Wow – back from Maui on Saturday and on Monday I’m off to Kansas again for another work week. We were both pretty zombied out from the trip back from Maui, but the week in Kansas went by quick and was otherwise uneventful.
This weekend we stayed at the Hyatt Grand Cypress again, which is a stone’s throw from Downtown Disney (soon to be renamed Disney Springs), and so close to Disneyworld property, you actually have better views of it from this high rise hotel than at many of their own resorts. We were welcomed back to the Hyatt with a check-in glass of bubbly.
We stayed here two nights and as we were getting settled into our room, received a surprise gift basked from my brother and sister’s families. Complete with six balloons, the gift basket had all sorts of snack goodies that we shouldn’t eat, being on a low carb diet! Quite a nice gift, and quite a surprise to us both, it really made for a memorable stay.
On Friday night we had a delicious dinner at 9-18; a restaurant at the sister property ‘Inn at Cypress Creek’, which is conveniently connected via a complimentary shuttle bus taking you between the two properties. We shared appetizers of Ahi-tuna and crab cakes, with a glass off Jordan chardonnay.
For our entrees, birthday boy DOS had lamb chops, while I had a steak, paired with a bottle of Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon. Although Steve’s (DOS’s) birthday was not until Monday, this was his special birthday weekend, so he got a fancy birthday card each evening at dinner, and a small gift.
DOS doesn’t like any attention, and was a bit annoyed at first when I casually mentioned it was his birthday to the waiter. He was a sport, however, and carefully opened the card I gave him, which exploded with confetti, all over the dining table and floor!
After dinner, we took a walk around the pool area and outdoor fire pit before stopping by the lobby lounge and heading back to the room. There DOS opened his first birthday gift – a fun LED light show which displays on the wall or ceiling with calming, wave-like effects.
On Saturday, we met our friends Lorraine and Kathy at EPCOT for the 20th annual International Food and Wine Festival.
I must say this event gets bigger and busier every year! This year it was a bit too busy actually, or maybe we’re just getting older and have less tolerance for lines everywhere. We had a good time as always, and the weather was beautiful, but the lines and crowds were a bit of a turn-off. We took a few photos as we ate and drank around the world. This year they even had a Hawaiian food and drink stand.
The pluses of this year’s Food and Wine event: the food selection, quantity, and quality is definitely much better than in years past. This is the 20th anniversary of the festival.
The minuses: Way too many people to have a relaxing day at the park. Saturday’s have gotten so busy at Food and Wine with loads of groups sporting ‘drinking around the world shirts’ that you’re not sure if you’re at Disney or at an outdoor Octoberfest. Don’t get me wrong, for several years we were the Tshirt crowd with friends and family too, but this year just seemed way busier than I ever remember it, with long lines for everything food and drink-wise, though some moved faster than others. We didn’t even do any attractions such as rides or shows, but that was more because we wanted to sample the different foods. We will definitely go again, but consider a week day or Sunday next year instead of a busy Saturday.
EPCOT has a rotating series of concerts each evening of the Food and Wine Festival, and tonight’s concert featured ‘Tiffany’, although we didn’t stay for it. I would have like to have seen Dennis Deyoung, formerly of Styx on Sunday night, but we were staying at the airport Hyatt Sunday night for my Monday morning flight.
We stayed until around 4pm, and then headed out the back entrance by France to the Boardwalk area, which by day is a quiet and peaceful place to stroll. We took a Mear’s Town Car (again $20 plus tip) from the Dolphin Hotel back to the Hyatt, and relaxed a bit before dinner on-site at Hemmingway’s.
We have had many wonderful weekends at Food and Wine in years go by, and usually stayed on Disney property so we didn’t have to drive. One of our favorite hotels at Disney is the WDW Dolphin which is walking distance to EPCOT. Although it’s on Disney property, it’s not a Disneyworld-owned hotel, as it is actually part of the Starwood Group of hotels. We last stayed there in December when my friends Ian and Rosemary and daughters visited us from Australia. It’s actually our hotel of choice for the Food and Wine Festival, although this year it was booked up and we stayed just off property at the Hyatt Grand Cypress, which is a fantastic property, although not walking distance to the Food and Wine festival like the Dolphin Hotel. If you are staying all day and into the night for the 9pm fireworks, it’s nice just walking back to the Dolphin Hotel. Today, however as we only stayed half a day, it was nice going back to the Hyatt property
Although located just off Disney property, the Hyatt is in our opinion a much better quality hotel than even most of Disney’s, and has a private-island like feel to it with its 1,500 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds. If you’re going to the parks everyday, a Disney hotel would definitely be more convenient, and Disney even offers free transportation from the airport, which saves not getting a car or parking, which is now $20 a day at the parks, which is complimentary if you stay at a Disney resort. ($20 a day to park – when I moved to Florida in 1996 I think it was $6!) Disney is clearly trying to entice people to stay at their resorts by offering everything from meal plans, free parking, transportation around the ‘world’ etc. For families it’s very enticing indeed, but for couples with no kids who want a bit of luxury, it’s good to get away from the scores of kids running around and pigging out with their happy meals.
If you like luxury accommodations and relaxing at a wonderful resort,(and maybe even going to Disney!), the Hyatt Grand Cypress is truly wonderful, and more affordable than Disney’s deluxe accommodations or some of the other luxury properties nearby. It has a more sophisticated and upscale feel than even the Grand Floridian, which is Disney’s top resort. While the Hyatt’s complimentary shuttle to EPCOT runs only a few times a day, we took the Mears ‘shuttle’ each way for $20 which was so convenient it was easily worth the cost, even over Disney’s own shuttles. The shuttle was actually a private Town Car, so it was classy and sure beats standing in the aisle of a busy bus with screaming kids.
Back at the Hyatt, we relaxed for a bit before going to Hemmingway’s for dinner. We had great service from all the staff, and especially from our wait staff. We enjoyed our appetizers and leisurely dinner, along with a bottle of cabernet.
DOS got a nice birthday dessert surprise and another present from me; this time a book on Vietnam and Cambodia, where we will be traveling to in February.
On Sunday, we checked out of the Hyatt Grand Cypress, and headed on to the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport where we stayed on Sunday night. While we usually get our preferred room on the 10th floor overlooking the runway, we checked in early, and had to try three different rooms before we got a room with a runway view we wanted.
We like staying there sometimes on Sunday’s when I have to fly out on Monday morning. Although my flight to Kansas (via DFW) wasn’t until almost 11am on Monday, DOS’s birthday was on Monday Oct 26th, so we wanted to have a birthday breakfast before I headed out for work, and DOS headed back to Sarasota for the week.
‘Twas a wonderful birthday weekend for us both! Happy Birthday Steve! (DOS)!