Disney’s Vero Beach Resort Review

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by Shontell Crawford

May is typically a slower season here in Florida and the weather still remains cool so I decided to take a quick trip to Vero Beach using a few points and visit the area. I called DVC Member Services on Thursday and booked an Oceanview room for Sunday through Tuesday of the upcoming week. I invited one of my best friends, Ron, to tag along and he is always up for going to Disney ­ or anything Disney related.

We arrived around 7pm Sunday night after the easy 1 1/2 hour drive from Orlando. The guard stopped us and when he found out we were Disney Vacation Club Members greeted us with a smile and a "Welcome Home!"

We checked into our room, having requested a unit directly facing the water.

Tip: Some of the Inn units, while listed as oceanview are actually on the side and doesn't necessarily face the ocean. It is a good idea to specifically request a unit on the back façade of the resort.

We were assigned 2218 ­ a great 2nd floor room right above Shutters, directly facing the ocean. The Inn rooms themselves are very nice, decorated in pastels . They have two double beds, microwave, mini refrigerator, coffee maker, ice bucket, etc. Bathrooms with tub, a separate sink/dressing area allows one person to shower while the other dresses. A TV, VCR and table for two are standard and on the balcony two chairs and small table are provided to watch the sun come up. I felt like the unit had plenty of room, really comparable to studios on Disney World property.

We decided to have dinner in Shutters the first night. The menu has a nice variety of choices from Conch fritters to Spinach Dip to healthy salads for appetizers. Main courses included 4 types of Individual Thin Crust Pizzas, Coconut Shrimp, Pork Chops, Chicken & Beef. I am typically a healthy eater and chose the Grilled Trio which featured Jerk spiced Mahi Mahi, Tuna and Grouper. I asked them to leave off the tropical fruit salsa and substitute broccoli for the starch. They happily obliged and the meal was delicious! Ron had the Meatloaf with potatoes and mushroom gravy and enjoyed his food just as much.

After dinner we walked across the street to check out the lake and amenities. There is direct access tunnel under A1A, which adds some fun with Disney music playing and characters from Peter Pan painted on the walls. They have tennis courts, basketball, horseshoes and volleyball courts for families to enjoy. The sun had gone down and bugs started biting.

Tip: Whatever you do, take bug spray with you to Vero Beach, or be prepared to buy some when you get there. Skin So Soft by Avon works very well. Regardless of the time of year, the "no see ums" can find you and you don¹t want to spend your vacation itching and scratching.

We walked back to the resort and decided to relax in the hot tub a little while. The resort seemed fairly busy, mostly due to Mother's Day, I assume. The hot tub was certainly hot, and we chatted with another couple from Orlando. We discovered she handled closings for the Disney Vacation Club and was familiar with my resale business! Funny how small the world can be sometimes. We spent some time relaxing in the pool when the tub got a little too warm, it was a perfect night and the water temperature was just right.

Monday morning was by far the most beautiful sunrise of the whole trip! We purposely left the blinds open to wake us up and sure enough, by 6:15am Ron was making noise and woke me just in time to see the sun halfway up the horizon. It was the most beautiful hues of orange, red and purple I've seen in a long time. Truly the way to start every day as far as I'm concerned!

Dataports are provided on the room telephones so I had no problems connecting to the internet via dial up and checked e-mail first thing. The resort offers a Business center, but it is a small one room area with one computer. I travel with my laptop which is much easier than relying on someone else's equipment, and I don't worry about vandals at the Disney properties. One note for anyone trying to conduct business from Vero ­ cell phone reception is poor at best. I spent a great deal of time out on the front porch when making calls.

We started the day with a run on the beach. The sand toward the shore is firm enough to allow steady running without much struggle like some of the white "sugar" sand beaches in the state. We saw some crab holes, and plenty of seaweed on the shore, but no turtle nests despite the numerous signs to be aware and avoid them as they are federally protected.

The view of the resort from the beach and the boardwalk is gorgeous. You can see the beach cottages and how I longed to be staying in one! After a quick run we did a few laps in the pool, which was beginning to become populated with a few guests. The pool is so large we all had plenty of room and it looked like some of the ladies were doing their own water aerobics.

We had breakfast at Shutters, which obliged my special order of just egg whites, while Ron ordered the "Featured Omelet" ­ three types of cheeses and we shared an order of pancakes. Without a doubt Disney pancakes are second to only one (Perkins) and a splurge I always enjoy in the mornings! I love the fact that they heat the syrup before putting it on the table.

Tip: I made my own flavored coffee in the room and would bring it to breakfast with me. It saves a couple of dollars and nobody made a fuss about it. Of course refills are quite a distance!

I spent the rest of the day working until taking a break around 3pm to head to the pool. Being a kid at heart, I must say Disney is a great place for adults. Ron had already been on the Lighthouse slide at the pool so I had to try it. We joined some kids and a few Moms and Dads who were brave enough. Let me tell you ­ this slide is fast. It may be short, but you have time to get an adrenaline rush and want to go again. We had a great time and talked to a few other friendly guests. The weather was perfect and the view from the top of the slide is worth the stair climb, even if you aren¹t going down the fast way!

Next to the slide is the Tiger Lily, the ship from Peter Pan which has been turned into a mini water park for children. No one over 48 inches is allowed in! The kids seemed to really enjoy playing on the ship with the squirting water, ramps and nets to climb on. Behind the Tiger Lily is the miniature golf course for families. While I wanted to, we never took time to play on this trip. It looks fun and is a definite next time.

We did, however, get in a few games of ping pong after stopping by the outside bar to buy a $10.50 unlimited soda mug. They even have an accessible soda fountain to help yourself without waiting on the service attendant. The mugs are well worth the price if you are there for more than two days asthey can be refilled in almost every restaurant on property with coffee, tea, lemonade, or any soft drink.

I decided I needed another day to gather all the information about Vero I would need and didn't want to check out the next day. So I stopped by the Front Desk to find out if I could extend. Since I'm a DVC Member, they had me call Member Services and book it. MS had me put the Front Desk CM on the phone and we added a day with no problem. Then the CM advised us they were changing the air handlers in the resort the next day so we would have to vacate our room between 9:30am and 2pm. I was a bit frustrated he didn't tell me that before I extended, so I requested a room change explaining I was working and needed room access all day. He cordially obliged and just told us to come by in the morning to make the change.

We stopped by the Island Grove Packing Co., the Resort Store, to pick up a movie for the evening. DVC Members get two free rentals per day! The store provides all the sundries a family might need on vacation, including snacks, souvenirs, cold beverages and some liquor. Prices are probably better down the road at Publix, but the resort store is so convenient.

I made Priority Seating for Sonya's at 7:30 so we went to clean up for dinner. Sonya's is the "upscale" restaurant on property. The atmosphere is elegant and charming. They offer an extensive wine list and continental cuisine. I ordered the Oak grilled Beef Tenderloin with Maytag Blue Cheese and broccoli while Ron had the NY Strip. Both meals were delicious and I had a specialty coffee drink for dessert. I was the guest for a DVCTalk chat from Tim Larison's group that evening so we headed back to the room so I could prepare some Vero Beach trivia questions about the resort and the DVC. I connected to the internet and chatted for about two hours.

Ron went to the Green Cabin Room and ordered a cheese and cracker tray to go with a bottle of one of my favorite wines that I was thrilled to discover they carry: Rosemount Shiraz.

Tip: There is no fruit & cheese or cracker item on the menu in the Green Cabin, but we discovered on an earlier trip if you just ask, the chef will make one for you. We paid $12.99 for a great variety of cheeses with some fresh strawberries and ritz type crackers.

Tuesday we got up early, but the clouds prevented us from watching the sunrise. I jumped online, got caught up and then we headed downstairs to switch rooms. They put us in 2224, another great view of the ocean. All the restaurants were to be closed from 8:30-2:30, but they were having a DJ and pool party to keep everyone occupied and entertained.

We opted to go exploring in Vero Beach. I wanted to gather information on the local restaurants, shops and general area information for my website. Some of the restaurants only 12 minutes from the resort include Pearl's Bistro, Sake (sushi), What a Tavern (sports bar) and Mr. Manatee's. Jack's Lobster Shanty is located right on the Indian River and looked wonderful we decided to have lunch there, and it was excellent!

They serve corn fritters with powdered sugar and coleslaw to you as soon as you sit down. Now, today was my "free" food day and I absolutely loved the corn fritters. We shared an appetizer platter that was delicious and included clams casino, stuffed mushrooms with real crab, fresh shrimp and conch fritters which Ron claimed were only comparable to some he had in Key West. We shared a crab melt sandwich which was disappointing since they didn't use real crab, but they made up for it with the Mud Pie dessert. I would highly recommend this restaurant for lunch or dinner to anyone. The view is perfect and the restaurant has plenty of room to accommodate, so you shouldn't have to wait.

Downtown Vero Beach offers some nice boutique shopping and more dining choices. The Ocean Grille is a favorite for seafood. It sits right on the ocean and you can see the mast of one of the sunken ships that hit the coral reef which lines the coast in that area, about 80 yards out. Ron got a waffle cone from Cravings, a little bakery/ice cream shop across the street which happened to be celebrating 20 years of business! We also checked out the Driftwood Inn, a local timeshare resort right on the ocean built by Waldo Sexton. They have a restaurant and outside dining on the beach as well. You could easily spend a day wandering in and out of the shops and restaurants in this area. Another highlight for us this trip was discovering the Riverside Café. It is a waterfront restaurant that is hidden under the bridge off of Highway 60. The sign outside reads: "WARNING ­ We will be observing our Sunset tonight at 7:39pm. Service at this time will be noticeably slower. Our customers are encouraged to take a 5 minute time outwith us to enjoy the view." The Décor of this Café is truly Key West bar/restaurant style, yet the menu and wine list are extensive and the food was delicious. This is obviously a locals favorite, as we ran into the Green Cabin Bartender who took care of us the day before! They really do stop as the sun goes down and ring a bell. It reminds us all to take time to enjoy the simple things in life.

We rented and watched Peter Pan on our last evening, enjoyed a sunrise the next day and headed home after taking a few pictures of the resort. While we didn't take advantage of the many activities being offered, there were plenty. A sample day I counted 14 things on the "Playful Pastimes" schedule designed by the resort.

I believe any Disney loving family would enjoy this Disney "themed" beachfront resort for a weekend, or a full week. Feel free to e-mail me anytime if you have a questions about the resort and its activities. I am happy to help! [email protected] Thanks for reading.