I just returned from a five day trip to Walt Disney World with my wife, two young children, and extended family. The trip overall was fantastic and there were many aspects of our stay at the Bay Lake Tower that were very pleasant. Fundamentally, however, at $700/night for a 1-bedroom suite, I do not believe we received value for our money. In the paragraphs that follow, I will do my best to provide an objective assessment of our stay (with the caveat that, being a New Yorker, I might be pickier than most):
The check-in process at the hotel was a disappointing start to our stay at the Bay Lake Tower. Upon learning that our flight to Orlando was being delayed by several hours, I called the front desk that the Contemporary Resort (handles all guest services for Bay Lake Tower) to alert them of our flight delay and to seek assurances that our rooms were set aside in anticipation of our late arrival. I was informed explicitly that our rooms were all on the same floor and were "absolutely set aside since [we] have already paid for the rooms." Upon check-in, only two of our three rooms were still available. They said that "due to an oversold situation, [they] could not honor what was told to [us] earlier and that the best they could do was to offer us a studio room elsewhere in the hotel." After we indicated our disappointment at the situation, the night manager of the hotel agreed to move the party into a 1-bedroom suite on the second day of the trip and to compensate them with a half a night's stay. After further protesting, the night manager agreed to a full night's compensation.
While the grounds of the hotel were immaculate, the rooms were not. Cleanliness is a particular issue for my family as my child has life threatening food allergies (e.g. peanuts). (SIDE NOTE -- a great thing about Disney in general is their handling of food allergies; all restaurants across Disney World Parks and Resorts where we had dining reservations were notified of my son's allergies and were incredibly careful with food preparation). As part of Disney's standard operating procedures for people with food allergies, Disney Resort Reservations said that the hotel would automatically (based on the allergy notification in my reservation) conduct an "extra thorough allergy room cleaning...that would include shampooing of the carpets, bleach cleaning of the kitchen, and changing of the air vents." In two calls to the Contemporary/Bay Lake Tower in the 24 hours leading up to my arrival, as well as upon check-in, I was told in no uncertain terms that my room was set aside for the special allergy cleaning -- while the room may have been set aside, I did not see any indication of a thorough cleaning. The pantry drawers were full of crumbs and remnants for what looked like granola/nut products. The carpets were stained in a few areas and had crumbs near the kitchen area. Aside from the areas where I would have expected the special allergy cleaning, the main shower had an overpowering mildew/mold smell -- the bench within the shower had several portions with physical evidence of mold and mildew. Throughout our stay, there were ants crawling in our kitchen sink.
3. Condition of the Property
Disney has done a good job of keeping the common areas (exterior, landscaping, bridge from Bay Lake Tower to Contemporary, lobby, hallways) in good condition. Despite this property being only a year old, however, the rooms look tired and worn. The couch in the living room as well as the carpeting throughout the suite was stained in several spots. While I recognize that the rooms have most likely been in constant use with active families for the past year, I would expect Disney to expend the funds necessary to clean/fix/replace furniture/carpeting that is soiled...especially at a property listed as "Deluxe" and charging > $700/night for a one bedroom suite.
As mentioned by other reviewers of this hotel, the Bay Lake Tower has its own outdoor pool and offers guests full access to all Contemporary Resort restaurants and facilities. Note that the Bay Lake Tower does not have its own staffed lobby nor does it have a restaurant (beyond the Vacation Club lounge, which for regular hotel guests, like myself, is off limits). Facilities at the Contemporary are, overall, very good with the exception of the gym which is small/cramped and has not been updated in 20+ years.
5. Proximity to Magic Kingdom
As discussed in earlier reviews, the proximity to the Magic Kingdom (via walking and monorail) is truly excellent.
6. General Service Orientation
Consistent with some of the other reviews, there is virtually no customer-facing staff at the Bay Lake Tower. The staff at the Contemporary, whom are now also responsible for the Bay Lake Tower guests, seem spread thin -- perhaps more staffing at the Contemporary and/or the Bay Lake Tower would improve the situation.
My hope in writing this accurate (albeit harsh at times) account of my stay at the Disney is that Disney Resort executives will expand/upgrade their staff at the Bay Lake Tower. The hotel has tremendous potential, but the hotel needs some sustained management attention to ensure it's long term success.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Warm luxury meets modern elegance at this lakeside Resort hotel just walking distance to Magic Kingdom park. Delight in Studios and multi-bedroom Villas, kitchens or kitchenettes and dramatic views that may include old-growth cypress trees, the shimmering Bay Lake, the lush courtyard or Cinderella Castle. Enjoy white-sand beaches, enchanting pools and award-winning dining-plus the extensive offerings of Disney's Contemporary Resort, connected by the convenient Sky Way Bridge, with access to transportation including the Resort Monorail. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Bay Lake Tower At Disney`s Contemporary Hotel Orlando