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Old 06-18-2013, 07:57 PM   #1
thisismyusername
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The Grand Beach Boardwalk: Three resorts over a dozen days...

Nuts, right?

I know. We just got back yesterday, and it sort of was. But it was also great, and I thought I'd share my thoughts and experiences on these three resorts and resort hopping just in case anyone else might find our observations helpful...

We started our trip at the Grand Floridian CL, Sugarloaf building, and it was absolutely *perfect* from the moment we got off Magical Express, other than the weather. We were greeted by Denny, who was almost comically enthusiastic about our stay, but certainly matched our level of inner excitement had it not been dampened by a 4 a.m. waking to catch our our early flight, my daughter's severe anxiety over flying and our lack of caffeine. I loved the in-room check-in, the attentiveness of Denny and the CL staff, and the way we were so warmly greeted by all and made to feel immediately right at home. Before we had even gotten into the lobby of the GF, Denny had asked if we wanted our fridge stocked with any beverages, and bell services brought my husband several cans of soda along with our carry-on bags. The room was very nicely cleaned and well maintained. Although I'm not a huge fan of the Victorian theme, it's difficult not to be impressed with the grandeur of the Floridian and its staff.

We really didn't get a chance to take full advantage of the food offerings at Sugarloaf: What we did was what I expected from doing research here and elsewhere, and very nicely prepared. None of the food mattered, though: For me, the one thing that made my stay at Sugarloaf complete was the Nespresso machine. See, I'm one who packs my espresso/coffee maker for trips, and the fact that I could get a good, solid, non-Nescafe, non-weak cup of coffee or espresso or make my own latte truly made my stay. (Sad, but true.)

We didn't get a chance to try to the Courtyard Pool since tropical storm Andrea was starting to roll in at the beginning of our trip, but we all got a few hours at the Beach Pool the first day, and the kids adored the slide (so did I--it was awesome!), and I loved how small and compact the pool was to keep a close eye on my kids. I also really liked how small the resort was: From looking at maps, it seemed to me that the buildings were all very spread out from one another, but I was really surprised to see that things were relatively compact and easy to get from one building to another. I don't think I'd ever hesitate to stay in one building over another or feel disappointed if didn't get my first choice.

This was also our first time staying at a monorail resort, and its convenience can't be denied. On the other hand, it also stinks relying on the monorail, which broke down for short periods several times during our stay. As soon as that happens, the ferry boats get filled to the brim, and it can take several loadings for you to get where you need to go. By the time we got back to the resort on such an occasion, we were 15 minutes late for our Narcoossee's reservation, which I had planned to get properly primped for, and which I went to unshowered and with damp, messy, I-was-at-the-park hair. I'm not sure if there's a way to walk to the GF from the MK, but if there is, it probably would have taken less time than what it took for us to wait for the boat...

I was also very concerned about the Villa construction disrupting our stay or being an annoyance: It wasn't. Even with us being so close to it during our time at the Beach Pool, it was barely something we took notice of, other than to look excitedly at the progress each day.

In the end, we loved our stay at the GF, and wound up buying a small DVC contract to stay at the Villas. Already, we can't wait for next June!

*****

Following our stay at the Grand, we hopped over to the Beach Club to a garden view room, non-club level. Last year, we stayed at the Yacht Club, and we really enjoyed our stay there, so we were hoping to have just as enjoyable of a stay, only closer to the Marketplace and the back entrance to Epcot--which were the only downfalls, we felt, of staying at the Yacht Club. While we still had a very nice stay, to us, the Beach Club seems like it needs a little refreshing: The carpet was coming up in places in the hallways, our closet door was broken off its hinges, the elevator by our room had broken buttons and was out of service several times during our stay. Plus, I had requested a second-floor room and a full balcony, and we wound up on the third floor with a standing balcony, which was fine, but the standing balcony is really quite pointless, unless you just want to open up your door and get some fresh air in your room. We also thought that the resort just lacks that extra refinement that the Yacht Club has. These were very little things that didn't affect our enjoyment or our stay at the resort, and all of our interaction with the staff was fabulous and Disney quality, but should we choose to stay at the Beach or Yacht Club again, we will definitely choose the Yacht next time just because the resort seems to be in better condition, a little quieter, and none of the balconies are standing only.

As far as the pools are concerned, I find myself in the minority of loving SAB. Yes, it's an awesome pool. Yes, it's much bigger than most resort pools. But as a mom of a fairly strong swimmer, a mediocre swimmer and a non-swimmer, it's a nightmare. All three of my kids were asking to go different places, and, like last year, I begged and pleaded with them to stay in one spot together so I could relax and watch them from the chairs, but they each wanted to do their own thing, and I found myself going from one end of the pool to the other (which isn't an easy task) to keep an eye on them when all I wanted to do was sit in the hot tub (where you can't see anyone from) or sit on a chair and relax. Last year, we wound up using the quiet pool much more frequently since I could keep an eye on all of them from the chairs or the hot tub, but, unfortunately, a group of young adults who were smoking in the hot tub and drinking in it, which made SAB a better choice.

All in all, Beach Club is still a great resort, but it's at the bottom of my list of deluxes we've stayed at.

*****

And, finally, we concluded our stay at the Boardwalk in a deluxe room, club level. This was our first stay at the Boardwalk, and our first impression of the CL staff really was not so great, sadly. We were greeted at the entrance by a CL member who was nothing like Denny--very subdued, very much like, "So since you're coming from the Beach Club, you know the Boardwalk's out there, right?" She escorted us up to the CL desk area and then handed us off to another CL staff member to check us in. He then proceeded to do a manual check in (I had done online check in, but the systems were down that morning) and he told us that our room was not ready, but he jotted down our phone number and told us that he'd call when the room was ready and asked if we had park tickets (we did) and if we were planning to go to a park, which we were. He then sort of stared at us blankly expecting us to leave, and I had to ask to be admitted into the lounge to grab a cup of coffee and let my kids grab some breakfast--we were never escorted into the area or offered to check it out and grab some light refreshments before heading out. After we left the lounge, we left our luggage with bell services and headed off to Epcot around 11 a.m., hoping to be in our room in the early afternoon as the kids were begging us to go swimming, and the park was crowded and really hot (we tour more often during the evening when the crowds are lower and the heat has lifted). By 4, we had done pretty much what we planned to do in Epcot, and I had a bunch of cranky, sweaty, miserable kids on my hands and still had not received a phone call from the desk saying our room was ready, so I called the IPO at 4:30 and inquired as to whether we could get in our room. I was told that the room was, indeed, ready, and they apologized and said that they couldn't call people because of the systems being down, but I told her that I had given the CL guy who had checked us in our phone number, which he had written down on paper and promised to call when the room was ready, and which he obviously forgot to do. So, even though our experience with the CL staff did become better, I was somewhat disappointed that the ball had been dropped and no one called us to let us know we could get in the room, even though I know it was a difficult day for the hotel staff with the computer systems. Plus, we were just not greeted with the same level of enthusiasm as we were at the Grand, nor really given a tour or offered that level of "welcomeness" that we received when we first got to the GF.

Our room, however, made up for the sour taste I had in my mouth: The deluxe CL rooms are fabulous. They're huge--double the size of a normal deluxe room. My daughter was thrilled to have her own non-daybed, and her own TV. We had tons of room to spread out, and found the room to be clean and in really good condition. We also really loved the hotel itself: The nighttime entertainment on the Boardwalk was something we really looked forward to if we weren't in a park--we all loved grabbing an ice cream from Seashore Sweets and watching the nightly magician. There was usually a juggler or a magician also inside the hotel during the evening hours just off the Belle Vue Lounge. The little touches and aesthetic of the hotel just are so perfectly done--even the dreaded clown slide wasn't so bad or so scary. It sort of, unbelievably, seems to fit right in with everything and blend into the background... The pool was really nice, too: Like the Beach Pool, it was fairly easy to keep a good eye on my kids from one spot. The slide wasn't quite as zippy as the Beach Pool, but still was really fun for all of the kids. We didn't use the quiet pool at the Boardwalk, but it seemed very nice and in a very serene and beautiful spot on the grounds just outside of many of the garden cottages. In fact, the whole area back by the quiet pool is so very lovely and beautiful--it's amazing that a theme park full of people is merely a few hundred yards away...

So, getting back to the CL staff: That first day, we weren't impressed at all. Even the first morning we went to the CL lounge, I remained unimpressed: Two of the CL members spent their morning chatting right by the coffee machine (Nescafe, natch ) and not doing much at all to freshen food or clear dishes or interact with guests. The food was fine, and all was OK, but I just didn't get that typical Disney warmth that I usually get from most resort CMs, and it was certainly nothing like what we had experienced at the GF. On our third and final day, however, our flight was canceled, and having never been in a position like that before, I almost just sort of became paralyzed and didn't know what to do. So I called my travel agent and asked if our travel insurance covered canceled flights that weren't booked through Disney (it did), and then ran to the CL desk to ask if they could grant us a late check out (they did). They were then very helpful with holding the room for us and trying to do whatever they could to help us secure plans to stay at the resort longer and in the same room until our flight could be rescheduled since the next available flight to the same airport wasn't going to be for another two days. (My travel agent was also hugely helpful and I am so glad I bought the travel insurance through Disney--I will never travel without it.) So, anyway, long story somewhat shorter, I felt that the CL staff that I interacted with from then on were very helpful and friendly--with even one of the last CMs asking if he could do online check in and print our boarding passes for us to ensure our new flight was on time. So, perhaps, we checked in on a bad day for the CL staff, or we just had two kind-of-not-very-enthusiastic-CL staff members upon check in, but I felt that our stay club level improved greatly over the course of the five days we stayed with them.

And like I said, the room was fabulous. The resort was fabulous, as well, and I could definitely foresee us doing split stays from here on out at the Grand Floridian in our DVC room, and then heading over to the inn at the Boardwalk for a few days to be by the Epcot/Hollywood Studios side of the world.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!
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Old 06-18-2013, 08:30 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thisismyusername View Post
Nuts, right?

I know. We just got back yesterday, and it sort of was. But it was also great, and I thought I'd share my thoughts and experiences on these three resorts and resort hopping just in case anyone else might find our observations helpful...
Glad you had a great trip . We've stayed GF SL and BC (non-CL), but not BWI. The GF is a beautiful resort and although I always felt it was a little on the "stuffy" side, my views changed once I stayed there. It is nothing like what I thought it would be after just visiting. Staying there really gave me a different outlook on the resort. BC is a great resort but like you, we thought SAB was nice, but it's not our favorite. I'm glad your experience with the CL staff at BWI got better. I have read many great reviews of BWI CL, but I'm always hesitant to book it because I'm worried it won't compare to the other CLs we've tried. Other than the few mishaps with the CL staff at BWI, it sounds like you had a great trip. Thanks for sharing .
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Old 06-19-2013, 09:46 AM   #3
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Thanks for sharing your experiences!

Our experiences are somewhat similar, though we had the bad initial impression of the GF SL CMs. Much like what happened to you at BWI - our room wasn't ready (but the CM didn't tell us that until *after* we had schlepped over with our bags to SL... So we then had to turn around and schlep our bags back to bag check in the main building, wha??), we never received the promised text when our room was ready, and the CM who finally checked us in was nonchalant at best, borderline rude at worst. BUT the rest of our stay was great and all other CMs were fantastic. Meanwhile our stay at BWI CL was perfect.

We recently stayed at YC but spent some time over at BC for various reasons. We definitely prefer a quieter resort setting, so we immediately realized BC was not for us. Lovely resort, but they're not kidding when they say it's more "lively" than YC.
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Old 06-19-2013, 11:16 AM   #4
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Glad to hear your overall trip was great. My family has never done a split-stay before, and I personally like staying at one resort during our trip, but it's nice that it enables you to experience new resorts during one vacation instead having to wait for your next Disney visit.

I've never stayed at the GF, but I've always admired the overall interior and exterior of the resort and I really like the location, and I would love a castle view.

BC is my favorite resort. (Can't wait to get back next Summer!) My family and I have only stayed on CL there, and never noticed any issues with the condition of the resort. (Maybe it's just my observing skills ) Sorry to hear that about your balcony and the floor request didn't pull through. I think what really appeals to me about the BC is the location and the atmosphere of the resort. I love the magical feeling of the resort (And isn't that what keep us going back to our favorite resorts?) and being able to walk to Epcot and the BW whenever we feel like it.

I've never stayed at the BWI either, but I would love to one day. The atmosphere, and again, location seems very appealing. Too bad about the CMs, probably did put a damper on things, but it's good to know that they got friendlier as the stay progressed. Can you walk from the BWI to Hollywood Studios? If so, how long is the walk and would you take the boat over walking?
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Old 06-19-2013, 11:29 AM   #5
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The Grand Beach Boardwalk: Three resorts over a dozen days

The Grand Beach Boardwalk: Three resorts over a dozen days...

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Nuts, right?
Nah .... we do 3 and 4 resort splits almost every trip
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Old 06-19-2013, 12:27 PM   #6
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Can you walk from the BWI to Hollywood Studios? If so, how long is the walk and would you take the boat over walking?
We walked one time and we took the boat another time, but the time we walked, we walked from the BC to HS. We saw that the boat to HS was at the BW dock and knew it had to stop at the YC/BC dock and then at the SD dock, so we decided to walk instead. We got to the park the same time as the boat. I would imagine that if you left from BW the same time the boat was at the BW dock, you might beat it on foot since you're closer to HS than we were at BC.

But sometimes we were just hot or tired, and taking the boat was a nicer option.
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Old 06-19-2013, 12:33 PM   #7
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We walked one time and we took the boat another time, but the time we walked, we walked from the BC to HS. We saw that the boat to HS was at the BW dock and knew it had to stop at the YC/BC dock and then at the SD dock, so we decided to walk instead. We got to the park the same time as the boat. I would imagine that if you left from BW the same time the boat was at the BW dock, you might beat it on foot since you're closer to HS than we were at BC.

But sometimes we were just hot or tired, and taking the boat was a nicer option.
Thanks! I can imagine it would depend on the mood you're in and how the weather is. Probably walk in the morning and take the boat back to the resort during the afternoon/evening.
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Old 06-19-2013, 12:36 PM   #8
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Oh, one other thing: We had read lots of complaints about the busses when you're staying at the Boardwalk. For our trip, they did have a dedicated YC/BC bus (just like last year when we stayed at the YC), and they had a dedicated SD/BW bus. We had no problems at all taking the bus from the resort to the park, but the line at the MK for the SD/BW bus was insanely long two times when we left the MK--we realized we would definitely be on a second bus if we waited....

So we rode the BC/YC bus instead (which had short lines) and got off at the YC and walked over to the BW. Really not a big deal for us--even carrying a soundly-asleep 6 year old.
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Old 06-19-2013, 07:16 PM   #9
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I have been reading a lot of resort reviews the last couple of days and it seems like I read the same thing over and over -- that front desk and/or CL cast members routinely do not notify guests by phone that their room is ready.
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