Just before Christmas I wrote all about my experience on whether to stay in a Disney resort, off site hotel or holiday home when it comes to your trip to Orlando. You can read that post here if you would like to.
Back when we went to Orlando in late October we stayed for the first few days in an on site Disney Resort. After three days we transferred to Encore Resort to stay in one of their incredible homes. I am going to be talking a little bit about them today. Having never stayed in a holiday home in Orlando before, and traditionally being more of a hotel type person, I was interested to see what we would think about Encore. Turns out it couldn’t have been more perfect and so I wanted to spend a little bit of time going into more depth on what Encore has to offer.
Standing outside our crib MTV style- oh I wish this was our actual home (is that program on still?!).
First up what is Encore Resort?
I think stereotypically when I used to think of holiday homes I would think of lovely properties but that perhaps they were on their own, or on resorts with not much going on. Encore Resort couldn’t be more different to that. It has a wide range of homes, from smaller properties with 4 rooms to properties with 13 rooms. This means that it is perfect to bring the whole family along with you.
What makes Encore special though is that it isn’t just a lot of holiday homes. It’s more resort style, with many features like a hotel, including a resort style concierge, a front desk and a 24 hour service line. There is also their incredibly world class AquaPark (more about that later), kids splash area, water slides, adult pool with VIP Cabanas, Arcade, and multiple on-site restaurants.
The location is brilliant too, situated in a place called Reunion just on the outskirts of Orlando and a mere 7 miles from Disney World, it means that you get to get away from too much craziness but also still be incredibly close to the action. Encore Resorts offers free shuttles to all the major theme parks of Disney, Universal and Sea World. We hired a car during our duration because we like to be able to get around without relying on other transport, but you could easily just use the shuttles if you were planning on spending the entire duration of your trip at those parks.
The houses are beautiful, I often walked along the different streets looking at them all while I was trying to get Wren to sleep in his buggy. Below is the view from just outside our home.
What are the properties like?
As I mentioned above, the size of the homes ranges from four bedrooms up to thirteen so it is a place you can go on your own or as a big trip with family or friends. Indeed sometimes doing it this way can actually work out more cost effective when there are more of you contributing to the overall fee.
Our house was absolutely beautiful inside. Think white, bright, neutral and airy. There was a large social kitchen where we could hang out and chat, and more than enough towels etc. Below are a few photos just for you to get an idea. It was brilliant- and I forgot how much better we all sleep on holiday when we aren’t all in a tiny hotel room together. That is the biggest benefit of a holiday home for me, plus the fact once the children are in bed we can sit and enjoy time together in the evenings in the living space, rather than either a) going to bed with them or b) reading by phone light in the dark!
But the best bit of the house? The private pool! Each home at Encore comes with a private pool and a lovely back yard space. The girls were in their element and were in and out of the pool constantly when we were at home. Look at the happy faces below. Having a private pool pretty much made the entire trip in their eyes.
What about the other amenities?
The first thing you’ll notice about Encore as you pull up for the first time is the Clubhouse. This rather grand looking building is where a lot of the amenities are, and behind that is the pool.
There are a number of different restaurants, including the Bis Grill (in the pool area with pool service which is really handy), The Shark Lounge and Finns Restaurant. There is also a great smoothie or coffee bar for in the mornings and a little onsite grocery store, as well as the option to get food delivered to you. We ate at The Shark Lounge and Finns Restaurant a few times and I can honestly say the food was absolutely fantastic. Think delicious burgers, flatbreads etc, plus a great kids menu and also the best creme brulee I have eaten in a long time! It’s a really relaxed atmosphere as well, and it’s nice to chill out away from the craziness of the restaurants at the parks or in the main Orlando tourist area.
There’s other cool stuff too, like an arcade which we saw the bigger children playing with a lot and regular activities too- when we were there they had a halloween poolside disco on for the kids, plus fun halloween games for them too. The staff are really good with them as well.
Now I have to talk about the AquaPark. Encore has a really incredible pool area. First up it has a HUGE splash park for the children, which rivalled the ones at the actual theme parks and which was way quieter as well. There are four large slides too which were great fun and the girls spent one afternoon just climbing from the top to the bottom of the slides constantly and whizzing down.
Look at this amazing splash park.
There’s also a quieter adults area where you can rent VIP cabanas as well and which has more of a pool to swim in.
What did we think overall?
I can honestly say that we thought every single aspect of Encore Resort was brilliant and we had the best time there. It really felt like a home away from home and it felt nice to jump in the car at the end of a busy day at the parks and come home to a quieter more luxury place. There was so much for the girls to do and to be honest we could have stayed there all week and not visited a single other attraction and they would have still had the best holiday. The pool areas are incredible, the food is great and then you also have the added extra of your own private pool as well. All the staff were really friendly too and it just generally was such a great place to stay.
In my other post I touched on what given an ideal scenario I would do in terms of accommodation in Orlando. I think after visiting Encore Resort, I would definitely want to stay in a holiday home in the future. It is so good for families, especially with young children as it means you aren’t all on top of each other in one hotel room. The location of Encore is great as well, so you never felt too far away from the action. I do really love staying on Disney property too, mainly for the experience of it all, but that can also be costly.
I think in an ideal world, like I said in my previous post generally talking about accommodation in Orlando, my ideal scenario would be to stay at an on site Disney Resort for a few days before heading off to stay in a home like the ones at Encore Resort. Then you are getting the very best of both worlds.
On another note my lovely friend Alison happened to be out in Orlando at the same time as us and while I was there I was honoured to chat to her about all things family travel on her very popular podcast… You can check it out below.
NB: Thanks to Visit Orlando for helping support our holiday to Orlando. All words, photos, videos and opinions are entirely my own and they haven’t asked me to write about anything- all content has been decided by me. You can follow them over on twitter, instagram and Facebook, plus download their amazing app to help you plan your trip here.4