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Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Best Onsite/Offsite Disney Property

Is it possible to even have an onsite/offsite property when it comes to Walt Disney World?  Well yes it is.  The Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World is that property.  It sits on Disney property and actually within a Disney residential development.  What makes it an offsite property is that it does not come with the standard onsite perks such as extra magic hours, 60 day in advance fast pass planning, the ability to make it a package with dining etc.   But who cares in this instance.  The property, its service, the rooms, the food and beverage quality trump the lack of other perks, in my opinion.

It is an amazing place and now puts some serious pressure on Disney to up their game when it comes to their deluxe properties.  What did I like so much about the Four Seasons you ask?  Well let me tell you.

First, the rooms are comfortable, spacious and decked out with what you expect at a luxury property; iPads, expresso makers, large LED televisions, gigantic bathrooms with double vanities and a tv in the mirror (yes a tv in the mirror I said), tons of storage, and a huge closet.   Those are just some of things that make the rooms a place you really want to just hang out in and those come with the standard rooms.  On top of what is inside the rooms, you can choose to have a park view room where you will have a view every night of the Wishes Fireworks Show over at the Magic Kingdom.  You can easily see Cinderella's Castle from our view which I enjoyed seeing every morning with my cup of coffee.

Second, the grounds are amazingly beautiful.  Everywhere you turn, you want to snap a photo and hurry and Instagram it and hashtag it #PrettiestPlaceEver.  But this is what you come to expect with a Four Seasons property.  We enjoyed just walking around and seeing how they integrated the property within the natural landscape which made it feel like it has been there a long time vs a property that literally just opened last year.

Third, activities are as abundant as you want them to be.  You can golf, play tennis, exercise in their state of the art gym, enjoy a spa day, launch yourself down their 3-story waterslide, float along in their lazy river, relax in their adults only oasis area, or sip a beverage while watching a movie pool-side at their family friendly pool. And that does not even touch on the activities just for kids.  If you hear someone say they are bored while they are at this property, run like the wind because something is drastically wrong with them.

Fourth and finally, it is the service that really makes this property the best onsite/offsite option.  From the time you pull up to the property, you are made to feel like a VIP.  Every staff member we encountered seemed thrilled to be there and greeted us with a smile and wished us a great stay.  We were there over the Labor Day weekend.  It was hot and the resort was at over 80% capacity, but we never felt like the staff was being overworked or pushed to their limit.  Service was as we expected.  There was only one time where things may have been a little slower than what some might like, but we have to remind ourselves that you are there because you are on vacation and not on your way to business meeting.  Relax, take a load off and enjoy and who cares if it took 10 mins to get your drink or food.  You are on vacation.

I usually try to find some negatives about a property and the only negative some may talk about is the price of food and beverage.  You need to go there understanding that things will not be the same as your local eateries in your hometown.  You will be paying "Four Seasons" prices for burgers, sandwiches, drinks etc.  The fun little coffee, ice-cream, pastry, grab and go, venue called "Lickety Split" was one of our favorites as was the lobby bar.  Both have food options that are less expensive than some of the other on-property restaurants.

But let's compare value to the other actual onsite Disney options.  When looking at pricing, you will find that the average rate per night for one of Disney's deluxe properties runs between $450 to $650 for the standard, garden view rooms.  Four Seasons nightly rates will run between $490 to $550 for their standard, golden oak view room (no park view).   So rates are very comparable.  So you then have to look at value and what you are getting for the rate.  This is where, to me, the Four Seasons stands above the deluxe onsite properties.  Rooms are a huge step up.  Service is as good if not better than what we have received during our onsite, deluxe stays.   It feels far less crowded and is a respite when coming back from one of the theme parks.  It is a destination itself with everything it has to offer for families and adults without kids.

You do get free shuttle to the 4 parks and you are shuttled there in a Four Seasons comfortable motor coach for those that may wonder how you can get to the theme parks.  And the shuttle schedule is much better than any other offsite option.  It literally runs every 30 mins to and from the Magic Kingdom.  So again, to me, the pros outweigh the cons when considering a deluxe Disney resort vs a stay at the Four Seasons.

So the new Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World gets an thumbs up from me and it is a place that I cannot wait to return to.  So...looking for luxury in the heart of theme park heaven?  The Four Seasons now allows you to visit the "happiest place on earth" without sacrificing some of the extra touches you come to expect from a 4-5 star luxury resort.  Have you been already?  If so...do you agree with my assessment or do you have a differing opinion.  Would love to hear your thoughts, especially from those diehard Disney fans out there that feel you HAVE to stay onsite.

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