The ultimate O-Town hotel for mixing business and pleasure

The lavish Orlando World Center Marriott sprawls out over 200 acres.

The lavish Orlando World Center Marriott sprawls out over 200 acres.

A recent visit to the Orlando World Center Marriott, a 200-acre resort just a stone’s throw from Walt Disney World and other top Florida theme parks, proved a perfect way to unwind while still being productive.

During my two-day visit, multiple conventions were in play at this towering 1,883-room property boasting more than 450,000 square feet of meeting space. And while business was certainly being conducted, families also frolicked in the pool, spouses who’d accompanied their working partners spent time in the spa and foursomes enjoyed a round on the 18-hole championship golf course.

The rotunda of the hotel's state of the art convention center.

The rotunda of the hotel’s state of the art convention center.

Arriving at lunchtime, I headed to the Falls Pool Oasis and ordered seasonal fruit with honey-mint yogurt and a turkey bacon avocado wrap, all delivered directly to my plush chaise lounge. Every seat has a fabulous view of the palm-lined pool, back dropped with rock outcroppings and waterfalls, and featuring some of the coolest water slides in the country, as recognized by both Forbes and ABC News.

My bliss was interrupted by the thunderstorms that rolled through midday, so I retreated to my king suite, sat on the balcony with a book and watched the weather pass by, with clear views of Epcot and Universal in the distance.

Opting to dine at Siro Urban Italian Kitchen’s bar my first night, I ordered the perfectly crisp-roasted Brussels sprouts, as well as bucatini pomodoro with fresh basil and Parmesan— an Italian classic. Paired with a glass of Chianti and some lively banter with the bartender, it was a perfect solo evening. The night was capped with a laser light show, filling the pool area with vibrant colors and dazzling graphics synchronized to music.

The next day, I got my sweat on at the state-of-the-art fitness center, then headed to the spa for the heavenly “Around the World in Eighty Minutes” massage, which included Swedish and deep-tissue techniques, warm stones and aromatherapy. Herbal tea in hand, I then headed to the intimate West Terrace Spa Pool to read for a few hours before picking up a salad from the grab-and-go Central Pantry and retiring to my suite to get a little work done. I later pampered myself with a blowout at Blo Blow Dry Bar and perused designer swimwear from the likes of Trina Turk and Tommy Bahama at the gift shop.

The outdoor fire pits are a great place to catch the hotel's nightly laser show.

The outdoor fire pits are a great place to catch the hotel’s nightly laser show.

That night at the Mikado Japanese Steakhouse, seated alongside families and convention-goers alike, I dined on filet mignon and salmon, sipped on a Blushing Buddha cocktail and enjoyed the show put on by the highly skilled teppanyaki chef who juggled knives and created fiery onion volcanoes.

There is much more to do on-site that I just didn’t have time for: tennis, the emerging sport of footgolf (think kicking a soccer ball around on a golf course, scored by golf rules), an arcade and 10 restaurants and bars.

I awoke on departure day feeling refreshed and accomplished. In between leisure activities, a story was written, conference calls were held and the next issue was brainstormed. At the Orlando World Center Marriott, one need never leave, and the saying “combining business and pleasure” is true to its meaning.

ORLANDO WORLD CENTER MARRIOTT
marriott.com

STORY: Joanne Hayes