I recently spent 3 nights on a trip to Orlando, specifically to visit Universal Studios. I spent 2 nights at the on-site park hotel and one night at the Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort, in Kissimmee, Florida. It’s about a 30-minutes drive from Universal Studios. One of the most obvious perks of staying at an off-site property is the cost savings. There are dozens of hotels in Orlando area, and you can save considerably by staying at an off-site property.
At the time of my stay, the rate for a villa at the Vacation Club is in the $129-$149 range. For that, you get a generous sized 2-bedrooms villa. Most on-site park hotels cost at least twice that much. We redeemed a soon-to expire IHG free night cert for this stay.
If you are traveling with a large group, the villa setup works. You don’t need to book multiple rooms since a villa can accommodate up to 8 people. There are two bedrooms. There is a master bedroom with a King bed, and a second bedroom with two beds. The sofa doubles as a pull-out bed. The villa comes fully equipped, from silverware to household supplies, and even a washer and dryer.
Visually, it is a clean, spacious property. The pictures speak for themselves.
As visually appealing as the villa appears to be, there are some notable downsides to the property.
- The grounds are so spread out that you have to drive to go anywhere, even to restaurants in the resort (though this depends largely on your villa’s location). Walking is possible, but you may want to avoid the heat during the daytime.
- You have to go another desk counter just to get your parking pass for your vehicle. This is where they try to convince you to go to a timeshare presentation the next day, so you can save even more. I declined repeatedly. I have zero interest in timeshares. Given that I only booked a one night and it was already a free night, I didn’t give the representative much to work with. I got to give her credit for trying to work at multiple angles. She finally jotted down her number in case I change my mind. I’d imagine the timeshare presentation would be 10x more persistent.
- Sound insulation: All hotels should have good sound insulation to ensure a restful sleep. No guests should have to wake up to alarm clocks blaring at 5AM from the upstairs unit.
- After we checked into our room, a staff waltzed into our villa (without knocking). She didn’t realized that guests have checked-in. She apologized and said she wanted to put an extra blanket in the storage area. It was startling to have a random person popped up behind me.
On-Site or Off-Site Hotel?
There’s no doubt that the villa at the Holiday Inn Vacation Club is a very nice, spacious property.
Having stayed at an on-site and an off-site hotel during the same trip, I was able to compare both options. Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal preference. If I have to do it all over, I would actually opt for the on-site hotel, even if the room is smaller and more expensive.
I will be posting my review of the on-site hotel property soon. Despite the clear cost savings associated with an off-site hotel, it will become quite evident why I think the convenience and the perks of an on-site hotel just can’t be beat.