Largest US Resort this Year in Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. - July 1, 2003 - As America gears up to celebrate the July 4th holiday weekend, there is big news in the nation’s number one tourist destination with today’s opening of Grande Lakes Orlando. At a cost of nearly $600 million, the 500-acre estate is the largest non-gaming hotel project to open in the United States this year, creating 1,200 new jobs in the Orlando area. The property is owned by Thayer Lodging Group and managed by The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C., and Marriott Hotels & Resorts.

Inspired by the 1920s architect Addison Mizner, the 584-room Ritz-Carlton, designed to feel like an Italian palazzo, offers guests a residential ambiance. At the 1,000-room JW Marriott, the grand lobby atrium with fountain and obelisk gives guests a sense of arrival. Designed with Spanish and Moorish influences, bold colors of the Mediterranean are incorporated throughout the hotel. Complementing these two grand structures is an 18-hole Greg Norman-designed championship golf course and a 40,000 square-foot spa, both managed by The Ritz-Carlton.

“This is one of the country’s most exciting new resorts and will redefine the Orlando experience by providing the privacy and amenities of a luxury golf and spa resort, with convenient access to everything this famous destination has to offer,” said William J. Shaw, president and chief operating officer, Marriott International, Inc. (NYSE:MAR).

“We are delighted to be opening our eighth hotel in Florida in Orlando, the recreational playground of the world,” said Simon Cooper, president and chief operating officer, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. “Each of the Ritz-Carlton resorts in Florida has been an award-winner, and we feel certain this will be one of the jewels in the crown with an amazing spa, world-class golf course, and a location sophisticated travelers will find especially appealing.
“Customers told us that there was a real desire for premium rooms and a luxury hotel experience in Orlando,” said Marc Hoffman, vice president and managing director of Grande Lakes Orlando. “We hope to fill this need by offering an unrivaled level of service, amenities, golf and spa facilities to attract the refined traveler.”
Distinguishing Grande Lakes Orlando from the crowd are a number of industry “firsts” - it is the first resort to combine these two outstanding brands, the first golf resort in the U.S. to offer an innovative Golf Caddie-Concierge Program; the first resort in the nation to offer a Golf FORE Kids Etiquette Class; and the first resort in the world to have its own Citrus Consultant, an expert on all things citrus.
Grande Lakes Orlando offers 12 different lounge and dining choices including two signature dining venues. Norman’s, located in The Ritz-Carlton is a culinary collaboration with celebrated chef Norman Van Aken. At the JW Marriott, the highlight is chef Melissa Kelly’s Primo restaurant. Both of these acclaimed chefs are recipients of the James Beard Foundation Awards and establish Grande Lakes Orlando as an outstanding dining destination for the community.

Meeting space is extensive with 33,000 square feet at The Ritz-Carlton, including two ballrooms and 14 meeting rooms, while the JW Marriott features over 72,000 square feet of meeting space, including two ballrooms, 23 conference rooms and two elegantly appointed boardrooms. Wireless high-speed internet access is available in all meetings rooms and public spaces.


Signature touches at Grande Lakes Orlando include enhanced children’s programs and specialty concierges at The Ritz-Carlton, and a 24,000 square-foot, winding lazy river pool (which holds 672,000 gallons of water) with floating tubes at the JW Marriott.

Introductory rates and packages are available at both hotels through September 1, 2003. The Ritz-Carlton offers a rate of $199 per night for a deluxe room and the JW Marriott rates start at $159 per night. Guests at both resorts will share the full range of spa, golf and dining facilities.

Grande Lakes offers complimentary shuttle transportation to Orlando theme parks, including Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, and Discovery Cove. The resort is located 15 minutes from the Orlando International Airport, five minutes from the Orlando/Orange County Convention Center, and minutes from all the major theme parks.

For reservations, call: The Ritz-Carlton Orlando at 1-800-576-5760/JW Marriott Orlando at 1-800-576-5750. For more information about Grande Lakes Orlando, visit

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C, a winner of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 1992 and 1999, operates 54 luxury hotels throughout the world. For information or reservations, call (800) 241-3333 or visit

JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts cater to discerning upscale travelers who prefer a more relaxed luxury experience. The JW Marriott portfolio includes 29 hotels in 15 countries. For information or reservations, call (800) 228-9290 or visit