By Meg the Clever Diva
When I entered the lobby of the Villas Grand Floridian, the first thing I noticed – the whole building smells like a new car. You know what I mean- that captivating mix of leather and chemicals that intices you spend money whether you were planning to or not. The brand new Villas at the Grand Floridian (VGF)are enticing in that same way. Within minutes of our arrival, we were in love.
VGF opened its doors on October 23, 2013. It is located on the grounds of the Grand Floridian Resort, and is considered the crown jewel of the WDW Disney Vacation Club There are Lock-off units composed of Studios, that sleep 5 and One Bedroom Units that sleep 5,in addition to Two Bedrooms Units that sleep 9-10, and Three/Four Bedroom Grand Villas that sleep 12. My family was lucky enough to book 4 nights in a Two Bedroom Unit, the second week the building was open. I think we were mostly excited by the idea of staying in a resort that was brand new. It’s the same feeling you have when you take a new car off the lot. But, after a couple of days, we realized that we would have loved the VGF, even if it was older.
The location is fabulous. Situated on The Bay Lake and part of the larger Grand Floridian Resort complex (GF), VGF is well located in relation to the Magic Kingdom. Hop on the Monorail, and the Magic Kingdom is the first stop. Or walk to the boat dock, and enjoy a breezy ride on a small boat to the home of the Mouse. The Polynesian Resort is about a 5 minute stroll down a lake-side path. If you are planning to get married at Disney, the Wedding Pavilion is directly next door to the Villas. The night we arrived, we were stunned to see a pumpkin –like carriage, outlined in white lights, pulled by 6 whites horses, attended by footmen wearing white powdered wigs. It went right past our balcony. The bride and groom inside, looked thrilled to be on their way to their wedding reception. It was a magical sight, indeed!
The lobby is warm and gracious. When we first entered, it seemed very simple, by Grand Floridian standards. In the center of the lobby is a delightful bronze fountain of the penguin waiters from Mary Poppins. But, look up, and you’ll see the magnificent chandeliers, and 6-story tall open space, leading up to the guest homes.
Each villa is tastefully and richly appointed. The kitchen appliances are Bosch and GE Monogram. The bathroom and kitchen fixtures are Kohler. The floors are wide plank hardwood-type floors, and the bathrooms are marble mosaics. The counter-tops are granite in the kitchen and the bathrooms. We loved the walk-in closet in the Master bedroom, complete with two white robes. Both full baths are “split” meaning that two people could use each bath, with privacy. And there is an extra shower, for a total of 3, and two bathtubs, and 3 bathroom sinks. For my family of 4, it was more than enough space.
One of more unusual features was the TV’s built into the bathroom mirrors. They are fairly unobtrusive, but handy when trying to get ready to go out, and catch up on the news/weather, at the same time. I thought my kids would just stand and watch Disney cartoons, but once they got over the novelty, they didn’t turn them on again. But, we didn’t turn the TV on, much at all.
A favorite feature was the built in single bed. It was surprisingly more substantial that I expected. Some units have one or two, depending on the layout.
Two views are available at VGF – standard view and lake view. Generally, the standard view units face the pool and courtyard areas of the GF, which are generally agreeable views. No units face a parking lots, or anything undesirable. Some ground level units are rather close to the walkways around the building. We chose Lake View, and were thrilled with the beauty of Bay Lake, The balcony ran the length of the 2 bedroom unit, and we enjoyed the views of the lake, complete with boat traffic. From the boat dock, guests can enjoy the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom, complete with the accompanying music, broadcast from Narccoosse’s restaurant. Cheerful, but subtle music is piped through the Grand Floridian complex. I enjoyed my morning tea, sitting on our Lake-view balcony, watching various water craft glide through the smooth water, surrounded by melodies of grand seaside resorts. The music is so well-done, I never felt like I was trapped in a world of “elevator music”. I’m not sure if it was the warm sunshine or the serenity of the lake, but it always put a smile on my face.
The Villas are housed in a new building, on the Grand Floridian site. When facing the main entrance of the GF lobby, to the right is a covered walk-way that leads to a side entrance of VGF. It’s a fairly short walk – less than 5 minutes. The Beach Pool is just down the path from the side door, along with the children’s water splash play area Alice in Wonderland theme, and Beach Pool Bar and café. VGF is close enough to enjoy all the amenities of the GF – the many restaurants, shops, tea room, orchestra and pianist. And it is extremely close to Senses, a world-class spa, and The Wedding Pavilion.
I would sum up the Villas of the Grand Floridian in one word – luxury. There are many deluxe resorts at Walt Disney World, including hotels and DVC villas, but VGF is, by far, the most extravagant so far. Yes, the price is high, whether you are paying in points or dollars, but if you enjoy the finer things in life, it is a treat you will enjoy. Even if it’s only for a night or two.
Reservations at the Villas are available to all members of the Disney Vacation Club, depending on availability in their booking window. And the Disney reservation system will book these units directly to paying customers.
From the lake side of VGF, you can see construction at The Polynesian Village. They are already working on the next DVC project – the eagerly awaited Villas at The Polynesian Village.