My husband and I needed a place to stay in Orlando in early January and were very pleased with the villa we were assigned.
We received a one-bedroom villa by only paying $45/day through Hotwire, but based on the amenities listed, we thought we were going to be assigned a nearby villa and were somewhat disappointed with the one we were given. We could possibly be wrong with it? We read the reviews and even though it had a solid 4 star rating through TripAdvisor, we were still somewhat speculative about it.
That all went through the window when we arrived. We got to Orlando after midnight on check-in day and only were greeted by the host on the front desk. Because we arrived late, we weren't given the timeshare pitch by the attendants on the adjacent side of the building. They did call early in the mornings, though (9AM). We ignored the calls as we figured they were calling to give us the pitch.
The one-bedroom villa itself probably shouldn't host more than 2-3 people as it is small, but very useful for a getaway. It has anything and everything you're going to need. Your home away from home. The one-bedroom villa has a mini version of the full kitchen in the bigger villas but was fully stocked with every utensil and china you'd need -- from plates of different sizes, silverware, ladles, a wine cork opener, a fruit peeler, pots and pans, cups, wine glasses, soap for the dishes, a coffee maker (with limited sugar, cream and coffee grinds available), toaster, paper towels, a microwave, an oven, and a stove-top hot plate.
Oh, and the kitchen has a mini television that you can watch while eating/cooking, just feet away from a bigger TV in the bedroom. The kitchen also has the only AC vent, which can be started by clicking up the light switch.
The bedroom is very comfortable. It has a king-sized bed which left my partner and I not wanting to get up in the morning, a telephone (which they charge you for using if you're not just using it to call the main desk/services -- more below) and an alarm clock. You can watch TV from your bed. The bedroom also has drawer space to put clothes away underneath the flatscreen TV set.
There is a tiny unlocked balcony that is connected to the bedroom that has two plastic chairs and a side table. We were facing the front entrance to our villa building so it wasn't much of a view, but sitting there in 80 degree weather in January when we're used to the NYC winter cold was excellent. The unlocked balcony thing isn't an issue as the balcony is isolated from the bottom up to the upstairs resort with a screen that prevents any bugs/flies from coming in and from you tipping over to your demise when you've had a drink or two more than you should have after a long day at meetings and at the parks. Don't even ask.
The bathroom is enormous and is connected only through the bedroom (the villa itself only has three rooms -- the kitchen, bedroom, and the bathroom). The bathroom has a double sink, a separate large bathtub and shower, and tucked in away in a tiny space within the confines of the large bathroom is a tiny thing they call the toilet. Good luck trying to move around in there if you're a bigger person (which we're not by any means, but was still tricky to move around in there).
The bathroom comes equipped with more than enough towels for two, pool towels, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, lotion, a couple of bars of soaps, and wet wipes to wipe your face. The bathroom area also has closet space with a safe (it does appear to need a key which wasn't provided in the villa, so we're not sure if it's for a cost) and a nicely spaced area to hang your clothes up in.
One thing we didn't like about the villa was that the lightbulbs used by the resort seem to be low energy and barely lit up the rooms in the dark. While we're all for conserving energy and going green, this was a slight issue at night. During the daytime this is not a problem as you have light shining in through the blinds. The smaller villas also don't have a dishwasher or washer/dryer. The latter is available for a cost in the resort buildings, though.
They do charge for internet, which is odd being that it's the year 2013. That should be standard by now. They charge $5/day or $20/week. While the WiFi signal is strong, we opted for using our iPhones as routers. Not only did we save some money by doing so (despite a likely weaker connection), but we heard their internet service is a mixed bag with it turning on and off constantly. Didn't want to risk it. They do have free internet service with a printer by the front desk if you don't really need to use it in your villa like we did.
You only receive housekeeping once a week if you stay longer than seven days. If you want housekeeping and you're staying less than a week, rates start at $18 for a light clean if you're in a smaller villa, up to $35 for a three-bedroom, and $45 for a full clean for a one-bedroom and up to $110 for a three-bedroom. No kidding.
If you want to exchange towels, that'll cost $8. We did receive "free" towels on our door handle in a bag a few days into our visit, however.
Want to make a local call? That'll cost $0.75/call.
Where they'll charge you, they will, but if you want a no frills place to stay in between the local attractions (just two minutes away from Disney World, 15mins from Universal), don't hesitate to stay here at all. They have a Publix (local grocery store) 10mins away, which we shopped at the day after checking in. This is a good idea if you're on a budget and want to save more money by cooking at the villa.
While the rooms themselves are not each within an indoor building, we noticed a LOT of security on tiny white scooter-like vehicles while we were on the resort, so they do take their security seriously on their large lot.
We only used the villa as our spot to crash and occasionally spend time at in between the parks and work, so we can't comment on the resort itself (pools, Jacuzzi, basketball/volleyball/tennis courts/BBQ grills, etc), but any doubts we had about the villa when we reserved were quickly erased when we arrived. I'm not sure if this is because we were lucky and we received a nice/recently remodeled room, or if all the other rooms are as nice, but we were impressed.
Don't hesitate staying here at all.
Be prepared to walk quite a distance from where you parked your car to the villa if you get here lat...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
February 4, 2013
Thank you for providing your thoughts about your recent stay here at Grande Villas Resort. We were extremely pleased to hear that our accommodations exceeded your expectations and that you would recommend our resort to future potential guests. Please be aware that wi-fi internet services are provided by a 3rd party company. We do not establish the rates for Wi-Fi, nor do we profit from these charges. As we have received a lot of feedback about these charges, we are currently in discussion with our Homeowner’s Association to see if these charges can be eliminated in the future for our guests. As we are primarily a Vacation Ownership property, housekeeping services are provided on a weekly basis. This information, along with additional services and amenities, is relayed to our 3rd party rental partners, so that they can advise their customers. Charges made from your room’s phone to outside lines are representative of the charges other resort’s of our stature usually charges to their guests. Our guest’s safety is one of our utmost concerns that we take very seriously, which is why you see a large presence of security staff on-site. Most of our rooms do resemble the one you stayed in. Those rooms that do not are in the process of being refurbished. Thank you again for your review and recommendation. We look forward to being able to accommodate you and your husband again in the near future. Your business with us is sincerely appreciated and we wish you the best on all your future travels.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.