Arrival/Check-In: After my flight to LAX from PHL and a long ride from Los Angeles to Anaheim, California, I was excited to see our hotel when we pulled up to Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.
As far as Disney resorts go, this one snuck up on me — I was not expecting a Disney hotel with so much subtlety. Tucked away like a cabin deep in the forest, the resort features an impressive lobby swirling with activity and plush leather lounges, faux fireplaces and miniature rocking chairs for the kids. I was immediately taken with the design. Like a rustic lodge but with that special Disney touch and hidden characters like Chip and Dale mixed into the décor, this resort kept up with the “Grand” in its name.
Hotel staff quickly greeted me and escorted me to a line for the concierge desk, where I waited a few minutes for my turn and received help with my bags. As I’d arrived a few hours prior to check-in, my room wasn’t quite ready, so the concierge staff offered to hold my bags for safekeeping while I spent a few hours exploring the resort, theme parks and Downtown Disney.
I took a quick tour around the lobby and nearby pool and got a little lay of the land before heading out into the parks from the hotel’s private entrance — something unique to the resort and incredibly convenient for families.
A couple of hours later I returned with some color from the sun and newfound excitement to check out my now-ready room.
Guest Quarters: I walked into my large, two-bedroom guestroom complete with a balcony overlooking the pool and courtyard. The heavy dark-wood pieces, natural tones and cozy décor of the room echoed the rustic natural vibe of the lobby and added a sense of warmth I didn’t expect at a Southern California hotel. I investigated the bathroom and found a rainfall showerhead, already a win for me, and his-and-hers sinks with matching Disney soaps and lotions, a tad larger than travel-sized, that added to the homey feel of the room.
I checked out the closet space, hung up a few items and spread out my computer and work bag across the spacious desk near the TV. I dropped my bags by the couch and sat on the balcony with a coffee I made in the in-room Keurig to take in the views and perk up before getting ready for dinner. While it may sound like I tore into the room and made a mess immediately (I kind of did), you wouldn’t notice based on the spacious and generous layout of the room.
Services/Amenities: The convenience of the resort’s location, amenities and services are a game-changer for such a dynamic and busy location. With a designated entrance to Downtown Disney and the parks, guests can easily spend the day at both Disneyland and Disney Adventure with convenient re-entry and fast access to park security lines.
While the special entrance to the parks may be the most convenient aspect, it’s definitely not the only amenity. Guests enjoy 24-hour access to the fitness center (despite its small appearance, it includes high-tech cardio equipment, Peloton bikes and weights) and the 24-hour business center. Among many other Disney amenities and services, guests can book some relaxing spa treatments, explore different on-property dining options, take advantage of the resort’s laundry services and have merchandise purchased at Disney shops delivered to their room.
◆ For guests looking to spend the day by the pool, call ahead to reserve a cabana or arrive early to stake out a lounge chair.
◆ The designated park entrance can shave time off getting to and from the park and allows guests to skip the resort shuttle altogether.
◆ A few levels above the lobby, guests can get cozy on the library-esque floor to get some work done during quieter hours, like early morning or after dinner.
DISNEY’S GRAND CALIFORNIAN HOTEL & SPA
1600 S. Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA 92802
tel 714 635 2300
Château Élan Winery & Resort reopened in Braselton, Georgia, following a $25 million comprehensive renovation. The first major refurbishment since the resort’s inception in the mid-1980s pays homage to the estate's 16th-century charm, while taking the property into the future. Now, the resort offers 251 brand-new guestrooms and 24 suites, four new food and beverage venues, an immersive spa, pool terrace and new lobby. The winery likewise received a facelift.
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