Disney's Vero Beach Resort Sees Some Changesby Donna Fesel, contributing writer
I’ve written about my love for Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. Located around an hour plus from Walt Disney World Resort, on the beautiful “Treasure Coast” of Florida, Vero Beach is a lovely and peaceful place, right on the ocean.
My family typically visits Disney’s Vero Beach Resort to decompress following time spent at WDW. We’ve been visiting the resort for years, and have watched my son enjoy the variety of activities offered there as he has grown. We have our favorite places to eat in and around Vero Beach (Melbourne Seafood Company), our favorite day trips from the resort (Kennedy Space Center!), even our favorite spot on the expansive and spotless beach. So—much like many others who love all things Disney—I was pretty nervous when I heard that Disney’s Vero Beach Resort was going to undergo a major refurbishment in 2016, with renovation to nearly all the dining areas on the property
The renovation, at a cost of around four million dollars, removed both casual dining spot Shutters Restaurant, and Sonya’s, Shutters’ “fancier” neighbor, to make way for Wind & Waves Grill, Market, and Bar. Of the existing food areas, only my favorite, the Green Cabin Room, would remain. The renovation also offered a refresh of the existing rooms in both the main hotel as well as the villas. We avoided visiting the resort during the renovation, and waited to return in the summer of 2017.
We routinely stay in an ocean view room in the main hotel. The rooms have always been large and well-appointed, featuring amazing views of the Atlantic. In the last few years, they were in need of new furniture, soft goods, and freshening up—and the really great news is that the renovation nailed the redo of the room we stayed in. The room was beautiful, with new beach-themed furniture, lovely themed wall art, and a freshness that we loved. The stunning ocean view of course remained the same.
We were never huge fans of either Shutters or Sonya’s. The service was always lovely, but the food pretty regularly felt overpriced for the quality of what was provided. We were anxious therefore, to experience Wind & Waves Grill.
The Grill is a pretty space, full of lightness and wood beams, with an open kitchen so you can watch the chefs in action. The cuisine is a smattering of land and sea options.
The restaurant had been open for quite a few months when we visited, but the seating and service was a bit confused and chaotic—hopefully these issues will settle down. The main challenge is the size of the space. It is the only table service restaurant on the property now, and there were several large and loud groups when we dined. This is not normally an issue in a larger venue, but the volume of these tables was pretty frustrating. The large groups were not belligerent or out of hand by any means, just having a good time, but since everyone was right on top of one another, the dynamic was difficult.
I had the pan roasted chicken, with creamed corn, peas, carrots and a biscuit crumble. It was creamy, but a bit under seasoned, and the chicken breast was cooked to death. It was supposed to be reminiscent of a chicken pot pie, and I was excited, but ultimately disappointed. My son’s flat iron steak frites, on the other hand, were cooked exactly as he ordered, and served with perfect fries, grilled broccolini, and a zippy little chimichurri.
My husband enjoyed a wood roasted mahimahi with noodle salad, edamame, and a soy dressing. He found it tasty and well prepared. I think things like food that needs tinkering, and staffing issues that need to be sorted can always be fixed, but I will be interested to see how Wind & Waves handles the challenges presented by the dimensions of its space.
Another thing I used to loved to do at the resort was enjoy the unexpectedly excellent food at the poolside grill. They had phenomenal fish tacos, and all sorts of tasty food options. Since our visit was short, we didn’t get to eat the new Wind & Waves Bar. On quick glance, the menu seemed a little more fast food-oriented than the previous offerings, but since we normally spend a lot of time at the pool, we will give it a go next time. Similarly we didn’t try any of the “grab and go” options from the new Wind & Waves Market, but the options—packaged salads, sandwiches, and so on, as well as entrée options—looked fresh and tasty. The market does serve Dole Whip, which we enjoyed very much.
All the other things we love about the resort remain constant, the beautiful view and yummy snacks at the Green Cabin Room, the wonderful cast members, the adorable miniature golf course, the activities (including the campfire sing-along, and the character meals), the protected sea turtle areas (and the experience of watching them nest, and hatch depending on when you visit), the lovely beach and ocean, and of course Vero Beach itself. We’ll return to Disney’s Vero Beach Resort again, and I hope that the new changes will prove to enhance the experience in the long run. Have you been there? I’d love to hear about it.