It was a whirlwind trip to Orlando for a conference. The Marriott World Center is a city unto itself -- one of those places where one can have a completely encapsulated stay and never set foot off the property, which I didn't.
In the shadows of the Disney empire, I'm sure they can't help but get swept up in the swirling vortex of epic customer service provided by the happiest place on earth. This was to my extreme advantage. I called the day I was to arrive to see what they could do about a safe gluten-free vegetarian box lunch the next day. I was connected with Senior Catering Manager Chris Greer, who was funny and engaging and assured me that they are seasoned pros at accommodating requests such as mine.
First though I needed to navigate Friday dinner. There are, like, four restaurants at this place, plus a food court. The sports bar, called High Velocity, was the only one that didn't have a significant wait time. I was skeptical but knew that I had food I'd brought from home in the fridge in my room if it got too dicy. It turned out to be no problem. I had the veggie wrap fillings on gluten-free bread, which might have been Rudi's or Udi's, which aren't the best with moist fillings. The combo was a little bit of a miss and I wish I'd gone with a salad. The server was very knowledgable and volunteered that fries were safe -- dedicated fryer! -- so I had some. It's been awhile since I had real fries, so that was a treat. and made up for the sandwich.
Breakfast was comprised of food I'd packed in -- deviled eggs and roasted beets, Brussels sprouts, winter squash, broccoli, cauliflower, and potatoes. Yum.
Then the real test: Conference boxed lunch. Aside from labeling my meal "Chair" instead of Claire, which I thought was pretty funny, I was not dissappointed. I had a veggie wrap -- my guess is that it was a Rudi's GF tortilla, but can't be sure. This worked much better than the sandwich the night before. Apple, Lay's Potato Chips and a pack of Enjoy Life double chocolate cookies. Nothing to not like.
Then Saturday dinner. We'd made reservations at Mikado Japanese Restaurant. This is one of those places where the chef cooks at your table, flipping and juggling spatulas, knives, shrimp tails, whatever. the place was awash in soy sauce. Frankly, it didn't look promising. I did my usual patter with our server: "I have celiac disease, and I need a super strict gluten-free diet or I will get very ill. Do you have a gluten-free menu?" Like the sports bar, they don't have a dedicated gluten-free menu, but she assured me they could handle my needs.
Next thing I know, Chef Jason was at my elbow, talking me through it, Noting their use of tamari sauce and offering to prepare my tofu, veggies & fried rice in the kitchen away from the sea of soy sauce at the table. I said yes.
Like the other guests in my party, I appreciated the show provided by the chef at our table. He made an impressive-looking volcano out of onions stacked conically. He bantered. He flipped his utensils. He served everyone. My food arrived a little after. I used the wait time to educate my dining companions about celiac disease. My dinner arrived and was hot, tasty and filling. I couldn't have asked for better.
Overall, I felt well taken care of and was impressed by the overall knowledge that the food service staff possessed. I have no hesitation recommending the Marriott World Center to gluten-free travelers.