A Little Piece of Heaven: Disney's Yacht Club's Regatta Club

by Donna Fesel, contributing writer
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As a Disney Vacation Club member, I usually book my own Disney travel and always stay in a villa in a DVC resort (Disney Vacation Club is Walt Disney Company's point-based timeshare-type program that lets you stay in extended-stay lodging at their resorts).

On my recent trip to visit Walt Disney World for Epcot's Food & Wine Festival, however, I was traveling with Jered, an old friend with whom I was sharing expenses, so we planned to stay in Disney's Yacht Club Resort.

My travel agent alerted me that we would be traveling during one of Walt Disney World's free dining promotions. I explained that because we were planning on mostly sipping and munching while we strolled Food & Wine for meals, the free dining promotion wouldn't be especially beneficial to us.

Our agent then asked if I had ever stayed in a Concierge (or Club) Level room at Walt Disney World. She explained that Concierge at Yacht Club would actually be a few dollars less than her quoted price for the free dining package. In light of this, and because my traveling companion and I were splitting costs on what was a short trip, we jumped at the chance to upgrade.

What does staying Concierge at WDW mean?

Each of the Deluxe Resorts has a specific area (or areas) designated for and accessible only to its Concierge-level guests:

  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge (also the only location where DVC members can stay on points at the Concierge level) – Kilimanjaro Club
  • Disney's Beach Club Resort – The Stone Harbor Club
  • Disney's Boardwalk Inn – The Innkeeper's Club
  • Disney's Contemporary Resort – The Tower Club and the Atrium Club
  • Disney's Grand Floridian Resort – The Royal Palm Club and Sugarloaf
  • Disney's Polynesian Resort – The King Kamehameha Club
  • Disney's Wilderness Lodge – The Old Faithful Club
  • Disney's Yacht Club Resort (my home for three nights) – The Regatta Club

Concierge guests have a separate check-in area on the Concierge level that lets you avoid the main lobby check-in area. The Concierge hospitality desk opens early (ours opened at 6:30 a.m.) and closes fairly late (ours closed at 10 p.m.). Cast members (the Regatta Club has two on duty at a time) are available during these hours to answer any questions and assist with any guest needs, including room check-in, dining reservations, and park tickets.

Concierge guests also have dedicated access to a hospitality suite near their rooms. Staffed with cast members, hospitality suites are large, comfortably furnished areas that feature complimentary daily newspapers and beverages, as well as a schedule of foods, including breakfast, afternoon snacks, appetizers and wine/beer, and desserts and cordials.

Concierge level rooms also receive complimentary pre-trip planning and nightly turndown service.

After my reservation was confirmed, I was contacted by the Club's Itinerary Planning Office. I received a multi-page form in which I filled in both my and my traveling companion's travel information. The form asked about any special occasions being celebrated (none in our case) and contained areas to request reservations for dining, shows, and recreational activities.

On our trip, since we only planned to dine at one sit-down restaurant (Narcoossee's at the Grand Floridian Resort) and since I had already made an advanced dining reservation, I filled in the travel information and left the rest of the form blank. However the assistance of the Itinerary Planning staff would have beenvmost welcome had I been travelling for a special occasion, with a large group, or otherwise needed help managing reservations.

When I returned the form to the Planning Office, I noted that Jered my travelling companion and I were traveling separately. I also asked that they hold his Magic Band since I was heading out to Epcot on arrival.

On the day of my arrival, I took the Disney's Magical Express shuttle bus from the airport. My trip to the Yacht Club was a long one that included four or five hotel stops.

I had taken an early flight originating in Albany, New York, and was a bit tired when I arrived at the Yacht Club. I stepped off the bus and was greeted by a cast member. "Are you Ms. Fesel?" When I nodded and said hello, she whisked me away to the Concierge Level. On the way, she explained access to the Concierge floor ("Touch Mickey to Mickey from my Magic Band to the elevator panel and select the floor"). The elevator opened to a quiet small landing, where I was directed to the Regatta Club's desk area—two large wood desks in an area that was decorated to look like a home den or library.

I settled into a chair opposite one of the cast members and began the check-in process. Partway through check-in, one of the Concierge cast members brought me what they called the Regatta Club welcome cocktail (strawberry nectar and sparkling wine). I immediately began to relax, with my check-in proceeding smoothly and quickly. The cast member checking me in noted that my traveling companion was arriving separately, that I had asked for his Magic Band for safekeeping, and asked for the Magic Band.

My room was ready (at 1:00 p.m., hours earlier than the normal check-in time) and I went to drop my bags. The room was spacious and nautically themed, like the rest of the Yacht Club.


Ahoy mates, get ready for a great trip. The bed in my Concierge room is nautically themed, and includes a "towel Mickey." Photo by Donna Fesel.

We had a great view of Stormalong Bay off our large balcony.


The Concierge room has a great view from the large balcony. So much fun to see families enjoying Stormalong Bay. Photo by Donna Fesel.

After dropping my bags, I headed out for Epcot. All rooms at the Regatta Club require guests to walk past the hospitality area to exit. This is a wonderful feature—each and every time I passed this area I was greeted warmly and genuinely.

As I headed out, one of the Concierge cast members told me the hospitality suite was open for afternoon snack (between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.) and asked if I was hungry. Was I ever! Entering the suite, I could smell something wonderful. It turned out I was smelling the made-from-scratch potato chips, served warm with garlic ranch dressing.This delicious snack became an afternoon staple on my visit.


Made-from-scratch potato chips with garlic chips are offered as an afternoon snack in this hospitality suite. Photo by Donna Fesel.

I also spied homemade hummus with an array of breads, Mickey sugar cookies, and big glass jars filled with trail mix, yogurt pretzels, and gummy fish.


The hospitality suite provides additional snacks, including trail mix, yogurt pretzels, and gummy fish. Photo by Donna Fesel.

The cast member on duty in the lounge directed my attention to the fully stocked beverage refrigerator, which featured canned soda for guest consumption. He also pointed out two other beverage stations, one featuring spring water, lemonade and iced tea, and another featuring an espresso machine, coffee, tea, and every imaginable fixing.


The hospitality suite includes a beverage station. Photo by Donna Fesel


Anyone needing a little pick-me-up can have a choice of caffeinated hot beverages. Photo by Donna Fesel.

The hospitality suite at the Regatta Club is spacious, comfortable and beautifully appointed. Furniture of all types is clustered to accommodate parties and there is a large balcony that overlooks the front part of the Yacht Club.


Furniture of all types makes the lounge so cozy. Photo by Donna Fesel.

The suite also has a children's area with a kids-eye-level television and mini-chairs.


The kids' area offers smaller furniture and fun Disney cartoons on the TV monitor. Photo by Donna Fesel.

I settled into a chair near one of the large flat screen televions with my snack and an espresso.

A few hours later, my traveling companion (my old friend Jered) arrived on property, and we met at the Regatta Club. Jered let me know that his check-in had gone as smoothly as mine, and gushed over the sparkling wine cocktail. We both joked that we would never look at a hotel check-in process the same way again.

On our way out for dinner, we stopped in at the hospitality suite again to check the appetizers and wine and beer offerings available between 5 and 7 p.m. I grabbed a pinot grigio and Jered had a beer, which we enjoyed on the beautiful balcony. We didn't want to spoil dinner at Narcoossee's so we just took a peek at the hospitality suite appetizers—they included spring rolls, potstickers, crudité, and cheese. They all looked wonderful.

That evening when we returned to our room, our curtains were drawn, our bed linens turned back, and our pillows were artfully rearranged. Delicious chocolate were also left for us to enjoy.

The next morning, we stopped at the hospitality suite for breakfast on our way to Magic Kingdom. The offerings were plentiful, and included bagels, croissants, bread for toasting, muffins, breakfast pastry, hard-boiled eggs, yogurts, fresh fruit, grits and oatmeal, and an accompanying fixings bar.


The hospitality suite offers morning carbs and proteins. Photo by Donna Fesel.


The breakfast offerings also include bowlfuls of delicious-looking fresh fruit. Photo by Donna Fesel.


Anyone for a cereal? The hospitality suite offers different types of morning cereal. Photo by Donna Fesel.

There were also apples, oranges, and bananas for guests to take away, as well as fresh juices and milks.


Concierge guests are also encouraged to take some healthy snacks with them, including apples, oranges, and bananas. Photo by Donna Fesel.

The complimentary papers included both the Sunday New York Times (a real treat) and the Wall Street Journal. We relaxed, skimmed the papers, and chatted.

While Jered ate, I was able to have the Concierge cast members print out our tickets for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, rather than waiting on the Concierge line in the lobby or the even longer line at Magic Kingdom Guest Services. What a sanity-saver.

At another point, a shirt I selected for my son at Hollywood Studios was not delivered to my resort within two days. A Concierge cast member tracked the shirt down and had it delivered to my room while I was out enjoying the day. All I did was mention that the shirt hadn't arrived, and the cast member addressed my concern promptly and carefully.

Was the Regatta Club worth it?

For me, it truly was. Since I only stayed three nights and split the cost, it was not unreasonable (typically Concierge level can be anywhere from one to several hundred dollars more per day, depending on the time of year and resort). It was absolutely incredible to arrive at my hotel, tired and travel weary, be greeted by name, have my room ready early, and be able to sit down in a quiet area while I checked in.

The Concierge cast members were extremely warm and helpful, addressing all needs that arose during my stay quickly and with a smile. Since I normally buy groceries and eat breakfast in my room, having an array of breakfast foods available in the morning was terrific. I also enjoyed the little nibbles throughout the day, as well as the complimentary wine and beer.

What better way to end a long day at the parks than to come back to your room after turn down service, a perfect and caring touch with a bit of chocolate to boot.

 

Comments

  1. By Goodnplenty

    On my 50th birthday I was chosen as "resort family of the day" and DH and I were upgraded to the Club level at YC! It was a magnificent stay. This article is spot on with my experience. When DH and I arrived back at YC after closing MK down at 1am, we were pleasantly surprised to find the refrigerated drinks in the lounge open and easily accessible. This note is important because not all Club Levels are the same. The YC had amazing food that we would really eat. The bowls of fruit pictured are wonderful.
    Just 2 weeks ago we tried the Club Level at WL and it was very different. The views were beautiful, CM's fantastic. But the food and beverage area was always locked up in between serving hours. This was not the case a YC. The food choices were also not of our liking, of course others may have been very happy. But the YC food choices were always amazing. I would be thrilled to enjoy a Club Level room at the YC again!

    GnP

  2. By carolinakid

    We just got back from 4 nights at the Animal Kingdom Lodge Club level. We enjoyed the Kilimanjaro Club and its food and beverage offerings. However, because we are not big breakfast eaters, and we were in the parks during the day and had signature restaurant ADRs each evening we didn't take advantage of most of the offerings besides drinks. If we were to take advantage of the club level food and drink in the future we would schedule fewer ADRs. We already had our ADRs and Fastpass+ so there was really nothing concierge could do for us that we hadn't done ourselves. When we tried to change our fastpasses because we had changed the park we planned to visit that day, there was nothing concierge could do since all the headliner attractions were already gone. I had assumed (wrongly) that a concierge could make a little extra magic. They can't.....or at least they didn't/couldn't for us. We had a standard view so we didn't see much of the savannah except from the far left side of our balcony. Most of our view was of the viewing area overlook off the lobby. So we mostly saw other guests watching animals we could barely see. We had a better view last year with a savannah view room not on club level which was less expensive. Turn down service is nice, sure, but nothing I want to pay for. I remember when turn down service was a standard amenity at all Disney deluxes, no matter the level. Bottom line, we enjoyed club level because we had gotten a good discount, but for us and the way we vacation it's not worth the extra bucks to us unless there is a significant discount at the time we book. We did take advantage of the Sunrise Safari for an extra $75 bucks per person. That was probably the best part of staying club level at AKL, but that perk has been suspended for now due to the Avatarland construction.

  3. By spectromen

    Thanks for the lovely article! Concierge level touring at WDW is definitely on my bucket list...I think I could do an entire trip without setting foot in a theme park and just enjoy the resorts full time!

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