If you are starting to plan your vacation to Orlando then there are so many choices of where to stay, do you stay within one of the Disney Hotels, or how about a hotel on International Drive or one of the other popular areas? But, have you considered a villa! With a variety of locations around Orlando all within easy driving distance of the theme parks and attractions read on to discover why we think a Villa is a smart choice for an Orlando Vacation!
Why we chose a Villa for our Orlando Vacation!
You've got a little bit of our background - to us the choice was easy, we wanted
- Somewhere we could ensure that at least some of the common foods that our children *the fussy eaters* would eat could be prepared
- That when possible we could keep to routines without being interrupted or fitting to someone else's schedule
- A place to rest and relax - I don't know about you but however much I love Disney I still need time to de-Disney myself
Pro's for Staying in a Villa for you next Orlando Vacation
So what are the pro's and did we find any con's
- We could prepare our own food the kitchen was fantastic and with a Publix down the road from the villa we were able to find cereals that everyone would eat, snacks to take into the parks and on days out with us as well as some treats for the adults for having by the pool on an evening when we were in the villa.
- It was easy to keep to routines when needed. With ample space - our villa had 5 bedrooms it meant that each pair of kids shared a room in which they could play, sleep and relax without having to think about tidying up each time as it was their room.
- We needed to pack less stuff yes really, with a washer and a dryer we could pack much less stuff than we would normally have taken for a 2-week vacation in Florida.
- We could relax easily it was like a home away from home, none of us were on top of each other. There was space to spread out and when we did extra long days at the park we could come home for a break in the afternoon, swim and relax and return for the evening refreshed.
Read on to discover the con to staying in the villa - and yes there is only 1!
Our Reunion Resort Villa
We choose an Executive Villas with James Villas having used the company many times before they are a company that we trust and when it's such a magical holiday we wanted to make sure that nothing would go wrong.
The villa was located at Reunion Resort around 30 minutes from the entrance to Walt Disney World on a high traffic day and around the same to International Drive where Universal Studios and Sea World are located, 2 of the other parks that we knew we wanted to visit with the kids.
The villa was beyond our expectations, we've loved staying in villa's previously, the freedom to have the facilities just for yourself especially if like many of the properties in Florida they have a private pool which meant that as our families favourite way to relax when we are on holiday is in or on the water it was ideal.
With the rooms set up for families - the two twin rooms each had 2 single beds, a night light, overhead fan, TV with all the channels that you could ever want to watch including the Disney Channel which was a hit with the kids, ample storage space for their clothes and toys. Although because we had our own laundry facilities we actually didn't take that much stuff.
The two master rooms were bigger than the ground footprint of our house! With super king size beds which were so comfortable, bathrooms with huge tubs, walk-in showers and his and her sinks. Plus storage space for everything we needed and a TV. We returned each evening and were able to rest to be up at the crack of dawn with the kids (yes even after getting in at midnight we were still up before 7 most mornings!) and head out to the parks.
On the lower ground floor, there was a huge entry hall - where all of our shoes were stored and dried most evenings after the virtually guaranteed afternoon thunderstorms.
A large kitchen which we used every morning to prepare a breakfast that we knew would keep the kids going till lunch in the theme parks and also for evening meals and snacks between park visits. A lounge and den with TV plus doors out onto the pool area.
Having your own pool was fantastic, it was the perfect depth in the shallow end for the kids to stand and swim, plus as it wasn't too big with the kids that we worried about them swimming and getting in trouble. What we often did was head out to the parks early in the morning avoiding the crowds, then return mid-afternoon have a rest (where the idea was that the kids had a nap - did it happen NO!) and swim to cool off and then return to the park or a different park in the afternoon.
Why the villa trumps our past experience of hotels in Orlando
In the past, we stayed at a motel on I192 and a hotel on International Drive - and here are our thoughts and what we will be doing next time as well. A hotel and motel are ok if all you are going to do is sleep, they either have 1 double or 2 doubles in the rooms and you could be on the ground floor (we were last time) or up in the top floor of a tower block.
Although you don't share your bathroom you will share a pool, there maybe a restaurant but from experience, this is an extra cost and I don't think our kids would have eaten as much as they did staying in the villa.
With our kids, we knew that we would have to have a rest if we wanted to see the fireworks, be in the parks after dark and get up early the next morning. We also knew that they needed space to play! Whilst we got ready each morning to head out the 4 kids would be playing in the rooms, watching TV, chasing each other around and having fun as although the parks are great fun they are full on and kids do need to play as well as do the parks especially when you are travelling with toddlers, preschoolers and kids that have just started school.
Our 1 negative of staying in a villa
For us there really was only one negative that we could see and it wasn't really a negative this time because of travelling with another family but if it was just us 4 then staying in a villa would mean that the kids would miss out on interacting with other children because of the private pool whereas using the pool at a hotel they would likely start to play and make friends with other kids there.
But... compared to all of the positives next time, we'll we're already looking back at the James Villas site and planning which resort to choose although I have a feeling that we will likely return to Reunion Resort Florida as it's only 30 minutes drive in traffic from Walt Disney World an ideal situation for families like ours.
We stayed in the villa at Reunion Resort through James Villas as part of a press trip, all of the thoughts and views expressed here are our own - please see our disclosure policy for more information.