by Jackie Perrin
You’ll find a boatload of kid-friendly entertainment options at Marriott’s Harbour Lake, a pirate-themed Central Florida resort that offers a full range of water and land-based activities for families, just minutes from Orlando theme park fun.
Open to the public for nightly rentals, the 360-unit timeshare property, one of 50 Marriott Vacation Club properties worldwide, debuted at Horizons by Marriott Vacation Club Orlando in 2001 and was renamed Marriott’s Harbour Lake in 2009.
From a pirate-themed mini golf course to two-pirate themed pools to regular encounters with a resident Pirate mascot, the privateer theme runs deep. Add to this a lively activities program where guests can dive for hidden treasure, team up in an “Amazing Pirate Race” or be pampered like a “Pirate Princess,” and it’s no wonder that the Orlando property is rated a favorite headquarters for vacationing families.
Lodging options range from studio guest rooms to fully furnished villas, which sleep up to eight, and in villas, kid-friendly features like a full kitchen, a wraparound dining table and a washer and dryer make an extended stay a pleasure.
For more information, read about Marriott Vacation Club Resorts and Hotels.
Our Editor Loves
- Pirate-themed pools with zero entry
- 18-hole onsite mini golf course
- Accommodations with comforts of home
- Theme Park
- Children Programs
- Family Room 5+
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
Designed with a Key West flair, one- and two-bedroom villas feature all the comforts of home, including a full kitchen, a living room and a washer and dryer, plus some bonus features traveling families will especially appreciate, like a wraparound dining table and free WiFi.
One-bedroom, one-bathroom villas are 800 square feet and sleep four, with a king-sized bed in the master bedroom and a sleeper sofa in the living room, two TVs and a DVD player. Two-bedroom, two-bathroom villas sleep eight and feature the same living area and master bedroom design as one-bedroom villas, plus an additional TV in two different second bedroom layouts. The traditional set up (1,082 square feet) features two queen-sized beds in the second bedroom and a connecting bathroom. The second option is a "lock-out" guest room. In addition to a kitchenette, a bathroom and a table with chairs, this room contains a queen-sized bed and a sofabed, and features a door to the outside as well as an inside connecting door to the one-bedroom villa. You can note your preference of layouts at the time of booking, but a specific configuration can't be guaranteed.
Master bathrooms in both accommodations are spacious and feature a double vanity, a hair dryer and Bath & Body Works Aromatherapy products, and all villas feature a screened balcony.
At 225 square feet, studio guestrooms sleep four, with rates averaging around 30 percent less than a one-bedroom villa. They don't have a washer or dryer, but shared laundry rooms are available. If you can come up with the extra cash, the extra space and amenities that come with a villa will afford you more peace, as well as privacy.
Vacationers desiring fresh-squeezed orange juice will be pleased to find that each villa kitchen is stocked with a juicer, in addition to a full range of appliances, dishes, glasses, utensils and cookware. Dishwashing liquid and a supply of dishwasher and laundry detergent are included, and complimentary daily "Tidy Service" is provided to those renting by the night. The abbreviated clean-up call includes re-making of beds with existing linens, restocking of towels, dishwasher reloading and emptying of wastebaskets. "Full Cleaning Service," which includes re-making of beds with fresh linens, vacuuming and mopping, is available for an additional fee.
Complimentary Pack 'n Plays, bed rails, and high chairs are delivered upon request. Parking is free in adjacent lots with a valid resort parking pass (provided at check-in). If you need additional equipment for children, Orlando Crib Rental will deliver full-cribs, child safety gates and strollers directly to your resort accommodation.
Buildings are updated on a regular schedule, averaging every five years, so there isn't really a location that's significantly better than another in terms of freshness. For close proximity to swimming and resort activities, if you don't mind the commotion, request an accommodation overlooking the Pirate Plunge Pool.
We had the opportunity to stay at this resort with our family. The resort is pretty large so bring your walking shoes. We did like that they had 2 pools so it never felt too crowded. The rooms were average freshly renovated but the bed was not super comfortable. It was cool that they offer activities at the resort but there should be a way to notify customers in advance so that they can be prepared for activities that have a charge. At times there were only 2 people at the front desk which made for a long wait. The phone in our room was not working and so we had to walk a long way to the front desk to make requests. Overall it was a good stay but these are a few things that could be worked on. Nicholas at the front desk should be in charge of customer service training he was very professional and friendly to all guests.
The feeling of southern hospitality is overwhelming when you pull into the property. Staff continues the friendly feeling with their southern charm. Location is perfect for the family fun and experience in Orlando.
Overlooking Lake Willis, this pleasant pool complex features a main pool with zero entry on two sides, a Pirate ship with slides and water cannons, two hot tubs and a turtle-themed kiddie pool. Daily games range from "Family Bingo" to "Pool Relay Race" and "Beach Bag Scavenger Hunt." At a poolside hut, guests can get a hair wrap, hair braids, or else a temporary tattoo. Pool hours are 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. No lifeguards are on duty.
Pirate Plunge Pool
Complete with an interactive splash pad, this fun-filled pirate-themed water playground for buccaneers big and small features dueling forts where you can face off in a family water cannon war, a zero entry pool with a soaring slide (must be 42 inches tall to ride) and a round kiddie pool with sun sail shades. Lots of colorful scenery makes for great family photo-ops. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and the waterslide closes at 9 p.m. A resort staff member directs activity on the waterslide, but no lifeguards are on duty. A Big Squirt Fill Station provides free air for floats and relief for Mom or Dad.
Complimentary towels are available on the pool decks and swim diapers are required for non-potty-trained children in pools and water play areas. You can purchase individual diapers at The Parched Pirate.
Challenge the kids to a game of mini-golf at this pirate-themed 18-hole course, located near the Pirate Plunge Pool. Equipment can be borrowed at The Parched Pirate. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
At a covered pavilion located next to Putt-of-Course, you can play ping-pong, foosball or billiards. Picnic tables are plentiful and gas barbecue grills are nearby. Next door, you'll find a bright, modern playground with bridges and a tube slide. It's gated, with a soft surface underneath and a couple of benches for Mom and Dad. Nearby, a fire pit is the site of a weekly campfire with S'mores.
Court and Field Games
Play a game of basketball or tennis on two courts, located near Function Junction. Nearby, at Horizons Field, don your body armor and take part in a daytime adult and teen dodgeball game, or come back at night for a resort-hosted after-dark generation match. Across the street, near the Boardwalk, there's a volleyball net set up on a wide expanse of grass. An array of balls is available at the resort Recreation Office.
Open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, this multi-purpose room serves as a center for resort recreation. You'll find over a dozen games, from the latest video games to air hockey, as well as craft tables for scheduled activities like "Tie-Dye University." Each day from 2 to 3 p.m., there's an ice cream sundae party from 2 to 3 p.m. daily. Make your own ice cream float or create a custom sundae concoction, and purchase a disposable dish and a plastic skull and bones souvenir cup for free ice cream refills for the length of your stay.
Located on the second floor of the Welcome Center, Captain's Quarter's is the site of scheduled art and activities programs for kids like "Tiny Tot Finger Paint," "Rise and Shine Breakfast," "Pirate Princess Party" and "Kids Night Out."
HarborSide Bar & Grill
Situated near Horizons Harbor, this casual poolside bar and grill serves up predictable fare for kids like pancakes for breakfast and grilled cheese and chicken tenders for lunch and dinner, served with a choice of fries, fresh fruit or carrot and celery sticks. Wholesome choices for adults include salads and a "Pan-seared Herb Mahi Mahi Sandwich" for lunch or dinner, and at dinnertime (5 to 10 p.m.), pasta with meatballs is served in both a kids and an adult version. High chairs and covered seating are available. Breakfast hours are 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. and lunch and dinner service is from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. The bar closes at 11 p.m.
Parched Pirate Snack Bar
Located between the Pirate Plunge Pool Complex and Function Junction, this snack shack and putt-putt equipment supplier offers frozen drinks, Starbucks coffee and ice cream novelties, and sells vacation essentials like sunscreen and swim diapers. Also available: pool toys, bagels and snacks, including hot pretzels, nachos and scones. Help yourself to complimentary ice-cold water from a cooler. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Planning & Tips
From Orlando International Airport (MCO) (15 miles): Follow signs to the north exit of the airport. Take State Road 528 West (toll road) to exit 1, International Drive/SeaWorld. Turn left onto International Drive. At the traffic light, turn right onto Westwood Boulevard. Proceed approximately two miles and Marriott's Harbour Lake will be on your right.
If you're visiting the theme parks and arriving by air, it's best to rent a car, as there is no scheduled theme park shuttle service. The resort is located one mile from SeaWorld, Aquatica and Discovery Cove and is less than 15 minutes from Universal and Walt Disney World Resorts.
All About the Extras
From surfing lessons to resort-hosted scuba classes to scheduled family portrait sessions (9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday), this resort really has an array of amenities to make your Orlando vacation memorable. A good portion of activities is free, which greatly enhances the appeal for budget-conscious families. Discounted tickets to area theme parks are available at the Concierge Desk, and special rates and play and stay theme park packages are available.
At the Front Desk, purchase a resort mug for around $16 and receive complimentary refills on Pepsi fountain products for the length of your stay. $1 of each sale is donated to the Children's Miracle Network.
At the Gym, located on the second floor of the Welcome Center, you'll find free weights and a range of cardiovascular equipment. All-day access is available with a resort keycard. For those who enjoy a more social workout, there's "Adult Aqua Boot Camp" and "Aqualates" (yoga in the water). Personal training sessions, as well as massages are available by appointment.
Kids Nite Out, an independent agency, provides in-room resort childcare. Rates are $16 per hour for the first child, with a four-hour minimum and a $10 caregiver transportation fee.
The Art of Smart Timing
Because it's a resort that's very popular with families, occupancy is high any time school is out of session. This includes times like spring break, summer and Christmas as well as holiday weekends like Labor Day and Columbus Day. The good news for traveling families is that during peak travel times, the resort expands its already-generous menu of activities, adding special themed events and seasonal offerings like a Hawaiian luau complete with hula dancers and fire throwing (summer months). If your kids aren't in school yet, September is a great time to visit. During this month, rates and occupancy are low and theme park crowds are light.