While I was attending the Disney World of Color event last week, I had the opportunity to stay at the Disney Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. Disney paid for my accommodations, and I was thrilled to have a chance to check out the hotel. I was assigned to a small suite with a park view. The desk clerk warned me that it might seem kind of odd for a single guest to have a set of bunkbeds in her room, but this was considered an upgrade, so I didn't object.
The hotel reminded me of the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone, a kind of throwback to the 1940's lodge experience. I loved the details in the decor, from the Arts & Crafts style lantern lamps to the wood silhouettes in the headboard. With a fastidious attention to detail, the Grand Californian seems to be a little slice of a bygone era, with all the conveniences of the 21st Century.
The room I had featured a queen-sized bed and a set of bunkbeds that any kid would love, plus a pull-out trundle bed. A family of four to five could sleep in the room, so you wouldn't need to split up or have kids sleeping in the same bed. The top bunk had a railing all the way around it, so no chance for the little ones to roll out in the middle of the night. I kept thinking that my son would have loved this room, including the ambient noise of people screaming on the Screamin' Over California roller coaster off in the distance.
I was hanging up my jacket in the closet and was delighted to find that there was a Graco Pack 'n Play portable crib in the closet. No need to schlep one from home, or hope the hotel has one when you get there. I don't know if you have to request this in the room (I didn't) or if it comes in some types of rooms and not others, but if you have an infant or toddler, be sure to check.
When my son Alex was little, we had to rely on hotels to have portable cribs, and they ranged from this type of nice Graco model to what can only be described as Infant Death Traps. I thought this was a great touch for families traveling with small kids, and not something you find in every hotel. There was also enough floor space in the room to be able to set up the crib with some room to spare. This is the kind of detail that only a mom could love, I'm sure.
The Disney PR folks had also arranged for me to visit the Mandara Spa inside the hotel. Right after I arrived, I went down to the lovely Balinese-style spa for a manicure. I was treated to a very luxurious hand massage and manicure performed by an expert manicurist named Michelle.
Mandara Spa is not a Disney creation, but a contractor also found on luxury cruise ships. With a carved rosewood decor and soft Asian-inspired music playing in the background, you can't help but feel relaxed and pampered in this environment. I ran into my hapa-sister Kristen of Motherhood Uncensored and Cool Mom Picks, as she was off to have a massage before the night's festivities.
I really enjoyed my stay at the Disney Grand Californian, and can't wait to go back with my family. We have wanted to stay there for a while, but the price always seemed a little outside our budget. I learned at the What's Next? meeting that there is good news for budget-conscious travelers: This summer, the Disney Grand Californian is offering a special deal, 5 nights for the price of 3, including daily Park Hopper passes. It's a savings of 40% off, and runs through the summer. The summer, people! That's peak season for Disney, and they are still giving a discount. The offer is valid for arrivals through September 26, 2010; book by September 1, 2010.
Disclosure: Disney Parks & Resorts paid for my airfare and accommodations to attend this event. I did not receive any compensation for writing this review, or payment in exchange for posting. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the opinions or policies of the Walt Disney Company or its affiliates.