Our family stayed at this property for 7 nights over Christmas week 2012, from Decembert 23 to December 30. We had a one bedroom suite booked via a package with SeaWorld that included park tickets and dining.
The room was spacious and well equipped with two flat screen TV's and a full kitchen.
|nternet access, parking, SW park shuttles (as well as to Epcot), Seaworld Quick Queue passes, and breakfast were all complimentary inclusions. All of these contribute to make your daily rate an EXCELLENT value when compared with other competitor properties.
Breakfast was excellent, with a large selection of hot and cold items that varied a little bit each day. The staff overseeing the breakfast area were the best we have ever encountered, keeping the area spotlessly clean and well stocked at all times even though we were visiting on the single busiest week of the year. They were genuinely warm and friendly people, welcoming, and efficient. We never had a problem finding a place to sit and eat, as the breakfast area was large and comfortable. There were even a few flat screen TV's where you could catch the weather or the news as you ate your morning meal.
Front desk staff were very good all week, tending to every request with a smile and friendly efficiency.
The courtyard was lovely and contained a great sport court with a basketball net, barbecues for guest use, a large zero entry lagoon-style pool, and a spacious hot tub. The hot tub, unfortunately, had very weak water jets meaning few bubbles (a fact remarked on by many guests), but another patron said the front desk indicated the hot tub was due for a refurb this spring, so hopefully that will be remedied in the upcoming months.
Proximity to SeaWorld, Aquatica and Discovery Cove is excellent, with each park less than 5 minutes by car. There is a CVS Pharmacy conveniently located on the corner right by the hotel. The shopping and dining conveniences of International Drive are also just minutes away. Despite being so close to everything, the hotel is in a very quiet area and we found the location to be very peaceful. Despite occupancy being at capacity all week, we also had no problem with noisy or disruptive neighbours (above, beloew or on our floor).
The downfalls for this hotel are few. One is the laundry situation. While having 14 washers and 18 dryers, all are located in one area on the first floor, so it was a bit of a hike when clothes needed washing (our room was on the 4th). And the cost was far above most other hotels we have stayed at: $2 to wash and $2 to dry (with the dryers needing at least two $2 cycles to completely dry our winter wear). $6 per load of laundry was very steep.
The other downfall was the young woman running the Expedia desk on most mornings of our stay. Her attitude and customer interaction was off-putting enough that my husband wanted to report her to Expedia, but she was the ONLY employee we encountered who never once wore a name tag so we would have been unable to conclusively identify her. She was snarly, rude, and anything but what you would expect at at SeaWorld promotional desk (she repeatedly stated that "she had no idea why anyone would want to spend Christmas at SeaWorld or any other park in Orlando. It's going to be so busy, you won't have any fun at all". From a rep at the Expedia travel desk? Really? (co-incidentally, while it was very busy later in the week, our Christmas Day at SW was absolutely amazing). Another note to future guests: while the sign indicates that they open at 7 am, and they are staffed at that hour of the morning, they won't begin handing out Quick Queue passes until at least 7:15 or later. They spend the first 15-30 minutes organizing and heaven knows what else. The young lady whom we noted above enjoyed snottily informing people that she would NOT give them their QQ passes until she was ready. Geez Louise. Then put your sign reflecting a 7:15 opening time, at least.
The hotel provided two computers for guest use in a small room next to the check-in desk, which as a nice perk. There was a printer attached to the terminals which you could use as well (no charge), which came in handy once or twice along the way.
All in all, we enjoyed our stay here very much. We found the hotel included almost everything we could have wanted as far as accomodations went, and we would definitely return for future trips to SeaWorld. In the meantime, I hope the management has a serious chat with the young lady at the Expedia desk, as she is one of the few black spots on an otherwise excellent overall stay. To the rest of the staff at the Residence Inn SeaWorld, thanks for making our Christmas holiday so very memorable!