What I liked...
Although we wanted to visit the parks, my worst nightmare would be a 24 hour / 14 day Disney fest. What the Melia does is get you really close to the action, at a fraction of the price of a 'resort' and with the feel of a Mediterranean hotel.
The rooms are spacious, with coffee making facilities and whilst we didn't cook in the room, the facilities to do so seemed well in order (hob, microwave, pots and pans, good sized fridge and freezer).
The pool is a little oasis of calm at the end of a long day, with plenty of sun beds and a frequently replenished towel service. Happy hour also runs in the bar from 5-7pm which was very welcome after a hot day stomping around the parks.
In the morning there is a shuttle service that runs two or three times (at different times) to Epcot, giving you access to the Disney Transportation system which is pretty easy to use once you've got the hang of it. Whilst we used the shuttle service in the morning, we got a taxi back to the hotel most evenings. This cost around $25 - Animal Kingdom being the closest park to the hotel. The shuttle service also gets very busy, but the Melia is the first pick up so we did manage to get a seat every day.
Although the hotel does offer a shuttle service to Universal, this leaves pretty early (7.20am) so we used a taxi instead that was organized by the hotel and costs $40 each way.
Either way, if you do have a car you can expect to pay around $17 to park at the parks, so without the hassle of hiring a car, driving on the wrong side of the road etc. it's not a bad deal or too much of an inconvenience if, like us, you don't want to drive.
The hotel also has a smaller people carrier that can take you to most places locally including the supermarket, restaurants and downtown Celebration and that's included as part of the resort fee (see below). So even though we didn't have a car for our entire trip, we never felt stranded.
What really does stand out at the Melia is the staff, whilst I can't name them all (sorry!) some stand outs were Kevin and Bryan in the bar and Julie, Geoffrey and Rob from the front desk. The whole team were really helpful and made us feel at home.
What's not so great...
There are a couple of things that Melia really need to mention when you book...
1. The Resort Fee. Not mentioned anywhere, but $15 plus taxes per day over and above your room rate. This includes the shuttle services, wifi (not great, but ok for keeping in touch), towels for the pool and two bottles of water per day. Whether it's worth the money or not is entirely up to how much you use the services on hand (we used everything!) but it should still be clear that it's an additional charge.
2. The Smoking Policy. My husband and I are both smokers and one of the reasons I picked the Melia was because, unlike the Disney Resorts, the was no stringent smoking policy on the website. Unfortunately there is on arrival, which is when you're asked to sign a $250 agreement to not smoke on your balcony (I totally get not smoking in rooms, but on balconies?) and you also find out that the only outdoor area you can smoke in is a small section just outside the bar, which on our first night only had one ashtray between about 20 smokers... All there because you can't smoke on the balconies!!!! We muddled through, but many of our fellow travellers were really frustrated with this too, particularly those with families who we're putting kids to bed early and therefore couldn't get down to the 'designated' area. The strange thing is, having stayed at Melia hotels elsewhere we know that this isn't their standard policy and so we definitely were not expecting it.
The only other downside is that, as a self catering facility, they have nothing for sale on site other than through the bar or restaurant... No snacks, soft drinks, water, minor first aid stuff etc... So be and stay prepared!!
For us it was the kind of resort we enjoy. Close to the action, but not in it. Great staff and a good 'holiday' feel.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Luxury & Location fuse together at Melia Orlando ALL-Suite Hotel, a Walt Disney World Good Neighbor(R) Hotel. The hotel is an oasis located in one of Forbes Magazine's Top Ten "Prettiest Neighborhoods" while being close to the magic of Orlando. Melia Orlando Hotel at Celebration is a luxury all-suite hotel featuring 240 spacious one and two-bedroom suites, complete with sleek designer kitchens, beds with Egyptian cotton linens, LCD flat screen TVs, and balconies overlooking our vanishing-edge pool or Florida landscape. The property is centrally located in the award-winning village of Celebration and minutes from the gates of the Walt Disney World(R) theme parks. With transportation to Celebration Town Center and all major area theme parks, location is as extraordinary as the personalized service and suites. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Mona Lisa Suite Celebration
- Hotel Mona Lisa Suite