The Spa At The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

The Spa At The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
Of all the Disney properties located in the Walt Disney World Orlando complex, the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa is the grandest of them all. No Disney pun intended. With the number of business conventions held on Disney property or in the Orlando-area, this hotel is a frequent destination for vacationers and business travelers, both with families in tow. For a family spa experience, this resort hits the mark. For the business traveler needing relaxation, this might not be the spa for you, despite the fabulous ambiance of the hotel.

The illusion created upon entry to the spectacular lobby of the Grand Floridian is one that only Disney can really pull off. It’s the Victorian Era meets the Great Gatsby. It’s classic and fun. From the bellmen who appear out of a Norman Rockwell painting to greet you, to the Victorian-era clad staff that checks you in, this place is all about early Americana at its, well, I have to say it again: Its grandest. It is an illusion that we all seek when visiting anything Disney.

My stays at this resort have been lovely. I could go on and on about the service and the amenities and the rooms, and more. It is truly a resort. But on one particular trip, I actually took some time to take advantage of the “Spa” part of this “Resort and Spa”. I have to be honest. Appearances washed away for a traveler like me who most needed the illusion of comfort and luxury to transport me from the world of my email inbox and chaotic demands of my time. It was not a bad experience, it’s just wasn’t what I expected from a top of the line resort in the business of creating dreamy experiences. Yet, had I been with my family, I might have felt differently.

I enjoyed my afternoon with a colleague with whom I went to law school. We needed an afternoon off, so we started with lunch at the Grand Floridian Café which is a casual dining restaurant, no reservations required. It was perfect for our afternoon of relaxing and catching up, as well as easing into the idea of not working for the afternoon (a tough transition for someone who’s always “online”).

The facility that houses the spa and health club is a separate building from the main resort. It is a beautiful five-minute walk from the main resort around the manmade lake that serves as the center of the Magic Kingdom area. Or, if you are up to it, rent an old-fashioned surrey bike to pedal on over.

Once you arrive at the spa, checking in is a breeze. The building also houses the gym facility for the resort which is state of the art. We were taken back to the locker area to change. The space was small. The staff friendly, but in seeking a “quiet room” to relax and have a healthy snack before being taken to our treatments, we found there was none. Furthermore, there was a child crying out in the check-in area. I know children cry, but it dawned on me, this is the perfect place to take your daughter for her first pedicure, and not the perfect place for two girlfriends/colleagues looking for an afternoon of peace from busy caseloads and law practices, which is what I think a spa can and should provide.

My treatment that day consisted of an herbal scrub, a soak in a Jacuzzi tub followed by a 30-minute massage. It was wonderful. An hour and a half of bliss. But when I emerged from the treatment room, I felt confined again by the lack of space to sit and veg out. Also, the only showers available were in a group room of shower heads. It felt too much like a gym locker room with nice amenities.

So, if you are looking for quiet rooms, healthy snacks, and spa music, this is not the space for your relaxation while playing hooky on your business trip. If you are seeking a treatment that maybe you and your daughter can enjoy on a trip mixed with business and pleasure, this is a nice family-oriented space for exactly that. It’s just not for the business traveler, in my opinion, who is seeking a time-out from a world spinning under her feet.

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