Disney's Coronado Springs Resort

On the heels of my enlightening visit to Disney's Port Orleans Riverside, the hotel snob in me began to soften a bit. My first stay at a Disney "moderate" resort had been a successful one, and I was inspired to check out a few of the other hotels that until this point I'd previously shunned. We found ourselves celebrating St. Patrick's Day at EPCOT, and decided it was best to stay overnight, since the Guinness consumed would be measured in gallons, not pints.

So for the second time in less than a month, I found myself checking into uncharted territory at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort.
Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
The Ranchos section...

The Resort

The Coronado Springs resort conveniently lies near three of the four Disney theme parks, and features the largest convention center at Walt Disney World. While I usually appreciate hotels designed for business travelers instead of families, one thing about the resort has always bugged me...its name.
Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
The Resort

When I hear the word "Coronado," I picture the iconic Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, who's design Disney famously ripped off with the Grand Floridian Resort. The original Coronado is an airy beachfront resort, which is the polar opposite of the arid, southwestern theme of Disney's version. I realize the fact that this bothers me is a bit neurotic, and as usual, I digress...
Disney's Cornado Springs Resort
The Lobby

While the resort may cater to a great deal of conventionears - Disney's word, not mine - Coronado Springs still has plenty of appeal to families as well. The resort's main pool, known as The Dig Site, is one of the best at Walt Disney World, although we opted to spend the afternoon lounging by one of the "quiet pools" instead. 
Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
The Dig Site

There are two great food options at Coronado Springs. The Pepper Market serves up nearly every kind of food imaginable, and is sure to please even the pickiest of little appetites. Those looking for a more upscale option have the Maya Grill, which serves up contemporary Latino cuisine. While we didn't experience either option personally, another member of our party raved about the spread at Pepper Market.
Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
The Convention Center

One unique feature to Coronado Springs is the Rix Lounge, a semi-nightclub experience no doubt designed to entertain bored conventionears. I have always heard great things about Rix, so we decided to pop in after our St. Patrick's Day festivities at EPCOT. To our disappointment, there was not a sole in the place, which made the DJ's refusal to play a couple requests for the girls in our group all the more puzzling. Then again, I'm not sure why this was a surprise...it's a nightclub at Disney.
Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
Rix Lounge

The Room

The guestrooms at Coronado Springs are spread over the enormous grounds of the resort, and are divided into three sections...Casitas, Ranchos, and Cabanas.  We found ourselves in the Casitas section, which was on the opposite end of the resort to the lobby building, but was still a short walk from the Dig Site and quiet pool.
Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
The Room

Our room featured two queen beds, a smartly appointed bath, and a workable desk area, equipped with plenty of outlets for the modern traveler's electronic devices. As one might expect given the number of business travelers that frequent Coronado, the room is essentially devoid of all references to a mouse, pirates, or princesses. Perfect for me, but maybe not so much for kids there to visit the same.
Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
The Bath


While it may not have been an enlightening experience like our visit to Port Orleans Riverside, Coronado Springs proved yet again that I have misjudged Disney's moderate resorts all along. My only beef with Coronado is its overall lack of character. Like many of the more recently built hotels at Disney, the theme Coronado Springs conveys is based solely on a look, and imparts little feeling onto the guest beyond what is seen with the eyes. For you Disney fans, a short stroll through the lobby of the Polynesian or Wilderness Lodge will demonstrate the contrast.
Disney's Coronado Springs Resort

My weird hotel observations aside, Coronado Springs is a great home base for families exploring the parks, and is more than functional for those attending a convention. Next week, my tour of Disney's moderate hotels continues with a visit to the Caribbean Beach Resort. I hear they have rooms themed on Pirates of the Caribbean.

I can hardly contain my excitement....

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~ 


Check Out Time - The Week in Travel

Another week in the books, and nearly 1/3 of 2012 is already behind us...

Here's what you may have missed this week on The World of Deej and beyond...

Random Photo of the Week: Millennium Force - Best Coaster Ever

And did you see?... 

  • Easy Hiker took a day trip from Paris and hiked rural France.

Here's to an insanely great week ahead, wherever you might be in the world.

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~ 


Deej's Picture of the Week

The beauty of nature combined with the necessary evils of man. The nuclear power plant in Crystal River, Florida.

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~ 


Vegas Single vs Married- A Tale of Two Trips

A few days ago, I was going through some photos and reminiscing on a trip to Las Vegas. This trip wasn't the one I recently took with my wife, but several years ago with a few buddies. As I looked through the pictures and scanned what remained of my memory bank from that adventure, I realized that my two trips to Las Vegas could not have been anymore different.

Here's a few observations I picked up on tackling Las Vegas single versus married.


Single: There are two things that most single guys will consider when choosing a hotel in Vegas. Cost, and how far the walk will be to the nightclub.

Married: Likewise, there are also two things married couples consider. Cost, and how far the walk will be to Celine Dion.
Mirage Las Vegas
I did not have this good of a view when single...


Single: When you're single you wonder why the breakfast buffet doesn't run until 5pm.

Married: When you're married you wonder why you're the only one at Serendipity at 8am.
Picasso Las Vegas
This was not in the budget first time around...


Single: Every dime to your name disappears at the roulette table 8 minutes after you check in.

Married: The strict gambling budget lasts the entire trip, thanks to your slow play on penny slots.
Fancy a guess which trip this was taken?...


Single: Paying a security guard $100 to skip the line at a hot nightclub seems like a bargain.

Married: You live on the wild side by choosing the 10pm show for The Beatles LOVE.
How about this one?...


Single: You become an expert in which hotel offers the biggest, most obnoxious drink imaginable.

Married: You become an expert in the path casino cocktail servers take back to their bar.
Not the kind of drink I had in mind...


Single: No Cirque du Soliel or clothed performers.

Married: Take your pick...Elton John or Jerry Seinfeld.
Living on the edge...

The End

Single: Your body has shifted to auxiliary power, and you attempt to pay the $50 cab fare to the airport with a $5 chip from Caesars. You ponder how many escort cards you are missing to have the complete set.

Married: After packing the bathrobe from the room in your suitcase, you hop on the $7 shuttle to the airport. You ponder how Steve Wynn made any money off of you on his buffet.
Yeah...it was better this time around...

As you can see, there is a stark difference in these two approaches to Las Vegas. Which do I prefer? Well, obviously that distinction goes to the one as a married man, as opposed to a guy looking to recreate the movie Hangover. See...I've gotten smarter with age too...

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~


Fantasia Gardens - Putt-Putt Gone Bad

Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Teal. Enjoy the ride as we share with you our favorite activities outside of the parks.

When most people think of a Disney vacation, an image of crowded theme parks, enormously long lines, and $8 bottles of Coke probably comes to mind. And while that may not be too far off in the parks themselves, at Walt Disney World there are no shortage of great things to do without setting foot in a theme park. For example, Cirque du Soliel has a permanent show, one can drive a racecar at the Richard Petty Driving Experience, and you can even try you hand at fishing right outside the Magic Kingdom.

Naturally my favorite activity outside of the parks involves golf, only this one is of the miniature kind...

Disney has two miniature golf complexes, each with a pair of courses from which to choose. While three of the courses are just your average putt-putt experience, The Fairways course at Fantasia Gardens is unique in its design, which is a scaled down version of a real golf course. The swooping "fairways" of these greens mimic that of a real links, and there are even sand traps and a couple water hazards as well.
It may look pretty, but trust me it's not.

Despite its brilliance in design, The Fairways is insanely difficult. About 4 holes into the round, all happiness from your vacation will simply vanish. 12 holes in, your wife will remind you this is a family place and not to throw your club. And when the round is complete, you'll swear to every deity ever worshiped to never return to this forsaken place. So I've heard at least...none of this is based on personal experience.
I'm smiling, but I'm cursing life on the inside

So why do I love The Fairways course so much? Your guess is as good as mine...

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is YourFirstVisit.net

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~ 


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Loop should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ The World of Deej
2nd Stop ~ YourFirstVisit.net
3rd Stop ~ The Disney FAITHful
4th  Stop ~ The Many Adventures of a Disney Lovin’ Spectrum Mom
Final Stop ~ Capturing Magical Memories

The Grand Cypress North - South Course

For the second time in less than a week, I stood on the first hole of a Jack Nicklaus designed golf course, staring at my ball which lay within a strategically placed bed of high pampas grass. I was only one stroke into my round at the Grand Cypress North - South Course, yet this bout of deja vu made it clear I was in for a very long day.
Grand Cypress Golf Course
The North #1

I managed to hack the ball out a few yards forward, knocked my next shot to within a few feet of the hole, and to my utter surprise, made the putt for an incredibly unconventional par. Perhaps I shouldn't have been so quick to cast judgement on this round after all...
Grand Cypress Golf Course
Interactive GPS unit in every cart.

The Setup 

The Grand Cypress Resort features some of the most renowned golf to be found in the state of Florida. The North, South, and East nines are a canvas to which the Golden Bear has painted a challenging layout, full of the many quirks often found on his signature designs. In contrast, The New Course is a tribute to the Old Course at St. Andrews, and features a links style design rarely seen in the Sunshine State. 
The 19th Hole aka The Club Room

After sitting around The Villas and reading most of the day, I grew a bit stir crazy and decided to head to the course a full two hours early. My hope was that I'd be able to hop out a little earlier than my 4:30 tee time, but as expected on a Saturday afternoon, the course was packed, and it was clear this wouldn't be possible. Instead, I decided to spend some much needed time on the practice putting green.
Grand Cypress Golf Course
The practice green.

With still over an hour to kill, I headed to the range to get in a warm up. Given the caliber of the Grand Cypress facility, to say I was disappointed in what I found would be an understatement. There was hardly a blade of grass from which to hit, but on the bright side, this probably helped my dreadfully bad fairway bunker play...
Grand Cypress Golf Course
This was the best spot I could find...

The Course

There was finally a break in groups, which allowed me to squeeze out onto the North side about half an hour early. I opted to play the gold tees, which for the North - South combination comes in at a little over 7100 yards in length. This is about 200-300 yards more than my comfort zone, but the blue tees were too short by about the same amount. Given the choice, I decided to take on all that ole Jack had put out there.
Grand Cypress Golf Course
The narrow chute of the 2nd tee.

Throughout the course, the signature touches of Mr. Nicklaus are literally everywhere. Pampas grass, enormous bunkers, and of course water hazards, are in place to punish nearly every wayward drive. The greens at Grand Cypress are some of the most undulating I have ever experienced, and at times made the Andes Mountains look like a little set of mole hills.
Grand Cypress Golf Course
The 2nd green = Brutal

There is also plenty for design enthusiasts to admire about the North - South course. For example, the 8th and 9th holes of both courses feature rarely seen double greens. In addition, the 9th holes on each side are a virtual mirror image of one another, both slight doglegs wrapping a pond in the middle. The green on the 8th hole of the North course was essentially a plateau, leaving a very awkward chip to anyone short, left, or right. Finally, the Golden Bear shows his love of short par 4's several times throughout the course, and of course I managed to bogey every one of them.
Grand Cypress Golf Course
The tee shot on #5

The Score

Sadly, I had to cut my round short at 14 holes, by skipping the 3rd through 6th on the South side. My time constraints weren't caused by rain or darkness, but something far more important...a dinner reservation. On the fourteen holes I played, however, I came in at ten over par, which put me on track for a lackluster 85. Of course, only a fool would attempt to prognosticate a golf score.
Grand Cypress Golf Course
The difficult par 3 8th.

The shot of the day came on the 9th hole of the North, where I hit a beautiful 4-iron from 210 yards to within 8 feet of the cup. Naturally, I missed the putt...
Grand Cypress Golf Course
The mirror image 9th holes

The Scorer's Tent

My round at Grand Cypress was the first time in a long while that I actually played by myself. I had forgotten just how relaxing it can be to spend a day alone with one's thoughts on the golf course. Perhaps that is because my thoughts on the golf course are usually self deprecating in their nature. Either way, the solitude combined with a beautiful and challenging golf course made for one awesome day.
Grand Cypress Golf Course
Great view from tee on South #7

Anyone can get on at Grand Cypress, however I would highly suggest doing so as part of a golf package at the resort. There are plenty of great money saving options for guests of the Villas and Hyatt Grand Cypress, which will help soften the blow of the $175 green fee for day guests. 
Grand Cypress Golf Course
The intimidating 9th green of both North & South

From tee to green, my experience on the North - South Course at Grand Cypress more than lived up to expectations. I walked off the course having felt thoroughly challenged, but not defeated. Any golfer will attest that there is a fine line between the two, and on this day I managed to stay on the right side of the green.

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~ 


Check Out Time - The Week in Travel

Did you celebrate National High Five Day earlier this week? If not, you really should have...

Here's what you may have missed around The World of Deej and beyond.

Random Photo of the Week - A lighthouse in Nassau, Bahamas

And did you see?...
  • StruxTravel takes us on a tour of Barcelona and the works of Gaudi.

Here's to an insanely great week ahead, wherever you might be in the world.

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~ 


Deej's Picture of the Week

The Savannah Cotton Exchange on a crystal clear day. Built in 1887, the exchange was a symbol of Savannah's the busiest cotton seaport in the country. Today, it still stands as a beautiful reminder of the city's rich history. 

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~ 


Carbon Offsets - A Worthy Travel Expense?

Today I'm back with Bootsnall's Indie Travel Challenge. This week's prompt is "Giving Back." 

Share your best ideas for caring for the earth and her people, including things you already do when you travel or at home.

Over the last decade or so, as the Green movement to protect our planet has taken hold, a troubling paradox has been brought to light. Travel, while enriching for the individual, is terrible for Mother Earth. Being a fossil fuel addicted American, it is difficult to come to terms with this reality. 

The most fulfilling aspect of my life is also hurting the world I seek to explore. 
A smoggy Tiananmen Square

I would love to sit here and say that this revelation is going to bring about drastic change to my travels, but I also am realistic. Beyond driving a hybrid, using mass transit or my own two feet, and choosing green friendly accommodations, there is only so much one can do to limit the impact of travel on the earth.

So then what is a traveler to do?

The option of purchasing carbon offsets has become a popular means of balancing ones footprint when traveling, and was how I intended to help the earth when I started this post. After a bit of research however, the concept really doesn't sit well with me. Donating money so that I can feel better about taking a flight reminds me of indulgences as a means for entry to heaven. No thank you.
Cleverly disguised pollution emitter.

It seems I am not alone in this thought, and the internet is rife with companies accused of overstating the results of their programs. After digging a little further, I found a program through The Nature Conservancy which seemed pretty legit, but I still hemmed and hawed for nearly an hour before making the decision to donate a lousy $15.

Do I feel better about my upcoming flight?...No. Will my $15 actually offset the 1 ton of carbon it will cause?...Who knows.
I shudder when I think of Disney's carbon footprint.

The question still remains.

How do I as a traveler account for the impact my wanderings have on the planet? This was the part of the prompt where I was supposed to make some sort of pledge, but I am clearly lost here, so I'm going to turn it around on you.... 

How do you help the earth as it relates to travel? 

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~ 


The Villas at Grand Cypress Resort

I never win anything. 

For whatever reason, it seems this is the obligatory response for anyone that wins a contest. Ever listen to the radio and hear the reaction of caller #9? There is a better than not chance that the first thing to leave their mouth is "I never win anything." So when The Villas of Grand Cypress drew me as the winner of a contest on Facebook, I knew exactly what to say.
Villas at Grand Cypress
The Villas

It was appropriate that the way one entered the contest was by sharing a favorite memory of the resort. There were no shortage of memories for me to choose from, because Grand Cypress was a popular vacation spot for my family when I was a kid. With so many memories from The Villas, I was excited to return once again, and soak in the nostalgia and relaxation that comes naturally to this resort.
Villas at Grand Cypress
The entrance to our villa.

The Resort

The Villas at Grand Cypress is part of a sprawling resort complex, conveniently located just outside Walt Disney World in Orlando. The resort shares facilities with the nearby Hyatt Grand Cypress, and is definitely the more low-key of the two properties. The Hyatt is an enormous - yet beautiful - hotel that is best designed for conventioneers or those visiting the Orlando theme parks. The Villas, on the other hand, are located about a mile away, in a serene environment surrounding the resort's Jack Nicklaus designed golf courses. 
The Registration Building

If it's tranquility you're after, The Villas at Grand Cypress will certainly deliver. 

I was relaxed from the moment I arrived at The Villas. Although, I'm not really sure if that was thanks to the resort, or the complimentary libations offered at check-in. As I unpacked the car, the sound of birds chirping filled the air, and a family of ducks was there to greet us outside our room. It was hard to believe that Disney and it's organized chaos lay just a stones throw away.
Villas at Grand Cypress
The family of ducks that welcomed us.

While the Villas are perfect for those planning a golf weekend, there is plenty to keep the non-golfer occupied as well. All of the units are within a short walk of the resort's pool, and complimentary bicycles are available to explore the property.
Villas at Grand Cypress
Pick a bike any bike...

We opted to take the shuttle up to the Hyatt and enjoyed their water park of a pool. Of course, the real attraction may or may not have been their pitch and putt golf course.

After a couple hours, I was ready to return to the peace and quiet of The Villas. 
Villas at Grand Cypress
The Villas Pool

The Room

The club suite at The Villas was just as I'd remembered them from past visits. It featured a comfortable king size bed, flat screen TV, a sunken living room with wet bar, and a great patio area overlooking the golf course. The patio also turned out to be a great spot to see the fireworks at Disney.
Villas at Grand Cypress
The Villa

The bath was also enormous, with a garden tub and separate walk-in shower.
Villas at Grand Cypress
The Bath

At over 800 square feet, M.J. and I joked that we could easily call the villa home. Sure, it could use a few updates, like new carpet and some modernizing in the bath, but overall the villa was quite comfortable...dare I say, cozy.
Villas at Grand Cypress
Our view for the two days.

The Review 

The Villas at Grand Cypress offers a feeling of seclusion that you just won't find anywhere else in Orlando. The wife and I were in need of some down time, and that is exactly what we got.
The Villas signature restaurant Nine18

The staff we encountered were outstanding, and the beautiful grounds of the resort only added to the feeling of being on an oasis.
Villas at Grand Cypress
The beautiful courtyard area by the pool.

Whether you are a family visiting the parks, a couple looking for some R&R, or a group of friends planning the next golf outing, the Villas at Grand Cypress is sure to be an excellent choice.

Enjoy Your Stay

As mentioned, I won a contest on Facebook for a complimentary two-night stay at The Villas of Grand Cypress. As always, all opinions are my own.