For the last couple of years we have stayed at the Port Orleans resort so I thought it would be a good idea to compare a Deluxe Villa resort with a moderate resort as well as just review SSR in it’s own right.
Let me start by saying that we loved SSR and have already booked to go back next year (In a one bedroom rather than a studio) so don’t be put off if some of my initial comments seem a little negative in comparison with POR
Firstly lets look at size. SSR is big. There are lots of reports saying that you need a car to get around this place. You don’t. What you need is the will to walk. We stayed in Congress Park, opposite Downtown Disney and about as far from the main pool and restaurant etc as it is possible to get. The walk takes about 5 to 6 minutes; a bit of a pain if it’s raining hard but not too bad if you remember what your legs are for. If you are not good at walking then just take your time. The scenery is mainly very pleasant and you are on vacation so why rush. Take a while to look at the trees for the Hawks (these have a tendency to eat the ducks, which isn’t very Disney); or look at the turtles in the ponds (there are loads) and make sure you avoid the snakes (we saw one about 4 ft long sunning itself in the hedge next to the path). The kids will also love all the frogs and lizards.
It must be said that the walk from Congress Park to The Springs (the central area of SSR) is not very Disney either. The area around the rooms is very nicely landscaped and very pretty, especially at night. However, the central road does feel and look very much like an access road (which, of course, it is). The Disney “imagineers” must have had the day off when this bit was designed.
When comparing this resort with POR there are some down-sides. The restaurant/Shop are much smaller that POR and have a much smaller selection. They don’t even serve pancakes at breakfast! I can only assume that this is because SSR is a villa resort and most guests are expected to buy and cook their own food. Although much smaller than POR we never had a long wait for breakfast.
In addition the reception area is smaller and not very heavily staffed and the Arcade (if you have younger children) is tiny in comparison. There were also a lot of broken machines and some wag had walked off with the puck from the air-hockey table when we were last there.
The main pool is very large and very well designed. They show movies around the pool nightly (although these are tricky to hear and we never made it through one without a thunderstorm closing the pool area – not something even Disney can control). The down-side with the pool (the same was true of POR) is that at 9pm the life-guards go off duty and this is seen as an excuse for the “older kids” to take-over the pool. At this point the pool area stops feeling like Disney and starts feeling like summer break in the Bahamas. Unless your kids are ok with having a twenty something jump on them in the middle of the pool it’s probably a good idea to beat a hasty retreat at this point. Sadly the “quiet pools” tend to suffer from the same problem (predominately, I report with much sadness, caused by my own countrymen).
Lets get to the room now. The room was very good, although not significantly larger that at POR. Where it did have a big advantage though was with a balcony (or patio on the ground floors) which opened the whole room up and made it much lighter than the rooms at POR. Another significant advantage is the pseudo-central air. POR has the old-fashioned in-window aircon units that sound like they are made by jet-engine manufacturers. SSR has a locked-closet (by the kitchenette in the case of a studio) that contains the aircon unit and this is then pumped in centrally. I say pseudo because the aircon unit is still technically in the room and still a bit louder than I would ideally like but it is a lot better than POR (oddly the temperature controls didn’t really seem to work either – whatever I did with them it was either too hot or too cold).
One other area that didn’t really work for us is the pull-out bed. The studio apartments have one double bed (which is extremely comfortable) and a sofa-bed. For 2 this would be ideal, and it does serve to make the room look bigger. However, when in use the sofa-bed is not all that comfortable and certainly not big enough for teenagers and above. The room would have been better served with the more traditional 2 bed layout in my opinion.
See, I told you it would sound like I was being very negative. Now for the good stuff. The room feels very much higher quality that POR and having large sliding doors to the balcony gives you a much greater feeling of space and certainly affords better lighting. There are other nice touches too, like the DVD player and the radio-alarm with an iPod doc so you can listen to and charge your iPod whilst in the room.
The soundproofing is also superb. Although there was some evidence of external noise this was extremely limited. What noise there was unfortunately came from the afore-mentioned testosterone-fuelled antics around the pool late into the night.
Because of the time of year we visited the view of downtown Disney was obscured by trees, but the view we did have was still very pleasant.
One thing Disney do get wrong in all of their hotels (IMHO) is the size of the safe. As with POR the safe was a maximum of an inch deep. This is fine for money or passports but not much good for those of us that travel with several thousand dollars/pounds worth of camera equipment. I’m not expecting a walk-in vault, but something big enough a camera would be good, other hotels seem to manage it ok.
So to sum-up; the grounds have lovely landscaping, the rooms are excellent and for us the location was ideal (we used the restaurant at downtown Disney a lot, which we could easily walk to from our room).
Oh, and one final thing that always seems contentious, the Disney transportation system. We had no problems with busses going to SSR (and we were there for 19 days with no car). However, there were delays sometimes in the busses going to the parks and you can often find you have been on a bus for 45 minutes and ended up 100 yards from where you started. This is not unique to SSR however.
Would we go back? Absolutely (already re-booked for Aug next year). Would we recommend it? Absolutely.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Inspired by historic Saratoga Springs-a late-1800s' New York retreat famous for its spas and horse racing-this charming, Victorian-style Resort hotel is nestled between rolling golf course greens and the shimmering Village Lake. Delight in stately Studios and multi-bedroom Villas, dazzling pools and a spa. You can also explore the fun activities and exciting dining options of the Downtown Disney area, just a boat ride away. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Disneys Saratoga Springs Hotel
- Saratoga Springs Disney
- Disney Saratoga Springs Hotel
- Saratoga Springs Resort Florida
- Disneys Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
- Saratoga Springs Orlando
- Disney Saratoga Springs Resort
- Saratoga Springs Fl