We all know that vacationing at Walt Disney World may not always be the most relaxing experience. Waking up early in the morning to get to the parks for opening, running from attraction to attraction, dealing with the heat and the crowds, it can be a physically, mentally, and emotionally draining experience. Sometimes it may even feel like you need a vacation from your vacation. Wouldn’t it be great if there was somewhere nearby that you could go to relax and unwind for a few days following all of this? Or maybe you are just looking for the kind of vacation where you can sit by the pool or at the beach without having to worry about running around from place to place? Fortunately, Disney has just the place and this hidden gem is located conveniently close to Walt Disney World. Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is the perfect escape and a great way to end a Disney vacation or be a vacation unto itself.
Location, Location, Location:
Even though it is located less than a two hour drive southeast of Walt Disney World, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort feels like an entirely different world. It is close enough to Disney World and Orlando International Airport to be easily accessible to Guests travelling to the Orlando area and yet far enough removed that it offers an escape from the crowds and congestion.
Vero Beach is located right on the Atlantic Ocean in an area known as Florida’s Treasure Coast. With the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Indian River on the other, the area features miles of beaches to enjoy in addition to the natural beauty of nearby botanical gardens, wildlife preserves, and state parks.
The resort’s location is certainly one of its main allures; every room is just steps away from the beach and a majority have views of the ocean. While here, you definitely do not want to miss the stunning views of the sunrise each morning.
A Taste of Old Florida:
The resort’s style is one that harkens back to a bygone age with an old-fashioned elegance and charm; it has an upscale feel that is at the same time warm and inviting. The resort celebrates the splendor of Old Florida with an architectural style reminiscent of the grand hotels found along Florida’s northeastern seaboard at the turn of the 20th century. In addition, the resort’s relatively small size (just 211 rooms) makes it more intimate, quiet, and far less crowded than the resorts at Disney World.
The resort’s rooms are split up between the main Inn, three Villa Buildings, and six Cottages. Located in the Inn, resort’s lobby is certainly a sight to behold, with its high ceilings and numerous windows giving it a very open and airy feel.
The lobby is also where you can find the Island Grove Packing Co., which is the resort’s gift shop featuring an array of resort-specific merchandise in addition to many items that can be found at Disney World. The shop also offers an array of groceries.
Throughout the resort, in both the common areas and Guest rooms, there are various design elements that pay tribute to the legacy of Old Florida. This theming helps set the tone for the resort and immerses Guests into the history of the region. Along the walls you will spot everything from black and white photographs and newspaper clippings to old postcards and paintings; it is really like stepping back to an earlier time. The three main themes that carry through the resort are citrus, treasure, and the environment.
The number one industry in Indian River County is citrus. The area produces over ten varieties of oranges and grapefruits and is home to twelve packing houses. In fact, many of the local groves contributed authentic labels to the resort which are now displayed throughout the lobby. This theming also makes its way into the Guest rooms, which feature various citrus-inspired dÃ©cor and motifs in their design.
Indian River County is one of three counties located on Florida’s Treasure Coast. The area got its name due to all of the shipwrecks that occurred off of its shores and treasure continues to be found to this day. The region’s history also includes a number of notorious pirates who would use the barrier islands as hiding places for the riches they plundered from European vessels. Throughout the resort there are a number of authentic pieces and replicas that help to document this part of the region’s history.
Vero Beach was chosen as the site of Disney’s first oceanfront resort due, in part, to the richness of its surroundings. Due to the uniqueness of its location, the Indian River Lagoon has one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the continental United States, supporting over 3,000 species of animals and plants. During the resort’s construction, every effort was made to leave all the existing trees intact and those that had to be removed were relocated to a nearby environmental learning center.
With all the natural beauty of the area, it is not surprising that it plays a large role at the resort and it is sea turtles that take center stage. Disney’s Vero Beach Resort shares space with the native nesting grounds of the Loggerhead Sea Turtle. The Walt Disney Company has a long history of conservation efforts and the Vero Beach Resort continues that legacy. The beachfront resort was specifically designed to create minimal impact on the turtles’ nesting patterns. In addition, since moonlight acts as a beacon to guide the hatchlings safely to the ocean, the resort’s east-facing windows are tinted to diminish the impact of interior lighting, and no exterior lights face the ocean. The resort also offers a variety of educational programs for both children and families to learn more about sea turtles and their nesting habits.
In addition to this important conservation message, sea turtles feature prominently throughout the resort’s dÃ©cor. Most notably amongst these is the mosaic in the center of the lobby.
Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is part of the Disney Vacation Club and, as such, its various accommodations are similar to those that you would find at other DVC resorts in Disney World. One unique element of Vero Beach, however, is it’s Inn Rooms. These rooms are similar to a Studio but instead feature two queen beds rather than one bed and a pullout couch.
The resort also features One and Two Bedroom Villas, both of which have full-sized kitchens. These units are located in buildings adjacent to the main Inn.
The most unique element of Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, however, are its Beach Cottages. It was in one of these that I had the fortune of staying during my last visit to the resort. In all, there are six cottages that sit overlooking the beach and each has a name that pays tribute to sea turtles. For example, the particular cottage that I stayed in was “The Loggerhead Cottage.”
These cottages are perfect for a big family vacation as they can accommodate up to twelve people between three bedrooms and a pullout couch in the living room.
All of the bedrooms and bathrooms are located on the lower level of the cottage. Two of the bedrooms feature a pair of queen-sized beds while the third “master” bedroom features a king. This third bedroom also has a jacuzzi-style tub in its bathroom.
Making your way to the upper level, it is clear to see that the cottages were constructed to maximize the incredible views. The most notable feature is its huge windows on all sides that allow in ample sunlight.
The upper level of the beach house features a living room (with pullout couch) along with a full kitchen and dining room.
There are also two balconies off the upper floor, one facing towards the Inn and the other towards the beach. The balconies feature tables, chairs, and lounges for those looking to catch some sun without having to walk to the pool or the beach. It is a great location for enjoying breakfast, lunch, or dinner with an ocean view.
With all of its amenities, these cottages really are a home away from home.
While not exactly a large resort, Disney’s Vero Beach does offer a number of different dining options. The first dining location is Shutters, a casual restaurant with a nautical theme that is good for the entire family and open for breakfast and dinner. The menu specializes in fresh Florida seafood, but also features wood-fired rotisserie chicken, slow-roasted pot roast, and flatbreads prepared in their onstage wood-burning pizza ovens. If you are looking for character dining, Shutters is home to “Goofy’s Beachfront Breakfast” on Saturdays . The restaurant also has a “Beachfront Sunday Brunch,” which includes your choice of champagne, mimosa, or Bloody Mary.
Sonya’s offers a more adult-oriented, quiet, and intimate atmosphere with rich wooden dÃ©cor. Sonya’s specializes in wood-fired steaks, fresh Florida seafood, as well as other seasonal specialties.
Bleachers is the resorts quick service option located conveniently right by the pool. Open for lunch, this dining location is the place for hamburgers, hotdogs, pizza, salads, ice cream, and an array of tropical ad specialty drinks.
Finally, there is the Green Cabin Room. Interestingly enough, in the original planning of the resort, this space was first intended to be a library but was then converted into a bar. With spectacular ocean views and cushiony chairs this is a great place to relax in a quiet setting. Light lunch offerings and appetizers can be found on the menu alongside a number of cocktails and specialty coffee drinks. It’s the perfect place to stop for cocktails before your meal or after-dinner drinks.
Now that you have been familiarized with an overview of the resort, the Part Two will highlight the various (and numerous) recreational offerings that can be found at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. Whether you just want to relax or have a day full of activities, there is something for all members of the family.
See past blog entries by guest blogger Andrew Rossi here.