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Sue Holland

Staying in “Grand” Style at Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort

Friday, July 25, 2003
Text and photos by Sue Holland, MousePlanet staff writer

Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort in South Carolina is one of two Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Resorts not located on Walt Disney World (WDW) property (the other being Disney's Vero Beach Resort in Florida) and the only one located outside of Florida.

While the Disney characters are not present here, the quality of the rooms and the level of service are at least equal to the nicer resorts at WDW. In fact, due to the small size of the resort, many visitors find the cast members are consistently friendlier than their counterparts in Florida.

Front of Building 18, with Grand Villa in the center.

The resort has the usual mix of studios, one-bedroom villas and two-bedroom villas, but the top of the line would be the five Grand Villas. Designed to sleep 12 people, these villas are larger than some houses!

Since Hilton Head Island is considered “low country,” there are no villas on the ground floor, because there is no ground floor. The first floor is up a short flight of stairs, and the Grand Villas are all located on the second floor in the center of each of five buildings (extending to the third floor). There are no elevators in the buildings containing Grand Villas, so people unable to walk up and down the stairs would need to stay elsewhere.

Back of Building 18, with guest enjoying the Grand Villa porch and view of the marsh.

The Grand Villas are few in number, and book very quickly by DVC members. The odds of one being available for cash rental by a nonmember are very low, particularly during the busier seasons. Before the resort sold out, they used to offer coffee in one of the Grand Villas a couple of mornings each week, which gave people a chance to see one in person. Now, however, they are all rented to members, so the only way to see one is to stay in one or look at photographs. From the outside, it's easy to spot the five buildings with a Grand Villa. Simply look for a building that has a third story in the center, which will be the top floor of the two-story Grand Villa.

Fully-equipped kitchen.

Entrance to the villa is up two flights of stairs, but it is definitely worth the climb! On the main floor is the large, well-equipped kitchen. The kitchen contains full-size appliances, pots, pans and dinnerware for 12. The most common small appliances (blender, toaster, and so on) are all present as well, and there is ample cabinet space to store groceries for a week. The washer and dryer are located in a separate room off the kitchen, where any noise will not disturb the rest of the villa.

The large dining room.

The kitchen opens to the dining room, where people can either eat at the large dining room table or at a small counter looking into the kitchen. High chairs are available to anyone traveling with babies. Hilton Head Island has an abundance of excellent restaurants, so many guests might not use their dining room for much beyond a casual breakfast. However, we did a complete dinner for six (thanks to a couple of my guests who love to cook) and it was such a treat to have a nice dinner at “home” in such nice surroundings.

The fireplace is the focal point of the living room.

The living room is next to the dining area, which is part of the same large room. With a sofa, love seat and a couple more chairs, seating is comfortable for groups of six to eight people. Dining room chairs can always be dragged over for any additional people, or rocking chairs can be brought inside from the porches. Disney provides all the cut firewood needed, and a call to housekeeping will result in a cast member delivering a large load of firewood to the container outside the villa door. During the off-season, when it's a little cool outside, the fireplace was a nice treat.

Looking down from upstairs into the living room.

The living room opens to an upper floor with a tall cathedral ceiling. This design makes it very easy for someone in an upstairs bedroom to talk to someone sitting by the fireplace, without having to shout! It's also really nice to come out of an upstairs bedroom in the morning and see the rest of the villa on display.

Master bedroom.

Master bedroom armoire.

Looking into the master bathroom from the bedroom.

Also on this floor is the master bedroom suite. This bedroom is quite large, and does not feel cramped or crowded. There is a king-sized bed with two nightstands. An armoire holds a television set and has drawers to store clothing. There is also a chest with a couple of deep drawers, as well as a chair. The bedroom has its own private porch with a couple of rocking chairs and small table.

The bathtub is large enough to share.

As in all DVC villas with a master bedroom, there is a window open to the master bathroom. The window, located above the Jacuzzi-style bathtub, is large enough to accommodate two people. The master bathroom is very large, and consists of two separate rooms.

Second room of the master bathroom.

The first contains the tub and a large vanity sink. The second contains the toilet, shower stall and a pedestal sink. There is plenty of storage space in the bathroom, and it's nice to be able to put your toiletries away instead of having to leave them all over the sink like at many hotels.

Stairs to the second and third bedrooms, from the bottom.

The other bedrooms are located upstairs and, in typical Disney fashion, they have made the stairs attractive as well as functional. The wooden floors and railings are very nice looking, as are the prints that adorn the walls leading up the stairs.

Staircase, from the top.

Each of the upstairs bedrooms sleeps up to four people in two queen-size beds. Each bedroom also has its own full bathroom, television and telephone. There are no porches off either bedroom, but each has a window. One room feels a little larger than the other does, but they are very similar.

An upstairs bedroom.

Off the living room and dining room is a large porch containing a picnic table and a couple of rocking chairs. Our villa in building 18 overlooked the marsh, and the porch was a great place for morning coffee and quiet conversation before the day got busy. Originally one of the grand villas was a “smoking optional” unit, but I believe they converted that building to nonsmoking. Assuming that's the case, the porch would be the only place for smokers to have a cigarette.

Guests Sheila and Nancy enjoy the porch.

Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort continues to be one of my favorite places to visit, and the Grand Villa is a great way for me to share this resort with friends. If you ever have the chance to stay in one, you'll be in for a real treat!


Although Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort is a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resort that is generally completely sold out, it is not too difficult for non-members to book its rooms during the slower seasons. Summer is peak season, and availability would be most limited during June through August. For more information, please read my articles with information on the resort and the assorted recreational offerings:

Disney Dining With a Private Chef (at Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort) from 6/13/03

Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort (a primer) from 4/27/01

Fun for Kids at Hilton Head Island Resort from 5/11/01

Enjoying Hilton Head Island Resort (without kids) from 5/25/01


Sue has been hooked on Walt Disney World since her first visit in 1972 with her parents and younger brother. She kept returning more frequently until she moved to Florida in 1986.

After joining the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) in 1997, she now visits almost monthly. She also spends time at the DVC's non-WDW locations, and is experienced with the Disney cruise ships.

She takes many of these trips on her own, but she's also toured WDW with large groups of people, including families, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

She works as the Administrative Services Division Head for a large residential facility administered by the Florida Department of Children and Families. She currently resides in Southwest Florida with her teenage son.

Sue is one of our most prolific trip report writers. Read her trip report archive here.

You can contact Sue here.

Get the latest info about the resort at “Park Update: Walt Disney World.”


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