We are about to let you in on a secret! One that will allow you to save money and stay in comfort, and decide on a resort for your next trip to Orlando. Three words: Marriott Vacation Club. Here's two more words: Grande Vista. Imagine an expansive resort with all the amenities, one and two bedroom villas and rates under $160 for most of the year, plus reward points that can be redeemed for future vacations! Yes, it's a reality! Read on!
Marriott's Grande Vista resort is one of the many resorts in Marriott's Vacation Club brand. We will writing about the vacation club portion in the future, but today we'd like to get you acquainted with an amazing resort in the heart of Orlando that has become one of our favorite places to stay. It is not much different from your own neighborhood, but with a beautiful pool, highly rated golf course, and a convenience store. Grande Vista villas spread around beautiful lakes, with streets lined with magnolia trees and golf carts leisurely passing by.
Just like at home. That is if you're lucky enough to live in a beautiful neighborhood like that. Upon check in, you're offered a little welcome gift and a thick package of amenities and activities available, as well as a map of how to get to your villa. Since the resort is pretty expansive, even at the furthest part of the property, you will still be surprised to find a pool, gazebos and firepits for evening activities. The lobby takes the whole Tuscan theme even further, delighting guests with hanging tea lights and decorative wrought iron doors.
The property at Grande Vista is really gorgeous. Tall magnolias, palm trees, and narrow walkways surrounded by white fences and gazebos will lead you all around the lake and to the main recreational part of the resort. A mix of northern trees, palm trees and Tuscan architecture is a nice touch, as it makes you feel like home wherever you're from, while still giving that touch of newness that is so special when you travel.
If you happen to stay in one of the buildings located across from the boathouse, you will get to enjoy expansive views of the lake, with it's fountains and colorful boats going by, as well as a gorgeous overview of the resort grounds with orange roofs and coral touches.
ROOMS AND SUITES
This is where we fell in love with Grande Vista for the first time. Walking into a nicely appointed, 2 bedroom villa was a treat. A large living/ dining room with a spacious kitchen complete with a full refrigerator, dishwasher, clothes washer/ dryer and microwave was only the beginning.
In best Marriott traditions, the master suite was big and beautiful and featured the biggest Jacuzzi tub we have ever had a privilege to enjoy. There is something about the prospect of being able to relax in a massive four-person tub after a long day at the parks that really makes you love your hotel room.
The second bedroom can feature two queens or one king bed and if you happen to luck out (or request) and get one of the rooms that features a separate entrance for the 2nd bedroom, then you will never want to leave this place. If, in fact, you do get an adjoining second bedroom, then it will also have a nice mini-kitchen and possibly a balcony. If you have a smaller child, you can request a high chair and a crib.
Grande Vista is one of the few resorts that offers a high chair and that is always a huge plus. This set- up is the best that we have seen in most resorts, especially if you consider the price, and is a perfect place for a family with kids to spend their weeks running around Orlando.
Because of the sheer size of the resort, guests at Grande Vista are offered several pools to enjoy. The main pool, located by the clubhouse, is a large twisting pool with tall palm trees circling it and overlooking the lake , with a big toddler pool, fountain play area and a jacuzzi. If you're staying away from the main area, you will still get to enjoy nice pools in each one of the corners of the resort. Our favorite pool is a fort-themed play area, with lots of splash features for kids.
ACTIVITIES & ENTERTAINMENT:
Grande Vista has managed to strike a perfect balance between being a kid-friendly resort and still offering activities and entertainment for all ages. Here are some of our favorite features:
Next to the marina, the boathouse offers boat rentals, as well as fishing opportunities and game tables. You can see people playing ping-pong at almost any time of day.
Our favorite feature! We have not seen anything like this in any other resort. MAZE is a name for all Marriott Vacation Club's kids activity centers, but we have yet to see one that is this much fun. The center consists of 2 big rooms: one designed for TV watching and video game playing, as well as more active floor-fun, while the other one houses an incredibly exciting activity maze. It's a tower of balancing, sliding and climbing equipment surrounded by nets. Kids have a BLAST there! If your child is more of a builder or reader than a climber, you can join in at one of the Lego tables, or enjoy some table games and drawing supplies, or sit down with a book to read.
A beautiful architectural feature, the lighthouse is home to Grande Vista's creamery, offering delectable frozen treats, candy and ice cream with outside dining tables on the deck overlooking the lake.
You won't even have to leave the property if you need a stick of butter or a few eggs. The convenience store is just that, convenient, and sells anything a guest might be missing in his travel bag.
Remember that big packet you received when checking in? Well, it contains a schedule of daily activities, and there are quite a few of them. From martini mixing lessons, to chocolate tastings, pirate scavenger hunts, s'more roasting, and campfire singing - it has 4-5 activities per day for all ages.
The boathouse doesn't just house a ping-pong table, it also rents out boats and catamarans, both single and family size, for a leisurely ride around the lake. If the weather is perfect (and it is always perfect), it's one of the best ways to pass the time while enjoying your family's company.
Kid's Day camp and kid's night out are offered at $35/day, so if you and your partner would like to go play a game of golf or have a nice adult only dinner, Grande Vista has you covered. If you really want to impress your kid, sign them up for Tamiya Car Building and Racing, where they will get to build model cars and the race them with their peers.
Golf and Tennis
With two golf courses on the property and some of the most amazing golf clinics designed for adults and older kids, and custom club fitting programs courtesy of Marriott Golf Academy, you're never going to want to leave. If you're not a golf person, you can always catch a game of tennis or partake in some lessons at the tennis courts in Grande Vista.
Orlando might not be near a real beach, but Grande Vista made sure that you still get some fun in the sand. Adjacent to the lake (and fenced in), the beach offers opportunities for suntanning, a pick-up game of beach volleyball, or good old-fashioned sand play for the little ones. Sometimes it's just nice to bury your feet and into the sand and read a book while sipping a frozen drink.
The spa facilities at Grande Vista Spa are gorgeous. Tastefully done, the spa creates just the right kind of relaxation before you head in to enjoy your treatment. A variety of packages are designed to pamper you from head to toe, with customized massages and body treatments that you've never heard of. Services like a honey massage or a whey body treatment, coupled with the skill of experienced therapists, make this spa stand out among others we've visited. If you prefer salon services, you can select from an array of nail services and waxing treatments.
Don't be fooled by a simple name, The Grill at Grande Vista will surprise you with tasty breakfast buffets and deliciously prepared dinners, as well as an extensive menu, featuring various dishes that will please everyone. Designed in the best traditions of a golf clubhouse eatery, it features comfy arm chairs and wooden tables, as well as an outside dining area overlooking the golf course views. Each month, The Grill features various themed events such as: beer tasting, wine tasting, cooking class, martini making class and kids build-your-own pizza and pancakes. If you feel like something more casual, you could always order Pizza Hut delivery to eat at the two poolside bars that offer a good menu of their own.
Grande Vista Resort is a known place for family gatherings, with generations after generations staying at the resort. It's no surprise! Once you stay at Grande Vista and experience what it has to offer, it's hard not to come back for more. Large villas can accommodate up to 11 family members, and if you're a smaller family of 3, you will still appreciate larger rooms and enough space to live comfortably and enjoy all of the activities that the resort has to offer.
Photo credits: The Art of Making A Baby and Marriott Vacation Club