Just a 10-minute drive from Walt Disney World and approximately 14 minutes from Universal Orlando, the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort at 12205 S. Apopka – Vineland Road is conveniently placed and close to anything you might need or wish to see in Orlando. Sea World and Wet n’ Wild waterpark are also close by, as are plenty of dining options, with Black Angus Steak House, Olive Garden Italian Restaurant and Joe’s Crab Shack all within walking distance from the property. Shopping is also easy to find at the Crossroads of Lake Buena Vista shopping mall, which is again with walking distance. Various CVS and Walgreens are also available in the area for virtually anything you might need quickly, including toiletries, over-the-counter medications, beauty supplies, and snacks and drinks for your room.
This hotel was at one time called the Sheraton ‘Safari’ Hotel seemingly to mesh with the resort attached to Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. However, the jungle animal theme and décor that once permeated this Sheraton property is now a thing of the past as the property has undergone a $26 million renovation that now boasts a modern and minimal look of clean lines and muted color.
Traditional Rooms with 2 Queen beds or 1 King are available, followed by Deluxe Rooms – essentially the same as a Traditional room but with a few upgraded/upscale features. Florida Parlor Rooms are next on the list but this truly is just a fancy way of describing a suite where there is added living space containing a sofa bed. And finally, this property offers a Family Bunk Bed Room that features exterior corridor entrances, twin bunk beds, a double bed sleeper sofa, and one king or two double beds. Rooms for the disabled are also available, and for no additional fee, there are some pet-friendly rooms available. Given the recent reno, rooms are clean and well maintained, and though the rooms are of standard size and layout, they are quite comfortable with gorgeous views.
We visited this property during the safari phase and again following the reno. We might not have been jaw dropped prior to the reno but we were certainly pleased given the hotel was tasteful, clean and comfortable. Now, it’s undoubtedly better, especially as the property couldn’t compete with Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge so a modernization definitely was in order.
The upgrades and additions give the property a noticeable boost that includes an impressive spa and a fully equipped fitness center. New poolside cabanas, which come with a rental fee of $69 – $99 per day, feature HDTVs and ceiling fans, as well as a convenient mini fridge. They’re a nice (albeit expensive) complement to the dual outdoor pools. The snake-inspired waterslide that originally accompanied the safari motif of the hotel is now a regular 79-foot slide.
A convenience store is also available on site for anything you might need in a hurry. However, if you’re on a budget and looking to pick up more than just one item, you might be wise to visit a local CVS or Walgreens.
As has always been, a shuttle is on hand for scheduled trips to all Disney theme parks to make it easier for hotel guests that have omitted a rental car from their vacation package. However, should guests change their mind and desire the freedom of their own wheels, a car rental facility is now available onsite.
On-property dining options include a casual poolside bar and grill, and Zest Restaurant that offers both menu service and a buffet of American cuisine. As handy as this is, the area is small and minimal and the menu is limited, almost as though adding a restaurant was an afterthought. Surely, it’s nice to have on hand, but guests likely will dine off-property, particularly for dinner given so many restaurant options nearby.
Added hotel bonuses include free wi-fi throughout the resort, a business center, dry cleaning and ironing service, baggage storage, complimentary newspapers, concierge service, and an onsite ATM. There is also an indoor hot tub, a games room, ping pong facilities, catering and event space, and a wide variety of children’s activities. Parking is an additional $15 per day.
No doubt, this property was intent on shedding its image as ‘just a hotel’ to become a full-fledged resort and compete with the growing trend in the area. The reno has allowed a much-needed upgrade to this Sheraton property, whereby the amenities and room options have greatly expanded, allowing guests a much better and more convenient experience. That said, accommodations still are not varied enough to match several resorts in the area offering one and two bedroom suites capable of accommodating large families with the added bonus of fully equipped kitchens, in-room laundry facilities, oversized bathrooms, and additional TVs.
PROS: Good location. Affordable Rates. Clean and Convenient. Lovely Poolscape. Friendly and helpful staff.
CONS: Room configurations are not varied enough to accommodate large families so the resort falls short of others in the area. Onsite dining is small and limited.
It’s a good choice for families on a budget. Another nicety is the Starwood Preferred Guests (SPG) points cards, which allows guests to accumulate points for future stays, as well as transfer the points to their Marriott Rewards card.