One of the first and favorite traditions that MJ and I started as a couple is an annual summer getaway to Disney's Vero Beach Resort. More anticipation goes into this little three-day weekend than any of the other great adventures that we are fortunate to take during the year. This despite my utter disdain for the beach and a constant supply of hotel stays that would normally rank higher by almost any measure. It seems tradition is a powerful thing, and this one is pretty darn great.
Disney's Vero Beach Resort is found on a secluded stretch of beach, about two hours southeast of the Mouse's empire in Orlando. The resort is actually about six miles north of Vero Beach in the middle of a high-end residential community. There are no high rise condominiums, trendy hotels, or roller bladers zooming down the boardwalk. Just a long stretch of beach houses, and Disney's resort which seamlessly blends into the surroundings.
|He got lost while searching for the Finding Nemo audition.|
In a way, pulling into Vero Beach feels like we've returned home. Vero might be the only place where the obligatory "Welcome Home" greeting, that you'll encounter at every Disney Vacation Club resort, feels genuine. It's hard to buy in to the "home" concept when you're pulling into a mega-resort at Walt Disney World, however at Vero there's a sense that you've arrived at your own little place on the beach. And while I tend to turn up my nose at hotels that feel "homey," at Disney's Vero Beach that's part of the appeal.
|I wish that "home" had this view every morning.|
Of course, part of the reason the resort feels like home is in how we prepare for the trip. While most of our getaways are jam packed with restaurant reservations and stops at Starbucks, when we head to Vero Beach you'd think we were giving this "camping" thing a try. Every year, MJ makes a giant bin of egg salad for sandwiches by the beach, I pick up a variety of Entenmann's and chocolate chip cookies, and enough adult beverage components are packed to sustain a small village of pirates. It's usually the one and only time all year that I'll eat egg salad, and boy does it taste good.
|The provisions - minus the donuts and cookies.|
Besides "tradition," another word to describe our annual visit to Disney's Vero Beach would be "routine." First there's lunch and beverages with a view at the Green Cabin Room. Next, its the first of countless hands of Gin Rummy in the lobby. Later that night we head to Shutters for the seafood buffet, where I eat Sig Hansen's entire catch of snow crablegs.
|There's a reason we start at the Green Cabin Room.|
The next morning I head down at sunrise to rent us a set of chairs and umbrella on the beach. We spend all day people watching, riding waves, and yes, crack into our provisions. Then it's pizza delivery from the amazing Orchid Island Pizza next door to the resort.
|Third one down is ours...don't even think of using it.|
Saturday is spent by, and mostly in, the pool. I debate joining the water slide races for kids. MJ talks me out of it. She also beats me at putt-putt. We debate what to do for dinner for about an hour, and eventually decide to order pizza again. Before you know it, the sun is setting on not only the day, but another amazing trip to Disney's Vero Beach Resort.
|"There's no line for the slide...see ya."|
That's how it plays out literally every single year, and yet it never gets old. The funny thing is, I know we're not alone. Over the years, I've come to recognize many of the same families that clearly return the same week each year as we do. Even cast members recognize us at check-in as "the one's that play rummy all day," and there's something deeply satisfying about that. It all goes back to that feeling of home - the one I try so hard to avoid at every other hotel but can't help but embrace at Vero Beach.
|The seats for hundreds of hands of Gin Rummy. I am the reigning champ.|
As for the hotel itself, I'll go out on a limb and say there's nothing exceptional about it. Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful hotel, the staff is incredible, and the rooms are quite spacious. But is it going to make anyone's "Top 10" list anytime soon? Probably not.
|Save our seats for next year...|
And yet, Disney's Vero Beach might be the one and only resort on the planet where that doesn't mean a thing to me. Because it's "our place." A tradition that we look forward to every year, and that I hope to repeat for decades to come. So if you're heading to Florida to see the Mouse and hope to squeeze in a few days at the beach, just follow him to Vero Beach and make it your place too.
Enjoy Your Stay