I’ve lived in Orlando for ten years now, and one of my favorite things to do is to visit the famous theme parks in the area. Having said that, I can definitely attest to the fact that these theme park vacations can get expensive very quickly. Getting to Orlando and paying for theme park admission can be worrisome enough, and when you factor in the costs of lodging, activities, food and drinks, and of course, transportation within Orlando…well, it’s enough to make anyone reconsider their vacation destination! Wyndham Grand Orlando
While I am lucky to be able to visit the Disney parks for next to nothing throughout the year, one thing that is still out of my reach is a stay at one of the Disney resort hotels. Sure, there are plenty of perks to staying onsite, like free transportation to and from the airport, convenient free transportation options around the resort, and even free baggage check in at the resort for participating airlines. But are those perks really worth it, when you consider how pricey some of those Disney hotel rooms can be?
Yes, a stay at a Disney-owned hotel can be expensive, especially for longer vacations or families needing multiple rooms. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: you don’t have to stay at a Disney resort in order to make the most of a trip to Walt Disney World. Save your coins and head on over to the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek, a Walt Disney World Good Neighbor Hotel. Located less than three miles from Disney Springs, and within ten miles of any destination on Disney resort property, the Wyndham Grand provides gorgeous, comfortable rooms, a slew of exciting amenities, and even transportation to and from the Disney theme parks, all for just a little bit more than you’d pay for that $100 campsite shown above.
I visited the Wyndham Grand for the first time to celebrate my fiance Dan’s birthday last year. I’d reserved a table for two at STK, an upscale steakhouse and the most expensive restaurant at Disney Springs. Thanks to STK’s participation in Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month, we were able to celebrate at STK for just $35 per person!
Since I’d already saved quite a bit of money on dinner, I decided to book us a hotel room near Disney Springs and continue the fun birthday vibes the next morning with an afternoon at Epcot. I knew I could not afford anything at Disney at the very last minute, and that, as you may have guessed, is how I stumbled across the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek. The upscale, four star resort is less than three miles away from Disney Springs, but you’d never know it. This is no value hotel stuffed to the brim with screaming children and soggy, overpriced sandwiches. Rather, it is an elegant, beautifully-decorated escape with all the modern conveniences you could ever need. Truly, after staying one night, I don’t know why anyone on a budget would ever choose to stay at a Disney resort hotel.
The vacation vibes were flowing as soon we turned onto Chelonia Parkway, the serene, tree-lined avenue on which the Wyndham Grand is located. There were no other cars in sight, just a couple of lanes leading us away from the rush of the highway and the theme park world in general. I could already tell as we cruised along that this would not be an ordinary hotel experience. This was a true getaway. We passed beautiful lakes and fountains, rolling golf courses and manicured hedges, and arrived in minutes at our hotel.
I didn’t actually plan on reviewing this hotel when I booked it. I simply wanted a place to unwind and enjoy a romantic getaway with the birthday boy. All of that changed when we walked into the lobby of the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek. The place was just gorgeous, with plenty of beautiful furniture, unique architectural details, and a color palette that literally made my heart skip a beat. Who knew it was possible to fall in love with a hotel?
I felt like I’d found the deal of the century as we checked in and were reminded of how affordably priced our weekend in paradise would be. We went up to our room, and I was elated to see that it was just as thoughtfully-decorated as the rest of the hotel. I looked at Dan, who already knew what I was about to say, and whipped out my camera to begin documenting the hotel stay after all. I’m lucky to have a guy who patiently supports my blogging endeavors, even on his birthday weekend!
The Wyndham Grand Orlando offers several room types to accommodate all kinds of visitors, from standard King and Queen rooms to full on suites for those seeking a little extra dash of luxury. Some rooms even have additional bunk beds, making the hotel a budget-friendly pick for families visiting Walt Disney World. Since I booked our one night stay via Hotwire Hot Rates (read more about how Hot Rates works here), we did not get a say in which room type we were given, but rather, put in whatever room happened to be available. While we would normally prefer to sleep in a King guest room, this time around, we had a deluxe room with two Queen beds.
In addition to our two Queen beds, the room came equipped with a cozy little sitting area, a beautiful dark wood six drawer dresser for clothes storage, a large changing mirror and clothes closet, a Samsung television, and a cute little coffee bar. There was also a separate bathroom equipped with soft white towels, a roomy shower, a hairdryer, and complimentary toiletries such as shampoo and body lotion.
Of course, these are all things that I have come to expect out of any resort hotel stay. What really wowed me was not the in-room amenities, but the way in which the room was styled. Things like the elegant sitting chairs, the mother-of-pearl-esque inlay on the dresser and the vanity, and the subtly patterned double curtains continued the funky but comfortable vibe of the resort’s common areas. I love a room with style!
From our window we could see the main road, the parking garage, and the Hilton Orlando and Waldorf Astoria, located across the street. While it’s no pool view, it’s good to know that even the least desirable vantage point came out looking so pretty! We loved looking out over the streets and seeing Orlando lit up later in the evening!
The Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek wouldn’t be a four star resort if it didn’t offer plenty of extra amenities! We took a little walk around the resort after checking in to see what else it had to offer.
First up is the Blue Harmony Spa, which offers classic spa treatments and beauty services to truly pamper and indulge the senses. We were short on cash and did not indulge, but if I were ever to stay at the resort again, I think I would at least splash out on a relaxing mani/pedi combo! For a full list of available services, be sure to check out the Blue Harmony Spa Menu. Hotel guests receive 10% off any spa service! There is also a separate fitness center down the hall.
Located near the spa is an indoor game room, and just past that, a lagoon style pool with plenty of lounge chairs, umbrellas, a poolside bar and grill, and even a poolside concierge. We didn’t bring our swimsuits, but we lingered for a moment to enjoy the view over the lake and manicured walking trail, which passes through the neighboring Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort. The pool and other amenities at this sister resort are also open to Wyndham Grand Orlando guests, so be sure to grab your swimsuit and take a spin on the lazy river! Between the two properties, there are five pools, two lazy rivers, two kiddie splash parks, and nine hot tubs. Nine!
Of course, my favorite part of visiting any nice hotel is checking out the dining scene. There are three restaurants, one lounge area, and one casual grab and go eatery at the Wyndham Grand Orlando. The resort’s signature restaurant, Deep Blu Seafood Grille, is a contemporary restaurant serving up fresh, innovative seafood and more. I actually would have loved to dine here, had we not gone to STK at Disney Springs. Deep Blu is another regular participant of Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month, and their prix fixe menu included mouth-watering options such as Summer Seafood Cioppino or Petit Braised Beef Short Rib, and for dessert, Florida Corn & Bourbon Crème Brûlée with Plant City strawberries and raspberry coulis. Ah well, there’s always this year!
Just outside of Deep Blu Seafood Grille is the stylish Bar 1521 lounge area. In addition to wine, beer and sake, Bar 1521 serves up delicious sushi and creative cocktails such as the Floral Libation, which combines Hendricks, yuzu juice, lavender simple syrup, sparkling wine, orchid ice, and a lavender sugar rim to top it all off. The specialty cocktails are a bit pricey at $15 a pop, but for the budget-conscious, there is a daily happy hour from 4PM to 6PM. Totally worth indulging and soaking up the cool lounge environment!
Other amenities of the Wyndham Grand Orlando include a business center, various event and meeting spaces, access to the Waldorf Astoria Golf Club, and shuttle service to Disney Springs as well as the Disney theme parks. While there is no complimentary airport transportation, there are concierge services to help arrange a ride through Maingate Transportation.
After settling in and taking a short nap in our room, Dan and I ventured out to explore the rest of the hotel. Here we found more of the same chic decorative accents, funky lounge furniture, colorful artwork, and of course, delicious dining options. We considered using the shuttle service to Disney Springs (perfect for those looking to imbibe without limitation!) but decided to just drive over to the Springs for Dan’s birthday celebration at STK.
Our experience at STK was underwhelming, to say the least. We waited over an hour for our table, despite having a reservation, and once we were finally seated, the service was slow and inattentive (warm $8 bottled beer, anyone?) and the food mostly disappointing. To their credit, the entrees at STK were fantastic, but it wasn’t enough to convince us to ever make a return visit. Unsurprisingly, the restaurant shut down temporarily after Magical Dining Month ended, presumably to rework things and come back stronger than ever. Throughout the whole meal, I found myself wishing that we had just gone to Deep Blu back at our hotel and enjoyed a post-dinner drink or two in the lounge.
Luckily, the evening was not ruined! It was almost fun laughing at how terribly the dinner part of the evening was going, and when we finally escaped from STK, we took a stroll around Disney Springs and did a bit of shopping. We were able to relax and just have a good time, with the knowledge that the hotel was just a short drive away whenever we were ready to go home. No need to worry about traffic or highways or road closures. I imagine this would be especially comforting to out-of-town visitors who don’t know the area very well. The Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek is super accessible: just take a right out of Disney Springs and a left on Chelonia Parkway, or you can take the resort shuttle and not worry about a thing!
The next morning, we lingered in the room and enjoyed coffee in bed. Breakfast was available at an additional cost downstairs in the Tesoro Cove casual dining room, but we opted instead to get dressed and take the car over to Epcot for an afternoon of eating and drinking around World Showcase. After all, it was just a four mile drive away; we were practically there already.
The Wyndham Grand Orlando is an ideal location for anyone looking to visit Walt Disney World. The stylish hotel has rooms for everyone, from business travelers to entire families, and has many of the same amenities as the Disney-owned resorts, but at a much better price. Considering how dated some of the Disney hotel guest rooms can be, I actually think you get more bang for your buck at the Wyndham. The rooms are large and beautifully updated, with a variety of dining options to satisfy any budget. Add in services like a free resort shuttle, a variety of pools, and a world-class spa, and you’re looking at a getaway to rival anything found at the Disney resorts.
Dan and I enjoyed our stay so much, I’ve already recommended it to several people looking to save some cash on their Disney vacation. I could not believe that such a beautiful and well-located hotel could exist at such a low price point.
Book Your Stay Today!
Remember those pricey Disney hotels I mentioned at the beginning of this review? If you weren’t convinced then of the value of looking elsewhere for a hotel, then maybe this will convince you. A one night stay at the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek for those same dates (September 15-16, 2017) only costs $139, and you can stay there for an even lower cost of $112 by booking in advance. Your Disney vacation just got way more affordable.