The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa can often be difficult to book if you do not own there. With the announcement of the DVC resort’s expansion through the conversion of Big Pine Key from hotel rooms to 200 Resort Studios, one might think that the Grand Floridian would become easier to book. After reflecting more on the details thus far released for the Resort Studios, I can see that they are quite a different offering from the villas in the original DVC building. So how will these differences affect booking patterns?
Let’s start by comparing some of the pros and cons of the original DVC building versus the new building (Big Pine Key).
Pros of the Original DVC Building
- There are multiple villa types in the original DVC building from Deluxe Studios that accommodate up to 5 guests all the way up to Grand Villas, which can accommodate up to 12 guests.
- Deluxe Studios have amenities that the Resort Studios will not have, such as a kitchenette (with a microwave, toaster, and mini-fridge) and split bath with both a shower and a shower/tub combo.
- The original DVC building has its own lobby and front desk, so you do not always need to walk to the main hotel building for assistance. It also has its own driveway, which makes it very convenient to load and unload luggage.
- Should you need anything from the main building, the covered walkway protects you from inclement weather.
Cons of the Original DVC Building
- Some feel that the original DVC building is too far away from the amenities of the main hotel building.
- The building is on the small side with only 147 villas, which is part of the reason why the villas there can be hard to book.
Pros of Big Pine Key
- The location of Big Pine Key is slightly closer to the restaurants and transportation of the main hotel building as well as the walking path to the Magic Kingdom.
- The Resort Studios have 2 real queen-size beds (as opposed to a Murphy bed), unlike any other DVC studio other than those at Disney’s Old Key West.
- The Resort Studios will be slightly larger than the existing Deluxe Studios in the original DVC building.
- Unlike the original DVC building, Big Pine Key offers theme park views of the Magic Kingdom.
Cons of Big Pine Key
- Counting the Theme Park View, the Resort Studios have the highest point value of any studios among the DVC resorts.
- With only Resort Studios, Big Pine Key may not work for larger travel parties unless the group is split among multiple studios.
- The Resort Studios lack the mini-fridge, microwave, and toaster as well as the extra shower that the Deluxe Studios have in the original DVC building.
- There is no covered walkway to get from Big Pine Key to the main building to protect you from any rain.
Some of these pros and cons indicate that the new building and original building are designed with two different target audiences in mind. On one hand, some DVC owners really embrace the idea of a home away from home and love the extra amenities like the kitchen/kitchenette and washer/dryer that are found in most DVC villas. To this group, the Resort Studios will seem disappointing since they are more akin to glorified hotel rooms. They will prefer to book the villas in the original building. Big Pine Key also lacks the larger villas, which does not work well for some families.
On the other hand, some DVC owners purchase contracts mostly as a means of staying at a deluxe resort at a more affordable price. For this group, the Resort Studios may be more ideal than the villas in the original building. The Resort Studios are essentially deluxe hotel rooms that can be booked with points. Even the layout with 2 queen-size beds and a day bed is similar to what can be found in a regular hotel room. Also, some people have no desire to cook or do laundry during vacation, so the lack of amenities will not faze this group.
Booking patterns will hang on just how many people fall into each of these two groups. Will there be enough people who buy new contracts mainly for the Resort Studios or current owners who are interested in the Resort Studios to help balance demand for the original villas? Or will the additional points be purchased by people who prefer the original villas, further increasing demand for them?
An interesting poll on the DISboards shows that folks are pretty split when it comes to the appeal of the Resort Studios. Based on anecdotal evidence in the DVC Fan Facebook group, many people who recently purchased Grand Floridian contracts did not intend to solely book the Resort Studios. These sources only represent a small subset of DVC members; however, the additional 200 Resort Studios will now make up about 58% of the total villas. When you consider that there are only 6 grand villas, 47 dedicated two bedroom villas, and 47 two bedroom lock-off villas made up of connecting one bedroom villas and studios, it looks like it will become more difficult to book villas in the original building based on numbers alone.
As a current owner at The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, I’m really curious to see how booking patterns will be once the Resort Studios become available for booking on March 14 for owners at the Grand Floridian and May 13 for all other DVC members. Let me know your predictions in the comments below!