Disney’s Beach Club Resort: Club Level Review

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Staying on Club Level at at Walt Disney World resort is a fun splurge. After doing some rearranging of vacations, my husband, daughter, and I found it approaching July 4th weekend and no hotel room for July 4th and 5th. With the help of our travel agent, we decided to splurge for Club Level at the Beach Club. We had previously stayed at Club Level at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and wanted to compare a stay at Beach Club, with access to the Stone Harbor Club lounge. Here’s what we found.

Beach Club Club Level Check-In Procedure:

One of the benefits of living around the corner is that it is easy to pop over to the resort, check in, and then run back home to pack while you wait for the room to be ready. After dropping Figment the cat off at Best Friends pet resort, my daughter and I headed to Beach Club around noon. We had done online check-in, so we hoped that check-in would be very fast. Because we decided to just park the car in the regular lot and weren’t walking in with suitcases, the welcome committee at the porte-cochere missed us coming in, and so we made it all the way to the regular check-in desk. A quick tap of our MagicBands and the Cast Member at the desk flagged down one of the lobby attendants to take us up to the fifth floor Club level. Once up at the Club level, we were finished with check-in within five minutes. To our surprise, the room was already ready, so we went down the hall and took a look.

Beach Club Room

The light color palate and bright light made the room seem spacious and inviting.

 

Amenities in the Room:

Our room had two queen beds, sofa, a desk with chair, small table (which nests underneath the desk), and a dresser (with mini-fridge, TV, and DVD player). Outside was a small balcony with two chairs. The room also has bathrobes for use during your stay. There were also some neat touches, from the Mickey Mouse desk lamp to the “gas lamps” wall lamps (although it took us a few minutes to realize that the lamps had knobs to turn up or turn down like a gas lamp instead of wall switches to turn them on or off!). The bathroom is fairly standard with a room containing the toilet and shower and a double sink outside. We had a Lagoon/Pool view, which gave us a great view over a courtyard and out into Crescent Lake. The room also includes access to the magnificent Stormalong Bay pool area.

Beach Club Level view

Early morning view from our Club Level room at the Beach Club.

 

The Club:

By far, the highlight of staying at Club level is the area is the “free” food and drink. For Beach Club, this lounge area is called the Stone Harbor Club. It is a fairly small room where food and drink offerings change throughout the day. Here are some examples of the offerings.

Breakfast (7 AM to 10:30 AM): A fairly typical continental breakfast that you’d find at any business-grade hotel with cereals, bagels and cream cheese, pastries and doughnuts (selection varies daily), mini muffins, yogurt, hard boiled eggs, oatmeal, tea, coffee, and juice.

Beach Club Breakfast

While pastries are a favorite vacation breakfast, there are healthy offerings, such as oatmeal and fruit, as well.

 

Snacks (11:30 AM to 4:00 PM): Light nibbles including gummy fish, house-made potato chips, cookies, trail mix, breadsticks and dips, and yogurt covered pretzels are available. Non-alcoholic beverages (soda, iced tea, Stormalong Bay Breeze punch, coffee, tea, and still and sparkling water) are also provided.

Afternoon cookies

An afternoon cookie break is even better with Mickey sprinkles.

Hors d’oeuvres and Wine (5:00 PM to 7:00 PM): Aside from breakfast, this is the most extensive offering in the day. Generally there are two hot offerings either from or inspired by food at the restaurants around the Yacht and Beach Club. For our nights, we had foods like chicken skewers, spring rolls, and some sort of warm cheese and phyllo bite. There also was a wonderful quinoa cold salad that I was so good that I had some of it again when I saw it a few days later at Cape May Café. Wine and beer are available in addition to non-alcoholic beverages. There are also fresh vegetables and dip, olives, rolls, peanut butter and jelly, apples and caramel, cheese and crackers, and more. While not enough to make a meal, it is a great way to have a light snack before a late dinner.

Dinner food at Stone Harbor Club

Some of the evening food offerings at Stone Harbor Club.

Desserts and Cordials (8:00 PM to 10:00 PM): A great way to wind down for the evening is the selection of desserts and cordials available. Cordials include potent potables like Amarula and Grand Marnier. The dessert selection varies, but included items like peanut butter mousse, strawberry cheesecake, and brownies.

 

Desserts at Beach Club lounge

The desserts are small in size, but that just means you can have more than one!

 

Turndown Service:

One benefit of staying at Club level is turndown service. At Animal Kingdom Lodge, we not only had the bed turned down and the nightly chocolates, we also received lovely cards with African art and a quote on it. We were hopeful to get something comparable at the Beach Club, but turndown just meant turning the bed down, possibly arranging stuffed animals on the bed (which happened the first night, but the second night was just having the bed turned down), and the standard chocolates. On our second night, I was also astonished how early turndown happened for us. I know that with a young child, we do call it an early night, but a 4:00 PM turndown seemed surprisingly early. I don’t know if this is standard or if was because of staffing issues for a holiday weekend, however.

Bang for Your Buck?

Ultimately, the big question about Club level at any resort is “is it worth the extra cost?” For our stay, Club level was around an extra $175 per night over a standard view room. Here’s my impressions:

CONS:

* Because we did very little time in the parks, we made good use of the Stone Harbor Club, but there is no question that we did not eat or drink an extra $58 worth of food and beverage per person each day during that stay. Because they did not have bottled water or juice or cartons of milk, we didn’t even have the option of carrying drinks with us in the morning, which is one way we got cost benefit in the past. The lounge room itself was frequently crowded, and because we had a young child with good listening ears, sometimes the patrons for the weekend we stayed had issues with “un-Disney-like” language, so we took our food and drink back to the room instead of relaxing in the lounge.

* In addition, because we are super planners, although the concierge desk was more than willing to help with any needs that we might have had for dining reservations or FastPass+ selections, we had no need of those services.

* My daughter enjoyed the turndown chocolates, but we wouldn’t have missed turndown service if it never happened, as it was pretty lackluster. We also never made use of the bathrobes in the room either, which is the only key difference we saw between a Club level room and a “regular” room.
PROS:

* There’s something wonderful about the feeling of stepping on the elevator and tapping your MagicBand to head up to an exclusive area (and even better when other people are looking at you enviously). Splurging can be the spice of life.

* If you are not a frequent guest to Walt Disney World, if you are trying to coordinate a special trip (anniversary, birthday, etc.), having the concierge desk attendants ready to help with any sort of need, such as dining, special gifts, extra activities, or FastPass+ selections can make your trip much less stressful.

* If you enjoy potent potables, being able to grab free beer all afternoon during the big game (for instance, the World Cup during our stay) or free wine in the early evening helps justify the cost. While the lack of bottled juice and water and cartons of milk was disappointing, I do think that I drank at least $10 a day in Stormalong Bay Breeze, a non-alcoholic punch that tasted like a blend of pineapple juice, cranberry juice, and a splash of club soda.

The Bottom Line:

When comparing it with the Kilimanjaro Club at Animal Kingdom Lodge (the only other place where we have stayed Club level), there were a few disappointments with Beach Club. At Animal Kingdom Lodge, we got a “welcome home” set of chocolates and giraffe-shaped chocolate “lollipops” when we arrived in the room. We also got little decorative cards with African proverbs on them at turndown service. Although these are very minor things, they were an added touch that Beach Club just didn’t provide. Staying Club level at Animal Kingdom Lodge also provides access to the Sunrise Safari (albeit for an additional fee), but there was no special activity offered at Beach Club that I could tell. Room quality and food quality and quantity were largely the same, although the lounge at Animal Kingdom Lodge did have a small kid’s buffet of afternoon snacks that didn’t seem to be present at the Beach Club lounge. Because of its layout, the Kilimanjaro Club lounge feels like it is much larger than the Stone Harbor Club lounge. It just seemed that our other Club-level experience was one notch higher than this experience at Beach Club.

Would we stay at Club level at the Beach Club again? If we had a special occasion and got a good deal on the room, we would gladly do it again, as we had a good time and the concierge desk staff, Mousekeeping staff, Stone Harbor attendants were wonderful. We would not be likely to book it on a whim again, however, as it would make better sense for us to stay in a non-Club level room and spend the extra money on a nice meal each day or pool drinks at Stormalong Bay.

 

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Posted on August 6, 2014

22 Responses to “Disney’s Beach Club Resort: Club Level Review”

  • Just as an aside, you can ask the CM for as many bottles of Dasani as you would like, they just don’t have the out. We averages about 12

  • You can ask a CM for as many bottles of Dasani that you’d like. We averaged 12 a day for our family back in Jan and there was no problem they’re just not out.

    • by Julia Mascardo on August 6, 2014, at 7:11 am EDT

      Hi Jim,

      I’ve heard it is hit or miss at this point — talking with people after I wrote this, some people have said that they were able to get bottles of water at different Club levels and some said that they weren’t. My guess is that they’re trying to phase out bottles of water altogether the way they have completely phased out cartons of milk and bottles of juice (which they will get you a *cup* of either of those, but no bottles or cartons are available anymore). But with all things Club level, it never hurts to ask. :)

  • We just stayed club level at wilderness. It was our first club level experience. It was nice but it won’t be as hard as we thought not to stay club level again. The water situation at WL was that they would fill up your own bottles for you. We did have milk in cartons though.

    • by Julia Mascardo on August 6, 2014, at 9:43 am EDT

      Hi Megan,

      Glad to hear that there may still be hope for milk in cartons at Club level. We’ve stayed at different levels of accommodations in between our last Club stay and this one, and it wasn’t hard at all to “go without” by staying non-Club level. Then again, I’m one of those people who just enjoy staying at Disney, so you could put me in a room over at Pop Century and I’m as happy as a lark. :)

  • Glad to hear you had a positive experience at the BC. We had quite the opposite last December. We tried to dismiss the first few mishaps as flukes, but there were so many that we couldn’t ignore. We are going to try club level again this January, this time at Wilderness Lodge.

    We were able to cancel breakfast reservations on two days because the morning buffet was more than plentiful, plus we asked for bottled water each day. That plus a few glasses of wine was more than enough (in our minds) to offset the extra cost per night.

    • by Julia Mascardo on August 6, 2014, at 9:45 am EDT

      Hi MeLissa,

      Ouch — sorry to hear that your stay at BC was less than magical. Here’s hoping that WL works out better for you!

      I completely agree with you about not needing to eat breakfast elsewhere if you’re staying at Club level. There’s certainly no shortage of food there!

  • Thanks for sharing your observations. We often stay concierge at Grand Floridian and have similar thoughts as yours. It’s nice, but at $60 pp is it really worth it…and since we are Disney veterans we don’t really need planning services.

    We also go-back-and-forth on if it helps or hinders early park arrivals. When we eat breakfast in the room, we can eat while getting ready. When we eat breakfast, downstairs, in concierge we have to be ready.

    The one thing I really like is the fancy automated espresso/capuccino machine, a feature you did not mention about your resort.

    • by Julia Mascardo on August 6, 2014, at 11:24 am EDT

      Hi James,

      Yeah, I’m a rarity — a writer who isn’t a fan of coffee. ;)

      The coffeemaker in the Beach Club lounge really didn’t stand out to me — it was just a “push the button and out comes hot liquid of various flavors (cappuccino, latte, decaf, hot water, etc.)” dispenser. (Something similar to: http://www.bloomberg.com/image/ihQxE2IMjWsg.jpg ).

      I did some looking at pictures of the Grand Floridian Club Level lounge and it looks like a very different machine that grinds beans fresh on the spot. Is that the type of machine you saw? If so, I’d be curious if that type of machine is still there or not. I’ll ask around to see if anyone staying at different Club levels can confirm whether all coffee machines are the same. That isn’t a deal-breaker for me, but if it is another example of cost cutting measures, I’d bet that there would be some very disappointed people!

      I do know that between my first Club stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge and here, Disney has changed types of tea that they have. It used to be TeaLeaves brand (which I love), but now it is Twinings (which isn’t bad…but it isn’t noteworthy).

      • The coffee/espresso machine at Grand Flordian is a commercial Gemini Nepresso machine. It does not grind beans, but uses foil pods and has a fresh milk container that foams milk as it brews.

        The only concierge espresso machine I have seen (at a Disney property) that grinds beans, in an automated machine, is on the Disney Dream. It was very cool. When we traveled non-concierge on the Magic earlier this year, I missed that machine, but made up for it with the soft-serve ice cream machine by the pool :)

        • by Julia Mascardo on August 6, 2014, at 12:44 pm EDT

          Just looked at a video on YouTube of the Nespresso Gemini — and that is one cool coffee maker. That’s not what was in the Stone Harbor Lounge, though. No milk foamer-heater, no foil pods. Just a glorified Keurig at the BC compared to that machine. :(

          Maybe I can convince my husband that we need to stay at the Grand Floridian for a weekend so he can let me play with the coffee machine (and then have him drink whatever I make…waste not, want not!).

          Thanks for the info!

          P.S. I agree — soft-serve ice cream machines make everything better!

  • I didn’t realize there was free beer and wine and cordials! This could be cost saving for us LOL

    • Don’t get too excited…the options for beer, etc. are poor to mediocre selections.

    • We loved this part. We would return to the hotel to get dressed and ready for dinner and swing by for a glass or two of wine before heading out. We tended to order less wine at dinner since we just had some.
      While the selection wasn’t spectacular, we sufficed. Beer selection was okay, nothing to write home about.

    • by Julia Mascardo on August 7, 2014, at 7:38 am EDT

      If you’re a craft beer enthusiast (or have a particular brand that you like) or a wine aficionado, then you may be a bit disappointed. However, if you just want to have a beer or a glass of wine and aren’t picky about the kind, it is a nice perk. For me, I think the cordials are a decent selection. I tried Amarula during our first stay on Club level and absolutely adore it now — it is what gives zebra domes their signature flavor.

  • The only reason to stay at concierge level is because that is where the nice suites are located. Otherwise there is nothing above and beyond the service you receive at non-concierge….unless you really just have an affinity for free mediocre snacks (they are excellent at setting out trays of food and picking up trash/left overs). The couple small services that I have requested of the concierge staff (Boardwalk resort) were never followed through upon. The house keeping is also pretty inconsistent. We have even had inconveniences created by the concierge staff not completing the check-in and set-up process correctly. If you are not expecting much “extra service”, then I think most guests will have a pleasant experience in concierge level.

    • by Julia Mascardo on August 7, 2014, at 7:41 am EDT

      Hi Keith,

      I absolutely agree that the location of the rooms were wonderful for us, and our view wasn’t bad either. I do wonder if Disney will step up the concierge service with the opening of the Four Seasons or if they expect that people looking for that level of service will simply go over there. It is a shame that you didn’t get the service you should have considering the extra that one has to pay to stay up there.

  • We are actually staying at Club Level next week! Thanks for the review! We really enjoy The Beach Club and love the little extras of staying at Club Level. I get the impression some of you aren’t that impressed but we love it! :) Can’t wait to get there!!

    • by Julia Mascardo on August 7, 2014, at 7:42 am EDT

      Hi Farleyc,

      Any day at Disney is a great day to be at Disney. Enjoy your vacation!!

    • I understand the negatives and the positives and in some way the negative observations are correct. I don’t feel the Conceirge planning castmembers are particularly helpful for Disney obsessives (like myself) and the food can be hit or miss. That being said, we usually stay concierge because we like the snacks and the drinks, and make use of it.

      And as Julia said, any day at Disney is a great day! (Unfortunately I have to wait until January 2015…)

  • We’ve stayed club at every resort but Wilderness, and I don’t know why. We receive absolutely wonderful service at Riverside. In general I find the club rooms to be inconveniently located – down the hall, up the elevator, down the hall. AKL and Poly provide either guaranteed views or locations within the resort that add some value to club. The food items are no better and in some cases less than you find at a Holiday Inn express. The cast members have no special “powers” for ADRs, events, etc.

    We have found a nice grocery delivery to be more useful than walking to the lounge. I do feel the services / provisions have changed over the past 5 years or so.

    Final issue I have is with some guests who treat the lounge like a buffet and exhibit generally inappropriate behavior.

    Save your money. You aren’t missing a thing. We now choose Riverside over staying club at any of the deluxe resorts. A well placed, staffed and sourced food court is preferable to our family.

    • “Final issue I have is with some guests who treat the lounge like a buffet and exhibit generally inappropriate behavior.”

      So true…it’s almost reason enough not to venture into the lounge