Zamgwar Stays at the New Beach Club Villas!

by Zamgwar
AllEars® Feature Writer

Feature Article

This article appeared in the July 16, 2002 Issue #147 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.

I've always viewed time as way to catalog important memories, rather than simply adding another "ring" around the middle of the Tree of Life that is me. And let's face it, as one approaches the late 40s, the last thing needed is another ring of anything around the middle.

Memories: learning to tie one's own sneakers (and those I met at MouseWorld will attest it's still something I'm trying to master), a first kiss, a first driving lesson, a first date with the person who would become your life partner -- in my case, She Who Must Be Obeyed. You get the picture.

I can now add to that catalog the heart-pounding excitement I felt pulling up to the security booth at the Beach Club after a four-year absence and announcing, "I'm checking into the Villas."

To this ALL EARS writer, the Beach Club was, and still is, simply as good as it gets for a hotel on Disney property. Its lobby is bright and airy with an understated class and fragrant floral bouquets. Kids skip through it in bathing suits, hurrying out to Stormalong Bay. Laughter from folks heading off to the parks can be easily heard. The warm, welcoming staff that greets you, the wide eyes of kids -- both little and big -- hugging Minnie at Cape May for breakfast... these are all an easy reminder why this is my personal favorite luxury resort.

The Grand Floridian always makes me feel underdressed, and the Wilderness Lodge, while spectacular, leaves me feeling stranded. The Yacht Club, though elegant in a nautical way, doesn't make me smile upon entering. The Boardwalk, my home resort, is WONDERFUL, but can feel a little too large.

The Beach Club, like Goldilocks says, feels just right.

To ice the cake this time, it was only 9:15 a.m., and my dedicated, two-bedroom villa was ready and waiting for me on opening day of the Disney Vacation Club's new Beach Club Villas.

Zip-A-Dee-Freakin'-Doo-Dah! What a wonderful day!

The smile the whole place put on my face was Cheshire Cat-like. But I knew, with all the current dining choices awaiting me in MouseWorld, I wouldn't be fading away... at least not from not eating!

As you pass along the covered walkway from the Beach Club to the Villas, you're greeted by a bronze statue of a smiling Ariel, the Little Mermaid. Upon entering the small rotunda of the Beach Club Villas, perfectly mated to the Beach Club Resort, you are immediately drawn into the fabulous "Breezeway," with its high ceiling and towering, arched alcove, accented with shelves full of neat knick-knacks. Like all Disney details, the "boat bow" shape of the arch is repeated in a million places the average person might miss, and works as sort of a "subliminal message" to remind you of where you are, and assure you that Disney still pays as much attention to detail as it always has.

You can find that attention to detail above the elevator where the numbers are. It's in the doors. It's between the windows on the exterior. It's in the tiles on the Villas quiet pool. It's in the shape of the chairs of the Beach Club lobby, which serve as a unifying link to both hotels.

The Breezeway is full of inviting furniture, with large doors leading out to the quiet pool. In late afternoons it served as a nice gathering place for folks exchanging tales of their day's adventures.

The resort guestroom hallways are equally bright. If you pay attention to the carpeting on the floor, you'll notice a great Hidden Mickey vine pattern. In fact, there are Hidden Mickeys everywhere. In shadows in the artwork on the walls, beneath the counters, on several chair backs, in the bedspreads. Once again, they are a constant subliminal reminder to you of where you are.

When we opened the door to our two-bedroom villa, She Who Must Be Obeyed announced that she had died and momentarily gone to Disney heaven. The living room and kitchen area alone exceeded the size of any room we had ever stayed in on-site. The decor was invitingly bright, with seafoam green accents, and extremely comfortable.

The kitchen was supplied with everything you could imagine, as if, as well as being a guest, you had also just had a kitchen bridal shower. Plates, cups, wine glasses, corkscrew, cheese graters, turkey basters, spatulas, the whole nine yards. She Who Must Be Obeyed announced that the drain board still had the packaging on it! The place reeked of New.

Our bedroom had a king-size bed, a sitting area, and SPECTACULAR master bathroom. Its absolute maze of doors, however, toyed with my bladder, as it persistently asked, "But where is the bathroom part?" And yes, for my wife's bubbling pleasure, there was also that wonderfully luxurious Jacuzzi bathtub behind the shutters.

Being a dedicated two-bedroom, the second bedroom was extra spacious because it lacked a kitchenette. The queen-size bed, second bathroom and sleeper sofa were perfect for my in-laws and their 4-year-old. There were three balconies, a washer and a dryer. (We didn't do laundry, but did dry the daily "rain" out of our clothes!)

Studio guests in the Villas have access to a large laundry room on each floor, each with several machines and a TV. In fact, that's where I encountered delightful ALL EARS subscriber and "Find Zamgwar" winner Colleen Costello on such a regular basis that I became suspicious she was sleeping in the laundry room.

Having such a room at a resort like the Beach Club ALMOST makes one forget there are parks out there. In fact, if not for the convenient location of the resort, one easily could have forgotten and spent the entire vacation relaxing at the pool.

A walk or a boat ride and you're at Epcot or the Disney-MGM Studios. (A Zamgwar tip: "If there is no boat visible anywhere, and it's not too hot, you'll get to and from both parks quicker on foot.") We never had to wait more than five minutes for a bus to Animal or Magic Kingdom and on two occasions got to Magic Kingdom by strolling (a favorite pastime of mine) through Epcot and taking the monorail.

Art, the greeter at the Beach Club, still spreads his special magic in the main Beach Club lobby. Art is more than just a Cast Member, he is nearly a park icon, a true Disney treasure. Resplendent in his uniform, his soft and warm, "Good morning to the lovely lady," and complimentary, "That's a fine salute," to anyone who returns his tells you that you're somewhere special. After meeting Art, my young niece asked me, "What does the Captain do?" My answer was easy. "He puts smiles on everyone's faces." (His smile may even be a little broader now, as, I am happy to report, Art has recently married.)

The entire staff at the Beach Club is exceptional, and some are simply extraordinary. Hahnan and Hazel, behind the front desk, greeted me by name every time I passed, sometimes even calling out across the lobby if I was "spacing." They frequently took time to have some wonderful chats. If anyone from the Mouse reads this, they both deserve an extra helping of cheese for the Magic they spread.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the rumor that complimentary morning coffee was dead at the Beach Club was just that, a Rumor. The coffee sat there, in the Lobby bar, waiting for me each morning. I'm not an "in the room coffee" type of guy. I like to go out and get it. That it was available and still free for Beach Club guests made all right with the world -- at least my first impression of the Mouse's part of the World.

Stormalong Bay is without a doubt the best resort pool at Walt Disney World. Sand-bottomed and huge, it almost calls you by name as you pass it. With the addition of 300 DVC rooms to the Beach Club, DVCers should be aware that Stormalong Bay is now no longer part of the "Pool Hopping" perk -- access is available only to Beach Club Resort and Villas guests.

The Beach Club Resort's amenities are rounded out with the Cape May Buffet serving its legendary evening clambake, Beaches and Cream whipping up decadent desserts, and the poolside Hurricane Hannah's, with its wonderful salads for those who insist on counting Weight Watcher points while on vacation.

To me, the Beach Club, like Mary Poppins, is still practically perfect in every way.

That's My2Cnts. What's yours?

Office of Happiness
The Zamgwar Institute

Lots of photos of the Beach Club Villas can be viewed in the Resort Photo Gallery at:


Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.