In a recent article, I ranked all Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resorts based on the size of their studios. This time, I’ll do something different. I’ll perform similar rankings of the suites at various DVC properties; however, these rankings will be more opinionated. While square footage is still a considerable factor, other aspects come into play with these deluxe accommodations. Here’s my ranking of DVC hotels based on the quality of their suites.
14. Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
My least favorite suites in the DVC lineup are at Wilderness Lodge. As you’ll see, some of my favorites are as well. You’ve probably guessed the reason why.
My criteria in evaluating rooms are comfort, creativity, and size. Clever theming and particular aspects like unique views and room types get bonus points, too. Sadly, none of that helps Boulder Ridge.
This DVC property features relatively small suites that are bland in design. A one-bedroom here is 727 square feet, while a two-bedroom is similarly lacking at 1,083 square feet. And the property doesn’t even offer any larger suites.
I’m not going to emphasize the number of beds this time due to the lack of variance. Most one-bedrooms sleep five while two-bedrooms accommodate nine and three-bedrooms (aka Grand Villas) host 12. What you’ll see as you read the rest of the list is that Boulder Ridge provides little excitement with its suites whereas most of the other properties do. The lack of Grand Villas is a huge strike against it, too.
13. Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Average, thy name is Saratoga Springs. DVC members tend to stay here for three reasons: 1) proximity to Disney Springs 2) widespread availability 3) home resort. I guess golf and spa fans are a subset as well. For me, it’s a lovely place to stay but certainly not in my upper tier of DVC options. Part of that is the suites, which are modest in size.
A one-bedroom at Saratoga Springs is 714 square feet, the third-smallest standard suite on this list. The two-bedroom isn’t any better at 1,070 square feet, which is second-worst of DVC properties. The Grand Villa is better at 2,113 square feet, but I value them the least since they’re niche. Saratoga Springs has a lot of positives, but the DVC suites aren’t on that list.
12. Disney’s Beach Club Villas
I must confess a love/hate with Beach Club Villas. I stay here a lot and adore the pool area and the restaurants on site. The design of the place drives me batty, though. I feel like a rat in a maze, only I have the self-awareness that there is no cheese at the end. I always feel like I spend the first half of my vacation walking in circles to reach the room, and the room ain’t that great when it’s a suite.
At Beach Club, one-bedrooms (1BR) are only 719 square feet while two-bedrooms (2BR) are 1,075. As you’ll see some resorts have 1BR suites on a par with the 2BR offerings here. It’s just not good, unlike Stormalong Bay, which is excellent.
11. Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
As was the case with the studios comparison, you’ll notice a fair amount of standardization in suite sizes. Aulani has a 1BR that’s 756 square feet while its 2BR is 1,125 square feet. So, it’s slightly bigger than Beach Club, but I’ve still ranked it low. Other than the Ocean View Grand Villa, a palatial 2,174-square foot space fit for royalty, the design of the suites here are pedestrian, at least to me. Also, the fact that most of the suites don’t have an Ocean View is annoying to me.
10. Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
Staying at the BoardWalk is one of those wonderful things that are only possible at Walt Disney World. And the hotel rooms that possess a BoardWalk view are spectacular, albeit admittedly loud. The suites are nothing to write home about, though.
A 1BR is 712 square feet, the second-smallest on the list. Sadly, a 2BR isn’t much better at 1,071 square feet, one of the lowest totals as well. The Grand Villa (GV) is a huge step up at 2,142 square feet, however, and it throws in a view of the BoardWalk.
That view is why I rank this resort above the others thus far. Please understand that you must spend more points to book this room type, though. You may rate the BoardWalk lower for this reason. The room sizes of the suites are frustratingly small.
9. Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
When we compare suites, Bay Lake Tower has a lot in common with BoardWalk. You can book a view of either Bay Lake or Magic Kingdom, both of which I’ve done. I believe that these room types at Bay Lake Tower justify DVC membership on their own. One of my favorite things is to watch Bay Lake on a rainy evening when it’s gloomy and dark. The beauty of the view takes my breath away. Obviously, I score the resort higher because of this.
In terms of 1BRs, Bay Lake Tower ranks reasonably high. The room is 803 square feet, which feels absolutely cavernous compared to the tiny studios here. Both room types share the same efficient design, though. The 2BR somehow seems more extensive than its 1,152 square feet, leading me to the conclusion that the people who constructed the rooms here all deserve more work and huge raises.
The knock on Bay Lake Tower is the GV. At 2,044 square feet, it’s stretching the definition of the “grand” villa. Since all of these rooms have either Bay View or Theme Park View, I’m not sure how much you’ll care. The lone exception is if you are pushing the upper limits of that 12-person occupancy limit.
8. Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
I’m going to level with you. I had no idea how to rank the Polynesian. Since it’s far and away my favorite resort, I’m biased toward it. I cannot overlook the flaw with placing it high on the list, though. This hotel doesn’t have typical one-bedroom or two-bedroom suites. An argument could be made that it should either finish last or be excluded entirely due to this irregularity.
I leaned toward this until I thought about the Bungalows. Unholy points cost aside, the Bungalows are THE best suites in the Disney lineup in my opinion. There’s just nothing else like them. Disney charges a fortune for them because they know that guests will happily (okay, grudgingly) pay the price to stay in the water of Seven Seas Lagoon.
Describing the Bungalows in mathematical terms like 1,093 of square footage seems sacrilegious. You’re staying in a private bungalow facing Magic Kingdom. What could possibly top that? Frankly, I’d have listed it even higher if not for the points cost.
7. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas
This resort’s suites are similar to Beach Club in size. A standard 1BR is 720 square feet, while the Value option is 629 square feet. I actually love the latter room type. A quick look at the points chart will show that it’s as cheap as standard rooms at some resorts.
You’ll get the largest possible space for the points in this room type. Sadly, most members understand this, which explains why Value 1BR rooms are challenging to book. You’ll have to be a member here and a planner to secure one of these suites for your trip.
The 2BR is either 945 square feet for Value or 1,075 square feet for a standard. Yes, that’s on the small end, but the good news is that you can book Savannah View suites. That’s reason enough to favor one of these rooms over other resorts. Finally, the Grand Villa at Animal Kingdom Villas is one of the best overall rooms in the DVC program. I award the hotel bonus points for its existence.
6. Disney’s Vero Beach Resort
While Aulani goes a different way, the first two non-theme park properties in the DVC lineup emphasize size and space. The one-bedrooms at Vero Beach are a whopping 880 square feet, one of the largest totals on this list. The two-bedrooms rival most apartments with 1,255 square feet. The Grand Villa here isn’t just large at 2,125 square feet, either. It also comes with a dazzling Ocean View that will validate your decision to join DVC in the first place. The Grand Villa here is truly magical.
5. Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Do you remember earlier when I complained about the lackluster nature of Boulder Ridge’s suites? In most instances, these rooms are better than the companion ones at Copper Creek Villas. One-bedrooms here are a paltry 675 square feet. Yes, that’s the only non-Value suite that’s less than 700 square feet. The two-bedrooms are 1,051, a similarly disappointing number.
Given these dimensions, you’re probably wondering why Copper Creek is ranked so high. It’s for the same reason as the Polynesian. One particular type of suite, the Cabin, is so extraordinary that it pushed this resort all the way into the five for this list. This accommodation is a dream destination for all DVC members. Plus, the 2,237-square foot Grand Villa is one of the best on the list.
At Copper Creek, you’ll get a lot more when you spend a lot more points. I wouldn’t suggest the smaller suites as your best use of points, though.
4. Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort
As I mentioned in the studios piece, the rooms at Hilton Head will shock you with their size. The one-bedrooms are 856 square feet and subdivided in a way that makes them seem larger. And the two-bedrooms are gigantic at 1,311 square feet. You can glance at the rest of the list to appreciate how much more room that is than most of the properties discussed here.
The Grand Villa continues this trend. Its 2,362 square feet is one of the best large traveling party options on the entire island. Folks, I’m telling you. Hilton Head is a destination vacation for DVC members. You need to visit here at some point.
3. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Look, there’s a common sense element with some of these. When you stay at the Grand Floridian, you’re one of the elite at Walt Disney World. And the suites are for the most elite of all. They’re obviously going to be decadent, with magnificent décor, high-end composites for the tile and flooring, and, yes, a tremendous amount of space.
A one-bedroom at Grand Floridian is 844 square feet. Yes, that’s the largest size for any of the park-based resorts so far. The two-bedroom is also huge at 1,232 square feet. Finally, the Grand Villa is the best on this list at 2,800 square feet. And that decadent suite comes with a lake view as well.
I debated Grand Floridian as the overall winner. I held back for two reasons. One is the hefty points cost of the suites here. The other is scarcity. This hotel has the smallest inventory at Walt Disney World, with suites representing a small fraction of that total. You may love the suites here, but you’ll struggle to book one.
2. Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa
I expect the top three to prove the most divisive out of these rankings. The reason why is that I’m somewhat arbitrary with the judging. My number one earns its place due to points cost inasmuch as anything else. Meanwhile, from a numbers perspective, #3 is better on paper than #2.
Let me quickly bring you up to speed before explaining my thought process. At 865 square feet and 1,257 square feet, the 1BR and 2BR at Grand Californian are eerily similar to the ones at Grand Floridian. I doubt this is accidental, as Disney built an entirely new section at Grand Floridian for its DVC expansion. I’m sure that they modeled it after Grand Californian, a hugely successful DVC venture.
The resorts have one primary difference. The Grand Villa at Grand Californian is 2,462 square feet, which means it’s massive but not as large as the one at Grand Floridian. Overall, both properties are about even, and Grand Californian is much harder to book.
Since I just listed that as criteria for dropping Grand Floridian, why am I not holding it against Grand Californian? The reality is that the Disneyland resort is the only game in town, at least for DVC members. Disney could have skimped on the suites here and still sold them all virtually every day.
At Walt Disney World, guests have literally thousands of suite options. Somehow, Grand Californian matches its more storied sibling in Orlando despite the infamous lack of construction space near the Happiest Place on Earth. DVC deserves a great deal of credit for constructing such spacious suites when they could have gotten away with less.
1. Disney’s Old Key West Resort
If you’re someone who believes that size matters – and I’m not judging anybody – this is the place to stay. Old Key West was the original DVC resort and the one that mimics the 1980s concept of timeshares the most. That maxim is, “bigger is better!” I have a friend who only stays here due to the massive size of the suites.
How big are we talking? A 1BR is a whopping 1,005 square feet. Yes, it’s only 70 square feet smaller than a 2BR at Beach Club. You’ll realize how ridiculous this is when you compare the points charts at the two properties.
Alternately, think about the difference in 2BR sizes. At Old Key West, your room is 1,395 square feet. As for the Grand Villa, it’s a decadent 2,375 square feet, more than enough room for the Brady Bunch or any other giant family.
Old Key West isn’t flashy. Since it’s the oldest DVC property, it tends to get less consideration than newer places. For value-minded members, however, the suites here are the most family-friendly in the program. To my mind, that’s what DVC is all about and reason enough to choose Old Key West as selling the best suites in the DVC lineup.