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Swan & Dolphin Resort Archives

September 23, 2010

Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort - Part Three

Hi all,

Before I discuss the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels, I need to let you know of a change in the way you will be posting comments. Because we have been getting a lot of junk email, we have had to implement a new procedure. After sharing your thoughts, there is one more box that needs to be completed before you press “Post.” At the moment, you need to write the word “blog” (without quotes) in this field (this word could change periodically). This will let the computer know that a real person is writing us and not some automated program that generates spam. If you don't complete this field correctly, your comment will end up in a "junk" folder.

Thanks for your help and understanding.

Jack


For the last two days, I've been telling you all about the Swan and Dolphin Resort and the amenities that are offered. Today I'm going to discuss why these non-Disney hotels exist in the middle of the action and are not relegated to some remote corner of the World.

In the early 1980's, the Disney Company was subjected to several hostile takeover attempts. In order to fend off these attacks, the company needed an infusion of money -- quickly. One of the parties Disney turned to was Tishman, the construction company that built much of Epcot. In return for the loan, Tishman would be allowed to build two convention hotels somewhere on property. In the end, Disney prevailed and the takeover attempts were thwarted, but many of the company's executives were ousted. It was at this time that Michael Eisner and Frank Wells entered the picture with a directive to further develop the Florida property.

In 1984, the only on-property hotels were the Contemporary, Polynesian, and Golf Resort (later the Disney Inn, currently Shades of Green). Eisner wanted to build more, architecturally pleasing resorts to lure off-property guests to spend their entire vacation on Disney property. But there was this pesky contract with Tishman that needed to be honored first. After reviewing Tishman's plans, it was discovered that they intended to build uninspired “boxy” buildings. This did not please Eisner, so in typical fashion, he demanded that the contract with Tishman be broken. Of course Tishman did not take kindly to this and filed a countersuit against Disney. In the end, Disney had to back down but a new contract was crafted. It gave Tishman a prime location next to Epcot but it gave Disney the right to determine the design. So Eisner hired famed architect Michael Graves, who had never designed a hotel before, to create the whimsical Swan and Dolphin Resort. The Swan opened January 13, 1990 and the Dolphin opened June 1, of the same year.

In all my research, I have never found a good explanation as to why Eisner okayed a design that would intrude so much on Epcot. If you stand anywhere on the east side of World Showcase (from Mexico to Italy) you can see these massive buildings standing behind France, the United Kingdom, and Canada. When Walt built Disneyland, he insisted that a berm be built around his park. He wanted to keep the outside world from intruding on his realms of fantasy. It's beyond me why Walt's philosophy was not followed in this case.

This next picture was taken from between the Mexico and Norway Pavilions. Notice how the towering Dolphin dwarfs the Eiffel Tower in France.


Swan & Dolphin Seen from Epcot


But if you can get past the Swan and Dolphin's controversial location, they represent inspired architecture. They're fun. They're silly. They're whimsical. They are not “boxy” anywhere U.S.A. hotels. These are one-of-a-kind buildings that are full of magic. It's just a shame they are located where they are.

There are two persistent rumors that will not die in regards to the Swan and Dolphin. First, that the “black boxes” in the middle of each building can be removed so a future monorail can pass through the buildings (in much the same way the monorail travels through the Contemporary).


Dolphin Black Box

Swan Black Box


Another rumor insists that the giant swans and dolphins were placed atop the wrong buildings. The swans sit on a building painted with ocean waves while the dolphins are on top of a building with palm trees. Many think this is incorrect and ask “Shouldn't the dolphins be on the building with waves and the swans associated with the foliage?”


Swan Waves

Dolphin Leaves


Both of these rumors can be dispelled with one explanation.

Even though these are not Disney hotels designed by Imagineers, architect Michael Graves crafted a “story” to help him with his design. Unfortunately, this story never found its way into any formal documentation and has more or less been lost with time.

Graves wanted to represent the essence of Florida with his design and color selections, and he felt the theme of “water” could best accomplish his goal. As the story goes, there was a massive upheaval beneath the ocean that spewed forth and created an island. As the land mass grew, it lifted dolphins out of the water. It's these dolphins we see sitting on top of the hotel (or island). And the island is lush with tropical growth which is why we see banana leaves on the side of the building (island) and palm trees encircling the structure. The black box represents the heart of the island that burst open when the upheaval occurred. (It's symbolism, folks.)

As the island continued to grow, water began to cascade down the side of the mountain. As more water began to flow, it started to splash a nearby island (the Swan). If you take a look at the walkway that connects the two buildings, the railing is wave-like, representing the water flowing toward the Swan. And the waves on the side of the Swan represent the water lapping up against its shores.


Dolphin Waterfall.jpg

Walkway Waves


When it comes to the swans themselves, I have read two accounts. The first suggests that the swans were so transfixed by this phenomenon that they decided to take a closer look and were turned to stone as they sat watching the events unfold. The second story says that the eruption captured the attention of two passing birds and they were so awed by the spectacle that they alighted on the top of the waves to get a better look and were magically transformed into swans.

The original interior of both resorts helped tell this story, but during the redesign, much of the tale's elements were lost. It's also said that Graves selected the swan and dolphin because they weren't already in Disney's arsenal of characters.

I think this story illustrates that the swans and dolphins were placed onto the correct buildings. And as for the black boxes being removed for a monorail, this just doesn't make sense. I know the “heart of the island” story is a bit over the top and symbolic, but if you look at things practically, these spaces are tremendously huge. Why would you take out all of those cash-generating rooms when all you need is a small space for the monorail to pass through? I grant you, it would be impressive to see this happen, but it just isn't so, folks.

So there you have it, the controversial Swan and Dolphin Resort - a resort that has its admirer's and its foes.



September 22, 2010

Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort - Part Two

Hi all,

Before I discuss the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels, I need to let you know of a change in the way you will be posting comments. Because we have been getting a lot of junk email, we have had to implement a new procedure. After sharing your thoughts, there is one more box that needs to be completed before you press “Post.” At the moment, you need to write the word “blog” (without quotes) in this field (this word could change periodically). This will let the computer know that a real person is writing us and not some automated program that generates spam. If you don't complete this field correctly, your comment will end up in a "junk" folder.

Thanks for your help and understanding.

Jack


Yesterday, I discussed the Swan hotel. Today I will cover the Dolphin and the resort's shared swimming and recreation area.

The Dolphin Resort's distinctive triangle structure stands 257 feet high. The hotel's 1,509 guest rooms are divided between the main building and four 9-story wings. It's interesting to note, the windows in the upper section of the triangle are fakes and no rooms are actually in this section of the structure.


Dolphin Hotel

Dolphin Hotel


At both ends of the main building are 56-foot tall dolphins, each weighing approximately 60,000 pounds. These dolphins are not supposed to represent Flipper, but instead, mythological creatures. And the Dolphin Resort isn't the only place at Walt Disney World where these fanciful animals can be found. Another good example can be seen at the Neptune Fountain in the Italy Pavilion at Epcot. If you study the dolphins at these two locations carefully, you'll notice a difference. The dolphins at the Italy Pavilion have serious, almost menacing faces. This is the more traditional countenance for this mythological creature. But the beasts at the Dolphin Resort have a more inviting persona, an aspect insisted upon by Michael Eisner.


Rooftop Dolphin

Neptune Fountain


At the front of the Dolphin Resort is a dolphin fountain. Here, a number of these sea creatures line up chorus girl fashion and spout water. Behind this fountain is the porte-cochère where luggage handling and valet service can be arranged. Disney bus transportation is also located in this area.


Dolphin Fountain

Porte-cochere


Inside the doors is a lobby-like hallway and just beyond is the check-in desk.


Lobby-like Hallway

Front Desk


The main lobby of the Dolphin is far more impressive than the Swan. It's interesting to note that the better, Westin brand (the Swan) was given a more humble design than the Sheraton (the Dolphin).

The main lobby sits within a large, multi-story rotunda. Light streams in from overhead windows and illuminates another dolphin fountain. Seating areas are spaced evenly around the fountain and various hallways lead to the convention center and restaurants.


Dolphin Fountain

Lobby Seating

Lobby Seating


The Dolphin also has several non-Disney shops to tempt you to part with your money. Galleria Sottil features original paintings and sculptures by noted artist Luis Sottil as well as other well-known artists. The gallery also has two private viewing rooms allowing you to more carefully observe desired pieces. This is a great store to browse and drool. The gallery is open from 10am to 9pm.


Galleria Sottil

Galleria Sottil


Lamonts features upscale resort fashions like Quicksilver, Tommy Bahama, Lilly Pulitzer, and Ralph Lauren. Jewelry by Brighton, sunglasses, handbags, candles, lotion and upscale souvenirs are also on hand. Lamonts is open 8am to 10pm.


Lamonts


A candy store called Sugar3 (open 10am to 10pm) and Daisy's Garden, a Disney souvenir store (open 7am to 11pm), round out the shopping options at the Dolphin Resort.


Sugar3

Dasiy's Garden


The Dolphin has a number of eateries, including two signature restaurants, Todd English's bluezoo and Shula's Steak House.

Shula's Steak House was founded by Don Shula, the winningest coach in football history. The restaurant is themed after the 1972 Miami Dolphins' "Perfect Season" - the only team in NFL history to finish a season undefeated. And to complete the theme, the managers here are called Head Coaches and the menus are hand painted on official NFL footballs. But don't let this sports persona put you off if you're not into the whole football thing. The lighting here is very low and somehow all this athletic paraphernalia seems to fade into the background when eating here.

This restaurant serves outstanding aged center cuts of Premium Black Angus Beef known as the Shula Cut®. Before you order, a cart is rolled to your table with a beautiful array of meats from which to choose. They even offer 3-5 pound Main Lobster for those of you who can afford such luxury. And if you can finish the 48 ounce Porterhouse, you join Shula's 48-Ounce Club which currently has almost 35,000 members. Shula's Steak House won the Critic's Choice for Orlando's Best High-End Steak House, and is a multi-time winner of The Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence. This restaurant is open daily from 5pm to 11pm.


Shula's Steak House

Shula's Steak House

Shula's Steak House


I have yet to eat at Todd English's bluezoo, but my neighbors have dined here a number of times and seem to like it a lot. Primarily known for its fresh seafood, this restaurant offers raw and cooked shellfish, swordfish, tuna, salmon and Chilean sea bass. And for those of you with a more land-based pallet, beef, chicken, and pasta selections are also available.

The restaurant was designed by noted architect Jeffery Beers and reflects an underwater theme. This theme is made evident even before you set foot in the restaurant. A beautiful waterfall/sculpture graces the entry with a television, advertising the restaurant, cleverly placed behind a sheet of cascading water. Inside, low lights, rich colors, and a beautiful use of glass artwork create a comfortable environment.

Todd English is a celebrity chef, restaurateur, television personality, and author. Although English runs a number of eateries, he is best known for his restaurant, Olives, located in both Boston and Las Vegas.

Todd English's bluezoo is open from 5pm to 11pm. The lounge opens at 3:30pm.


Todd English's bluezoo

Todd English's bluezoo

Todd English's bluezoo


Across the foyer from bluezoo is The Fountain. This playful restaurant is intended for those of you who want a casual meal but crave something more gratifying than a counter service establishment. The theme here is American Diner gone modern. Traditional fare is offered like burgers, salads, sandwiches and homemade ice cream. The Fountain is open from 11am to 11pm.


The Fountain


Down the hall from The Fountain is Fresh Mediterranean Market. This casual spot is open daily for breakfast (6:30am to 11:30am) and seasonally for lunch (Mon-Fri 11:30am to 2pm and Sat-Sun 12pm to 2pm). As the name implies, chefs here use the freshest seasonal ingredients with food inspired from Spain, Italy, France, Greece, and Morocco.


Fresh Mediterranean Market

Fresh Mediterranean Market


Picabu (Peek-A-Boo) is aptly named because you will never find this restaurant unless you're looking for it. And even then, you might not locate it. Tucked away on the ground floor beyond Fresh Mediterranean Market and past a bank of elevators, this is perhaps the most hidden restaurant at Disney World.

Open 24 hours, this eatery offers grab-and-go and cafeteria style American favorites in a playful atmosphere. The decor here is abstract Caribbean. Waterless aquariums act as room dividers and calypso characters, funky fish, and pink flamingos adorn the walls. This is maybe one of the best restaurants at the Dolphin for budget minded families.


Picabu

Picabu

Picabu


Like the Swan, the Dolphin also has a lap/quiet pool. Next to it sits Cabana Bar and Beach Club. This South Beach inspired location features outdoor seating under cabana-like structures. Traditional luncheon fare is offered as well as gourmet flat breads and several unique appetizers. This spot is especially appealing after dark when a romantic mood sets in.


Dolphin Pool

Cabana Bar

Cabana Bar


The guest rooms at the Dolphin are decorated similarly to those at the Swan. However, they are slightly larger measuring 360 square feet compared to the Swan's 340. Sleek, light colored furniture and earth tones create a modern, yet welcoming décor. The Dolphin also uses double, rather than queen-sized beds and the bathroom only has one sink compared to the Swan's two.

Since the rooms at the Swan and Dolphin are so similar in style, I choose to stay in a room featuring a king bed at the Dolphin to provide you with a different room view. “King” rooms also feature a sleeper sofa instead of a chair. Other amenities such as toiletries, refrigerator, internet connection, and in-room safe are the same as at the Swan.


Dolphin Guest Room

Dolphin Guest Room

Dolphin Guest Room

Dolphin Guest Room

Dolphin Guest Room

Dolphin Guest Room


Here is a 1 ½ minute video of the room.



The backside of the Dolphin is very impressive. An intricate waterfall starts high up on the building and splashes down from clamshell to clamshell until it reaches a much larger clamshell supported by four dolphins. From there, the water makes one final cascade to a pool at ground level. This is a beautifully designed fountain.


Dolphin Fountain

Dolphin Fountain


An attractive land-bridge/walkway connects the Swan and Dolphin. An arbor flanks each side and lovely gardens run up the middle. It's on this walkway that you'll find the dock where you can catch a boat to Disney's Hollywood Studios or Epcot. If you're catching the boat to Epcot you will stop first at the Yacht & Beach and then the Boardwalk Resorts before eventually making it to the park. This will take about 15 minutes. Between the resort and the Studio, there are no other stops and it only takes about 10 minutes to get there.


Land Bridge

Boat Dock

Boat Dock


Bus transportation is available to the Magic Kingdom, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Downtown Disney, and the water parks. Be advised, the Swan, Dolphin, Yacht, Beach, and Boardwalk Resorts all share the same bus. It took me 40 minutes to travel from the Swan to Downtown Disney because of all the stops.

An outstanding swimming pool and recreation area are shared by the Swan and Dolphin, and in my opinion is one of the most elaborate facilities at Walt Disney World. This area doesn't have a theme in the sense that other Disney resort pools offer. Instead, it conveys the feeling of a high-end hotel where no expense has been spared to bring you a lavish area in which to relax away the hours. The centerpiece of this facility is the waterfall pool where water cascades over extensive rockwork. Guests can swim beneath the falls and those seeking a respite from the sun can lounge in a cave-like atmosphere. My only complaint is that I wish this was a swim-up bar as seen at similar type pools.


Waterfall Pool

Waterfall Pool


The pool is large and meandering. There is even a permanent volleyball net strung across one section of the pool. And the same rockwork that makes up the main waterfall is continued throughout the entire area. Even the hot tubs are bordered by rocks and falling water.


Main Swaimming Pool

Main Swimming Pool

Hot Tub

Nearby there is a playground for children. Here you'll find a jungle gym, cabana with giant checkers, and a huge sandbox with a water spouting seal. And for the bigger kids, basketball nets are available for a little one-on-one or team play.


Jungle Gym

Checkers

Seal

Basketball


In the mood for a leisurely sail around Crescent Lake? Then rent a paddle swan boat for $15 per half hour. Swan boat hours of operation are 11am to 5pm.


Swan Boats


Since the Swan and Dolphin are not Disney hotels, the cast members do not wear Disney name tags. Instead, their name tags were specifically designed for these resorts. Rather than displaying the wearer's home town (as done by Disney), Swan and Dolphin cast members proclaim their “passion.” When joining the company, each person is asked to select a topic that they are passionate about. Some select generic, hospitality slogans, while others will choose a personal hobby or interest. Noticing their passion is a wonderful way to start a conversation.


Name Tag


Other items and services available at the Swan and Dolphin are:

Health clubs
Game rooms
Tennis
Day spa (Mandara Spa)
Laundry facility
Room service
Glow in the Dark Volleyball on Friday nights (complete with black lights)
Poolside movies on Saturday nights
Camp Dolphin " Children's Activity Center
Two complementary hours in Camp Dolphin when dining at Shula's Steakhouse, Todd English's bluezoo, and Il Mulino.

Regulars of Disney resorts should be aware that the Swan and Dolphin charge for parking. The rates are as follows:

Self parking:

Register Guests: $11 plus tax per day
Non Register Guests: $12 per each exit*

Valet parking:

Register Guests: $15 plus tax per day
Non Register Guests: $18 per each exit

* Some of the signature restaurants offer validation.

As I said at the beginning of this article, I like the Swan and Dolphin Resort. I feel I receive high-end luxury while being surrounded by playful surroundings. However, these are not Disney hotels. You will not find hidden Mickey's in the bedspreads, wallpaper, and carpet. And I've heard some people complain that the cast members here do not have the same spirit as those working at a Disney hotel. However, this certainly wasn't my experience. Every cast member I dealt with was outstanding. The Swan and Dolphin offers a more “grown-up” experience than the Disney resorts. This is neither positive nor negative. There is a market for more sophisticated hostelries at Disney " which is why The Four Seasons is building a resort near the Fort Wilderness Campground. So if someday you're calling to book a vacation at Walt Disney World and you're offered a room at the Swan or Dolphin, give it some serious thought. I think you'll be pleased with the offerings.

The Swan and Dolphin maintain an extensive webpage. To check it out, click here.

As is my custom now, I have created a video presentation of the resort. I hope you enjoy it. For those of you curious about the music, here is a list of what I used.

Portions of Capriccio Italien, Op. 45 by Tchaikovsky

Rondo- Allegro Vivace from Horn Concerto No. 4 by Mozart

Portions of Appalachian Spring by Copland


This includes my review of the Swan and Dolphin Resort. Check back tomorrow when I discuss why these hotels exist on Disney property and I'll debunk some never ending rumors about these hotels.


September 21, 2010

Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort - Part One

Hi all,

Before I discuss the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels, I need to let you know of a change in the way you will be posting comments. Because we have been getting a lot of junk email, we have had to implement a new procedure. After sharing your thoughts, there is one more box that needs to be completed before you press “Post.” At the moment, you need to write the word “blog” (without quotes) in this field (this word could change periodically). This will let the computer know that a real person is writing us and not some automated program that generates spam. If you don't complete this field correctly, your comment will end up in a "junk" folder.

Thanks for your help and understanding.

Jack


Swan Logo Dolphin Logo


I like the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels. I think the architecture is innovative and the resort has a lot to offer. What is to follow is an in-depth look at these hotels and why I think this resort is worthy of your consideration. However, I also know these structures bother some die-hard Disney fans, and I understand their concerns. I will cover these misgivings and some of the rumors surrounding these hotels in Part Three of this article.

To begin with, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin are not owned and operated by Disney. They are owned by Tishman and MetLife and managed by the Starwood Company. The Swan operates under the Westin name and the Dolphin is associated with Sheraton. However, they do sit on Disney property (under a 99 year lease agreement) and Disney receives a share of their profits.

Unlike many of the non-Disney hotels on Hotel Plaza Blvd. (Disney property near Downtown Disney), guests staying at the Swan and Dolphin are afforded many of the same benefits as those staying at a Disney resort. These include.

• Reservations for the two hotels and their restaurants can be made through Disney
• Complimentary Walt Disney World transportation
• Complimentary parking at the theme parks
• Guaranteed park admission on busy days
• Package delivery to your room from the theme parks
• Preferred golf tee times
• Use of Extra Magic Hours
• Character meals

Disney perks NOT afforded to Swan and Dolphin guests:

• Theme park purchases cannot be charged to the room
• The Swan and Dolphin restaurants do not participate in the Disney Dining Plan. However some resturants honor Tables in Wonderland
• Disney's Magical Express

The resort was designed by noted architect Michael Graves and a new term was coined to describe its unique design, Entertainment Architecture. Michael Eisner wanted to avoid “boxy” buildings and made this clear when he selected Graves for the job.

With this directive in hand, Graves created unusual shapes, oversized graphics, and used colors not typically associated with hotels. In the end, his designed turned out complementary buildings like nothing seen before " structures befitting the magic of Walt Disney World. The Swan opened on January 13, 1990 and the Dolphin followed soon after on June 1, 1990.

Even though the Swan and Dolphin are convention hotels, the original interior design continued the exterior's whimsical motif. Vibrant colors, a “seashore” theme, and a repeating collection of cartoonish swans and dolphins were used throughout the interior to lure vacationing families as well as conventioneers to the property. However, when the tourist market took a big hit after 9-11, this concept was no longer working and it was decided that a major refurbishment of the hotel's interiors was needed. By September, 2006, a $60M makeover was completed and a new look was presented to the world. Gone was the cartoon atmosphere to be replaced with a contemporary, upscale look geared more toward adults than children. The resort's interior draws heavily now on sophistication and upscale elegance.

I like the new direction the Swan and Dolphin have taken. Before, the interior motif was trying to compete with the fantasy of Disney, yet it didn't have any “Disney” elements that guests could associate back to Walt, Mickey Mouse, or any of the company's movies. In other words, nobody does Disney better than Disney. Now the resort caters to a different, yet important market -- experienced travelers expecting luxury and high end facilities.

Let's start with the Swan.


Swan Hotel

Swan Hotel


The Swan is the smaller of the two resorts with 756 guest rooms. These are located in a 12-story main building and two 7-story wings. Atop the building are two 47-foot tall swan statues. Gracing the end of each wing are large, water-spouting clamshells. Note, on windy days the clamshell fountains are turned off. The swans and clamshells are built out of wood, steel, and fiberglass.


Swan Statue

Clamshell Statue


At the front of the resort is a lovely swan fountain. Also in this area are the bus pick-up area and the porte-cochère where luggage assistance and valet parking can be arranged.


Swan Fountain

Bus Pick-up

Porte-cochère


Through the main doors is the lobby. To the right is the front desk, complete with a designated line for Starwood members. To the left is Cabanas, a Disney merchandise store. At one time, items sporting the Swan and Dolphin logos were available here, but this product line has been discontinued with no resumption seen for the near future.


Lobby

Front Desk

Cabanas

Cabanas


In the center of the resort is a “crossroads” of sorts with a swan fountain as the focal point. From here you can head to the room elevators, convention facilities, or to the restaurants. Also, two outdoor courtyards can be accessed from this location. Be aware, one of these lovely patios has been designated a smoking area.


Swan Fountain

Courtyard


The Swan has a number of restaurants. The first, Java Bar, is open from 6:30am to 11am. This walk-up counter service eatery offers espresso, cappuccino, and a variety of coffees. In addition, pastries, bagels, and fruit are available. A number of tables and chairs are scattered around an atrium and a television is tuned to the morning news.


Java Bar

Atrium


Just off the atrium is Il Mulino New York Trattoria. This signature restaurant is open from 5pm to 11pm and offers traditional Italian cuisine from the Abruzzi region of Italy. Founded 25 years ago in New York City by chefs Fernando and Gino Masci, Il Mulino has been voted the #1 Italian restaurant in New York City for two decades by Zagat's. The Swan's incarnation of this outstanding restaurant places diners in a rustic, loft-like setting. Live piano music is presented in the lounge on Fridays and Saturdays.


Il Mulino New York Trattoria

Il Mulino New York Trattoria

Il Mulino New York Trattoria


Down a long hallway are two more restaurants, the Garden Grove and Kimonos.


Hallway to Garden Grove and Kimonos


Open for breakfast and dinner year round and lunch seasonally, the Garden Grove offers buffet dining with special appearances from Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale (character appearances vary by day of the week). The tables in this establishment sit under a 25-foot oak tree positioned in the middle of a circular, two-story room. The designers were trying to capture the feel of Central Park. Twinkly lights and paper lanterns complete the mood. The atmosphere is quite lovely and is definitely the most kid-friendly restaurant at the Swan.

The buffet stations line the outer wall. Although breakfast offerings remain the same from day to day, dinner selections vary throughout the week. On one evening you'll find BBQ while on another day you might be offered selections from the Old South.

Breakfast is served from 6:30am to 11:30am, lunch from 11:30am to 2pm, and dinner from 5pm to 9:30pm.


Garden Grove Restaurant

Garden Grove Restaurant


Kimonos is open from 5:30pm to midnight. This authentic Japanese sushi restaurant is dark and cozy and perfect for a late night get together after a day in the parks. Sit at one of the lounge tables and enjoy a cocktail or take a seat at the sushi bar and watch the chefs work their magic. Keeping with Japanese custom, a karaoke stage is available for those of you who like to sing. Kimonos was voted Top Sushi Restaurant in Central Florida by the Orlando Sentinel.


Kimonos

Kimonos


The last two eateries at the Swan are Splash Grill and Splash Terrace. Located by the lap pool, Splash Grill is a counter service spot while Splash Terrace offers table service dining al fresco. Burgers, sandwiches, wraps, salads and other traditional lunchtime fare is offered at both. Poolside tables offer a wonderful spot to dine when the weather is good. Both restaurants are open seasonally from 11am to 5:30pm.


Splash Terrace


I'll discuss the main swimming area later, but the Swan has its own pool close to the hotel. Although children are welcome here, this pool is geared more toward adults with designated lanes for lap swimming. Lounge chairs line the pool's perimeter and a cocktail bar is nearby. Towels are available here so you don't need to bring any from your room.


Swan Pool

Swan Pool Bar


When the hotel's interior was redesigned, Michael Graves was brought back to help with the room décor. Gone are the more vibrant colors to be replaced by earth tones. However this pallet doesn't harken back to the 1970's but instead feels modern and contemporary. The beds back up against a rust colored wall with headboards displaying artwork by Graves. A long bureau made of light-colored wood with pale blue glass inserts lines the opposite wall. The bureau includes drawers, a mini-refrigerator, at 27” flat screen TV, and a workspace designed for laptop computers. An electrical outlet can be found on the base of the lamp and a high-speed internet connection is nearby. A comfortable chair and cocktail table are located by the window. The rooms at the Swan measure approximately 340 square feet.


Swan Guest Room

Swan Guest Room

Swan Guest Room

Swan Guest Room


When I crawled into bed I thought I had died and gone to heaven -- which is probably why Westin calls their beds, “Heavenly Beds.” I didn't want to get up. The 13 inch pillow-top mattress sits atop an 8 ¾ inch box spring that cradles your body. The bed was extremely soft, yet firm enough to support me adequately. I don't know how they do it. Add to this the four goose-down pillows, crisp cotton sheets, and down blanket and you're in for a fantastic night's sleep. Overall, I'm pretty satisfied with the mattresses found in the Disney hotels, but they can't hold a candle to the Westin Heavenly Bed. I can't say enough good about these mattresses.

The bathroom is well laid out. The first “room” features a sink and closet. The closet (with doors) contains a wall safe (big enough to hold a laptop computer), an iron and ironing board, luggage rack, and plenty of hangers. In the second “room” is another sink, toilet, and tub/shower. And the towels were extremely thick and fluffy. There is also a full length mirror on the bathroom door " a nice touch.


Swan Guest Bathroom

Swan Guest Bathroom

Swan Guest Bathroom


Here is a 1 ½ minute video of the room.



When you check into the Swan or Dolphin, you will be offered a “Resort Service Package” for $10 plus tax (per day). The package includes:

In-room high-speed internet access *
2 bottled waters
Unlimited admission to the health club
20 minutes of long distance phone calls within the continental U.S.
60 minutes of local, toll-free, and credit card access calls.

* For an additional $4.95 you can upgrade to a faster internet connection. Although I was fine with the basic service, I could see business folk wanting this.

That's it for today. Tomorrow I'll discuss the Dolphin Resort and the shared swimming area. And later I'll debunk some myths and rumors.



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About Swan & Dolphin Resort

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The “World” According to Jack in the Swan & Dolphin Resort category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Special Events is the previous category.

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Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.