Buena Vista Palace
Hotel & Spa
- Staying with Health
- An In-Depth Review & Description of
Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, Florida
407-827-2727 Reservations: 866-397-6516
are 1,014 guest rooms, which includes 117 suites that may especially
appeal to families. Though this resort is not owned by Disney, it’s
right on Disney property and considered an official Disney hotel.
Situated on 27 acres, it’s almost directly across the street from
Downtown Disney, and the Disney bus transportation depot.
We recently had the chance
to stay there, and we were put on the 20th floor. The view
from our balcony of Downtown Disney was spectacular. If you choose this
resort, we feel it’s worth the fee to enjoy this view! Fresh
from an extensive, $50 million renovation, the resort offers a new style
through completely refurbished guestrooms, a redesigned lobby and new
private event and dining venues.
Although it’s a nice
vacation resort for anyone, it’s also a convention resort, which may
make it a great alternative for adult travelers. While there are
certainly amenities for kids (see below), we noticed that there were far
more adults visible during our stay than the family oriented crowds
you’ll see at the Disney resorts. Adult travelers and families will
both like the low stress atmosphere. Despite its central location and
the fact that we were visiting during a peak crowd period, it never felt
crowded as most of the Disney resorts tend to at this time of year. It
felt kind of like an oasis from the crowds.
The main building is 27
stories high. Inside the lobby we found it to be a calm and pleasant
environment. There’s music playing that we would consider relaxing,
light jazz, contributing to the experience.
The lobby also includes a new media
lounge with three Apple Cyber Stations, two flat panel large-screen
high-definition televisions and plenty of comfortable seating.
We would describe the décor as upscale, modern
and minimalist. Visually, the resort reflects simplicity and quality.
This resort is not run by
Disney, but it’s on Disney property and guests do have some of the same
Disney perks. This includes package delivery, access to preferred tee
times at Disney golf courses, preferred dining reservations and seating
at the Disney restaurants, and guaranteed admission to all Disney Parks
even when the parks reach capacity if you use the resort bus. This is
because their buses are still admitted even when the parks close because
they’ve reached capacity.
Reservations and special
If you must request a handicapped or specially equipped room, they
recommend that you inform the reservation agent of any special needs to
ensure they have that room type available. They will guarantee a
handicapped room. The other alternative is to call their Rooms Control
Department after booking your reservation. You can reach them at (407)
827-2727 Ext 28285.
They do accept special
requests such as no fragrances in the room prior to check-in. The beds
ordinarily have Pacific Coast Down pillows and a down duvet, but you can
request that it be removed. There are no special devices available here
such as room air purifiers. If you need any special devices, you’ll
need to make arrangements with an outside company.
You can request a
non-smoking room. Unfortunately there are some guests who smoke despite
the fact that they’re in a non-smoking room. We were told that the
hotel policy is to send someone up to inform the guest that smoking is
not permitted. Call the front desk if you find that someone is smoking in a
non-smoking room. Keep in mind that guests will sometimes smoke on the
balcony even in the non smoking rooms. If your balcony door is open it
could travel in.
Check-in is 4 PM, and check out is 11 am. Late check-out is possible but
varies based on occupancy. You will leave your luggage with a bell
person who will approach your car as you arrive. Once you enter the
resort, you can proceed to the front desk. Our check-in was super fast
and easy. It was so seamless that there’s nothing else to mention!
Once you’re in your room,
call the Bell Service number on the phone and they’ll deliver your
luggage to your room. For check-out, just call the bell services and
they’ll come up and get your luggage. They were there within a couple
minutes after we called, despite the fact that we were there during a
Disney peak crowd period. Luggage storage is available as an alternate
if late check-out is not available. They will store your computer and
other valuables in a safe that you will have the key to, and they’ll put
your luggage in a locked, air conditioned room.
Wheelchairs may be available at the bell station for short term use
only, as a means of transporting a guest to their room. They don’t
provide for long term or overnight wheelchair needs, but they’ll store a
wheelchair that an outside company leaves for you. If you’ve rented
from an outside company, just request your wheelchair from the bell
person when you arrive at the resort.
We found throughout our stay that the staff was friendly and that all of
our special requests were met. They actually called after each request
we made to determine if everything was followed up on to our
satisfaction. The valet and bell staff were particularly helpful on
We had seen photos on the
web, but we felt they didn’t do the room justice. Our room was very
pleasant, very clean and it had an upscale feel to it. The combination
of the modern design, colors and furnishings seemed very comfortable to
us. The furnishings have rich,
dark finishes the rooms have a color palette of sky blue, light taupe
and beige. For some reason that we could not put our finger on, we
felt more at home and comfortable in this room than we have in many
other hotels we’ve visited.
Newly redesigned standard rooms include:
Sealy® pillow-top bedding with luxury linens; LG 32” LCD flat-panel HD
televisions; wired and wireless Wayport Internet access for a fee;
Herman Miller© ergonomic chairs; new carpet, wall coverings and case
goods; enlarged closets; spa-quality robes; in-room coffee service and
digital climate control. Remodeled baths feature back-lit mirrors;
additional lighting; designer bath products and frameless glass showers.
To give you an idea of the
size of some of the rooms, approximate sizes in square feet are as
Standard rooms - 350
Island Suites - 425
Premium Suites - 600
They have either a king or
two queen beds. There are a variety of suite styles that offer an extra
bedroom, pull-out couch, microwave, wet bar and other amenities. Most
of the king rooms include a single fold-out sofa bed.
In addition to the other
furnishings, there is a movable table that’s perfect for use with a
computer. The Herman Miller Ergonomic desk chair desk chair was
seriously comfortable. Sarah ordinarily has a tough time with back pain
using most desk chairs, and she found this very comfortable. The in-room
safe is large enough to fit a laptop computer as well as other items.
There was no electrical
outlet by the beds. Those with an electrical device such as a C-PAP
will want to bring an extension cord. There was an outlet that was
located in a practical position for recharging an ECV. Every room has a
small refrigerator included at no extra charge. There’s a coffee set-up
that is located in a convenient spot that will make it practical to use.
The bathroom had one
vanity and sink, and a separate bathroom/shower room. Upon our request
they supplied a soap that was absolutely fragrance free, which is quite
unusual. The shampoo, conditioner and body lotion did have fragrance.
The bath linen is 100% ring-spun cotton. There were bathrobes for each
The small balcony had two
comfortable outdoor padded chairs. It was a pleasure to hang out and
enjoy the spectacular view of Downtown Disney. Another possible view is
that of Epcot. Those who face this way may be able to see the nightly
Illuminations! fireworks display. For those who are dealing with a fear of
heights, you’ll want to request a lower level.
Tip: We were told that any
floor over 7 or 8 is far enough removed so that you won’t be bothered by
noise from the pool area. Those on lower floors facing the pool may
find it noisy at times. On the 20th floor there was no outside noise
when the sliding glass door was closed. When it was opened we could hear
the hum of traffic, but there was not much people noise other than someone talking
on a cell phone on their balcony.
As in most hotels,
we found that we could hear other guests leaving their rooms
in the morning beginning around 7 am. However our room was completely quiet in the evenings and through
The beds include Sealy
Pillow-top bedding and were quite comfortable. They were approximately
2 feet off the ground. There’s a ceiling fan in the room that you can
control. There is no night light so bring one if you need to have some
light at night.
The air conditioning vent blows on you when you’re in bed. Some will
find that refreshing. For those who have discomfort with the sensation
of air blowing on you, it may help to choose a room with two queen beds
and to sleep in the farthest position away from the air vent.
We had requested that no
scented products be used in our room. We did not detect any perfume
smells or chemical odors. The resort does use air fresheners
throughout. We often noticed what seemed like a vanilla fragrance in
the lobby and lower level.
All rooms are accessible
to wheelchairs and ECVs, but there are specially designed rooms for
those who need them. We were in a standard room but there was adequate
of room to drive an ECV in. There is an electrical outlet appropriate
for recharging your chair. It would be challenging to navigate in a
non-handicapped room if you had to stay in your chair.
Fully accessible rooms are
normally approximately 350 square feet, and they’re designed to allow
you to move about in your chair. Some rooms include roll in showers,
other have shower and toilet grab bars, shower seats, electronic door
openers, lowered sinks and a/c controls. Some rooms have lower fan and
lighting controls, as well as access for a wheel chair to fit under the
vanity area. There are fire alarm, telephone and door bell alert
strobes available as well as TDD devices.
We found that the door to
our guestroom was moderately light and did require some strength to
open. Sarah was able to ride in and out with her scooter while holding
the door open on her own, but it was somewhat challenging.
There are three main dining locations and one quick food option. We
would describe them as upscale. They are as follows (Please see our
website for menus and photos):
This is not the
same as the Outback Steakhouse chain.
This is an Australian-inspired steakhouse
with a multi-level waterfall and open-hearth grill. You’ll find steaks
and fresh seafood. It’s open for dinner only, and reservations are
We found it to be an
elegant and atmospheric restaurant. In fact it was so attractive we
changed our plans to try it. The food was above average in quality, and
you’ll find the prices are on the very high end. Food is served a la
cart, which adds up if you wish to order veggies and other side dishes.
It’s quite dark inside,
and the seats are padded with backs. Wheelchairs must take an
elevator to the lower level. The hallway leading to the restaurant is
made to look like a cave. Those with claustrophobia might find it
challenging, but it’s a brief walk and you can see the exit. The scooter
was a fairly tight fit. Please check our website for a menu sample at www.Diz-Abled.com.
Home of the resort’s Sunday Disney Character Breakfast, this casual
bistro offers breakfast buffets ($20 for adults every day but Sunday)
and light fare for both breakfast and lunch.
Please check our website
for a menu sample at www.Diz-Abled.com.
Pastry Shop & Mini Mart:
You’ll find this in front of the Watercress
Café. They serve fresh-baked pastries, ice cream, Starbucks®
coffees, pre-made sandwiches and salads to-go. In addition
you can order “fast food” made in the
Watercress Café kitchen. You order your
meal at the store register and it’s brought to you from the nearby
restaurant. It’s served in a plastic container. There are tables in an
adjoining room where you can eat. You’ll find condiments, plastic
utensils and tables that overlook the water. Guests can also use the
microwave in that area. A breakfast of two eggs, toast and potatoes
currently cost $8. Coffee is additional at $3.20 for a small, which is
not refillable. You serve yourself the coffee. There are also some baked
Castaway Grill & Shipwreck Bar:
Serves tropical drinks, hamburgers, hot sandwiches and salads poolside.
Lunch and dinner is
Kook Sports Bar:
A new sports-themed restaurant/bar serving dinner against a backdrop of
40 flat-screen televisions. The televisions are very impressive and
sports fans will enjoy the set-up.
The resort offers room
service, and they leave a menu on your bed each night so that you can
order for the next day. For other breakfast options you can walk over to
Downtown Disney and try McDonalds or the Earl of Sandwich. Of course
there are many restaurants serving lunch and dinner there as well.
During the evening, the
lounge which is in the main lobby has a happy hour. They serve a
delicious non-alcoholic drink along with
available to all guests at no charge. Snacks
can be ordered here also.
Here’s the policy of the
resort concerning special dietary needs for their restaurants and room
service: Our Food & Beverage team is happy to make arrangements with
guests in advance. If not requested in advance, we will do our best to
accommodate any special needs/requests. You can call the food and
beverage department directly at 407-827-3427.
There is a parking fee for
valet-parking or you can self-park at no charge. Disabled guests are
offered valet parking at no charge, but you must have valid state issued
proof. We self-parked and we did find that the disabled parking spaces
were quite a hike to the main lobby and elevators to the rooms. It was necessary for me to drop Sarah
off at the front entrance, where she would sit and wait for me to
return. She was not able to safely ride to the lobby on her scooter.
This was because of the parking lot and road design as well as the fact
that there was no sidewalk from the handicapped parking area to the
entrance. Also, although you can enter the convention center from the
handicapped parking area, there was no elevator visible. It appeared
that you must be able to ride an escalator to enter through this area.
If you are driving and can not be dropped off at the entrance, we
recommend that you use valet parking.
The resort offers buses to all the Disney parks, including the two water
parks. They run to the four main parks approximately every 30 minutes
and a twice daily pick-up and return for the water parks. The resort
shuttle buses should have a hydraulic lift and room for one non-folding
wheelchair or ECV.
When walking to Downtown
Disney, there is a covered walkway and bridge that leads you to the
sidewalk across the street from the Downtown Disney Marketplace side.
The walkway is smooth concrete until you get to the bridge. The bridge
is made of wood slats that are bumpy for a wheelchair or ECV.
The location that the path
leads to is directly across from the Disney Marketplace transportation
bus depot. Those in ECVs should be cautious about crossing the street
where the walkway lets you out. We find it to be an unsafe crossing
point for a number of reasons. To get to a safe crossing point, walk as
if you were heading towards Disney’s West Side. The next corner you come
to has a crossing light.
There are a number of
options at this resort.
The 10,000 square foot full-service spa is tastefully decorated.
It’s on the smaller side compared to some other spas we’ve visited,
however it’s particularly well appointed. Services include facials,
massages, body wraps, hair and nail treatments and make-up application
The men and women’s areas
each have a sauna, small lap pool and hot tub. The lap pool depth is 3
feet 10 inches to 4 feet four inches. You also have access to the
fitness center which is open from 5 am to 10 pm. For those with back
issues they do have a recumbent bike.
The resort representative
told us that their therapists usually have three to five or more years
of experience. Sarah experienced a hot stone massage. Her therapist had
over 15 years of experience with physical therapy in addition to her
massage training. Sarah felt the experience was “like a little piece of
heaven.” She also found the staff to be attentive, pleasant and eager to
please. This can be a great way to get some pain relief or to just
You can order wine while
you’re receiving services. They don’t serve wine to those receiving a
massage; this is because massage can cause detoxification, so wine will
put extra stress on the liver. During your visit, you can partake of
fruits and nuts, teas, water and other snacks that may vary. You can
order a meal through the hotel room service. They do have a healthy menu
for the spa, but you can also order from the regular menu which includes
burgers and fries! There’s a beautiful court that you can eat in which
has a tiled fountain in the middle.
If you have allergies to
fragrances, let them know at the time of your reservation. They do have
some fragrance-free massage oil. The spa itself has a very mild fragrant
smell. At the time of her visit it was so mild that Sarah didn’t notice
it for some time, but because we check for it specifically for our
readers, she discerned that it was there. They provide a locker,
slippers and robes. Although they supply soaps, shampoo and lotions for
guests, they do not have any that are fragrance-free.
The showers are made to
become steam rooms. There is a handicapped shower which is a roll-in
shower with grab bars and seats. Most everything should be accessible.
Though the nail area
doesn’t advertise acrylic nail service, they will do this upon request.
If you’re sensitive to the smell, you can request to be placed in a
Friday’s and Saturdays are
the spa’s busiest days. They tend to get a lot of wedding parties that
they do hair, nails and makeup for. During the week the spa tends to be
most quiet, although that can change.
There are three pools
separated in the same general areas as the bar and a pool side
restaurant. The main pool depth is 3 feet 6 inches to 6 feet 6 inches.
The other two pools are children’s pools. The first is 3 feet deep and
the other smaller pool is 1 ½ feet deep. According to the resort, they
are heated to approximately 82-84 degrees.
is a small lake surrounding part of the area. The main pool has one
section which is covered by an overhang between the bar and restaurant,
providing shade. The hot tub is in the covered area also. There’s also a
waterfall that spills from the roof of the building into the water.
The main pool is themed with Florida landscaping
and island music. Although the pool area is accessible, there are no
special features to assist with entry for those with mobility issues.
Although the pool area has a very
casual feel to it, some of the amenities and
services offered at the pool are decidedly upscale. For example, guests
have access to a pool concierge with complimentary magazines, books,
fruit and towels. Sun bathers are offered cool, wet towels,
compact disc players, headphones, music selections, water spritzes
and small samples of a fruit drink.
There are several
umbrellas offering shade, and there’s a covered area with some tables
under it. If you need shade there’s plenty of room to drag a lounge
chair under it. The lounge chairs have comfortable padding.
There are restrooms in the
area. It would be tough to get a wheelchair in the main restrooms but
there’s a companion and wheelchair accessible bathroom also.
Although we were visiting
at a peak crowd time for Disney, the pool area never felt crowded as it
might in most Disney resorts.
There is a lighted tennis court, basketball court and sand volleyball
court. Guests have access to five Disney championship golf courses with
preferred tee time privileges. There is a small game room which is
accessible; however a couple of the games may not be reached in a
Babysitting services are
available at the resort. Call guest services at 407-827-3225.
The elevators are enclosed
with no view outside. For those with visual impairments, the elevator
actually announces the floor it’s arriving to, and whether it’s going up
Of course, pests are a
fact of life in Florida, and the Buena Vista Palace has a program for
keeping the resort free of this problem. Keep in mind that you can
request that they don’t spray your room within 48 hours prior to your
stay, or during your stay.
They contract with an
outside vendor to take care of pest control. They do say that all of
their room treatments are safe for immediate occupancy. The rooms are
sprayed once per quarter or as needed.
Other General Services &
Amenities that we haven’t mentioned:
Pet Services & Amenities
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