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Old 04-13-2009, 11:02 PM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Arlington, VA
Posts: 138

Contemporary, April 5-11: A Review

Here are some disjointed notes about our 6-night stay at CR during “unholy week” when crowd levels at the WDW parks were consistently near worst-case. My evaluation is very favorable though we’ll probably try just about every other deluxe we haven’t already tried before coming back to CR.

Check in on Sunday afternoon around 2:30 was immediate and efficient. We were upgraded from Bay Lake View to a MK View. I wonder if it’s because I had our AAA travel agent put in our reservation that I was interested in moving up to the fully booked club level if there were any cancellations. Anyway, that was nice, though we were only in our room at fireworks time once, as we were at a late dinner or taking advantage of evening EMH every other night.

One major, unusual factor affecting our stay was DW’s need to use a wheelchair as she recovers from knee surgery. As a monorail resort with a walkway to MK, Contemporary was obviously most appealing for us, though we made the reservations before we knew of my wife’s need for surgery. They provided us a folding wheelchair that we kept for our entire stay. Because of the monorail and the fact that we had a rental car, we never had to use buses. One negative: there were too few handicap parking spaces, and they were routinely filled. The resort makes up for this lack of reserved spaces by offering free valet parking to anyone with a handicap tag, but nothing can beat the convenience of just walking out the door to a close-in parking space. The valets were friendly and efficient, though.

Bell service on arrival and departure was speedy and personable. On our check-out day, after we finished packing, I sent my family ahead of me to take the monorail to Epcot while I waited for the bellman to arrive and put our bags in storage. I ended up being only one train behind them.

The room was large enough for the four of us so that we never felt cramped. We found the room design very attractive and the furnishings and bedding above average, but there are some fairly significant design imperfections. First of all, the drawer space is barely adequate for a family of four. Between the beds, where most hotels put a two-drawer chest, was a cabinet. Yes, you could put clothes in there but not as neatly. The dresser-cum-desk has the only two large drawers in the room. The absence of a small drawer from either the desk or the bedside cabinet means you don’t have that basic necessity of a single, closeable space to throw your keys, change, receipts, etc.

The large furnishing in which is ensconced the flat screen TV is lovely, with a backlit translucent mosaic (kind of like stained glass, there’s probably a name for it that I don’t know) beneath the TV. So lovely, in fact, that I didn’t like using the shelves for storing such mundane things as phone chargers.

The closets are poorly designed. As CR is a convention hotel, I’m surprised its guest rooms have closets that can’t gracefully accommodate more than a couple of suits or dresses. There is less than a foot of full-length closet space and much of that is taken up by an ironing board. That closet contains a chest with two small drawers and a safe, which reduces the vertical hanging space. The second closet has two rods. If you hang anything longer than a T- shirt on the upper rod it will drape over the lower rod, so that you have to turn it face-on if you don’t want the lower rod to wrinkle it. If you hang the same item on the lower rod, it will touch the closet floor, where – in most other hotels – you would store your shoes.

The storage situation is a little better in the bathroom, with adequate shelf space under the twin basins. The designer seems to have believed that typical, wall-mounted towel racks had no place in the décor. Thus, hand towels hang below the front of each basin, forcing adults to bend down when they want to wipe their hands. The four bath towels are on very narrow bars that hang in front of recesses in the wall. This storage arrangement is beautiful, but useless for drying towels as they must be folded to fit.

Like the towel storage, the extremely shallow (maybe less than 3 inches deep) basins are very attractive but not so functional. There is little or no slope in the basin. So, for example, If you spit a gob of toothpaste more than a couple of inches from the drain, you’ll either have to run the water so hard that some splashes out or you’ll need to use a cup or your hands to pour enough water on the debris that it rinses into the drain.

Back to the absence of towel racks. Like most hotels, the CR invites guests to promote environmental sustainability by reusing towels. Guests are instructed that towels intended for reuse are to be hung on the shower curtain rod. This seems to me terribly inelegant, like putting a bumper sticker on a Rolls Royce. Certainly any aesthetic benefits gained by not marring the walls with towel racks are more than negated by towel reuse instructions which direct guests to, in essence, hang a wash line across the bathroom.

While our housekeeper left the towels on the curtain rod so that they could be reused, she always backfilled the empty spaces in the towel storage unit. The room was always cleaned by the time we returned for our afternoon break from the parks.

As I mentioned, we only saw Wishes once from our room. The narrative/music track played in the park is available on TV channel 20, but you have to crank it really loud to hear it on the balcony.

Warning to light sleepers who visit during times when MK is open late: you can clearly hear the horn blasts of the ferry and motor launches that serve the park.

Spoiled by Stormalong Bay on our last two trips to WDW and visits to Great Wolf Lodge since then, my kids pronounced the pool “extremely lame.” Construction of new features is underway in between the main pool and the Sand Bar. From all the plumbing I saw sticking out of the ground, I’m assuming it will be an interactive water play area. The afternoons we went to the pool, all chaise lounges on the deck of the main pool were in use or reserved with towels and clothes left behind. But there were dozens more lounges on the beach sand and around the “spiral” pool. A CM offered activities continuously, including scavenger hunts, craft projects, and a Sudoku contest.

The only meal we ate at a CR restaurant was a splendid dinner at California Grill. A couple of mornings, we let the kids go down and pick up a breakfast and a couple of croissants at the Contempo Café. The Contempo seems to me an inadequate fast food/convenience store location for a hotel of this size. If it offered a wider variety of snacks and desserts (and were open later) I would have spent more money there.

1975: Some motel I can't remember... Disappointed by Space Mountain...
1987: Holiday Inn... College Spring Break; our first vacation together...
4 trips in the 90s: Mom's house in Poinciana... DS2's favorite attraction? The fountain near the UK restrooms...
1999: Vistana (Residence Inn)... 10-week old DD sleeps through everything...
2001: Polynesian... On-property at last...
2003: Yacht Club... Amtrak Auto Train to Stormalong Bay...
2005: Beach Club... Resort hopping while listening to Half-Blood Prince...
April 2009: Contemporary... DW in wheelchair and maximum crowds
New Years 2010: Disneyland Hotel... No Fastpass at Toy Story Mania?!?
Christmas 2011: Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek... We don't need no stinking rope drop!

Last edited by uncleleo; 04-14-2009 at 08:07 PM.
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