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Review – Concierge at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

Anyone who has priced a concierge level room at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa knows one thing to be true — these rooms are expensive.  For a standard view room on the concierge floor, you’ll be expected to part with at least $600 per night on average, and there are several times of the year where the price is even higher.  So, the question becomes, “is it worth it?” — that all depends on what “worth it” means to you.

First, let me get the facts out of the way, then I’ll share my thoughts.  Concierge level at the Grand entitles you to access the Veranda Lounge located on the 6th floor.  The lounge hours are:

  • 6:30am – 10:30am – Assorted pastries, cereal, fruit, juices (breakfast items)
  • 11:30am – 3:30pm – Afternoon Tea with sandwiches, scones and dessert items with a selection of teas
  • 4:30pm – 7:30pm – Appetizers, complimentary wine and beer
  • 8:00pm – 10:00pm – Pastries, cookies and evening cordials

The lounge recently underwent a rehab (much like the rest of the resort) and the improvements are noticeable.  The area has a clean, modern aesthetic without feeling stuffy.  Dark woods, simple but elegant artwork designed to convey the California feel, combined with the actual veranda that runs the length of it gives this lounge a great first impression.  My reaction (similar to those I was traveling with) was, “wow — nice lounge,” as soon as we walked in.

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Beer, wine, soda and water are available throughout the day.  Each guest room on the concierge floor contains two large bottles of water that are complimentary and can be refilled via a water dispenser in the lounge.  A specialty coffee maker is available in the lounge for espresso, cappuccino, and other coffee beverages.  For those who prefer their caffeine delivery in a less complicated form, regular coffee and tea are also available.

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Where this lounge really sets itself apart is in its food offerings.  Breakfast runs from 6:30 – 10:30am, which is unheard of in most concierge lounges.  For those of us who like to sleep in on vacation and grab a quick continental breakfast in the lounge, this is a very welcome change.  During breakfast, staple items are offered (oatmeal, toast, cereal, muffins, bagels, croissants), but the extras are what really impressed me.  There’s a nice selection of fresh cold cuts and cheeses; the avocado mousse deviled eggs were amazing.

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The customizable donut was life-changing — they offer plain donuts with a series of toppings that included caramel, milk chocolate, Mickey sprinkles, cinnamon sugar, and — wait for it — BACON BITS.  And yes, a donut with caramel, cinnamon sugar, Mickey sprinkles and bacon bits is what freedom and liberty are all about.  It’s also what diabetes and morbid obesity are all about.   Concierge lounges rarely constitute a meal replacement, but in this case, unless you need a BIG breakfast, you’ll be more than satisfied with what is on offer here.

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At lunch, they offer a nice selection of finger sandwiches, a fresh crudité, and an eclectic mix of cheeses ranging from sharp cheddar to goat cheese and sage derby.  Also on offer are some interesting dessert items:  coconut tapioca, chocolate pate (amazing) and these butterscotch pecan cookies that I haven’t stopped obsessing about since I left the hotel.  At dinnertime they have some similar offerings, except they also add hot hors-d’oeuvres to the line up (things like mini corndogs, mini quesadillas).

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I would be remiss if I didn’t save the best for last.  The service provided by the concierge team is, without question or hesitation, the best I’ve experienced at any Disney resort on either coast.  This concierge team was knowledgeable, friendly, courteous, helpful and charming.  Of special mention is Yvette.   Words like “genuine,” “professional,” “friendly,” or “kind” don’t seem to convey just how nice a person this lady was, and how hard she worked to get me some last minute reservations and change my travel dates to extend my stay.   She really does embody the very best of a Disney Cast Member and the Grand is lucky to have her!

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Now, I do feel bad because I don’t wake up well.  Especially when I’m getting up at 6:30am (which I tend to do, even when on vacation).  I need some “me time” before I have to interact with people.  “Me time” normally involves several cups of coffee, a few cigarettes and about 2 to 3 hours.  Walking to the concierge lounge for my coffee, just moments after I wake up, I’m greeted by a perpetual “happiness assault” from the concierge team.  Then there’s the guy standing by the door to the lounge, happy and cheery in that inimitable Disney style, who insists on taking your room key to open the door to the lounge for you.  I understand he’s being nice, and I appreciate the gesture, but at that hour and in that condition all I can think to myself is a) I can open the door myself and b) read the room, dude — I’m half asleep and I don’t want to interact with you.  I’m kidding, of course — sort of.  But that really was the only downside to my 7 days at the Grand.  People were too happy in the morning.

That’s the worst I can say about their concierge service, which brings me back to my original question — is the price difference worth it?  Well, that really is an individual decision.  If you like the little touches, feeling like a VIP, the offerings in the lounge — if those things have value for YOU, then yes, this is absolutely worth it.  If you’re trying to figure out if eating breakfast and lunch in the lounge will offset the additional cost, then you should probably skip the added cost of concierge.  It’s not designed to be a value in the sense of saving money — it’s designed to be a value for service and experience.  By that measure, the concierge team and experience at the Grand Californian is priceless.

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