On our recent trip to Walt Disney World for the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, we had the amazing opportunity to stay at a beautiful Orlando-area vacation rental home from Global Resort Homes. The experience, our first in a vacation home, was quite different (in some really good ways) from staying at a Disney resort hotel.
Orlando Vacation Home Rental
There are obviously many differences between staying at a hotel and a vacation home. First and most obvious is the size difference. Hotel rooms, even at the more luxury hotels at Walt Disney World, are only about 800 square feet – one room, one bathroom. I often feel cramped and claustrophobic as soon as the bags are unloaded. On the other hand, a vacation home has a living room, kitchen, separate bedrooms and bathrooms. In other words, you have plenty of space to relax and put your feet up even after you unpack.
A Comfortable Home
I admit to being a tad apprehensive about staying at a vacation rental home. This was our first experience staying in a rental home as a family and it was our first time to Disney not staying at a resort hotel. One of my fears was that it I would feel uncomfortable and not quite “at home” in someone else’s house. From the moment we walked in the door to the spotless and tastefully decorated home, I was comfortable and my apprehension was gone. Honestly, I kind of imagined it might feel like staying at a relative’s house where everything is nice and comfortable but you feel like you’re walking on eggshells and you can’t really relax. Thankfully, I was wrong. The decor is so neutral and attractive that it’s really comfortable. It looked like what I wish my house looked like and we just made ourselves right at home.
Room to Relax (and Save)
For our family with young kids one of the absolute worst parts about staying at a hotel is trying to get the kids to go to sleep. We’ve swapped war stories with other parents about hiding in the bathroom after putting the kids to bed so they won’t see us and get distracted. And, even if you stay out of sight, a single room is simply not conducive to multiple sleep schedules, bedtime routines and getting a good night’s sleep. At our vacation home, each of our kids was in their own bedroom. Putting them to bed was almost as easy at it is at home, and our toddler really got into the idea that he had his own new bedroom for the week.
I feared we might miss out on some “Disney magic” staying off-site, but I have to tell you we really didn’t miss anything.
Rental Home vs. Disney Hotel
We’ve been to Walt Disney World twice as a family. The first time we stayed on site in a Disney “moderate resort” and on our recent trip we stayed in a vacation home located several miles from Walt Disney World. While Disney does have a lot of free transportation between parks and resorts, we just found it easier to drive our car every day to the different parks while we stayed at the resort. So, the transition to staying off-site and driving to the park every day was not difficult for us. The drive from our rental home to each park was about 10 minutes. It was really convenient, and the roads are well marked to get you where you want to go.
Granted, staying off-site will require a car of some sort, so if you fly into Orlando you would need to rent a car. Another downside is that you have to pay to park at Disney when you are not staying at a Disney resort. The Windsor Hills resort where our home is located does offer a shuttle to Disney parks, Universal and SeaWorld for a fee, but we did not use this service so I can’t speak to its value.
Another major consideration is food. If staying off-site you are not eligible to purchase the Disney Dining Plan. However, you do have a fully equipped kitchen so you can buy, store and prepare your own food. The first night we arrived at the house we stocked up on some basics at the local grocery store. We ate breakfast at our home every night, had fresh baked cookies at night and could have easily cooked every meal there. The stainless steel kitchen appliances were awesome and there was literally every single gadget, pot and pan you would need to prepare meals.
Why Global Resort Homes?
About Global Resort Homes
Since 1993, Global’s mission is to set a new standard of quality in the Orlando Disney vacation home market and maintained a distinctive level of service for homeowners and their guests.
Global has continued to grow and evolve with the changing times and continues to be at the forefront of the vacation home industry in both vacation home rentals and real estate sales. Today, Global’s team of over 50 professionals maintain and manage over 200 resort homes and Global’s Real Estate team consists of over 35 Real Estate professionals. Global’s dedication and commitment to its guests and homeowners remains and will continue to be the very essence of the company.
Our Global Resort Home Experience
Our experience with Global Resort Homes was nearly flawless. And, in Orlando where location and proximity to the attractions is key, Global Resort Homes has an assortment of properties near Walt Disney World, SeaWorld and Universal. From 2-bedroom condominiums to spacious 7-bedroom homes, Global Resort Home properties are located in resort communities that offer added benefits and amenities to enhance the experience.
Windsor Hills, the resort community where we stayed, has many amenities.
- 2 bedroom condos, 2 & 3 bedroom townhomes, 3 to 6 bedroom homes
- Homes have private screened swimming pool and spa
- Townhomes have small pool
- Master suite with king or queen size bed and TV
- Master bathroom with garden tub and separate shower
- Fully equipped kitchens with breakfast area and formal dining area
- One or two living areas with TV, VCR or DVD player
- Washer and dryer
- Homes available with game rooms that include billiards, table tennis and air hockey
- Homes available with play stations for kids
Our main issue with the home had to do with our kids “exploring” the home, which wasn’t childproofed. Within 5 minutes of arriving, my daughter pulled a place mat from the beautifully set dining room table and broke a plate and bowl in the process. Global Resort Homes was very gracious about it and said “No worries, things happens.” In fact, when things break (within reason), Global Resort Homes replaces them at no charge to the guest.
Tour Our Home
Overall, I highly recommend Global Resort Homes. We had a beautiful home and certainly didn’t feel like anything was missing from our Disney experience. What we lacked in proximity to the parks, we made up for space, comfort and excellent sleep for all of us.
To Rent or Not to Rent
To Rent… We had an amazing experience staying in the Windsor Hills resort. I think the vacation rental home is perfect for families – large and small – the separate bedrooms, kitchen and amenities are invaluable. It’s a great option for traveling with extended family, too, as you can all be together but have your own bedrooms and private space. And, how much fun would it be to rent a large home and split the cost with another family?
Or Not to Rent… You’ll have to rent a car to get around the area and will have to pay for parking at local theme parks and attractions. Vacation homes lack the convenience of hotels (no concierge, maid service, etc), but they do have the comfort of home and that’s worth a lot when traveling as a family.
Rental Rates: Vacation rentals with Global Resort Homes start as low as $79 a night. 2-bedroom condominiums in the Windsor Hills resort are available from $122 per night, and 5 bedroom homes like the one where we stayed are available for $278 a night.