Grande Vista Resort Map of the Property

Marriott Grande Vista Resort Map

 

DID YOU KNOW…

Marriott has over 50+ Resorts in their Marriott Vacation Club Portfolio!  Here’s a complete list of Marriott Vacation Club properties worldwide.

FOR YOU LOWCOUNTRY LOVERS…

I’ve recently returned from one of my favorite Marriott Vacation Club destinations… SurfWatch on sensational Hilton Head Island, South Carolina!  Here’s my Review and Photo Tour of Marriott’s SurfWatch Resort.

Do you have a question about Marriott’s Grande Vista Resort? Please ask using the comment box below — I’ll do my best to answer it!

 

 

 

 

Read more »