During my racecation last month, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort (BLT) was one of the four awesome accommodations I had the pleasure of staying at in Disney.
As members of Disney Vacation Club, we ‘own’ at the Villas of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (Jambo / Kidani) but it’s my personal mission to try all of the different resorts on property. In the past, we’ve stayed at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa (most notably during our visits for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon and the 2011 Walt Disney World Half Marathon) as well as Disney’s Boardwalk Villas, so this trip, I thought I’d try something new and book both BLT and Beach Club Villas (BCV) – where we stayed for the first two nights of this past trip.
Opened in 2009, BLT is one of the newest accommodations on property and features a sleek and modern look that complements its ‘big brother,’ Disney’s Contemporary Resort, which famously features the interior monorail station. While I had been a longtime admirer of the resort affectionately known as ‘the Toaster,’ I had never stayed in any part of the hotel complex (there is also a Garden Wing, in addition to the main building) until this past trip.
On this particular visit, we were assigned a room on the 14th floor (there are a total of 16 – the top level is where DVC members can visit the Top of the World Lounge – see this post for more). On this particular leg of the journey, I was traveling with my friend Rachel so the Studio – Lake View accommodation that I had booked was the perfect size for the two of us (this thread has a great pics of the room empty, I didn’t remember to take any!)
I was really looking forward to our time at BLT and after our experience there, I had a bit of a mixed bag of emotions, so I assembled my own PROS and CONS list based on our recent stay:
- Location – This is PRIME real estate, NO DOUBT about it! I absolutely loved being able to walk to the Magic Kingdom in less than 10 minutes.
- Convenience – Parking, buses, water taxis AND the monorail are all incredibly accessible for this resort and the elevators were jet-speed fast. I especially loved the walkway that connected BLT (5th floor) to the main (4th floor) of Contemporary – we had the resort refillable mugs so it was easy to access Contempo Cafe anytime.
- Views – Since we were up so high and had a lake view, we could see FOREVER – all the way to the Universal Orlando area! It was definitely a nice place to lounge after a long day in the parks and I can imagine the theme park view is even sweeter.
- Recreation/Activities – Rachel was able to enjoy some pool/slide time and she commented on how nice it was. I also took a stroll one evening and liked that so many watersports options were available just footsteps away from the resort.
- Accommodation Size – as mentioned, the studio was JUST the right size for me and Rachel, but we DEFINITELY could not have had anyone else in the room and have been comfortable! The corridor was narrow, the fold out bed and bed were very nearby each other and there was barely enough room for all of our stuff. Now, a family with a young child or two might work, but when it says ‘sleeps up to 4,’ well…I just don’t buy it! And for reference, I thought that possibly my opinion was skewed as we had been in a 1-bedroom (BR) at BCV, but a few days later when I checked in at Disney’s Grand Californian, again in a studio, my feeling was confirmed. The room is small! If possible, I’d recommend at least a 1-BR at BLT.
- Resort Upkeep – As I noted, this is a NEW property…so why were walls peeling, carpets worn and furniture scuffed and marked? I was honestly surprised at the general appearance of fixtures both in guest rooms and common areas. Another example: a missing wall panel near the elevator bay! Definitely did not seem to reflect the high dues that I know BLT owners pay!
- Internet Connectivity – This was my BIGGEST beef. I mean, sure, when folks are on vacation, they should be relaxing and unplugging…right? Well, in my case, I had two grad school classes I was responsible for attending online on two separate nights and after the first FAILED evening, I gave up and ‘went to class’ in the lounge near the check-in desk for California Grill instead! The Wi-fi crashed and burned continuously…I don’t know if the router is located on the first floor and doesn’t reach the 14th, but it was honestly laughable 😦 I can imagine that the resort staff gets quite a bit of negative feedback on this subject as a big percentage of their patrons are likely business travelers, given the proximity to the convention areas at the resort.
So all in all – you can see that in the end, it almost balanced out – and if Disney can improve Wi-fi and basic upkeep, I would definitely consider another visit – in my 1-BR villa, of course 😉
What do you look for in a resort? What is your favorite hotel (Disney or non-Disney)?