Travel Well: Unexpected Orlando | Greenwich Moms

This story was contributed by our wellness columnist Michelle Calarco. 

With normal life beginning to resume, we’re FINALLY back to traveling again on the regular. My family and I recently took a trip to Orlando, but it wasn’t what you might expect. While the destination is synonymous with the theme parks, there’s a whole other side to uncover.

I always try to seek out resorts that prioritize wellness – places that are mindful about healthy food and that offer equal parts active recreation and relaxation. I found all that and more at  Grande Lakes Orlando. Anchored by The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott hotels, the resort sets the bar high when it comes to wellness, from over-the-top spa treatments to sourcing ingredients from its 7,000-square-foot farm.  Plus there’s so much to do right on property, including golf, outdoor adventures like fishing and kayak eco-tours, several pools (with new deluxe cabanas) and more.

As we all know vacationing with kids can sometimes feel like our normal, busy life just gets moved to a different location, but not here. My husband and I have switched off with golf and spa and lots of special family time in between. You can also venture to Disney World fairly easily as well by simply hopping on a shuttle from the resort to the parks.

And its Ritz Kids program is perfect for us moms traveling with little ones to allow them their own adventures while we get some much-needed R&R! Read on for the scoop on why you should consider this resort for your next family vacation.


  • Spa: the expansive hotel spa offers a variety of holistic treatments. My favorite is the Grande Citrus Escape – the ultimate indulgence! Featuring honey and sweet orange, this treatment will hydrate your skin with exfoliation, bath, wrap and scalp treatment, and a full body massage. Sneak in a few extra minutes for yourself at the adults-only lap pool outside the spa, or enjoy a healthy lunch at Vitale Spa Cafe.
  • Swim: Enjoy one of three pools, including a heated family pool and lazy river at the JW Marriott, an adults-only lap pool and hot tub at The Spa, and a heated pool and cabanas at The Ritz-Carlton.
  • Sports: With fishing, falconry adventures, mountain biking, and kayak eco-tours, you’ll find plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy.
  • Ritz Kids: Drop the kids off for a fun afternoon, with educational activities like nature walks and workshops for children ages 4 -12.


  • With 11 dining options on-site, the resort makes family mealtime a breeze.
  • Highball & Harvest is a go-to for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant highlights organic and local ingredients from the Orlando area and uses produce, herbs, and spices grown in-house at Whisper Creek Farm, so it’s food you can feel good about feeding your family.
  • Primo combines sustainable food sourcing with the flavors of Italy, France, and Spain. With menus crafted by award-winning chef Melissa Kelly and ingredients grown on-site at the Primo Organic Garden, the restaurant features authentic home-style Italian and Mediterranean cuisine incorporating local produce and responsibly farmed meats.
  • Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen serves a menu of small plates, snacks, sandwiches, and flatbreads that highlight ingredients produced at the on-site farm and by local Orlando-area purveyors plus seasonal and craft beers from Whisper Creek Farm: The Brewery.
  • And don’t miss Knife & Spoon, a new signature steak & seafood restaurant by award-winning Chef John Tesar.


  • Guests at both hotels can enjoy all the facilities and services at Grande Lakes Orlando, from the 18-hole Greg Norman-designed championship golf course to the 40,000-square-foot Ritz-Carlton Spa
  • For an ultra-luxury experience, upgrade your room or suite to include access to The Ritz-Carlton Club. Enjoy five daily food and beverage presentations, including breakfast, lunch, and alcoholic drinks, entry to Ritz Kids for up to two children per day plus access to a media room with games and movies, exclusive areas and balconies for viewing fireworks, and dedicated concierge service.

For more information or reservations, visit the website here.

About Michelle Calarco: Michelle is a communications expert and a wellness enthusiast. After honing her storytelling craft in media and television, Michelle went on to elevate the profiles of premier brands across the hospitality, healthy living, and better-for-you food spaces. She has always been passionate about living and eating well and became even more immersed in health when she became a mom. On weekends you can find her squeezing in a barre class (during Paw Patrol) and baking healthyish desserts with her little one. Michelle has a consulting business and resides in Greenwich with her husband and 3-year-old son.Have an idea for something you want to see in the column? Write to Michelle at [email protected] or follow her @michelle.calarco

Join The Greenwich Community

Stay up-to-date with what is happening in-and-around Greenwich, CT with local events, community highlights, and exclusive deals.