Beach Club Report: Seaside Season’s Greetings
Our Christmas-time resort reports continue, this time with the Beach Club Villas. In this Walt Disney World hotel update, we check out the Disney Vacation Club rooms, dining scene, one delicious dessert, Stormalong Bay pool, and more.
As with our recent Villas at Grand Floridian Resort Stay Report, we won’t fixate on health safety protocol, enhanced cleaning, or anything else unique to Walt Disney World’s phased reopening. This is for two reasons: we’ve already done it several times (notably here and here) so it’s redundant.
Plus, by this point, not much feels different from normal on the resort side of things aside from having to wear face masks on the grounds and limited dining options. This latter point has actually been a significant issue for us at the Crescent Lake resorts; although several restaurants have returned, the outdoor dining options are incredibly limited.
Normally, we’d space out these quasi-trip reports a little better, but several of our stays have occurred within the last couple of weeks due to a mix of DVC point charts, Christmas, scheduling, and weather (with one more to come after this). There are also our worries about the Disney Vacation Club Point Pool Problem, which has caused us to burn through more points than normal this year.
Anyway, this is our favorite time of year to spend at the resorts, so hopefully you don’t mind the increased frequency of hotel posts. (On a tangential note, this is why we haven’t been as proactive about responding to questions in the comments–sorry about that!)
Disney’s Beach Club Resort probably isn’t the hotel you think of when it comes to the holiday season at Walt Disney World, but it’s pretty solid if you’re looking for something that balances the vibe of a Florida vacation with Christmas.
As with the Grand Floridian, at some point in the last year or two, the Beach Club Villas received a new decor package. I’m not 100% sure it was this year; I don’t seem to have any photos of the resort from last year at Christmas, but we’d presumably remember the change.
The decor looks nice inside the main lobby of Disney’s Beach Club Resort, but is scaled back as compared to normal.
The big difference is the lack of the gingerbread carousel. Walt Disney World announced before the holiday season that the life-size edible creations would be on hiatus this year due to the crowds that congregate around them. It’s a big, but totally understandable, loss.
To my knowledge, all of the normal Christmas decorations are up at the Beach Club Villas.
There’s even garland and lights out at the pool, which would seem like an obvious thing to cut if going for a lighter look than normal. So that’s nice to see.
Speaking of pools, Stormalong Bay and the Beach Club Villas pool were totally uncrowded throughout our stay.
That was partly to be expected given the weather (below 70 degrees) and also the fact that the hotel side of Beach Club isn’t even open. However, it is Christmas week–normally the busiest stretch of the year.
There were several times when the Beach Club Villas pool had literally no one in it.
Stormalong Bay was about as busy as it was back during our September stay at Yacht Club, with there being plenty of times when lifeguards outnumbered guests.
Normally, Christmas week draws folks like Michiganders and Maineiacs.
The latter quite literally live up to their name, and both are the kinds of guests who wear t-shirts and shorts in any December weather short of a blizzard. These are no-nonsense people who aren’t afraid to swim in temperatures in the 60s or even 50s.
Floridians and other Southerners who make up a disproportionate number of guests right now are a totally different breed–the type that dons a winter coat when it drops below 70.
(I’m “allowed” to make these jokes as a native Michigander who has gone swimming in 60 degree weather and as someone who currently resides in Florida and wore a sweatshirt today.)
Switching gears completely, we saw a bunch of turtles by the quiet pool. Perhaps this was unnecessary to include, but Sarah was pretty excited about them.
Plus, given how much time was spent marveling at these fellas, their inclusion is warranted. If anything, having only one turtle photo under-represents how our time at Beach Club was spent.
Moving along, here’s a look at the bedroom at Beach Club Villas.
I’ve frequently derided these guest rooms, and will briefly reiterate once again how much I dislike them. If you’re a big fan of the HomeGoods store clearance section, perhaps you’ll disagree.
I absolutely love Beach Club. Thematically, the common areas are brilliant and the atmosphere is pitch perfect.
Unfortunately, the last room refurbishment sought to make the design as dull and generic as possible, devoid of theme and personality. The prior look definitely needed a refresh and modernization, but this swung way too far in the other direction.
If it weren’t for these rooms, the Beach Club Villas would be one of my top DVC resorts. (Instead, it ranks #5 in our Disney Vacation Club Resort Rankings. That’s still respectable, but the rooms really drag down the property as a whole.) Everything else about the Beach Club Villas is spectacular.
You know the room is weak when the most “interesting” visual element is the Hidden Mickey plates we arranged for the photos.
I really don’t want to fixate on that negative, as there are so many positives about the Beach Club Villas. There’s even more than normal to love about the resort right now.
Not only do the Christmas decorations give the resort a festive spirit, but other guests help do the same with their balconies. More than any other time of year, DVC feels like an actual “club” at Christmas. Big props to these guests and the ones who put up a full-sized Christmas tree in their room.
In other “things to love” news, a colossal improvement to Beach Club was made recently with the Beach Club Marketplace refurbishment.
This has flown under the radar among Walt Disney World fans, but is a huge upgrade that deserves praise. So much so, in fact, that we’ll cover it in a separate post.
Continuing on the dining front, we headed over to Beaches & Cream Soda Shop for the Christmas Cookie Butter Milkshake. We’re still not eating indoors at Walt Disney World, so our plan was to order from the Beaches & Cream To-Go window.
Unfortunately, that’s not open Christmas week (or New Year’s week, presumably) to increase capacity inside the restaurant.
Fortunately, a manager informed us that as a “courtesy to guests” they would be serving the Christmas Cookie Butter Milkshake inside at Martha’s Vineyard (it’s literally right around the corner) this week.
There’s no signage up indicating this, so we’d recommend just walking into Martha’s Vineyard and asking. You can either eat the milkshake there or take it to-go outside.
The milkshake is served in a Mason jar-style plastic souvenir cup, which I’ve learned the hard way is NOT dishwasher safe. The cup is garnished with vanilla frosting and sprinkles, and the inside is swirled with red and green syrups.
It’s all topped with a hefty red velvet cupcake with cream cheese inside and green vanilla frosting plus a golden star and chocolate Mickey ears. Suffice to say, there’s a lot going on here and this Christmas culinary creation is as beautiful as any decoration made by Disney’s Holiday Services team.
Normally we’re skeptical of these over-the-top milkshakes. They’re usually pricey Instagram props, with less attention paid to taste than their photogenic qualities. We’re also usually critical of Beaches & Cream Soda Shop, which serves ordinary Edy’s and is not among Walt Disney World’s top ice cream shops.
We offer those prefaces so you take our review to heart: this milkshake is absolutely fantastic. It’s a total sugar rush, but also a symphony of holiday flavors. The cookie butter flavor is pronounced, the ice cream tastes high quality, and the red velvet cupcake offers a dense filling/topping with great taste. If you’re staying in the Crescent Lake area, or are visiting EPCOT or Disney’s Hollywood Studios the next couple of weeks, it is absolutely worth the side trip (and even that $15 price tag!) to get this. Sarah also loved it. Seriously, it’s amazing.
Next, here’s a look at more Christmas decorations in the lobbies of Disney’s Beach Club Resort and the Villas:
Those photos pretty much speak for themselves, and further reinforce how the decorations nicely reinforce the New England seaside theme. As with Disney’s Beach Club Resort as a whole, Christmas has a fun, laid-back, and aquatic aura.
That positive note seems like as good of a place as any to wrap up this resort report from the Beach Club Villas. Now that I’ve fully recovered from sugar coma from that Christmas Cookie Butter Milkshake, I should probably get up off the couch so we can catch sunset in EPCOT…
Thinking about joining DVC? First be sure to read our Ultimate Guide to Disney Vacation Club. This covers the pros & cons, resale v. direct, how much money you’ll save, and other important things to know before taking the plunge. If you still can’t decide whether membership is right for you, “try before you buy” and rent points from DVC Rental Store. If you are convinced a membership is for you, check out the discounted options at DVC Resale Market. Planning a Walt Disney World trip? For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know.
Have you stayed at the Beach Club Villas at Christmas? Are you a fan of the seaside holiday vibe? What do you think of the resort? Do you like or dislike the guest rooms here? What about the pools, dining, etc? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Other thoughts or concerns? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
We stayed in the villas for our first time in Feb. We actually did a split stay between Beach and GF. I have always loved staying at the Beach and this was the first time using DVC points. I was so disappointed in the room. The couch. The seating. The kitchen table. Nothing was really comfortable. It wasn’t even ‘remodeled’ well (as in poor construction).
We then moved to GF. Our first time at that resort and using points. What a difference in rooms!! GF was truly comfortable. The layout of the rooms were great. The kitchen table was USEFUL! At both places we rented a two-bedroom villa.
Here is my question. Do you see Disney making any changes to the Beach Club rooms? Is there any hope of improving them? Are some rooms better than others? For example, is it better to request a certain area because the rooms are better? Any thoughts? I love the resort….just very disappointed in the room.
BCV was just fully renovated about four years ago (lots of changes in the bathroom), so it has several more years before a complete renovation. I agree about most of the furniture not being comfortable for sitting. My problem with most of the furniture is that it seats too low which makes it hard for old people like me to get up. I’ve taken a cushion from the sofa and put it on top of the seat of the side chair to get it a bit higher. Still not comfortable, but at least a bit higher. BCV, BWV, SSR and BRV were all built on pretty much the same layout with only minor changes and decor changes to go along with the theme.
At BCV you have both the kitchen table and the breakfast counter for dining. Whereas at GFV, you only have the table.
Are the boring rooms just on the DVC side, or are the regular rooms plain too? Since it’s so convenient for Epcot and DHS, we were thinking about staying there this summer after the full resort opens, but those rooms are pretty lame!
In recent years, renovations at all the resorts have taken most of the theming out of the rooms turning them into Hampton Inn wannabees.
Whose idea was it to take the theming out of Disney rooms??? This is so disappointing, especially considering the price to stay there. Disney is well-aware that people pay for what makes them unique – not what makes them standard. I can only speculate this is a big cost saving measure after 2020, but I think it’s a mistake.
Yes, i’m in agreement of the dullness of the room renovations.
Not sure if it’s the lighting or what, but the blue sofa looks old and stained in several spots!!! Gross Disney. Can do better.
Anyway—thanks as always Tom and Sarah
As a Bostonian, I had no problem as a kid swimming in Stormalong Bay when it was 50s or 60s on annual February trips.
Disney does a nice job reinforcing the New England seaside theme with Christmas decorations. In fact, Beach Club does Christmas far better than any location in Cape Cod/Newport RI themselves.
The Beach Club used to be my favorite resort until I discovered I how much I love the theming of Polynesian, Wilderness Lodge, and Animal Kingdom Lodge.
One year we stayed at Bay Lake Tower and it was in the 50’s. One other family was in the pool. A maintenance man walked by the pool and said “Maine or Canada” We said Maine, the other family yelled Canada
We are here at BCV this week and disappointed to see on Twitter when they closed the to go window. Will have to swap out one of my No Way Jose’s for that shake! Definitely less festive in the lobby this year (I miss the snack shack for stocking stuffers even more than the carousel!) but it’s fun to be in the magic for the holiday.
We enjoyed our first ever stay at the Beach Club Villas last week as well.
Having stayed at the Boardwalk Villas nine times, it was fun to finally cross Crescent Lake and try a new resort in the area. We were both impressed. Stormalong Bay is obviously awesome, but it was the quiet pools (well, mainly the jacuzzis) that we really enjoyed. As you said, they were very uncrowded this time of year. As a BWV DVC Owner, I’m sure the Boardwalk Resort will still get the bulk of our Crescent Lake Area stays, but Beach Club will definitely be in the mix from now on.
Looking forward to your BC Marketplace review. The ONLY thing I dislike about the Crescent Lake resort area is the lack of quality QS spots. Glad to hear it’s better.
Being a native Mainer, I loved your good natured jokes, which are honestly pretty true to life. We’ve only taken one December trip to Disney, but the “cold” weather didn’t phase us. Our annual beach vacation on the Maine coast offers us 60 degree Atlantic Ocean temperatures, so a cold pool day at Disney is still a treat for us!
Love your reports !! Especially the pics!
Appreciate the photos of the Christmas decorations, especially since I didn’t do anything at my house this year. Just me now, and with Covid, no guests, so didn’t bother except for outside lights that take about 5 minutes to put up.
Totally agree with your assessment of the resort. Love everything about it except the rooms. I had read your reviews and was prepared to be underwhelmed but was still surprised (in a bad way).
Just stayed Beach Club Villas for the first time this past week and loved it! The pool was amazing and as mentioned, all ours one chilly afternoon. Walking to RD at HS was our main incentive but we loved the decor and atmosphere too. Will definitely be back. Would like to see a restaurant that can compare to California Grille though ha (we usually stay at The Contemporary). Maybe I just didn’t find the best places?
Highly recommend The Yachtsman Steakhouse next door at the Yacht Club or the Flying Fish at Boardwalk across the way. Had great wonderful meals at both these restaurants! I personally would chose the Yachtsman Steakhouse over California Grill. Closed still during your recent visit but hope open the next time for you to try.
We absolutely loved Trattoria al Forno which is near the Boardwalk Hotel, opposite the Yacht and Beach Club hotels. The portions are hefty, the selections varied, and our waiter realized he gave me the wrong dessert, brought it, and didn’t charge us for the wrong one. We’ve never had THREE desserts with dinner before and were stuffed, talking a lot of food back to our room. They were nice about doggie bags.
I am so disappointed we didn’t run into to you! We stayed last week and I would have treated it like a character meet & greet âœŒ Being a southerner, I was disappointed we didn’t have the temperament to swim. We did get to order from the to-go window and they were nice enough to let us order other treats off the regular Togo menu. Wasn’t impressed with Compass & Ale for dinner but the service was wonderful. Enjoy all the articles and Merry Christmas!!
Yum! The shake!!! So Christmas-y!
The piece of furniture that we hate the most at BCV is the piece of furniture under the television in the living room with the “marble” front on it. I’ve always thought the renovation made it more like Hampton Inn, but HomeGoods Clearance works, too.
Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.
Thanks again for all your wonderful content this year, we never could have navigated a pandemic era trip without this blog.
Looking forward to your Marketplace report, and OMG that shake! We did a blitz-planned trip, but had to shorten it to accommodate a planned family gathering, resulting in nixing the plans for a resort tour. Maybe next Christmas…
Thanks for all the pics!
Beautiful! Our favorite resort. Thanks for sharing!
Can’t wait to read the marketplace update.