Review: Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Page 4
By Dave Shute
For the first page of this review of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, click here.
CONCIERGE ROOMS, DELUXE ROOMS, AND SUITES AT DISNEY’S GRAND FLORIDIAN RESORT
All Disney deluxe resorts have standard rooms; concierge rooms, which Disney calls “club” rooms; and suites. (See this for more on suites at Walt Disney World.)
At Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, multiple room types exist. Standard rooms, and most club/concierge rooms, sleep either four or five, five in two queens and a fold-down day-bed. “Dormer” rooms sleep 4 in two queens, are a little smaller than standard rooms, have much smaller balconies, but offer a vaulted ceiling. King bed rooms are also available.
The Grand Floridian also has multiple types of deluxe rooms and a ton of suites. I’ll return to these in a minute.
I generally advise against special room types for first-time visitors, as they won’t be spending much time in their rooms. However, they may be well worth it for families intending to spend more time at the Grand Floridian Resort than implied by this site’s itineraries.
TikimanPages.com has a great discussion of the value of concierge rooms here. Though focused on the Polynesian, it applies to any deluxe resort.
Many Grand Floridian concierge rooms (Disney calls them “club” rooms) are the same size as the rest of the resort’s rooms. However, there’s also several types of “Deluxe” concierge rooms, and more than two dozen one and two-bedroom suites.
Deluxe rooms (and most one-bedroom suites) don’t offer any more sleeping capacity–some offer less–they just give you more space, and more separate spaces, for your family to live in.
Two bedroom suites are often a near-standard queen and a near-standard king room on either side of a central parlor room, with connecting doors.
This permits the queen and king rooms to be booked separately if there isn’t demand for the suite, or the king and the parlor rooms to be booked as a one-bedroom suite.
See the image–courtesy of Channing at WheretheMagicLives.com.
Exceptions in the main building include the Walt Disney Suite and Roy O. Disney Suite, the equivalent of 4 bays each, and the Presidential Suite, also known as the Grand Suite, about five bays.
See the image for the Presidential Suite floor plan–also courtesy of Channing at WheretheMagicLives.com.
The two Outer Lodge Hospitality Suites on the first floors of Conch Key and Sago Cay are four bays each.
They have the usual standard king and queen connecting rooms at the end, separated by a two-bay living space.
These two suites, often used for convention special events, each also have large private outdoor patios, perfect for watching Wishes.
As you can tell…suites at this resort are quite different. Work with a travel agent if you are interested in suites at the Grand Floridian.
Note that to all the capacity figures above you can add a child under three in a crib. A crib fits nicely between the dresser/TV and the closet.
THE THEMING OF DISNEY’S GRAND FLORIDIAN RESORT
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa opened in July 1988, and recently completed a major renovation.
When it opened, it replaced the Contemporary Resort as Disney’s flagship resort, and remains Walt Disney World’s most expensive and loveliest resort. (Some cast members at the Contemporary call the Grand Floridian the “red roof inn”; in turn, some Grand Floridian staff refer to the Contemporary as “the toaster.”)
It is also the Disney World resort hotel with the most remarkable on-site dining. Any one of Victoria and Albert’s, Citricos, or Narcoossees would mark it with distinctive dining; to have all three is astonishing. According to Disney World’s website, the Grand Floridian is
“a Victorian-style Disney Deluxe Resort distinguished as the flagship hotel of Walt Disney World Resort and offering world-class dining, entertainment and luxurious accommodations in its 6 striking red-gabled buildings. This magnificent hotel sits along the white-sand shores of Seven Seas Lagoon …With its gleaming white exterior, intricate gingerbread trim and gorgeous stained-glass domes, the Resort is an architectural marvel.”
The theming is sometimes claimed to reflect the design and grandeur of Flagler’s Florida hotels, which were meant to attract well-off Ohioans and northeasterners to his Florida East Coast railroad. Anyone who has seen, for example, the remaining Flagler hotel buildings in St Augustine, will understand that this is nonsense.
The Grand Floridian is a creation of the Disney imagineers, and more influenced by southern California and New Hampshire hotels (especially the Hotel del Coronado) than any Flagler edifice. It is the only hotel at Walt Disney World fundamentally designed by Disney’s imagineers, and they did a glorious job with it.
It is remarkable for not only its beauty but also its serenity. To relax at the main pool, surrounded by the glorious buildings, is to fully take advantage of the ability of architecture to add peace to life. The vaulted lobby is also a favorite, and there’s a group that returns to the Grand Floridian every year in November to watch its famous Christmas decorations be re-created here.
The resort is also popular for weddings and honeymoons. As noted on the first page of this review, the decor is conventional and somewhat dull, and the resort has no particular kid-appeal. But for adults who welcome, or can overlook, the dull decor and lack of kid appeal, the Grand Floridian is a wonderful place to stay.
LUXURY AT THE GRAND FLORIDIAN
The Grand Floridian is a step above other Walt Disney World deluxe resorts on a couple of dimensions, with architecture, dining and minor amenities–such as robes–being at the top of the list. What it is not is a peer to world-class luxury resorts such as the Ritz-Carlton. The issue is not the people. Great hotel service comes from hiring the right staff, training them properly, empowering them, and deploying them in sufficient numbers that they can support guests in their various needs. On the people front, the Grand Floridian has no real deficits. The difference is hard to put your finger on, but I think it comes from tone and scale, and has the following dimensions:
- Disney World Cast members are friendly and helpful. Staff at world-class resorts are respectful and supportive but will do everything they can to help solve guest problems. To exaggerate a bit for clarity, they are your servants, whereas Disney staff are your friends.
- Reinforcing this difference is dress. Grand Floridian cast members wear fun but appropriate uniforms that support the theming of the resort. Staff at world class resorts simply dress well.
- The common areas at world class resorts are larger compared to their number of guests, and contain very few children. As a result, they tend to be hushed, and despite being common give the guests the impression of privacy. Grand Floridian common areas tend to be more populated and noisy.
A Four Seasons resort is being built in Disney World at the top of Bonnet Creek–more or less between Fort Wilderness and Port Orleans Riverside. This will put one of the highest-end brands there is on property, and it will be interesting to see how it affects the Grand Floridian. There’s a comic element to guest sorting at such high-end resorts
- Some who could afford to go to such resorts go out of their way to avoid them, as they are concerned that they don’t really “fit in,” and that the staff are secretly making fun of them. (Note that the Grand Floridian cast members are not at all stuffy or supercilious–they are great and friendly.)
- A second group would actually enjoy a different hotel much more, but will always go to the most prestigious and expensive brand available, so that they can build buttresses against their insecurities and better manage brand-dropping in their conversations with their peers.
- A third group who would quite enjoy these high-end hotels actively avoids them to keep from having to encounter, or be mistaken for, the second group…
- A final group has no identity invested in these decisions, but simply goes because it knows what the brand will deliver and is comfortable with that.
Will this sorting pull guests out of the Grand Floridian and into the Four Seasons? E.g. those who are looking to avoid kids, to avoid the 99%, to avoid the extension of the Disney experience into their hotel, and/or to capture the ego or comfort dimensions of the Four Seasons brand? If so, this will give the Grand Floridian the branding headroom to add some more kid appeal…