The second day of my trip to Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, I got up and was excited to be heading back to Shutters for the character breakfast with Goofy and Donald. This breakfast is one of the best character meal values I’ve ever seen at under $18 for adults. It is family style usually, but since I wasn’t eating meat, I was permitted to order off the menu and got the pina colada pancakes with pineapple and rum sauce. Incredible!!!
Shortly after breakfast, I heard from Shalon, who had asked if she could come visit for lunch since she had not been to Disney’s Vero Beach Resort before either. I told her no problem. We met up, and I showed her around before we had lunch at the Green Cabin Room, another casual restaurant and bar at the resort that is open for lunch and dinner. In the evening they also sometimes offer live entertainment in the form of musicians. We had a nice lunch, with me ordering a roma tomato, basil, roasted garlic and buffalo mozzarella flatbread, and Shalon got the oak-grilled breast of chicken on crispy pretzel. We were both very happy with our selections. After lunch we decided to try out the miniature golf course since it looked like fun (and it was, until that six on the last hole) and it was such a great value. Shalon headed back home after a quick stop in the gift shop where we found out one of the CMs I had spoken to the evening before for almost an hour about the turtles, turned out to be our friend Matt’s mom. It is indeed a small world after all.
Playing hostess, even for just a few hours, can really take it out of a girl. Bed called, but not before I called down to the spa to see if there was a pedicure appointment available. Luckily, there was for late afternoon, which would still allow me some more reading time before my dinner reservation at Sonya’s, the more upscale restaurant at Vero Beach. This trip really was shaping up to be the ultimate in R&R. If only I had been able to splurge even more on the massage, but there’s always next time. The pedicure was great and again, with an ocean view from the spa, and phenomenal service.
Sonya’s vegetarian trio, along with the spectacular service and the triple chocolate dessert made the evening even more magical. I finished earlier than I expected, so I again was able to go back to my room to read for an hour or so before the campfire. Although very different, I would say both nights’ singalongs were equally enjoyable. I even saw the couple from New Jersey from the night before, as well as some other guests from Orlando that I enjoyed speaking to earlier in the trip. Disney’s Vero Beach Resort very much has the feel of a family resort that guests return to year after year and the CMs get to see the families grow up over time. I loved this feeling of kinship and recognition. Even though I was only at the resort for a couple of days, I was remembered and called by name from the restaurant staff at Shutters to the recreation cast. It was really a nice feeling that I don’t typically experience at most WDW resorts just due to the sheer size and turnover of the resorts.
On my last evening at Vero Beach, upon returning to my room, I found my favorite movie of all time, Casablanca, on Turner Classic Movies and felt compelled to watch the rest of the film as a great ending to the night. I read for a bit longer to finish my book after the movie ended, and set my alarm so I would have enough time to grab a bite to eat before checking out at 11 before heading to work. I slept so well, hearing the waves crashing on the shore just outside my window. It is one of the most peaceful sounds, yet backed by so much power. It was entrancing! I missed it from my youth and miss it now.
There is a Sunday brunch offered at Shutter’s, with additional seating in Sonya’s, but seeing as I couldn’t eat the majority of the items on the buffet, I chose to order a la carte and got the heavenly orange oatmeal french toast. Even the chefs in the restaurant remembered me from day to day due to me having food allergies and needing to consult them before ordering. Also, the table service restaurants at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort even take Tables In Wonderland, excluding the Sunday brunch. This was meal a great way to end my trip.
Disney’s Vero Beach Resort was most definitely the breath of fresh air that I needed to recharge and renew myself. It was absolutely one of the best weekend vacations I’ve ever taken. I cannot wait to go back and experience some of the amazing culinary options I wasn’t able to try this trip. I relished the fact that I could unplug (literally and figuratively) and get the rest and relaxation I was so wanting and needing. This trip and resort completely exceeded any and all expectations I had. I think this is due so much in part, possibly in whole, to the incredible Cast Members. I even took the time before leaving to get the manager of the resort to personally compliment him on the exemplary service everyone provided. I do not think there was a single thing I would have changed about this visit, other than to maybe extend it by a week or two.
I hope that everyone will take the opportunity to visit this magnificent resort at some point. Have you ever been to Disney’s Vero Beach Resort? What did you enjoy most? Did you take it easy like I did, or did you take advantage of the tons of activities at the resort and in the area?
After a rather hectic first few weeks of the year between some personal adjustments and a very busy time at work, I needed a break. I decided it was far past time to explore Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, and went ahead and booked a solo weekend stay as it was the last Disney resort in Florida that I had not had the chance to visit.
I really didn’t know much about the resort before I went and thought I’d share some of my thoughts and experiences in case you are, like I was, unaware of the fantastic offerings this resort has.
The resort is similar to many of the Disney Vacation Club properties at Walt Disney World in that it offers deluxe studios as well as one, two and three bedroom villas that can accommodate up to 12 guests. In addition to these, the resort also has standard rooms with either a garden or an ocean view. For my stay, I opted to splurge and go with the Inn Ocean View Room since it was only slightly higher than the studio, plus I wanted the convenience of staying in the main building.
Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is about an hour and a half to two hours from Walt Disney World theme parks by car, and is a pretty easy drive on highways (some routes may include toll roads). I arrived at the resort not really having looked at many pictures or knowing what to expect of a Disney resort that wasn’t right at Walt Disney World. I was immediately welcomed by the familiar logo on the resort’s sign as well as a security guard to check me in to the parking lot. I pulled up to the porte cochere as instructed and left my vehicle there until I received further directions on where to park from the front desk.
When I stepped in to the lobby, I felt like I was stepping back in time and to a place that was very familiar to me. For those who don’t know, my background is in hospitality management, and I got my start back in high school at a four diamond resort on the coast of Maine called Inn By The Sea. Although Vero Beach is a good 1500 miles plus from that resort, there was a very comforting familiarity to it. The vibe felt like a combination of the Boardwalk and Beach Club to me and was very welcoming. Hardwood floors in the lobby are softened by rugs in the great seating areas that feature comfortable chairs for relaxing in the open four story atrium. Two themes seem to be prevalent throughout the lobby and are carried throughout the entire resort: oranges and sea turtles.
Welcome home is a greeting customary at the Disney Vacation Club resorts, but in this instance, it really felt like I was coming home, but not to one I had ever visited before. The Cast Members seemed to genuinely be inviting the guests to enjoy their stay at this, their home away from home. Arriving shortly after noon with check in not being until 4 pm, I was not expecting my room to be ready, but was very pleasantly surprised (a theme for this trip). After parking my car in the brilliantly located parking garage under the main inn, I took the elevator up to the third floor to find my room.
Full disclosure, I had a friend who had stayed at the resort a few months ago and had booked the same ocean view room. His view of the ocean was noticeable it seemed only from the balcony and then, only a sliver of blue. Having seen pictures of his view, this was honestly what I was prepared for when entering my room, but again, had luck on my side. I ended up with one of the most spectacular ocean views! This is coming from someone who spent her formative years spoiled with an ocean view from her bedroom.
I haven’t really spent much time on the Atlantic Coast of Florida, since I live on the Gulf Coast and prefer the typically warmer waters we have here on the west coast. Expecting gray or dark blue waters, perhaps tainted by my memories of the Maine coast, I was happily greeted with gorgeous turquoise water seemingly feet from my room. Again, the view was spectacular! I had, I came later to find out, one of only three rooms that have double sets of windows facing the ocean. Most of the rooms in the inn that are ocean view have one set of windows facing the water and then longer side of the room faces the grounds. Mine was the opposite. I could see the ocean from my balcony on the one side, the double set of windows in the middle on the long wall, and then also from the window on the other side above my reading nook. Fantastic!
My trip was off to an amazing start! In case I haven’t mentioned it yet, my primary objectives on this trip were rest and relaxation. The priorities, in no particular order, were to sleep, eat, read, and unwind. I took a few pictures and dumped my luggage before heading down to the pool area to grab a quick lunch at Bleachers, the counter service location open for lunch and early dinner. Since I was not eating meat, drinking soda, or partaking in an adult beverages at the time, I did a little research prior to arrival to make sure there were vegetarian offerings and I wouldn’t be stuck eating a salad every day. The menus for the restaurants looked great, so I was excited to see what they had when I actually arrived.
As is often the case, things change and menus online on third party websites are not always as reliable as you would like them to be. I read about a veggie burger that had gotten decent reviews from guests, but when I looked at the menu board didn’t see it as an option. When in doubt, ask. I did and was happy to hear they did still have them, but were phasing them out, so no guarantees whether or not they will be there on your next visit. While I was ordering I noticed the thing that to this point pretty much made my day (okay, aside from the jaw-dropping view from my bed) DOLE WHIPS!!! Again, for those who don’t know me, you may not be aware of my love of this delicious pineapple treat (Vero Beach also offered Vanilla and Orange) found at Disneyland, the Magic Kingdom and Captain Cook’s at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Others are very well aware and have been with me on after midnight trips to acquire this great dessert/snack/breakfast/what have you. Anyhoo, I had a great lunch sitting out by the pool on a sunny afternoon with my veggie burger, fries and dole whip.
After the taxing drive (not really) and lunch, I needed to start working on my to do list. Next up was nap time! I went back to my room, on the way stopping by the front desk to make a dinner reservation for that night at Shutters, the casual table service restaurant. Before I crashed, I took a look at the recreation calendar to make sure there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t mind sleeping through. I am one to try to find the more unique offerings, and was intrigued by a wine tasting (which I wouldn’t be doing, but to investigate for journalistic research, and for future visits) and a musician who sang and played banjo on the back deck. Deciding I needed to check this out, I set an alarm to make sure I got in a good two hour nap, but allowed myself enough time to get to the activities before dinner.
Napping is seriously like one of the best things ever invented. If I could go back to my childhood and bank all that nap time I fought and didn’t want to take as a kid and cash it in now as an adult, that would be amazing … maybe a trip in the DeLorean can fix this. Back to the story at hand … I woke up sufficiently refreshed from my nap and brought out my DSLR camera to take some pictures around the resort. I discovered that there was a spa just off the lobby. Who knew? I put that in the back of my brain for not so future use. I also stopped by the desk again to pick the brains of the Cast Members to see if there was anything I should know or was missing about the resort. They told me I should go check out the recreation facilities across the street. Since A1A, the road on which the resort is located, is a relatively busy street, the resort built a tunnel under the road to safely get guests over to the other side. A tunnel!!! The only thing that would make this cooler and more like one of my favorite movies, Clue, would be if there was also a secret passage since there was already a library-like area off the lobby.
The trip across the street was well worth it! I found a beautiful lake with a dock for catch and release fishing. There is a pavilion with picnic tables and an area setup for a campfire by the shore of the lake. There are also soccer fields, walking paths, basketball and tennis courts. Equipment for most of these activities can be found by the pool, acquired from the recreation staff with your room key, and most free of charge. There are also bikes to rent and a great little 9 hole miniature golf course by the pool in addition to the waterslide, kids water play area (very jealous I couldn’t play in the pirate ship), hot tub, sauna, ping pong, and pool table. Miniature golf is only $2 a round for guests, $1 for DVC members. Then, of course, there is the beach itself. There are cabana rentals, jetskis, small boats and kayaks, as well as bodyboards and surfboards for rent.
Recreation opportunities at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort are seemingly endless! I’ve only scratched the surface with the list above. As with most DVC resorts, you have a Community Hall location with games, arts and crafts and activities for the kids primarily. They also have the standard pool games, dance party, etc. on the pool deck weather permitting.
After talking to the front desk CMs again, I learned the resort even helps take part in protecting the local wildlife with turtle watchers during certain times of the year. There are signs along paths and the beach reminding guests of the sea turtles and to be cognizant of the dangers brought by shining bright lights that can attract the turtles and potentially cause danger to the animals by misleading them away from the ocean. During the warmer months, guests can sign up to participate in watching the mother sea turtles coming in to the beach late a night to give birth to the babies.
After exploring for a bit, I settled on the back deck to listen to “Unca Banjo” play and sing. It was a cool late afternoon and it was only a nice couple from New Jersey and me enjoying the music so Unca (aka recreation CM Mike), told us great stories in between songs. I consider myself pretty well versed in the music field, but he played some songs I had never heard before, and I loved them nonetheless. It was one of those practically perfect moments that you just get lost in conversation and storytelling and great music. I will never forget that hour we spent just enjoying and living in the moment. On that note, I opted for almost the entire weekend (except when I was expecting an important text message) to leave my phone in the room. For those who know me well, I am never without my phone, but this weekend I was unplugged, much like Unca Banjo. 😉
Following the concert, dinner at Shutters was fabulous! There was a separate vegetarian menu and I opted for the Caprese El Forno Melt with portabella mushrooms, tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, spinach, caramelized onions with a panko bread crumb crust and basil in a red pepper sauce with balsamic vinegar and great fresh rolls served with Mickey-shaped butter. After dinner I returned to my room to read, something I hadn’t done in book form in quite some time.
The other activity I wanted to make sure I caught was the nighttime campfire and singalong with s’mores. Heading out to the campfire after adding an extra layer of clothing, I found I was the first guest to arrive. I was greeted by two great recreation CMs, Josh and Maria. We talked for a bit before the other guests showed up, and was amazed to find out the s’mores were free! And unlimited! Maria said the record was held by one guest who ate 28 in one sitting. I opted to be a bit more modest and had one, followed by a perfectly burnt marshmallow. But first, to earn your food, you must first sing, and dance, and let it all out. Josh and Maria led some traditional camp songs, even a Disney song or two, and a couple I wasn’t sure I’d heard before. He played guitar, and when it was over, Josh encouraged me to come back the next night to see how another CM, Trey, put his own spin on the singalong without an accompanying instrument. I agreed I would return Saturday night, and retreated to my room to read before an early bedtime.
Shalon put together an awesome video highlighting our experience at the Orlando City Soccer Club game against Stoke City!!!
CELEBRITY SIGHTING!!! Betsy shares her day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios complete with a Tom Cruise sighting at Toy Story Midway Mania!!!!!
LEGOLAND Florida announced their Brick-Or-Treat Halloween Event that will take place later this fall! It looks like it’s going to be a really family-friendly way to celebrate with your favorite ghosts and goblins!
This Friday all of us sat down to share our favorite ways to Beat the Heat in the Parks just in time for the dog days of summer in our latest Roundtable discussion!
And we rounded out our week, with Megan looking back at the first in our Florida Adventures Series with our Paddleboarding, SUP, experience with East Coast Paddle in New Smyrna Beach, Florida!
Thanks for joining us this week at On the Go, and we can’t wait to bring you even more posts next week!!!
I am always looking to find adventurous things to do in Central Florida. When I first moved to the area I learned about something called paddleboarding. Anything that involves water automatically peaks my interest! When the opportunity came for Shelley and I to visit East Coast Paddle in New Smyrna Beach, I jumped at it. New Smyrna Beach is about 90 minutes northeast of Orlando just off of Interstate 4, so even if you are interested in taking one of the early morning sessions, getting there wouldn’t involve too early of a wake-up call. We were able to leave Orlando at 7 and made it with time to spare before our 9 am tour.
We took the Stand Up Paddleboard Eco-Tour. To start our tour, we met up with our guide, Cheryl and our captain, Todd, at JB’s Fish Camp on the Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon. Captain Todd pulled the boat right up to the dock and everyone in our group was able to climb right aboard. Cheryl was an excellent guide, telling us all about the areas we would be seeing and giving us some tips on what areas we needed to avoid. A large area of the river is actually used as an oyster farm for JB’s and there are oyster beds along the edges of the river too. Cheryl informed us that these were areas to be avoided.
On our way out to the drop off location, we had our first wildlife spotting. A dolphin! This wouldn’t be the last spotting either. Once we reached our destination, our boat was anchored and Captain Todd stepped out from behind the wheel to give us our lesson before we each got onto our boards. I am an experience canoeist so I picked up on the techniques that he explained to us pretty quickly. The most important part of the instructions included the positioning of the paddle in the water and the positioning of our hands and arms throughout the stroke. Once you figured that out you were good to go.
After our group pictures, we were all set out on the boards. Cheryl went out first so she could capture our first moments out on the board and Captain Todd got us positioned on our boards one at a time. The tour includes all the pictures they take of the day. Cheryl sends out digital copies within a day of your tour! When it was my turn, I climbed onto my knees on the board and paddled away from the boat. Once I was far enough away from the boat, Cheryl told me it was okay to stand up. That was the part I was most nervous about. Despite the fact that Cheryl insisted that these were the most stable boards that they produced, I was still nervous about my ability to balance. However, once I was on my feet, I was surprised at the stability of the board. I even rocked it a little bit, just to test it out of course!
I was actually the last person in our tour to get onto a board so as soon as I caught up to the group, we began our journey down the river. I was incredibly comfortable on the board. With the exception of a couple times when I put a bit too much effort into a stroke, I never felt like I was going to lose my balance.
One of my favorite things about Florida is the wildlife and the tour definitely delivered on that front. My favorite part of our tour was our visit to Manatee Cove. We were surrounded by manatees who kept sticking their noses out of the water. I admit that I was nervous that one of the manatees would try to surface right underneath my board, by I had nothing to worry about. The manatees were close but not right underneath me. After hanging out with the manatees, it was time to complete our tour and head back to the dock.
The tour we took is the best tour for beginners, however there are other tour options for beginners or more experienced paddleboarders. East Coast Paddle offers lessons, fishing and rentals. In addition, they provide Paddle Fit classes and Yoga on Water. I am definitely interested in the fitness classes that they offer. In addition to the services offered on a regular basis, they are willing to create a customized tour for groups. Just ask Cheryl about the bachelorette party that they planned during your visit!
East Coast Paddle not only provides tours and lessons, but they also make the boards in their own factory. After a morning out learning to paddleboard, Shelley and I were able to tour the factory. All the boards are made using AutoCad (Computer Aided Drafting) Software to design the boards and they use their own 3D Shaping machine to cut the boards out of the blanks. The boards are all airbrushed and finished in the factory to the specifications of each buyer.
I had a great time with Cheryl and Captain Todd during my first paddleboarding experience. They made the whole experience fun and relaxing, as well as a good workout. I look forward to visiting them again and, in the future, purchasing my own board so I can head out boarding every weekend! Make sure to visit their website and like them on Facebook. Also, don’t forget to visit our Facebook page to see our complete album of pictures from our visit.