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Orlando Christmas Buffets

All our Florida family members get together each Christmas at an Orlando buffet. For the past 15 years, it has been at the Renaissance across the street from Sea World. For five years prior to that, it was at the Orlando Marriott World Center.

We just discovered the Renaissance will be closed for renovation this Christmas!!! Bob, I know you hate buffets, but do you or anyone else have suggestions for a new place? Please help!

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  1. I was looking at the Thanksgiving inforamtion about what Gaylord is doing todaym in fact, and I'm inclined to agree with Special K.

    Renaissance has changed owners and GMs this year -- I think it will take them a while to get back in the grove again.

    Peabody always does a very nice holiday buffet.

    I'd also suggest an inquiry at the Grande Lakes resort. Call the hotel conierge at either the JW Marriott or the Ritz. They can tell you what is planned.

    Finally, consider the Grand Bohemian downtown. Check with the concierge, but they have a very talented chef and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

    Bob

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bob Mervine

      Thanks for all your help. My son-in-law works at the Grande Lakes and the brunch at the Ritz on Christmas is more than we want to spend. Our choice came down to the Peabody or Gaylord Palms and our 20 family members voted for the Peabody even though it doesn't have the mounds of cold seafood and sushi that I loved so much at the Renaissance. I'll let everyone know how it is!

    2. Good luck and happy holidays !

      I've never been dissapointed at the Peabody.

      Just curious, doesn't the JW marriott offer a still spectacular, but less pricey Christmas buffet?

      Bob

      1. I thought I had already answered this, but I don't see my post, so...The Ritz Carlton at Grande Lakes has the Christmas buffet and it costs more than the Peabody. And from what I hear, the Peabody has it beat (although the reservations agent at the Peabody did make it clear that they have no crab legs on their buffet - bummer!)

        1 Reply
        1. re: Podie1956

          You did respond -- sort of. You mentioned in an earlier post that you had a relative who worked at the Grande Lakes and that the Ritz-Carlton's buffet was more than you wanted to spend.
          I was under the impression your consensus vote was to go to the Peabody.

          I was just raising the issue that, since Grande Lakes has two hotels with two slightly different sets of clientele, that, perhaps, they might also be offering a buffet in one of the JW Marriott restaurants that might be less expensive than the Ritz, but still very high quality. Perhaps with crab legs.
          Did you check both Grande Lakes properties?

          Bob

        2. The Marriott does have their own brunch...I just received a newsletter from the Grande Lakes properties the other day and it lists both a thanksgiving and christmas brunch at each of the hotels. Info from the newsletter is below:

          The christmas feast at the Ritz is in the Vineyard Grill and is from 12-8 PM and costs $69 for adults, $32 for children. It says there's live entertainment too, but doesn't list specifics on food other than "join chef delgado for a gourmet buffet featuring all the trimmings."

          THe christmas celebration at the JW Marriott is at Citron from noon to 7 PM and costs $64 for adults and $32 for children. They list carved ham and turkey, seafood stations, champagne mimosas and wine bar. Children have thier own buffet and there is live entertainment and a visit from santa.

          Hope this helps! I've heard the brunches at the Ritz are quite something...but never been myself.

          1. Thanks for the info! That's what I get for believing my son-in-law at the Grande Lakes, who said only the Vineyard Grill was having a Christmas buffet! I'll check JW Marriott out, but by now I think everyone is budgeting for the $45.50 Peabody deal - not sure I can get them to consider the extra bucks. Regardless, I'll report back wherever we go!

            1. Hi

              Greetings from Scotland.

              Come over every year at least twice per year and like you went to the Renaissance for Christmas for a long number of years. Pity it is not doing it this year. Did go to the Peabody last year but never again.

              Whilst the food was OK the layout was terrible with everyone fighting to get in and out to the buffet area through very small doors before heading back to another room where your table was. I saw many a plate of food being knocked out of folk’s hands just because of the sheer number of folk jostling round.

              In addition the noise in the eating areas was horrendous due to low ceilings. All in all not a pleasant experience.

              Going to try one of the Rosen hotels this year (Rosen Centre or Rosen Plaza or the newer Rosen Shingle Creek.) Their menus look good and the price is under $45.

              Hope this helps

              Carniejim

              1 Reply
              1. re: carniejim

                Hmmm, now you have me a little worried about the Peabody as certain relatives are still complaining about there being no crab legs. I'll be in Orlando tomorrow and I think I'll visit J.W. Marriott to ask about their buffet. Thanks!!!

              2. Just curious if you found anything about J.W. Marriott's buffet. I couldn't find a menu online anywhere. I dined at the Peabody buffet a few years ago. I thought the food was delicious but it was very cramped. All the food was centered around one area, and it wasn't a very relaxing dining experience.

                I checked out the Shingle Creek menu and was impressed with the offerings. Even better, Florida residents receive a 25% discount making the total per adult only $33 dollars per person not including tax and tip.

                Here's the menu for Shingle Creek.

                http://shinglecreekresort.com/cafeOsc...

                2 Replies
                1. re: sunnyday1375

                  The buffet at J.W. Marriott is held at Citron, and I've called them twice to ask specifics about the buffet menu. Believe it or not, both times I received the answer, "We haven't decided on the foods yet." Now, I'm sure it'll end up being great, but I'm not paying $20 more per person than the Peabody to take the chance.

                  I've decided to go ahead with the Peabody and hope the crowded problem has somehow been fixed. If not, we'll never go back. But we sure will miss the Renaissance!

                  By the way, thanks for the link to Shingle Creek. We like lots of cold seafood, and the Peabody has jumbo shrimp (my favorite oxymoron), oysters, and mussels, so they win in that category. The 25% discount sure is nice, though!

                  1. re: Podie1956

                    Thank you so much for the update! I do think the food at the Peabody is very, very excellent quality and well prepared. We are just looking to try someplace new. I think you will definitely enjoy it there. Enjoy your holiday:)

                2. Here's my report, as promised, on the Peabody Christmas Day Brunch. Our typical family meal with 15-20 people was down to only 8 by the time Christmas arrived, due to illness, changed work schedules, and an unplanned trip to Europe due to low ticket prices.

                  If there had been more than 8, our seating would not have been as pleasant as it was. We were in Dux Restaurant, against the wall with four on each side of the rectangular table. There didn't appear to be any round tables that sat eight, and we were thankful to be in our own little corner of the world, and not in the Capriccio Restaurant part of the buffet, which was nowhere near as cozy and friendly as Dux.

                  Mindful of all the complaints about the buffet layout, we followed our server (service was GREAT) to the buffet layout. To the left, in Capriccio, was breakfast food and pasta. Hopefully the plates of waffles, bowls of pasta, and 10 to 12 eggs benedicts were just for display and the people behind the counter would make your choice fresh, but since none of us wanted breakfast foods, I don't know for sure.

                  The other side - the side with the infamous tiny doorway - was, in fact, too small to allow even two people to pass through at the same time. Thankfully it was never a problem. I saw no accidents, no disgruntled people, and no one waiting.

                  Everything we had was very good except for the cold shellfish, shrimp, clams, and mussels. The supposedly "jumbo shrimp" were not very large and were mostly overcooked. We couldn't tell what kind of clams they were but settled on "Goodyear clams" because they were so rubbery. The mussels were simply tasteless. How I missed the Renaissance shellfish and sushi!

                  Will we go again? If the Renaissance buffet never reopens, we'll try another place next year. The Peabody is not made for large groups of people. But it was pretty satisfying, and we left glad we'd tried it.

                  1. Thanks for your report. My family and I ate at Shingle Creek's Christmas brunch.

                    The hotel itself is lovely and spacious. I think the architecture is beautiful considering the enormity of the structure. It won't win awards, but for a Florida resort style hotel, I think the design is wonderful. The dining area is directly below the lobby in a spacious, airy room. Though there were many people dining, it was very quiet. It never felt cramped or crowded. In fact, I think the hotel has left too much room between the booth benches and the tables. My party and I had difficulty being comfortable in the booths while eating because the benches were so far away from the table. I understand that they have to design eating space for all shapes and sizes, but it was uncomfortable most of the time. I felt like I needed a pillow behind my back so I could reach the table.

                    I began my meal with a trip to the salad bar. It was rather pedestrian, but everything was fresh. The salad bar area was kept clean. There was also an impressive selection of domestic and imported cheeses along with several different kinds of olives. I particularly enjoyed a Stilton.

                    There were the standard breakfast foods and breads including waffles, pumpkin pancakes, sausage, bacon and pastries. The pumpkin pancakes were outstanding. They pumpkin content was high, and there was just the perfect amount of spice. It is difficult to find a super pumpkin pancake. Shingle Creek had them. Waffles were excellent as well. They seem to be infused with something vanilla.

                    I moved on to the savory foods where I had turkey with dressing, mashed potatoes, asparagus and a few other steamed vegetables. I was disappointed with the turkey as it was served buffet style and was nearly shredded. There was a lot of dark meat too, which I don't enjoy at all. I think it would have been more appropriate to have someone carving a turkey for the guests. The mashed potatoes were infused with truffles and were excellent as was the gravy. All the veggies were delicious as well.

                    There was some fresh seafood including lots of peeled shrimp, fresh tuna served in a cone with wasabi, salmon tartar, lobster ravioli and a few other things I cannot remember. I cannot comment on these items as I don't eat fish. The other two people in my party are pescatarian and vegetarian respectively. There were sufficient options for the vegetarian. The pescatarian was disappointed that there were not cuts of prepared fish as one would expect at a brunch. Instead, there were appetizer size portions of whitefish on crackers and other little finger foods with fish.

                    The desserts were plentiful and included a really bad version of pecan pie. It was so awful that my mom thought she was eating mincemeat pie. Cream puffs, eclairs, cheesecakes, a chocolate fountain, a very wonderful and tasty apricot shooter, pumpkin pie and a decadent chocolate cake. The chocolate fountain quickly made the table messy but I cannot fault the hotel for that. Who doesn't enjoy the simplicity of fruit dipped in chocolate?

                    Overall, I enjoyed my experience. Our server was pleasant and attentive. The price was very, very reasonable for a lovely atmosphere. The food wasn't gourmet but it was fresh and prepared nicely. Would I go again? Maybe, but I'd hope for more entree sized portions of fish and white meat turkey. (I know it seems nitpicky, but I shouldn't have to pick through shredded turkey to find suitable cuts.)

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: sunnyday1375

                      I called the Renaissance and they will not longer be having the Christmas Buffet and I am really disapointed about it. It was perfect for what my family and I enjoyed. We tried the Royal Pacific Buffet at Universal Studios last chritmas , and it was ok, but not nearly as nice as the Renaissance, and the ukalale player doing christmas songs really got on my nerves.

                      1. re: betsy4417

                        I toured the place a couple of weeks ago and spoke to the GM, executive chef and marketing & sales guy. I gather not reopening Atlantis and discontinuing the buffet was a not-so-popular business decision. They didn't reopen Winston's either, but the space is untouched -- meaning they could change their minds.

                        Well, it's still August. Let's hope by the fall we can find a couple of newcomers to add to the selection.

                        Bob

                        1. re: Bob Mervine

                          The Old Hickory Steakhouse at Gaylord Palms started offering a high end holiday brunch buffet last Thanksgiving that I thought was on par with La Coquina in price and quality. I think that I may have even liked the made to order entrees better at Old Hickory and I like the setting better. The one thing that I didn't like is that between the Thanksgiving and Christmas buffets they changed and started limiting you to only one made to order entree. I don't think they offered the brunch on Easter or Mother's Day this year so they may have stopped it altogether.

                          1. re: EOutlaw

                            I'll do a little research next week and see if they know what they are doing.

                            Bob

                    2. I would suggest the Ritz Carlton, Orlando Grande for Thanksgiving or Christmas Buffet......it is about $68 per person but WORTH EVERY PENNY with french bubbly flowing.......

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: leigher

                        I called the Renaissance today and there's still no Christmas buffet, so it may be time for the Ritz Carlton!