Updated: Sep 2, 2021
A great property for the price with a winning staff,
On a quest to find a family friendly resort in the Orlando area, one is met with many options. And we can say with confidence that when factoring in convenience, amenities, activities, and price - the Embassy Suites Lake Buena Vista hits the right mark.
We checked in on a Tuesday morning, coming off an early AM flight. Our online request for early check-in was denied, but Claire at the front desk - who was very helpful throughout our stay - was able to get us in a room right away in the outdoor section of the property, as requested. Whether this was a perk of Diamond status, or simply because Tuesdays are typically slow for check-ins, this was highly appreciated.
When we mention 'outdoor section,' to better explain, there are two distinct areas of the property. There is the typical Embassy Suites atrium setup in the hotel front, and then the outdoor resort style section in the rear which overlooks the pool and bar area. As we wanted to spend as much time outdoors as possible, this was our preferred area.
The rooms are standard Embassy Suites design, with plenty of square feet to spread out. One nice touch was a third sink in the bedroom which allowed extra space for washing. Bathrooms are outdated and could use some work - our drains were slow and the shower head was cheap, for lack of a better word. We talked to staff who said this would be part of the improvement plan as the resort will be undergoing renovations at some point.
Speaking of staff, certain individuals were a highlight of our stay. Having already mentioned Claire, there was also our favorite bartender Ron who not only provided excellent service, but also assisted us with some local recommendations for dinner. Jenna, the activities director, helped to entertain our young child as children's games were setup in the afternoon. She also checked in on our family as we rented a cabana for a couple days of our stay. Midweek when activity is slow, the cabanas are $75, and on high traffic weekends/holidays they are $150, information not easily seen on the hotel website. You can choose a spot either in the kids splash area or the pool perimeter. While on weekdays you can find plenty of other shaded areas to park your family, weekends can be tough. The cabanas then are a nice touch with satellite TV, a fridge, and your choice of water, juice and sodas. However, more staff could be used in the atrium for breakfast service, in particular regarding hotel policy for mask enforcement. A father with two young kids confronted a woman who had no interest in wearing a face covering, despite her being indoors in a tight area with dozens of patrons. There was almost a greater altercation between the two before it was deescalated by a third party. We would prefer that such events be vetted out by management and not be left up for guests to resolve.
Housekeeping is executed at a minimum which is part and parcel with hotel accommodations during the pandemic. But with everyone placing their trash outside their rooms at all hours, there must be a more thorough strategy in the daily pickup of refuse than just a quick sweep in the morning. The sight of garbage bags, used towels and dirty dishes in the hallways almost every time we walked through was under the standard set by everything else we'd seen on property.
We must acknowledge that for the cost, this property provides incredible value and is a key metric in our rating. The Hilton at Bonnet Creek for example, while also kid friendly and wide with amenities, was three times the price with an even higher resort fee. The fee here covers the game area, the outdoor movies and entertainment, as well as the theme park shuttle. We took advantage of all but one perk which was the shuttle, as the schedule was rather anemic. You'll likely be driving or using a taxi or ride-share to access the big three parks - Disney, Universal or SeaWorld, all of which are conveniently close. Or do as we did, and spend most of your time here by the pool with a cold Bimini IPA draft! Would stay again for the price.