A few weeks ago I started looking into a local spot to take the whole family on a weekend trip for my parents anniversary. I had points in IHG I didn't mind using and the cash + points purchase option is great for splitting the cost with other family members. 35k a night is in my option, a great deal for a villa. We ended up taking advantage of a IHG points promo and buying 30k points for $187. This was just about enough for one night and a lot less than the straight cash price for one night. Not the most ideal way to get points, but my sister is not an IHG member and had no intention of getting the IHG credit card.
Not a terrible deal over all. And still cheaper for her than doing a cash + points option.
I should also note this is mid-June, prime season for Florida tourist and booking only a month out.
So how was it????
Check in was easy and quick. Resort was super busy as we arrived Friday morning but one person ahead of me in line for check in. We arrived at 10:30am, had requested early check in (plus we're gold status anyways, which also gave me 300 points at check in) but I knew it could be anytime between 12-4. Never the less, we wanted to get in and hit the pools while we waited for the room. As we're talking with the super nice woman at the counter, she informs us that there are villas available NOW if we don't mind moving buildings. Considering the building they had us in wasn't the high rise we wanted, and those were the available ones, I couldn't say yes fast enough. She gave us a ton of options with the exact floor and room locations clearly explained. River Island (lazy river village) was the only "village" not available. So we picked the 86700 building in east village. We were in a room and unpacked at 11am. Perfect timing to make lunch in the villa. I don't think I've ever checked in that early.
The kitchen was full stocked with pans, small appliances like blender and toaster, really anything you need to use. We just brought our food and were good to go.
We were able to see MK fireworks from here!
Master suite...and that tub...Look at that tub.
The second bedroom we shared with my sister and her husband. This side of the unit also had a pocket door to close it off from the rest of the villa.
The unit was a great size for all of us. No complaints on size.
I have read the reviews about the upkeep problems. No, its not a brand new complex. Sure its not perfect. But it was clean, large and we had no major flaws. We did not stay in a "signature villa" but I would suggest them if you're picky about the quality of the property. They seem to be a bit nicer and give you access to a separate area at River Island.
Speaking of River Island.
Prepare to pay. The lazy river requires you to rent the tubes. $9 a pop. On our receipt it seems like they only charged us for 4 of our tubes.... not sure why. Maybe BOGO?
Not a terrible cost if you're spending all day at River Island.
|A quick Google search gives some great views of River Island. I find the IHG site photos a bit weird.|
Additional activities also cost. The lake activities by the pool at the main office were not impressive. Old gear, not the prettiest lake. Stick to River Island.
They offer a refillable cup service similar to the Rapid Fill mugs at Disney resorts.
If you're one to drink soda, it might be worth it for a week stay. But if you're in the parks all day, think again.
Our overall thoughts:
We would come back. And I would recommend it. It's a great base camp for a Disney vacation if you have a large family or multiple couples traveling together.
The location is great. Adjoining property to Animal Kingdom lodge. Publix and Target right around the corner.
We enjoyed the last time share tour we did with Holliday Inn Club Vacations, and are considering another tour at Orange lake if they offer us a good enough deal. While we were there they offered us 20k points for a tour. I'm sure if I had the time to sit a haggle I could have gotten a lot more from them. But I just told them we were with family and didn't have the time. Unlike some of the reviews I read, they did not call us repeatedly about a tour. The only mention was at check in.
If I forgot to cover anything or you have an questions, leave me a comment.