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Old 06-25-2004, 04:29 PM   #1
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Saratoga Springs Media Event

[Cheryl attended the May media event for Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort as the PassPorter representative, as your authors were away at the Disneyland media event. Below is her first-hand report on Disney’s newest resort.]

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Old 06-25-2004, 04:31 PM   #2
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Re: Saratoga Springs Media Event

From the moment you arrive at Disney's newest resort, you step back in time to a country retreat of the late 1800’s.

Saratoga Springs Resort (photo (c) Cheryl Pendry)

The theme for Saratoga Springs is health, history, and horses and all three are in evidence throughout Disney’s largest Vacation Club resort to date. From the names of the buildings and roads to the artwork and furnishings, everything links back to the original Saratoga Springs, which is located around three hours north of New York City and became the place to be seen 100 years ago. That still holds true today, with the Saratoga Race Course, legendary healing waters and numerous historical sites, including the Saratoga Battlefield, said to be the turning point of the American Revolution.

How does this all translate into a Disney resort? Extremely well. Next to the Lake Buena Vista Golf Course and overlooking Downtown Disney, Saratoga Springs is set between areas best known for relaxation and entertainment, but despite that, Disney has done a first class job of giving a real sense of space to the resort. The 65 acres that the resort takes up have been used to make visitors feel as if they are away from it all, in a country retreat.

The driveway to the resort sweeps past the golf course, before giving way to the pale pastel colors of the buildings. In this respect, the resort is very similar in style to the Yacht and Beach Club, but was in fact designed by the same architect who worked on the DVC resort in Vero Beach.

Your first stop on any visit is likely to be the Carriage House lobby, complete with images of Saratoga Springs from years gone by displayed on the wall. Although you may be checking in or getting your bearings, it’s worth taking the time to appreciate the little details in the lobby. Disney Imagineering took a number of study tours to upstate New York to ensure the architecture, colors, and even the window design were completely accurate.

(photo (c) Cheryl Pendry)

Passing through Artist’s Palette, the unique setting for both dining and shopping at the resort, the first thing that strikes you are the amazing wall and ceiling lights. Custom made for Saratoga Springs, the wall lights incorporate Murano glass from Venice and provide a stunning setting for meals, although I can’t tell you if the meals match their stunning surroundings, as I never got to sample what was on offer there.

(photo (c) Cheryl Pendry)

There’s also a stunning setting for the Turf Club, where you can enjoy a drink from the bar, play pool or just settle down to chat to friends. This is part of the appeal of the Disney Vacation Club resorts. They’re designed to be a “home away from home” and the Turf Club contributes towards that feel.

While it may be a “home away from home”, I doubt many people have a spa in their back yard, but Saratoga Springs can make that claim. With ten treatment rooms, a fitness center and a range of massages, facials and spa packages on offer, it’s operated by the same company responsible for the Grand Floridian Spa and, as you might expect, offers an extremely relaxing environment, where you can be truly pampered.

If you prefer to be active on your vacation, then there’s plenty for you as well with two tennis courts, a two mile long jogging path, a basketball court and the neighboring golf course.

Right outside the Spa is the resort’s main pool, High Rock Springs, which boasts an eighteen foot high slide and children’s play area with spurting water. It’s the location for the weekly pool parties, which take place on Sunday afternoon ­ the time when many DVC members arrive at their resort, as points for a Friday and Saturday night stay are a lot higher than for the rest of the week. Again, there’s history here, with the original High Rock Spring having been visited by General George Washington in 1783, who was rumored to have taken the “healing waters” for an injury.

High Rock is not the only option for swimming at Saratoga Springs. So far, there’s also one quiet pool in the Congress Park area, which will be joined by another, as the development proceeds. But the first quiet pool can claim something quite unique ­ a stunning view of Downtown Disney, merely a few footsteps away from the water, where you can look out towards Pleasure Island and the West Side.

(photo (c) Cheryl Pendry)

(photo (c) Cheryl Pendry)

Those views can also be seen from selected villas and studios at no additional cost. After the Boardwalk Villas were built, offering both preferred and standard views at different costs to DVC members, the decision was taken that Disney would not go down that route again. So it’s worth requesting a view of Downtown Disney when making your reservation. Of course, there is a downside to that ­ will the nightly fireworks from Pleasure Island wake you up? Disney says not. They carried out extensive testing while building the resort and say they can’t be heard inside the rooms.

There are a variety of rooms on offer at Saratoga Springs. The studios and one and two bedroom vacation homes are similar in size and layout to other DVC resorts. If you’ve not had the opportunity to stay in a DVC resort, let me explain. Studios are equivalent to a resort room, but with some extras, such as a small cooking area, with microwave, fridge, small worktop, cutlery and crockery. It’s enough to prepare breakfast and perhaps a couple of microwave meals. Then there are the one bedroom villas, which have full size kitchens and washer/dryer. Other benefits include a whirlpool tub and DVD player. These villas are divided into two rooms, a bedroom with a king size bed and the living area with a sofa bed. The two bedroom villas simply combine a one bedroom and a studio together.

(photo (c) Cheryl Pendry)

(photo (c) Cheryl Pendry)

Then there are the grand villas at Saratoga Springs, something not seen at the more recent DVC resorts at either the Wilderness Lodge or Beach Club. Sleeping a total of twelve people, the grand villas are set on two levels, with the main living area arching up to the ceiling and a balcony on the next floor overlooking it. There’s a dining room and full size kitchen, as well as three bedrooms and bathrooms, but availability of these may be limited in the near future. There are only a total of two in each building, although additional buildings are scheduled to open in July and August, by which time the whole Congress Park area will be open.

Finally, a word about the new DVC sales center, based at Saratoga Springs, which may be your first introduction to not only the resort, but the Disney Vacation Club and all that it can offer. When you walk in, you’re greeted with a series of plasma screens, highlighting all the wonderful places that you can visit with your membership. Then Tinker Bell flies in with a dose of pixie dust, courtesy of 10,000 fiber optic lights in the dark blue ceiling to give the impression of stars in the night sky. It’s extremely impressive and I’m sure will add a number of new DVC members to the existing 80,000 member families from more than 60 countries.

It’s been a long time since the Disney Vacation Club has built a brand new resort at Walt Disney World. The Villas at both the Wilderness Lodge and the Beach Club were additions, so the architecture and theming had to be in keeping with the existing architecture. At Saratoga Springs, the Imagineers have been able to create the first brand new “home away from home” resort in some time and they’ve made an excellent job of it. Reflecting themes from some of the other Disney resorts, Saratoga Springs ends up being strangely familiar, while at the same time, having its own very unique atmosphere.

I wasn’t sure what to expect of it and I certainly wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. My tour was enough to persuade me that we should stay here when we return in December and I’m looking forward to the prospect of getting to know Saratoga Springs even better and enjoying all the facilities I toured that day.

For full information on the Spa at Saratoga Springs, visit http://www.relaxedyet.com

For more information on the Disney Vacation Club or to ask any questions, visit the PassPorter Message Boards .



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Old 06-27-2004, 09:00 AM   #3
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Re: Saratoga Springs Media Event

Cheryl what a fantastic job! I feel like I really know this resort now and I want to stay here. One of my great Uncles had a VERY modest fishing camp in this area and this resort really captures the feel of that location. Thanks for such an informative piece.
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Old 06-27-2004, 09:08 PM   #4
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Re: Saratoga Springs Media Event

Cheryl,

I love your report. I can't wait to tour the resort next month.

Lori
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Old 06-28-2004, 02:02 PM   #5
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Re: Saratoga Springs Media Event

Cheryl:
Wonderful report!
The photos are awesome!
Tina
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Old 07-11-2004, 08:48 AM   #6
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Re: Saratoga Springs Media Event

Thanks for a great report Cheryl!!
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Old 07-25-2004, 06:28 PM   #7
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Re: Saratoga Springs Media Event

Job well done Cheryl!!
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