A Little Piece of Heaven: Disney's Yacht Club's Regatta Clubby Donna Fesel, contributing writer
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.
We had a great view of Stormalong Bay off our large balcony.
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.
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 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 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.
The suite also has a children's area with a kids-eye-level television and mini-chairs.
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.
There were also apples, oranges, and bananas for guests to take away, as well as fresh juices and milks.
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.