I may own DVC, and I may stay at deluxe resorts with frequency … but I stay at value-level resorts just as regularly. I’m a pretty down-home girl. I’m decidedly not the kind of person who prays for the opportunity to upgrade to the Grand Floridian, and I’m certainly not the kind of person who dreams of riding the birdcage elevator up to my room each night.
But you know what I am? I’m a big fan of Mary Poppins. And I’m an even bigger fan of Dan (aka At Disney Again). And he wanted to check out the new Villas at the Grand Floridian Resort during his recent birthday weekend. So I gathered up my DVC points, and I slapped them down on one night in a one-bedroom villa.
And I am really, really glad I did. Because while I may be pretty easy-going, it turns out that I’m also a big time fan over over-the-top opulence. And Mary Poppins.
When we rolled up to the Resort, and we were happily surprised when the security guard at the main gain directed us off to the right (toward the Wedding Pavilion) instead of sending us toward the main lobby. That was our first lesson: Grand Flo Villas is completely self-contained. It has its own porte-cochère, its own parking lot (which it shares with Senses, the new spa), it’s own lobby and its own check-in staff. Fancy.
We stepped inside and were warmly welcomed by a space that I didn’t expect at all. I’ve always felt like the Grand Floridian, while pretty, is fussy. It is, in my opinion, choked with pinks and floral patterns and unnecessary flourishes.
The public spaces at the Villas, on the other hand, are full of rich wood and cool, muted fabrics, intermingled with bright, playful pops of color, modern shapes and an upscale but extremely comfortable tone. There are bright, but traditional flower arrangements placed throughout, and the space is peppered with comfy couches and wing-back chairs set into conversation pockets.
At left, there are three check-in desks, each with its own staffer, each flanked by a pair of wing back chairs. It’s a downright civilized way to check into your resort, and we had a lovely time chatting with the Cast Member while he checked us in.
In the center of the lobby, you’ll find the most-talked about element at the Villas: a fountain overflowing with playful penguin waiters, straight out of Mary Poppins. It is, in a word, delightful. Dan and I spent way too much time circling it and giggling to each other. Above, a most amazing pair of chandeliers bring light and vertical height to the space.
But the Poppins-inspired touches don’t stop there. There’s a little bit of Ms. Mary in the elevator as well as outside the two public restrooms:
My favorite nods to Poppins? Four chalk-esque drawings, very similar to those that Mary and her charges jump into, that flank the three elevators:
When we finally let ourselves into our suite, I’m not ashamed to say that we immediately began running through the generous space like a pair of children. We were just so excited, and every time our eyes fell to rest, we discovered something new. But I get ahead of myself.
We entered into a small vestibule. From there, we could head into the kitchen or down a long hallway where the closet and washer/dryer live. At the end of the hallway was the first of two bathrooms. And that’s where we’ll head first.
In the first bathroom, we found an enormous vanity, a toilet and an upright shower … which, frankly, is about the size of the kitchen in my one-bedroom apartment at home. Now, my kitchen isn’t big … but this shower? ENORMOUS. I think, probably, we could have invited 15 or 20 friends over and still been comfortable in there. Big. A big shower.
You’re probably thinking, “That shower’s not so big.” But it is. That photo? It’s only showing half the space. Visit At Disney Again for more shots of this room-sized cleaning box.
In the second bathroom, there is another giant vanity. And a beautiful, deep jacuzzi tub. And above the vanity? A mirror. With an LED television inset. You know, so you can watch Stacey while you’re in the tub. (What? Me?!? I would never do anything like that!!)
While Dan went on a photo walk of the resort, I very happily sunk into that tub and gave myself a manicure. Very, very happily. Best of all, once I was done with my soak and my nails were dry, the shower was only about three steps away, so I could rinse off and wrap myself up in a cozy cotton robe without tracking water all over. I have to tell you, this is the most heavenly set of bathrooms I’ve ever been in.
Both bathrooms are absolutely dripping in great slabs of cool, handcut marble and matte, brushed nickel fixtures. The floors are decorated with a starkly-contrasted, black and white diamond pattern, which is repeated throughout the room in several different ways–from the mirrors in the bedroom to the room numbers in the hallway.
From the bathrooms, the next logical stop is the bedroom. It was such a delicious little slice of comfort. A total haven with a dresser, large flat-screen television, writing desk, arm chair with matching ottoman … and the bed. It’s really the most lovely bed I’ve ever seen:
To me, this room is the perfect representation of the modern / classic styles blending seamlessly in the Villa. The colors are light and the fabrics are lushly textured. The wood is heavy and the style is very symmetrical and traditional with high, molding-framed ceilings. But overall, the space feels bright, airy and very, very welcoming.
I just love the way the pigments in the bed spread, chair and curtains speak their own language but also echo each other ever so slightly, so everything feels pulled together without being so matchy-matchy. And the many little touches of the dusty Victorian green somehow feel very much at home in a deluxe hotel of 2013. The whole space is decorating genius and seems almost out of place, such as it is surrounded by resorts and spaces where sometimes the magic can be a bit … heavy handed.
From bed, there’s also a glorious view. Our full-length windows (and the attached balcony) had an up-close look at the monorail, which was really magical for us. Other rooms in the resort have equally-lovely views of the Lagoon, the Gran Flo grounds and the Wedding Pavilion. All worthy sights … but really, we couldn’t have been happier with our view. I woke up early the next morning and propped myself up in bed, quietly listening to Dan snore lightly and watching the monorails zip by the sheers every few minutes. It was my Disney magic.
The Living Spaces
I’m including the kitchen / dining room, living room and second balcony as part of the living space. Here, the space is heavier and more quiet. Less young and peppy. But still very light, airy and comfortable. I love the way the shapes and color in the area rug, wallpaper, wood work, couch and arm chair play off each other. The wallpaper, especially, is beautiful in a soft but very strong way. It seems like a whispered kindness to the original Grand Floridian, but updated and more grown up. (You can see a closer shot of the wallpaper in my original post.)
And I love how smart the space is. For example: the ottomans on the right are seats, footstools and … storage:
My favorite, favorite, favorite detail in the whole room? The toddler bed built into the tv stand in the living room. Not only is it an incredibly sweet ode to Mary Poppins, it was also the absolute best place to lay, stretch out in the sun and watch a few hours roll by:
The kitchen is a grand affair with lots of drawers, cabinets and ornate touches, like the intricate clawed feet on the heavy, round wood table. It’s all pulled together by a long, curved booth-style bench, upholstered in a paisley pattern. A diamond-patterned chandelier brighten the dinette, a lovely place to gather with a small group for a glass of wine or morning coffee. Although Dan and I had other plans …
We had the room for only about 20 hours, and we spent about half of those sleeping. The rest of the hours? We spent the majority of them sitting on the little balcony off the main living room, eating breakfast, holding hands and watching the monorails whiz by. Dan took some amazing photos, and we had a lot of fun timing them just-so to create the perfect blur …
From top to bottom, the room was amazing. The public spaces were inspired. The new areas of the resort are pure genius. There’s Disney magic packed into every inch, and it’s all served with a healthy dose of sumptuous luxury. We’re already counting down the days, plotting when we can make our next escape to the Villas.
Would you ever consider a stay at the Villas at Grand Floridian Resort? Let us know what you think in the comments below!