Disney Hotel Review: Sheraton Vistana Villages Resort Orlando

After experiencing the Southern charm of St. Augustine, Savannah and Charleston we made our way back to Orlando.  Choosing your Disney accommodation can be tiresome, trawling through endless reviews and weighing up pros & cons.  Here at Jetlag & Mayhem, I can present two different Orlando reviews for you – staying onsite at Disney’s Polynesian resort and staying offsite at the Sheraton Vistana Villages Resort.  I booked my trip about 10 months in advance and got a decent rate at the Polynesian. Originally our trip was much shorter and we were flying in directly from Hong Kong to Orlando. I wanted to make our trip as easy as possible and thought it would be good to be onsite and also have access to early bookings and magic hours.  My sister and her family decided to join relatively last-minute (fyi this is very unlike my sister who like me, is the ultimate planner). She does even more research than I do and after being shocked by the exorbitant rates at the Polynesian, chose the Sheraton Vistana Villages on International Drive. 

How did you book the trip?  What was included in the package?

We booked a 7-night stay at the Sheraton Vistana Villages on I-Drive (not to be confused with the Sheraton Vistana Resort, which is a different property).  

We made our booking direct with the hotel, and joined the Starwood Preferred Guest scheme in order to access a preferred rate.  Our stay was on a self-catering basis and there was no additional resort fee or parking charges.  

Where was the hotel located, how did you get there?

We drove to the hotel from Fort Lauderdale, which took us around 3 hours.  

The hotel itself is located within a 15-minute drive of all of the Walt Disney World parks, which made it the perfect base for our stay in Orlando.  

How was your room?

We had a two bedroom apartment, and I was really impressed with it.  The photos on the website don’t really do it justice.  The master bedroom had a king-size bed and a lovely en-suite bathroom with a whirlpool bath and separate shower room.  The second bedroom had two queen-size beds and an en-suite bathroom with bath.  We also had an open plan kitchen/diner/lounge area, plus a utility cupboard (with washer/dryer) and a balcony.  The kitchen was fully equipped, including a dishwasher, although we didn’t use it much.  

The hotel is quite spread out, and we were in the furthest section from the main entrance, the ‘Key West’ building.  We were able to park right outside, and Key West had its own pool and fitness centre.  However it was a bit of a walk to the main hotel area (including the two main pools and the restaurant), especially when it was really hot.  We often used our double buggy to take the kids over to the pool or the restaurant, so that we wouldn’t have to worry about them being too tired to walk back, especially after a long day at Disney.  

How were the hotel facilities?

Food and Drink – the hotel has one restaurant (the Flagler Bar and Grill) and a shop.  We really liked the food in the restaurant and we ate a couple of dinners there.  There are plenty of other places to eat nearby.  We didn’t use the shop, as I pre-ordered groceries through Orlando Grocery Express.  

Swimming Pool – there are three pools at the hotel and we really enjoyed them.  The middle-sized pool has a pirate ship and slide, which our kids loved.  They were all a nice temperature and very family-friendly.  The only problem we had was that the pools were often shut in the afternoon due to weather conditions.  The hotel closes the pool if there are any reports of lightning within a 15-mile radius, which occurs frequently in Orlando!  

Kids facilities – The hotel has a programme of kids activities that are on each day.  These are mainly chargeable (although there are a few free activities, such as the pool party), and we did opt to do a couple of them.  Our kids enjoyed making tie-dye t-shirts and we all enjoyed cooking s’mores over the small campfire.  We didn’t try out the evening activities (some night’s they entertain your kids while you have dinner) as our son was too young.  

Leisure facilities – Each of the three main areas of the hotel has its own pool and fitness centre.  There isn’t a full-on spa, but massages are available.  There’s also a tennis court and shuffleboard.  The grounds of the hotel are lovely to walk around, with a lake in the middle and ducks and geckos all over the place.  

How was the food?

We ate several meals at the Flagler Bar and Grill and we thought it was great.  It had a varied menu and it was fairly casual and very family-friendly.  

Did you eat outside of the hotel?  Any restaurant recommendations?

We ate most of our lunches at the Disney parks and then went out to dinner at Disney Springs.  We didn’t have any notably delicious meals, but we enjoyed Benihana, which was right by the hotel, for something a bit different.  

What tips would you have for someone booking the same hotel?

  • Do it!  We thought that the room and resort facilities were great for the price.  
  • Don’t expect to swim every afternoon. The pool was often closed due to weather.  
  • When you check in, be very clear that you’re not interested in the timeshare presentation (unless you are, of course).  
  • You can opt out of housekeeping for a small rebate each day.  We didn’t do this, as I enjoy having the beds made on holiday!
  • Keep your room key with you at the pool, as you’ll need it to sign towels in and out.  

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