Several weeks ago, when Walt Disney World announced the coming "Royal Guest Rooms" that will be introduced at the Port Orleans Riverside Resort next year, they also announced the conversion of 23 suites in the Contemporary Resort to special "Health and Wellness Suites." Intrigued at the idea of such an upscale, trendy room type at Disney, I tried to learn as much as I could about these new suites during the Walt Disney World Resort Showcase I was invited to last week.
According to Katie Gallagher, an associate marketing director, these suites, all located on the Contemporary's 14th floor, will feature "eco-friendly decor" -- bamboo flooring, 100-percent organic cotton linens, with non-allergenic wrapped mattresses. Bathrooms will be equipped with rainwater showers and tea tree oils. With panoramic views of Bay Lake and the Magic Kingdom that the Contemporary is well-known for, the suites, which will accommodate up to six, will be spacious and light, with earthy tones and natural textures.
"The views in these suites are spectacular," Gallagher said. "And when you're at the Contemporary, so close to the Magic Kingdom, you are right at the center of everything."
The resort hotel's prime location is just one reason the Contemporary was chosen for this makeover. The hotel also houses two restaurants, California Grill and The Wave, that emphasize light, healthy, and even organic cuisine, which have added to its reputation as a venue for the modern and, well, contemporary.
"We think this will offer guests the ultimate balanced Disney vacation," Gallagher asserted. "There's an emphasis today on eating right, and exercising, and many people don't want to give up their fitness routines while they're on vacation. These suites will allow them to do what they would normally do, while visiting the Disney parks -- their experience will be seamless."
I asked Kevin Myers, vice president of Walt Disney World Resort Operations, if the addition of these health and wellness suites represented a shift toward positioning the Disney resort hotels as a destination in and of themselves.
"No," he asserted, "at the end of the day we know that people come here for the theme parks. This is just a way of making sure that our resorts compliment that. We want to focus on both the parks and the resorts, and make the whole vacation experience more immersive."
To this end, the suites will feature in-room cardio equipment and a space for practicing yoga, so that you'll never even have to go to the gym to work out. You'll also have access to a concierge lounge that showcases organic, seasonal and fresh food items. Elsewhere on the 14th floor, a "wellness studio" will offer yoga and spa treatments. And because these units are deluxe suites, after all, you'll receive personalized service in the form of an Itinerary Planning staff, which can help with planning before your arrival, as well as during your stay, much like the attention guests staying club level at other hotels receive.
"If someone requires vegan dining or needs other help with dietary planning," Gallagher explained, "the Itinerary Planning staff will be able to help them, as with all other aspects of their vacation."
Gallagher noted that these new suites could be a five-star product for Disney -- Myers called them "not luxury, but the services begin to get there" -- and they will be priced accordingly, although no definite pricing has been announced as yet. Though she called the conversion of these suites "a test," she added that there were no plans to expand the concept to other Disney accommodations.
The health and wellness suites at Disney's Contemporary Resort should start booking "soon", Gallagher added, for stays starting in November 2011.
Gallagher gives a brief overview of the Health and Wellness Suites in the video below:
The previous post in this blog was New/Renovated Rooms at Port Orleans Resort.
The next post in this blog is Oh, My Aching Feet! Travel Around Walt Disney World from a Different Perspective.