Today I welcome my good friend Tracy Wiu with a guest review on an iconic hotel of old Florida...The Don Cesar. Take it away Tracy!
I love to travel and try to get away more often than not. I am also very frugal and believe in always finding the best deal. When my weekly email from Sniqueaway.com arrived in my inbox a few months ago, and the picture of the gorgeous pink palace also known as the Don Cesar Resort appeared on my computer screen, I knew I had to take advantage of the discounted rate.
So my husband and I cleared our schedules, took a couple days off of work and headed west. The drive from Orlando was easy – all highway and no fuss. A couple hours later, we see the pink palace from a distance. I was getting excited.
When you pull up to the Don Cesar, it seems like the only option is valet parking. Again, I love to save money and did some research beforehand. There is self parking for a fee and for the most part it’s pretty convenient. We parked and took our luggage up a flight of steps to the lobby since there is no elevator from the self parking area. Thank goodness we were only staying for two nights. I suggest you drive up and drop your stuff then go park if you have more luggage than a carry on.
We finally get to the lobby and it looked very strange. There were walls everywhere and the front desk was about the size of the one in my office. The agents greeted us and explained that they were doing construction to the front desk, and we were currently at the concierge desk. No biggie. We were upgraded to a gulf view room and were told that we got free parking and Wi-Fi (usually $22 value per night) since we booked on SniqueAway. Score! Once we were all checked in with our keys in hand, he offered to give us a brief tour of the hotel. Really? Yes please!
|The Gorgeous Lobby. Photo Credit: TripAdvisor|
The tour was very brief but he let us know where the pool was, the beach access, the bars, and the restaurants. He told us about the special events happening the next morning and even gave us a bottle of water for our stay. So much for not getting amazing service for booking through a discounted website, we were getting treated like royalty.
So we go to our room and it’s beautiful. It was fairly large and had a king size bed, a flat screen television, keurig coffeemaker, mini bar, and a vanity. The bathroom was tiny, unfortunately, but I don’t need to spend my time there. We dropped off our luggage, grabbed a margarita at the tequila bar, then headed to the beach. It was late and dark but the view was beautiful. The glow of the hotel from the beach was amazing. I was ready to conquer the next 2 days at this resort.
We later moved to the pool area where there was a lot going on. Music was blaring and the energy was vibrant. The pool bar was fabulous and had a long list of different frozen cocktails. We sampled two or three and enjoyed the amazing service from the bartenders. The drinks were a bit pricey (about $12 - $14 each) but the bartenders all had heavy pours and were just a pleasure to hang out with. After a day out in the sun, we decided to go back to the room and take an afternoon nap.
The afternoon nap didn’t last long as our neighbors in the room next door were throwing a party of some sort. Yup. They were laughing, playing music, laughing some more.. and I assumed there were at least 10 – 15 people in there. We didn’t say anything because we had dinner plans. So off to dinner we went.
We had dinner reservations at the Maritana Grille. I had heard amazing reviews of this restaurant and well, it did not disappoint. We ordered our food and were pleasantly surprised when they presented us with an amuse bouche. For our appetizers, I had the oysters, which were amazing. The hubby played it safe with the Maryland Crabcakes – which were mostly crab and not much cake.
The service was literally one of the best we’d ever had. It was formal, yet casual, and very specific. For dessert, I wanted a dessert wine, a port to be specific. I don’t know my ports very well and asked the server to surprise me. Well surprised me he did. He showed up with 3 different dessert wines and proceeded to give me a bit of history on each one. Fantastic. Although dinner at the Maritana Grille cost more than what we paid for our room, it was worth every penny.
When we got back from dinner at around 11:00 pm, the next door neighbor’s party was still going on full swing. Since we weren’t invited to partake in their celebration, we decided to finally call the front desk since I really wanted to get some sleep. They quickly obliged and the party finally ended and off to dream land we went.
All in all, the Don Cesar is a beautiful and very elegant hotel. Unfortunately, it is showing it’s age in some places but they are slowly upgrading it. The service is still that of a five star hotel and the history of the establishment is quite noticeable within. Would I go back? Absolutely, especially if another great deal came along, and I would definitely visit the Martina Grille again should I be in the area.
Thank you to Tracy for stopping by today. You can tag along with her adventures and quest for stardom on her blog or on Facebook.