Earlier this month we had reason to take a lightning trip down to Orlando, so we couldn’t resist the temptation of, finally, trying out a resort we’ve been looking forward to visiting for a few years – Marriott’s Lakeshore Reserve.
We visited Lakeshore Reserve, very briefly, in 2013 (for an hour!) and loved the feel of the resort. The Spanish style architecture looked good, the pool looked inviting and the whole resort had a surprisingly “grown-up” feel to it (surprising, because Orlando isn’t the most grown-up of places!). It’s also the newest property in the Marriott Vacation Club portfolio, having only opened its doors in June 2010.
As our trip was only for 2 nights (and in January) we took advantage of some unusually good prices on Marriott.com and reserved the 1-bedroom section of a 2-bedroom villa for our visit. A studio unit would have been more than enough for our needs, but we wanted to review a villa that a family would find comfortable.
We arrived at the resort a few hours before the usual check-in time of 4pm to find that our villa was already ready for us – not particularly surprising as the first couple of weeks in January are often some of the slowest weeks of the year, but it was still nice not to have to wait.
The entry to Marriott’s Lakeshore Reserve and the building housing the lobby, fitness area and the business center:
The front desk staff were friendly and helpful and we were soon on our way to our villa in the “Messina” building (for a better idea of the layout of the resort take a look at the resort map on VacationSmarter.com).
We had a room on the 4th floor of the building (overlooking the pool area) and, straight away, we liked what we saw. The living/dining area (including a sofa bed) felt spacious…
….and the kitchen looked modern and sleek:
The good news continued in the bedroom, which had a very comfortable king-sized bed, a good-sized desk, and a view over the balcony towards the pool area:
The spacious feel of the villa continued in the bathroom, which had a double sink and large walk-in shower:
The balcony had a table that would comfortably sit four guests and even had a sun lounger:
Overall, we were very impressed with the villa. In fact, we were so impressed that it’s just as well that the villas at Marriott’s Aruba Surf Club (one of our home resorts) have recently undergone a make-over or Marriott’s Lakeshore Reserve would have put them to shame!
The rest of Marriott’s Lakeshore Reserve didn’t disappoint either. The feeling of space that we got from the villa transferred over to the grounds of the resort and it was easy to see how the resort got its name:
Once we’d finished admiring the greenery and expansive grounds around the resort we moved to the pool. Unluckily for guests (but luckily for those of us who wanted pictures of the pool without throngs of vacationers in the way!) the weather wasn’t quite warm enough for lying out by the pool – but that didn’t detract from what was on offer:
With so few people about it was hard to judge how the pool area would stand up to the number of vacationers who will visit during the busier times of the year but, from what we saw, there looked to be ample seating/lounging for the size of the resort. There was even a water slide for the kids (although this was closed for maintenance during our stay).
Marriott’s Lakeshore Reserve sits as part of the “Grand Lakes” property dominated by Marriott. The big benefit of this is that guests at the resort have access to the nearby JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton properties (a shuttle from the lobby will take guests who prefer not to drive), so the options for dining are pretty good.
Between them, Marriott and Starwood offer a total of eight other vacation resorts for families visiting the Orlando area and, while they’re all very good, there also isn’t that much to differentiate their offerings (outside of room size/type). At least not in our opinion. This is where we think that Marriott’s Lakeshore Reserve creates a niche for itself – it’s slightly different to the other resorts in the area. Lakeshore Reserve is one of the smaller Marriott Vacation Club resorts (with just 85 villas it may be the smallest – we’re still checking!) and that gives it a more homely feel. The resort’s affiliation with the nearby JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton properties gives it a slightly upscale feel that is enhanced by the resort’s architecture and general atmosphere – this is what we meant when we described the property as feeling “grown up” earlier in the review.
While Lakeshore Reserve is definitely “kid friendly” we think that the resort will appeal more to adults than to kids – and that’s just fine. Children may find more to keep them occupied at some of the other Orlando Marriott Vacation Club resorts, like Marriott’s Grande Vista (the largest Marriott resort in the world) or Starwood’s Sheraton Vistana Villages but adults will love this resort. Orlando will forever be associated with Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World and so will always be focused strongly on the younger members of a family – but it’s nice that there’s an Orlando Marriott Vacation Club resort that’s a bit more adult-focused than the rest.
We often hear vacationers saying that Lakeshore Reserve is “further out” than the other resorts and that it’s a “longer drive to the main attractions” and while, strictly speaking, those statements are true, everything is relative and should be taken in context. Marriott’s Lakeshore Reserve is just 9 minutes drive from Sea World:
11 minutes from Universal Studios:
And 13 minutes from Disney World:
So no one is going to be undertaking a major road trip to visit the sights!
As you’ve probably gathered by now, we loved what we saw of Lakeshore Reserve. Marriott has done a great job with the property. We’d love to take some friends and family with us the next time we visit and we’d probably look to get one or two 2- or 3-bed vacation rentals from some of the owners at the resort (we won’t be paying Marriott prices for those!).
For us, Marriott’s Lakeshore Reserve would work well, as it has an ambiance and feel that we enjoy and, while it isn’t exactly far from the theme parks, it’s far enough away and a small enough resort to allow us to feel like we’re escaping the throngs of vacationers who descend on Orlando each year. It’s as close to a boutique hotel as you’ll find in the Marriott Vacation Club portfolio.
For more pictures of Marriott’s Lakeshore Reserve from our recent trip, head over to our Facebook page.