Sunday, July 1, 2018

Disney’s Vero Beach Resort – A Hidden Gem on the Treasure Coast

When most people think of a Disney vacation, they imagine visiting the theme parks, or maybe taking a cruise.  They picture a trip full of activities, characters and attractions, with very little time left for rest and relaxation.  While amazing and magical, these trips can also be exhausting, and I often arrive home needing a vacation from my vacation!

But did you know that Disney also owns two beach resorts?  That’s right, you can get Disney’s world-class customer service and amazing attention to detail in a quiet, relaxing setting.  With an abundance of recreation options for the entire family and plenty of dining options (including Dole Whips!), all you’ll be missing are the crowds! Sound about perfect?  It is!
Disney's Vero Beach
Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is located just 2 hours south of Walt Disney World, on the Atlantic Treasure Coast, sharing space with the nesting grounds of the Loggerhead Sea Turtle. And five hours north of Walt Disney World, Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort can be found on the picturesque coast of South Carolina, fashioned after a 1940s hunting and fishing lodge, and featuring 12 miles of heavenly beaches.  Though both resorts are Disney Vacation Club properties, both can be booked directly with Disney by non-DVC members.  Both resorts are very small, however, with Hilton Head having less than 150 units (ranging from studio to 3 bedroom layouts) and Vero Beach just under 250 (including 132 DVC layouts and 112 rooms in the main building, or “inn”), so advance planning remains a must, just like with any other Disney vacation!

Welcome Home Sign for DVC Members
My family got the opportunity to visit Disney’s Vero Beach Resort this past June.  We did use our DVC points to book this trip, and when we wanted to tweak our dates we struggled to find the availability we needed, and had to move our room type in order to accommodate the change in plans.  And by the time we travelled, there wasn’t a single available room in any room category for our trip dates. Having never had a problem booking the resort I wanted at Walt Disney World, even for last minute trips or during holidays, I was a bit surprised by how quickly this resort filled up, even given its small size.  But now that I’ve experienced it for myself, it’s very easy to understand why this resort is in such high demand!

Resort Property

Beach at Resort

Let me begin by saying that while beautiful, this resort does not “scream” Disney.  There are several subtle (and some not-so-subtle) touches throughout the resort that let you know you are on a Disney-owned property, but you won’t see characters roaming the grounds or hear Disney music being pumped throughout the common areas.  You will, however, get the same level of care and customer service that you have come to expect from Disney Cast Members.  And just like other Disney resorts, you have all the amenities you need right at your fingertips, with no need to leave the resort if you don’t want to!

Resort pictures
The resort itself is situated right on the beach (unlike Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort, where you must take a shuttle to the beach) with beach chairs, umbrellas and cabanas available for rent (you can also bring your own).  They also offer body boards, kayaks and surf lessons on the beach, all for an additional charge. 

Body Boarding
Fishin' Time!
Back up at the resort there is also a large pool with a water slide, and plenty of pool games going on throughout the day.  A 9-hole miniature golf course surrounds the pool, and there is also a ping pong table and activities center right outside the pool gates.  The activities center houses different crafts and programs throughout the day, some free of charge and some for a nominal fee.  My kids made shark tooth necklaces one day and did a fishing excursion another (the best part about this activity was that the price included their own rod and reel that we got to bring home!). Needless to say, for those kids who don’t know how to RELAX (like mine!) and need some extra stimulation, they won’t be bored!
Miniature Golf

And during sea turtle nesting season, you can reserve your spot on a guided sea turtle night walk.  This event is currently offered select nights in June and July to those ages 8 and up.  The walk begins at 9 p.m. and lasts 2-4 hours, depending on how quickly a nesting turtle can be found.  Scouts will search for sea turtles while you enjoy a presentation on the nesting process, and once a nest is located you’ll be provided with night vision goggles to watch the turtle lay her eggs, cover the nest and return to the sea.

Destination Signs

There are several dining options at the resort.  The Wind & Waves Market is a quick service location, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, and also carries some groceries and to-go items.  Also, if you purchased the refillable mug (yes, they have those here, too!), this is where the drink station is located.  (Pro Tip: If your trip to Vero Beach follows a resort stay in Walt Disney World, the mug you purchased at WDW will still work in Vero.)  This is also where you will find the Dole Whip station!! Wind & Waves Market is situated right outside the pool gates, next to the Wind & Waves Bar.

The Wind & Waves Grill is a sit down restaurant, open for breakfast and dinner.  Located just off the lobby and steps away from the pool and beach, the Wind & Waves Grill has a small, hearty menu, with dinner specials that change daily.

The Green Cabin Room can be found on the second floor of the resort, with sweeping views of the ocean from its patio.  The Green Cabin Room serves a full selection of beer and wine in addition to specialty cocktails.  There is also a small menu of appetizers available.  It’s a great place to unwind with a drink before heading to dinner.  The Green Cabin Room is also host to several after-dinner activities for the over 21-crowd, like trivia contests (Disney-themed, of course!) and karaoke.

Lastly, in true Disney fashion, the resort does offer two character meals – Goofy’s Beach side Breakfast (offered seasonally on Saturday mornings) and Pirate Night Dinner (offered seasonally on Monday nights).  This is the ONLY place to see characters at the resort, and both meals include appearances by Goofy and Donald.
Goody's Beach Side Breakfast

Guest Services
One gift shop is located off the lobby of the inn, Island Grove Packing Company.  This shop sells a variety of Disney themed apparel and souvenirs, in addition to groceries and sundries, and even provides DVD rentals.

Parking is available in an underground garage, adjacent to the parking lot.  There is no overnight parking fee for resort guests, but you will be required to display a pass on your dashboard for the duration of your stay.

The resort also has a spa, onsite laundry and dry cleaning services, fitness center, tennis courts, bike rentals, outdoor grills and childcare options.

Offsite Activities
While you certainly don’t have to leave Disney’s Vero Beach property for a single minute during your vacation, there are a variety of things to do in Vero Beach and the surrounding area if you choose to venture out.  Delicious restaurants line the coastline, offering every type of cruise – from seafood to steakhouses, Italian and American.  For the golfers, there are several courses in the area.  You can also schedule airboat rides or take a private boat tour.  My family did a personal tour of the Sebastian Inlet with Capt. Christy Lenz Casual Cruisin’ and it was a definite highlight of our trip.  We got the chance to view dolphins, manatees, stingray and a variety of other fish and birds up close and personal during our 2-hour tour.  It was truly amazing!
Dolphin sighting
Manatee Sighting
So for those of you that are looking for a relaxing vacation, without all the hustle and bustle of the theme parks, but with the legendary customer service you’ve come to appreciate from Disney – look no further than Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.  After just one stay, my family has decided this needs to be an annual trip for us.  We paired our days in Vero with a few days in Walt Disney World prior, and it was the perfect mix of theme park fun followed by pure relaxation.  And I actually came home from this trip refreshed, which was definitely a Disney first! This resort is truly a hidden gem, just waiting for you to discover all it has to offer.  Call your travel agent today to book your stay at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort – I promise you won’t regret it!
Family Cruisin'

By: Alyssa Gates Schreiber

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