Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa - A detailed review with lots of pics

Discussion in 'Hotel & Accommodations Reviews' started by Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina, Sep 14, 2012.

  1. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    So…..some of you may have already read my trip report from our August getaway (see link in my signature below), but for those that haven’t, I thought I would post a review of our resort choice, Westgate Lakes Resort and Spa.

    Our stay fell from Sunday, August 26th to Sunday, September 2. We booked directly with the resort and agreed to a “no pressure, no obligation resort preview” (translation: timeshare presentation) in exchange for a $69 nightly rate for a two bedroom, two bathroom villa PLUS a complimentary VIP card which entitled us to free usage of most of their amenities (bicycle rentals, paddle boat rentals, sports equipment, mini golf, etc.). This trip was our second trip in 7 months so we were looking for ways to slash the budget and this was a great savings.

    Our plane did not arrive at MCO until just before 7 pm, so by the time we collected our luggage and picked up the rental car, we didn’t check in at the resort until shortly after 8 pm. The check in line was virtually empty and we were served almost immediately by a young fellow named Matthew Singh. Now, I had been airsick all the way from Syracuse, NY, and it was evident that I wasn’t feeling well when I went to the desk. God bless him, Matthew was very quick at processing our check in and had us on our way to our villa really quite quickly. He was very compassionate and was quick to offer any additional assistance we might need (which we declined…..I simply wanted to just go and lay down). He honoured almost all of our requests (high floor, updated room, near a pool) placing us in building 500 on the 4th floor.

    Building 500 was the absolute perfect location within this HUMONSTROUS resort as far as we are concerned. The Citrus Breeze pool (one of the two main pools of the resort) was located just in front of our building. The Activity Center was right beside it. The mini golf course was immediately beside our building. The marina and paddle boats was right behind our building. We were far enough away from the main building that we were away from all the check in/check out hubbub but not far away from the exit, either. The location was absolutely prime.

    The unit was HUGE and well equipped. The master bedroom had a king bed, large TV, a huge jetted tub with Roman columns, a very large stand-up shower, a double vanity, and a toilet room with a door. The master also had a patio door walkout to the screened in balcony, and a second large window facing the lake. There was a desk area with a chair, multiple drawers for clothes, and a walk-in closet. Let me also say that the bed was super comfy, and had a great cosy duvet.

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    The second bedroom had two double beds, a walk-in closet, and its own bathroom with a single vanity, toilet, and stand-up shower. There was a window which overlooked the parking area in front of the villa. It also had its own good sized TV.

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    The kitchen had a full fridge, stove, microwave, dishwasher, and a breakfast bar with three chairs. There was a full sized washer and dryer adjacent to the kitchen and separated by a set of double folding doors.

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    The dining area had a table with four chairs. There was a large counter area that ran the entire side of the dining room which was very handy. There was also an additional small sink and washing area/counter.

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    The living room featured a love seat, pull-out sofa, and big screen TV. Lots of additional pillows and linens for the pull-out were located in the master bedroom closet. There was a large set of patio doors leading to the screened in deck (with a padded lounger as well as a table and four matching padded chairs), and a gorgeous view of Turkey Lake. We could watch the alligators swimming around the dock every morning from the living room, and the water skiers practicing on the marked course.

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    Despite our expectations otherwise (since this is a timeshare property), we did receive daily housekeeping and a daily refill of all provided toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, facial cleansing bars and body soap). We were also provided with dishwashing detergent in the kitchen. We were fully prepared to supply our own toiletries and make our own beds, so this was a welcome and appreciated bonus. We didn’t have to empty one single garbage can all week long. Pool towels and bathroom linens were replaced daily and in ample supply.

    The villa itself was fairly nicely updated. There were a couple of minor issues (the patio doors were very hard to open, and there was one slat of the patio door blinds missing) but nothing too major. The one thing we did have to call about was the second bedroom shower door (it wouldn’t close properly). Maintenance attended to the matter within 45 minutes and called to follow up to be sure we were pleased with the outcome of our request for assistance.

    The grounds were meticulously maintained and exceeded our expectations (Tripadvisor has many, many negative reports so we were somewhat apprehensive about the condition of the property). The pool area was always clean. Garbages were never overflowing. We had none of the parking issues noted by many other guests, and always found a spot in front of our building.

    The amenities themselves were great. The mini golf course was in like-new condition, picturesque, and well themed (“pirates”). There was a good supply of paddle and pontoon boats and lots of lifejackets for guests to use. The tennis court was in great shape, as was the basketball area. The activity center ran all sorts of assorted crafts and games for younger guests at a nominal fee, from tye-dye t-shirts to paint-you-own-cowboy hats to family bingo.

    There was a full-service spa on site that was lovely (but we did not use). There was also a very well equipped fitness center.

    All of the staff we encountered were courteous and helpful. We often received a smile and a wave from the security guard as we entered the lot. Any requests for assistance, whether from guest services or otherwise, were handled with efficiency. If I can be critical at all, it was that some of the front desk staff were courteous and professional to the point that I wished they would have smiled more. They were all extremely nice but it would have been wonderful to see some of them truly enjoying their jobs.

    The timeshare presentation was (as we had heard, and expected) high-pressure and went well beyond the 90 minutes they promised. The free breakfast was better than expected and included scrambled eggs, sausages, fried potatoes, fruit, pastries, cereal, coffee, tea, and milk. Again, as others had reported, we were “escalated” to three different sales people after we said no (repeatedly) to the first fellow, and the price kept getting cheaper and cheaper the more we declined. An older fellow whom we met earlier in the week described the timeshare pitch as “relentless” and he was pretty much on the mark. Hubby and I have no problem saying no, so we weren’t worried, but we can see how some less-assertive individuals would have a very difficult time leaving without being coerced into signing on the dotted line. The one thing that really irritated us is that the breakfast and tour began on one end of the property at the Smokehouse Grill (far enough from our building that we needed to drive there) and the whole process ended in the main building (far, far, far from the Smokehouse Grill). While the salesman brought us to the main building, they don’t take you back (you have to hail a golf cart or shuttle from the entrance to the main building). It wasn’t a big deal but it was thoroughly annoying.

    All in all, we really, really liked the resort and all the amenities offered to guests. We were very pleased with the room and quite honestly, it was worth a morning of our time to get the amazing rate of $69 per night for such a well-appointed and spacious villa. We used the savings to splurge on many other aspects of our vacation, so the cost was worth the benefit.

    Despite some of the other Westgate horror stories, I wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again in the future. We very much enjoyed the resort.

    More pics to come (of the exterior, the pool and hot tub, and the various amenities). If anyone has any questions, feel free to toss them out and I’ll do my best to answer.
     
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  3. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    The exterior:

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    The balcony and the views ... sorry about the screen making a couple of the shots grainy (we could see Disney fireworks across the lake in the evening):

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    The mini golf:

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    More pics still to post..........
     
  4. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Pool pics:

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    And now Photobucket has decided to hate me for a few minutes. More to come.
     
  5. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Pool party at Citrus Breeze:

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    Limbo contest for the kids:

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    Marina:

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  6. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    One final photo.....the view from the paddle boats on the lake. Wish I was still there.

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  7. TamaraQT

    TamaraQT Mouseketeer

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    Sounds like you and family had a FABULOUS time!!! I am a Westgate Lakes owner and I always enjoy my stay whenever I go. I remember when you first asked about it and I said you will be fine, and see...you were fine. I am glad all went well. sorry to hear about you being airsick because that can ruin things. But I am glad it passed and you were able to enjoy your vacation. :)
     
  8. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    It was a wonderful stay. Even better than we had hoped :goodvibes . Thank you again for your kind reassurances when I was fretting during the planning stages. Lesson learned :rotfl: ...... Gina needs to chill :beach: !
     
  9. MissDaisyofTexas

    MissDaisyofTexas DIS Veteran

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    It looks nice! How did you get that special rate? Is it on their website?
     
  10. thumbalyna

    thumbalyna DIS Veteran

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    I still kick myself for not buying here back in 1996.......
     
  11. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Initially, we saw the special rate listed here:

    http://westgateresorts.com/lakes/

    We popped in our dates, and then a little box came up that you could check off that gave you the discounted price if you would agree to do a "resort preview". The price that came up was about $85 a night, which was fantastic.

    So I called Westgate Resorts to inquire about more information.....and then they dropped the price even further, to $69 a night, AND added the VIP card which entitled us to free use of the amenities. But, remember we had to agree to go to the timeshare presentation (which wasn't horrible, it was just long. Almost double what they said it would be).

    The cost was definitely worth the benefit for us, though. We scheduled our presentation for 7:30 am one morning late in our stay, and it gave our teenager a chance to sleep in while we went to breakfast and the sales pitch.
     
  12. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Just out of curiosity...what were the prices like back then? (if you remember)
     
  13. thumbalyna

    thumbalyna DIS Veteran

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    It was around 5k for a 2 bedroom as long as we didnt want the week of July 4th. A lot of the resort was still under construction. At that time universal only was the studios side and being young and naive i thought it was too far from Disney. Hindsight really is 20/20 lol
     
  14. DawnM

    DawnM Dawn

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    We stayed in the older section and were placed in a first floor 2 bedroom unit. Check in was met with a high pressure "You must attend our breakfast, you won't want to miss it. It is NOT sales, it is just an introduction to our new buildings." We were then told we could not use ANY of the facilities on the grounds without attending this meeting.

    Um, NOPE, high pressure 3 full hour sales pitch with 4 different managers brought over to tell us how stupid we are for not purchasing.

    We also found out later that we could have paid $30 for the entire week for the family to use the extra facilities (putt putt and such) if we had known to go to the VIP desk and pay for it.

    Day 3 someone moved upstairs. They sounded like a herd of elephants almost 24 hours a day. They moved in at 4:30am. I went to the front desk and asked if we could change rooms and they told me, "You should have called us." I informed them that I WOULD have had I had a working phone in our condo that I complained about the day before!!!! I asked them then to put in their system that I was "calling" them so that on the 2nd call (the following night at 2am when the upstairs 7 year old was running back and forth and back and forth) we could MOVE. :rolleyes1

    Even the security guard commented when he came to our room at 2am that he wouldn't be able to sleep with that either when he heard it.

    I think it was not only loud people but just that the place is not built well. EVERYTHING sounded loud on the floor below. It echoed.

    Day 3 we spent the day moving to another unit.

    There is nothing worse than going to a place like Disney where you are tired at the end of the day, only to not be able to sleep at night and get needed rest.

    I will never stay here again.
     
  15. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Definitely not our experience at all. We only heard people above us on one evening (I think they were setting up the pullout couch, because we could hear the very heavy iron coffee table being dragged across the floor).....the rest of the time, all was quiet. Blissfully quiet, actually.

    Sorry your stay at Westgate was so unenjoyable. We really, really liked it. DH would happily consider owning there when our DS has graduated from college.
     
  16. shalom

    shalom DIS Veteran

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    I'd missed that you were at Westgate on your trip report. There are a lot of happy Westgate owners. But there are also a fair number who call it "WasteGate". ;) Some owners also get wound up because Westgate sells their names (they're always getting cold calls they can track back to Westgate), which I wouldn't like.

    I've never stayed there because I hate aggressive salespeople, but obviously you guys are better at working the system. :thumbsup2 Unless we're planning to spend the whole vacation on the resort, we tend to go for quieter places with less to do onsite anyhow. They tend to have bigger units, too, although your unit there looks about the same size as the one we had at the Fountains. And I'm guessing they're from about the same era, since I think they bought their bathroom paneling from the same place. :rotfl2:
     
  17. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    We read review after review of the property before our vacation, and quite honestly, I think many people can't separate the sales presentation (which you don't *have* to do, in most cases....ours, of course, was one of those cases as its what qualified us for the super-cheap nightly rate) from the resort itself. I mean, we also hated the presentation. The first sales guy was fine, the last three were sleasy awful. But the resort? It was really great. And we refuse to let the timeshare pitch colour the fact that we loved the room, loved the amenities, and loved the location.

    Before we ever committed to a Westgate timeshare, I would want to tour other Orlando properties to see how they compare (price, space, amenities, etc.). That's what we told all four Westgate sales people. The resort, though, sure met all our "must have's" and made for a very comfortable vacation. It would be in the running should we ever be ready to commit for the long-term.
     
  18. shalom

    shalom DIS Veteran

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    Agreed, and not just when it comes to Westgate. I think that's true of any negative experience -- I sometimes have to compartmentalize things myself, because I'm writing the review and realize what was so great/awful about the place really wasn't the resort at all.

    In my experience, with most TS systems, you tell them "no" when you check in, ignore their calls, you're done. My problem with Westgate is that, especially when it comes to other TS owners, sometimes they go a lot further than that -- I've heard a couple times where the salesperson literally hung onto the key until they get let the people into the room -- and then the salesperson sat down in the living room and tried to give a mini-pitch right there. Their theory seems to be, "if you fell for it once, you'll fall for it again!" :rolleyes:

    Technically, we didn't fall for it -- we bought resale -- but apparently that doesn't slow them down much, and I'd rather avoid the hassle. :p

    I'm sure you'll do your research at TUG and Timeshare Forums, so I'll try not to ramble on and on about the advantages of this or that, but I will say that Orlando is overbuilt, and yet they're constantly building new and niftier places, so trading power can go down if you buy weeks there. If you buy into a points system, much less of an issue. Also, if you own in Orlando, you can't trade into DVC (which I'm sure is crucial for you ;) ).

    And a more obscure tip -- at Orange Lake, both the East Village and River Island sections were built downwind of Disney's water processing plant, so at some times of the year when the wind is just right, it can get bad enough that people walking from car to condo cover their faces with towels! :eek: Apparently it's a terrific resort, otherwise. :upsidedow But personally, I just think there's too many Orlando options to be buying somewhere that that's an issue. ;)

    I do think Timeshares are a good way to go. Both last time and next, we're spending $46/night for a 2 BR condo with a full kitchen -- I was going to say you'd likely spend more because you like more on-site amenities, but actually I think that's about the Last Call with RCI price, so if you get an ownership with RCI, you could probably do it for that much as well. :thumbsup2
     

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