This review is sponsored by DVC Magic Resales at www.dvcmagicresales.com (they used their DVC points to book the room and in exchange will also be posting this review and reviews of the other properties). If you’re looking to buy into the Disney Vacation Club or purchase more points for less than you’d pay Disney directly, they’re a great choice. They also take excellent care of those looking to sell their contracts independently.
- Saratoga Springs review is available here
- Old Key West is available here
- Wilderness Lodge is available here
- Beach Club is available here
- Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House 1-Bedroom is available here
- Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village Studio is available here
Today the website has a special treat in store for you – a trip out to what is one of the most relaxing places your Disney Vacation Club Points can buy – Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.
Add in a quick rest stop break or a trip through the Starbucks drive-thru and Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is about a two-hour drive from the Walt Disney World property . Those heading directly from Orlando International Airport will save about 20 minutes, reducing the drive without a stop to under 90 minutes. The best way to get to Vero is undoubtedly driving yourself, whether you’re picking up a rental car on property or at the airport or driving your own vehicle. Disney doesn’t run buses and a town car or taxi ride would be prohibitively expensive for most people. The good news is that the drive is easy up 528 East and I-95 and then the roads on the way to the resort offer plenty of opportunities to stop at the grocery store for necessary supplies.
Once you arrive, you should find that checking in and getting your bearings is easy.
“The Inn” is the name of the main building and it’s where you’ll find check-in, the resort concierge, both restaurants, the lounge, the store, the spa, and some of the games and resort activities.
Vero’s version of Tick-Tock welcomes you home.
Larger: https://www.easywdw.com/reports13/disney_vero_beach_map.jpg or as the original PDF: https://www.easywdw.com/reports13/disney_vero_beach_map.pdf
Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is fairly straightforward in its layout.
Most people will find that they spend the majority of the time out of their room within just a couple minutes of The Inn, whether you’re headed to the pool, which is about a ten second walk outside, or the beach, which is about two minutes away. To walk from one side of the resort to the other should take just about five minutes.
Inside the main building, each point of interest is about a minute walk away.
Vero only has 211 rooms, compared to something like Pop Century, which has 2,880, so you get more of a personal experience here. We chatted about the Food and Wine Festival, Mickey’s Halloween Party, restaurants around Vero Beach, etc. Many of the cast members have been here for years and years and because they live locally, they have the ability to offer what is typically more practical advice than your standard Disney resort cast member. Or should I say, when you ask about which Giordano’s Pizza is closer, they don’t shrug their shoulders and point you in the direction of the resort’s pizza takeout window.
More on the resort store, Island Grove Packing Company, in a bit. I expected the store to stock a more substantial selection of food, but what was available was basically the same as any Disney resort with a DVC wing.
Both restaurants are located down this hallway near the back of the lobby with a play area and TV for kids to the left.
This is Shutters, the casual table service restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner daily. Sonya’s, the fine dining restaurant, is actually located through a door straight ahead.
Donald and Goofy host a reasonably priced breakfast buffet on Saturdays.
Of course, the beach will be a major part of most people’s stay and Vero more than has you covered.
This is as busy as it got, so you have an opportunity to spread out and enjoy the water.
Your Key to the World card grants you access to the beach, which is located behind a gate down this walkway.
The pool is likely another major resort destination, here complete with a 163-foot Pirate’s Plunge waterslide, hot tub, and plenty of daytime activities.
One of the nicest things about Vero Beach, and one that isn’t easily captured in photos, is how laid back everything is. Unlike a cruise, where you have a 1.3% chance of scoring a poolside deck chair, or your typical Disney resort feature pool, where you might be able to find a lounger six rows back from the action, there’s plenty to go around here at Vero. There’s at least a dozen empty front-row loungers in the middle of a hot afternoon in early October.
There’s an 8-hole mini golf course surrounding the back side of the pool. Games are $1 each or unlimited play during your stay is $5. Standard pricing at a Walt Disney World mini golf course is $14/adult.
I’ll cover other activities like the campfire, kayaking, stargazing, and more in the appropriate section below.
Another thing that isn’t easy to capture in a set of photos is just how pretty everything is. The whole resort looks like this with palm trees swaying and the sun shining. No camera tilting necessary.
Room rates are relatively inexpensive. Our next review will be Disney’s Grand Floridian Villas, where the least expensive studio during the least expensive season starts at $517 per night. The least expensive 1-bedroom? $1,256 per night.
There are two varieties of Studio rooms. Paying a little extra for an Inn Room guarantees a second queen bed instead of a sleeper sofa, a slightly larger footprint, and a view of the ocean.
At 880 square feet, 1-Bedroom Villas are larger than any other DVC property outside of Old Key West Resort.
You may or may not remember how spacious that Villa was. My advice, if you’re planning to stay for more than two nights or have more than two people in your party, is to strongly consider budgeting for a 1-bedroom. You certainly don’t have to, but a room that’s 2.5 times as large as a Studio for just about 50% more money is a good value. And with just one casual restaurant, no quick service open past 5pm most of the year, and no theme parks to visit, you may find yourself back in the room more often than a standard theme park stay, particularly around meal time. Lisa and I stayed for four nights in a studio and by day three, things were beginning to feel a little bit toight. You’re limited in what you can do in the kitchenette with just the microwave and toaster and with no nightly maid service, the champagne bottles started to pile up.
This is what a Studio room looks like at present, though the resort will undergo a major hard goods refurbishment in 2016, so I wouldn’t let the somewhat dated look of the rooms deter you from a stay sometime down the line.
The couch setup is ideal with two guests. It’s potentially more comfortable to sit on than a second bed and you have a lot more space with its smaller footprint.
There’s a small bedside table to the left of the bed and additional drawers underneath the television.
The door to the right leads to the balcony.
The television is amusingly small, particularly with a Blu-ray player attached.
The kitchenette with the fridge down below, the coffee maker in the middle, and the microwave up top.
Toaster, coffee mugs, paper plates, and plastic utensils.
A 1-Bedroom or larger Villa would bring “real” plates along with a lot more amenities.
The fridge fits more than you might expect – I’ve got a couple bottles of wine, a 2-liter, a 12-pack of beer, more beer, more beer, water, and more with additional room available.
Additional storage space in the main closet, in addition to the Pack ‘n’ Play.
Laundry rates are reasonable for the most part and those in Studios can otherwise use the washers/dryers in the laundry room free of charge.
The standard iron, ironing board, and safe.
A “full bathroom rehab” is coming as part of the 2016 refurbishment.
Everything is otherwise as you would expect it. Disney provides four additional towels for the pool/beach.
I’m guessing the pastel pink-orange-yellow-ish color won’t be part of the new color scheme.
We lucked out on the view from the balcony on our top-floor room looking out at the ocean over the palm trees.
The balcony is a sizable area with two chairs and a small table.
I could have probably jumped out onto the mini golf course. Kind of funny story: As you might be able to guess, I’m very easily annoyed. I liked the view and how convenient the room location was, but was kind of concerned that it would be noisy with the foot traffic and play areas so close. It was the first night and I may or may not have had a margarita or two over the course of the day. I was catching up on some “work” and Lisa was out exploring so I left the room alone and headed to The Inn for the first time and I hear this whooshing sound as I pass the pool. Being sandcastle themed, I thought to myself, “I hope they turn that effect off later, it’s pretty annoying.” Of course, that sound grew louder as I approached and it turned out to be the ocean.
With the standard Studio, you have your choice of four potential room requests. Building 15 is the most private or the least convenient to the major amenities depending on how you want to look at it. Rooms facing the ocean should have fewer obstructions than Building 14, which is the most convenient location right next to the pool – our room was 1441 in this building. Building 12 is very convenient to the main building and on the opposite side of the pool, so it should be quieter. But no matter which building you select or ultimately end up in, you’re just a couple of minutes away from everything.
Guests staying in an ocean-view room in the Inn will enjoy this view – this is from the outdoor seating area at the bar from floor two. Higher floors would have a less obstructed view. One thing about Vero is that they’re very serious about sea turtle preservation:
During summer, you have an opportunity to head out to the beach and watch the turtles hatch and head toward the ocean for the first time.
Each building enjoys its own garage parking below with additional spaces in a lot outside. Inside the garage in a separate room is where you’ll find the vending machines, ice, and washers/dryers. Each building is also serviced by an elevator that picks up on the garage level.
I liked the setup of the buildings – each floor only has a handful of rooms, so you’re only a few steps away from the elevator. It also “feels” a little more private when you don’t have the endless hallways of something like BoardWalk or Beach Club.
Home sweet home.
Finally, some of you may splurge for the 2,125 square foot Three-Bedroom Beach Cottage. If you do, you’re more than welcome to pick me up on the way.
There are exactly six of these scattered across the property with the two on either far side being quieter than the two that are basically right on top of the pool and beach area.
Activities and Things to Do
The beach should play an integral part of most visits.
It’s particularly serene during sunrises and particularly again, when it’s not cloudy.
Just standing there with your feet in the water is surprisingly calming. Even the guy that worked the beach rental kiosk was out in the early morning standing out there watching the waves crash against the beach. There’s no substitute.
Speaking of beach rentals, you’ll see the kiosk right near the walkway down to the beach. It’s operated by a third-party.
I was a little miffed by the pricing on the chairs. Two lounge chairs and an umbrella would have cost us $41.54 with tax.
Obviously there is some cost in the single person that sets up the chairs in the morning and takes them down in the evening, but being comfortable on the beach otherwise would have cost us more than $160 over the four days. We instead elected to bring our towels and sat on the sand. It crossed my mind to bring our own chairs, but I saw a family lugging theirs around the resort and was glad I didn’t bother.
The pool area is home to a variety of activities.
We enjoyed a wide variety, from stargazing to water slide races to poolside bingo to beach walks to sandcastle building.
The majority of the activities are complimentary or low cost, but some of the more limited activities that require equipment, like the Surf School and Pelican Island Bike Hike, see nominal charges.
Paddle Boarding is $60 for DVC members and $65 for those paying cash, for example.
Stargazing was one of my favorite activities. Living off International Drive in Orlando, I think I see about three stars a year. Looking out onto the water and up into the sky with no noise pollution is something special.
Several of the activities, like soccer, volleyball, and archery, take place across the street. There’s actually a tunnel underneath the road so crossing the street isn’t necessary. You can also drive over and park.
Some off-site recreation options are provided.
Along with a map.
Back on property, a playground area for kids borders the pool.
As does a pirate-ship-themed splash zone. I cannot confirm or deny whether or not I went down that slide.
Eb & Flow’s Rentals is where you’ll find most of the stuff for the various recreational activities.
While we’re not Disney Vacation Club members, we still received Member pricing because our stay was booked with points, which saved us a solid $2 on golf.
Billiards is located in this gazebo for some shaded play. Ping pong is also shaded. Across the way is the Community Hall, where more activities are scheduled throughout the day.
The campfire is one of the most popular free activities.
Which may work against you as it takes some time until it’s your turn to hit the s’mores.
Inside The Inn, this area is set up with Xbox 360s and complimentary game rentals for DVC members.
Just don’t lose their copy of Madden ’13.
There’s a small arcade located next to Eb & Flow’s just a minute away from the pool.
Pricing is the same as WDW.
Overall, there are plenty of activities to entertain most people for a few days on property and even more in nearby Sebastian and neighboring areas.
The Spa at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is located just off the lobby. Lisa covered her experience at the Saratoga Springs Spa here.
Services and prices are the same/similar here, which is to say, they’re expensive. A standard pedicure will run you $80 and you can’t get out of there with a massage for anything less than $145. On the other hand, they do take very good care of you.
As previously mentioned, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort has four options on the food front, plus in-room private dining options.
Bleachers Bar & Grill is the most straightforward of the options, open daily from 11am-5pm here in the “off-season.” During the summer, the hours may be extended to 8am-8pm with continental breakfast items like bagels and fruit available in the morning. I thought it was sort of curious that there was an “in-season” and an “off-season” considering there are so few rooms and it was difficult to find a stretch of time when three or four nights were available even a month in advance. The point here is that there really isn’t a quick service option for breakfast and not necessarily one for dinner. It also means no bar during evening swims.
While not a particularly extensive menu, there is some variety with a few seafood options, sandwiches, vegetarian entrees, and the usual burgers, chicken nuggets, and pizzas.
Those that have visited a WDW pool bar in the past year or so should recognize the majority of the drinks. Dole Whip lovers will be happy to see they’re available here, in addition to Mickey Bars.
The beer list is surprisingly good as well, particularly with Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA on draft.
There’s something about the beach and shrimp that seem to go together. This is the $13 Beer-Broiled Shrimp, which might not look like much in the bucket, but it’s almost a pound of extra-large shrimp in the vicinity of 16-20 count. I paid something like $13 for a pound of the same size at Publix, so this is a terrific value and great quality, served with a side of cocktail sauce. I’m not sure there’s a reason to get anything else, though I would have traded the silly green bucket and shovel for a side of fries.
Lisa went for the $10 Crab Cake Sandwich. Again, this might not look like much, but I’d be willing to bet the website’s all-time advertisement revenue that this isn’t a frozen crab cake that’s simply reheated – it was packed with crab and the greens had been tossed in a light citrus-y sauce on top of a second, creamier remoulade. This isn’t anything that necessarily reinvents the wheel, but we were really impressed with both dishes that would easily rank highly at any WDW quick service.
On a return visit, we ordered the $10 Triple Play Grilled Cheese, which isn’t described particularly well on the menu. While it might look like a ton of tomato, it was actually well balanced between the cheese, tomato, and bacon. The main problem was that it was barely grilled and served lukewarm, despite being freshly made. You may fare better.
Your side choices are fruit or fries – the cups of fruit are reliably small and reasonably fresh.
The Refillable Mugs are on the expensive side considering there’s just one length-of-stay price.
Bleachers is on the slow side in terms of service. They use a pager system so you don’t have to wait around for your food – just don’t wait until you’re starving to get in line. The quick service otherwise provides good variety at standard pricing, but the limited hours are…limiting. Plan for lunch and early dinners.
The Green Cabin Room is the resort lounge.
It offers ample seating in a variety of configurations.
There are just two small televisions – one on the far left and one behind me, so this isn’t the best spot to catch the game.
A variety of appetizers are available.
In addition to entrees that all arrive from the kitchen at Shutters. It’s actually kind of goofy how they deliver the food to the bar from downstairs. Somebody pushes this super heavy, super loud cart through the bar where the food is offloaded and then served. I’d probably keep the cart outside if it were up to me – it was very distracting whenever somebody’s pretzels arrived.
I was hoping that, unlike the majority of Walt Disney World restaurants, the burgers at Vero would be juicy and flavorful, but that was not the case. While somehow cooked to a perfect medium in color, the patty was bone dry to the point where it was difficult to swallow. The bun wasn’t fresh and the chips were boring and largely flavorless.
Lisa went with the $12.49 Barbecued Pork Sandwich, which was average quality for Disney World, which translates to pretty lousy in the “real world.” A regular restaurant would never survive serving this sort of barbecued pork, which almost certainly arrives frozen in large bags. It was extremely dry and the standard-issue coleslaw didn’t help. Both meals ended up being disappointing.
Never one to give up prematurely on a bar, we returned a couple of nights later to find just three or four people at the bar as we moseyed up to the counter. One plus is that like the outdoor bar, Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA is available on draft, in addition to Blue Moon, Yuengling, and Sam Adams Seasonal. Service was disappointing – I expected more of a homely, friendly atmosphere. Vero Beach probably sees a lot of return visitors and while the bartender mentioned that he had been there for over three years, he didn’t do anything to make us feel welcome and when another patron came in and asked which whiskeys they had, he had to turn some bottles around and read the names with his back turned. When you work at a bar for three years and only serve three whiskeys, you should probably have a pretty good understanding of what’s available.
This time I went with the $7.99 Chicken Wings, which arrive with your choice of hot, barbecue, or garlic chili sauces. For the money, the value was there, with a large portion of wings in a standard hot sauce with crispy skin and juicy chicken. Nothing spectacular, but certainly more serviceable than the sandwiches from the previous night. The vegetables were junk though – I think everybody’s tried those limp, cut-long-ago carrots that sit in some bag for a week.
The bar has a monitor outside that has photos of a few items on the menu, in addition to the menu itself. This is what the $14 margherita pizza looked like on said monitor.
That’s almost exactly the same picture I took after Lisa ordered it, though the tomatoes look more like pepperonis. The crust was not unlike your standard frozen pizza with far too much oil. For about 40% more than your standard Disney cheese flatbread, there wasn’t any value here.
One upside to the bar – strong wine pours. The drink menu is otherwise exactly the same as any other Disney World resort lounge, which was kind of disappointing. You’d think they’d put together a signature tropical drink of some variety – a traditional mai tai or something.
Pizza to go might be an intelligent option.
Not being particularly impressed with anything that arrived from the Shutters/Sonya’s kitchen at the bar, we elected to skip dinner and instead visited for breakfast on our second to last morning. We arrived a little after 10:30am to maybe 15 other people in the restaurant.
The menu is fairly straightforward, offering a reliable assortment of omelets, pancakes, and waffles.
The restaurant is otherwise decidedly casual and not unlike Shutters at Caribbean Beach Resort. Request a window table for a view outside.
Breakfast is served with warm fresh-baked biscuits.
With local honey butter and homemade pineapple marmalade. While we’re not in Yachtsman onion roll territory here, the biscuits were light and appropriately flaky and the pineapple marmalade in particular offered some tropical flavors. Very good.
Food came out incredibly quickly. It was less than 15 minutes between when we checked in and when the entrees arrived, which may be partially why there wasn’t anybody else in the restaurant by 10:45am. I ordered the $11.49 Ham and Cheese Omelet – Three Eggs with Smoked Ham and Cheddar served with Home Fries or Grits. I compare every ham and cheese omelet to my favorite from home – The Maltby Cafe in Snohomish Washington, which is a high bar. This wasn’t anywhere close – the eggs were fine, but it was grocery-store-quality diced ham and bulk cheddar. There’s so little ham that you don’t even see any in the picture. The potatoes were greasy without the “bite” you look for, under-seasoned and without much pepper, onion, and garlic. It did the job, but it certainly didn’t impress.
Lisa ordered the daily special – a Frittata with Boursin Cheese and Crab with a side of tomatoes. There wasn’t a lot of crab involved – you might be able to see a speck of red here and there, but the flavor of the sea certainly dominated, and not in a particularly pleasant way. The food was delivered by a runner and Lisa had ordered the dish with egg whites rather than your standard eggs. The server noticed as she was coming back around and offered to have it replaced, but it’s one of those things where it’ll take some time to correct and isn’t that big of a deal so we let it slide. Still, delivering an incorrect order in an empty restaurant doesn’t exactly beckon a return visit.
The dinner menu:
You should be able to order whatever you like from the regular menu at the Green Cabin Room Lounge as well.
Sonya’s is the specialty restaurant. As Disney describes it:
Open for dinner from 6pm-10pm Thursday-Sunday, this is the resort’s version of a signature restaurant.
The restaurant has a significantly more upscale “feel” than Shutters, despite being located through a door in the back of the restaurant, thanks to the white linen tablecloths and nicer furniture. If anything, it “feels” exclusive being escorted back into the private room.
There are some other nice touches too, like the complimentary shrimp amuse-bouche delivered to the table along with the bread and oil.
I had looked over a few of the limited number of reviews on the restaurant and saw some, like Mouse Planet, compare it to Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian, and thought that a meal here might end up costing a couple of hundred dollars.
I was a little relieved to see that pricing was much more in line with your standard Disney restaurant – The Rib-Eye here is the same price as Be Our Guest Restaurant’s Strip Steak, for example.
We started with the $15.99 Artisan Cheese and Cured Meats Platter with a Warm Herb Flatbread, which is also on the menu at Shutters and Green Cabin Room. It impressed on quantity more than quality. The weight of everything probably nears a pound, compared to the cheese platters at most Disney signature restaurants, which focus more on big name brands of cheeses and meats from far off lands.
Still, everything tasted perfectly fine, though I think it makes more sense to order it at the bar. At the time, I didn’t realize the same dish was available in both areas. It was a lot of food for two people and probably not anything that isn’t for sale at the local Publix.
Lisa continued with the Togarashi Yellowfin Tuna – Coconut Jasmine Rice, Wakame, Pickled Ginger, and Sweet Soy Drizzle – $31. This was excellent. The tuna was fresh, lightly seared to a perfect medium rare with vibrant flavors from the Asian-influenced spices. The sweet soy drizzle and ginger contrasted nicely with the flavors from the tuna, in addition to the seaweed adding a light crunch on top of the rice. This could just as easily be $45 at California Grill where I’m sure it would receive equally positive reviews.
I ordered the $34 Oak-Grilled Rib-Eye Steak – Fingerling Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables, and Sonya’s Signature Steak Sauce.
It was one of the better steaks I’ve enjoyed at a Disney-operated restaurant. I actually went to Le Cellier a couple of days after returning and would tell you that it’s the same piece of meat that they’re charging $50 for – tender, flavorful, and perfectly grilled.
Pretty sure these are the same potatoes served at breakfast.
Service was friendly and efficient, though it lacked a lot of the nuances that you might expect from a higher caliber restaurant.
Overall, this was easily the best dining experience of our four-night stay at Vero Beach. Those looking for a romantic meal or who are already considering a steak at Shutters should take a look at Sonya’s, I think. It’s worth noting that the kitchen is the same for both restaurants. While I wasn’t impressed with breakfast or the bar food we ordered, I did see a variety of Shutters’ dinner entrees on our walk out of the restaurant and everything looked terrific. So if you do end up at the lounge, you may want to ask if you can order an entree from the full Shutters menu as it looked to be a significantly stronger selection. You might also have better luck with the lounge now that you have a better idea about which items you might want to avoid.
Resort Merchandise and Packaged Food Options
Open from 7:30am-10pm daily, Island Grove Packing Co. is the resort store.
In terms of size and offerings, it’s on par with a WDW Deluxe. I liked the logo on the resort-specific merchandise:
A variety of packaged food items:
Don’t forget the bug spray.
A variety of the usual Disney Vacation Club merchandise is also available.
This is also where you have the opportunity to rent DVDs. While they do stock a lot of Disney movies, we found the selection underwhelming and instead returned to the room for some good old Law & Order reruns.
Wine prices are reasonable, unlike $15 for a six-pack of Budweiser.
A small selection of liquor at high prices.
While the store offers a variety of items that might come in handy if you forget something at the “real” store, most people driving in will want to make a stop on the way for supplies. We ended up at the Indian River Publix in Sebastian at 9621 N US Highway 1, Sebastian, FL 32958, which is about ten minutes away from the resort. There’s a liquor store next door that was overpriced, but not absurdly so. Those looking for better prices or a better selection of beer and liquor will want to search for an ABC or Total Wine on the way. There’s an ABC Liquor Store at 500 21st St, Vero Beach, FL 32960, which is about 20 minutes away with a Publix across the street. Both are relatively convenient, though we thought the Indian River Publix was nicer as well as being closer to the resort.
The serenity and relaxation that Disney’s Vero Beach Resort offers will cost you about two hours in transportation each way from Walt Disney World. Those with the ability may want to tack a couple of days here at the end of a busier Orlando vacation to eliminate that feeling that you “need a vacation after your vacation.” This is that vacation – and for a lot less than a Disney Cruise to Nassau.
Contact Rachel Thompson at www.dvcmagicresales.com for more information on selling or purchasing a DVC contract for Disney’s Vero Beach Resort or any other Disney Vacation Club property. With 10 years experience on the resale market, you will be in good hands.