Guide to the Disney Resort in Vero Beach
During the earliest days of the Disney Vacation Club (DVC), Disney officials shared a grander vision for their new membership program. They sought to build a host of DVC hotels at popular tourist destinations across America. In other words, while they stubbornly refused to call DVC a timeshare program, they intended to mimic the business philosophies of that industry.
Yes, the first DVC property, Disney’s Old Key West Resort, broke ground on the Walt Disney World campus. Three of their next four intended projects were at different locations, though. One was at Hilton Head, South Carolina, and the other one, the DVC resort that never got built, was at Newport Beach, California. Then, there was the Boardwalk addition that took several years to develop along with the property we’ll discuss today. Here’s a DVC guide to Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.
A Brief History of Disney’s Vero Beach Resort
I’ve already touched on the tumultuous start to the DVC program. After Old Key West opened in 1991, nearly four years would pass before another property joined the lineup. That hotel is Vero Beach, which became the second DVC property in October of 1995.
DVC officials had intended a Boardwalk hotel to hold that title. Those plans (temporarily) fell by the wayside in 1992, forcing corporate executives to re-evaluate their options. They quickly switched to plan B when they bought approximately 70 acres of land at Vero Beach. This oceanfront property wasn’t cheap, but the instant popularity of DVC directly led to the acquisition.
Disney reinvested some of the $50 million it earned during the first year of DVC to buy oceanfront land at Vero Beach and (regrettably) Newport Beach. Their philosophy was identical for both planned resorts. DVC strategists intended to marry the vacation concepts of the theme park visit and the beach trip.
Newport Beach was 20 miles (of heavily congested traffic) away from Disneyland, while Vero Beach is almost exactly 100 miles away from Walt Disney World. Due to the comical nature of southern California traffic, DVC executives expected the travel time to be roughly similar, an hour versus 90 minutes. Eventually, they pulled the plug on the Newport Beach resort for a plethora of reasons, but they proceeded with Vero Beach.
The key selling point was the land. DVC officials believed that they’d purchased some of the best oceanfront land on the Atlantic Coast.
The Style of Vero Beach
From the earliest days, Disney aspired to build a throwback resort in Vero Beach. They wanted it to remind guests of simpler times when a trip to the beach wasn’t so commercial. Nature was particularly important, as DVC’s strategists believed that the undeveloped land would seem like a stark, welcome contrast to the overdeveloped Daytona Beach area.
Disney’s Imagineering team emphasized nature with some disparate theming concepts. At Vero Beach, you’ll learn about pirates and…turtles. Vero Beach is part of the Treasure Coast area of Florida, and it’s called that since drunken pirates tended to crash their ships and thereby lose their treasures. Fun pirate stories are a bit of everyday living at Vero Beach, and the DVC resort leans heavily into this fact.
As for the turtles, I’m not a herpetologist, but the Treasure Coast is also apparently a haven for turtle nesting. Disney hosts several turtle-based activities, some of which are classes for kids. Others are Sea Turtle Night Walks, a romantic way to end a Disney day. For fans of Loggerhead Sea turtles, Vero Beach is a destination resort. For the rest of us, it’s a fascinating way to learn about turtles during a relaxing beach vacation.
Speaking of the beach, that’s why you’re here. The oceanfront property here is exclusive to Disney guests and by all accounts fabulous. Beyond that, the theming is upscale and stately. The hotel lobby and grounds will both remind you of the nicest DVC properties near theme parks.
The resort’s exterior is kind of timeshare-ish looking, though. Inside the buildings, nature is everywhere. The walls are filled with plaques and paintings of the cutest coastal critters. You’ll also see some Mickey Mouse things throughout the hotel to remind you that you’re at a Disney resort. The hotel televisions even play Disney cartoons.
The DVC Aspects
If I imagined an average Disney studio hotel room, it would look exactly like the ones at Vero Beach. These rooms are a bit larger than average at 375 square feet. They’re not the lowest/cheapest booking option at the resort, though. Studio floor plan:
DVC members can book standard hotel rooms via the Inn Rooms category. This room type starts at 10 points on weekdays during Adventure and Choice Season. An Inn Room is surprisingly sizable at 360 square feet, too. It’s far from a dramatic step down from a studio. Inn room floor plan:
You should understand that since a weekend beach getaway is a beloved concept, Vero Beach prices go up a lot on Fridays and Saturdays. Even the Adventure Season is 16 points nightly, while Choice is 17 points. That’s 60/70 percent higher than weekdays.
The Inn Rooms have a secondary booking category, which is a room view. You can reserve an Ocean View room, but it costs more, too. The OV category of the Inn Room starts at 14 points on weekdays during Adventure Season and goes up from there.
Vero Beach features many suites, and they’re reasonably spacious in size. The one-bedroom is 880 square feet, while the two-bedroom is 1,255 square feet. The three-bedroom beach cottage is the class of the hotel. It’s 2,125 square feet and sleeps 12. Two-bedroom floor plan:
Suites start at 21 points per weeknight during the offseason, 29 points on Friday/Saturdays, and go up from there. The beach cottage is 126 points on Fridays and Saturdays during Premier Season! On the plus side, it’s a phenomenal option for a group of friends looking to spend a week at Vero Beach.
Given the above, you can see that nightly DVC pricing at Vero Beach is a bit more complicated than at most resorts. There’s an added element to it, too. The busiest season at an oceanfront resort is Spring Break followed by the summer. At Vero Beach, turtle nesting season plays a factor, also. You’ll need to study the points chart to get the best idea of how to maximize your points during a stay here.
I should mention the financial incongruity of Vero Beach, as well. It’s far and away the cheapest of all DVC resorts. It still has the occasional listing in the $60s per point, something that’s otherwise unheard of among DVC properties. You CAN buy into the DVC program quite cheaply via Vero Beach.
The catch is that you could possibly pay more over time. Vero Beach has THE highest maintenance fees of any DVC property. The explanation for this is hurricane season. When weather events impact the Treasure Coast area, DVC members as a group pay to repair broken windows and shutters, displaced trees, and the like.
Currently, Vero Beach maintenance costs $9.48 per point. The second-most expensive maintenance fee is $8.56. Vero Beach is that much higher than everywhere else. So, you pay less up front, but the maintenance fees add up over time.
Hotel Amenities of Vero Beach
Aquatic activities are a huge part of a stay at Vero Beach. You can swim or surf whenever you like. The hotel staff even provides surfing lessons. When you want family-friendly activities, you’ll have a slew of options. All of the turtle and pirate stuff is skewed toward entertaining children, and the hotel goes the extra mile by hosting a nine-hole miniature golf course. Should you prefer the real thing, Treasure Coast is one of the best golfing destinations in the south.
A hidden gem at Vero Beach is the nightly campfire singalong. Guests are invited to toast S’mores while cast members regale theme with songs and tales of thrilling pirate adventures. And who doesn’t love a campfire on the beach?
The food options at Vero Beach are the biggest drawback in my opinion. You can eat at Wind & Waves Market or…Wind & Waves Grill. Since you’re at a tourist destination, Disney figures that you’ll discover plenty of places in the area to grab a bite. They’re not super-competitive about keeping you at the hotel the way that they are at Walt Disney World. You’re free to spend your money at non-Disney eateries instead.
Should you give Wind & Waves Grill a chance, you’ll eat lots of seafood, which comprises most of the starters. On the plus side, Wind & Waves Market serves Dole Whip! So, you’ll at least be reminded of a Disney theme park during dessert.
Resort Pros and Cons
The biggest con is the simplest one. You’re not at a Disney theme park when you stay here. Yes, you’re tantalizingly close to one, but you’re not there. Traffic has changed a bit from the mid-1990’s, and so a drive from this resort to Walt Disney World takes about two hours now. It’s a combination Disney/beach vacation is doable, of course. It’s just that DVC members could just as easily book a similar vacation at Disney’s Beach Club Villas, which IS right beside a Disney theme park.
Assuming the lack of a nearby theme park isn’t a sticking point, Vero Beach is almost all pros from there. You’re here for the beachfront access, and it’s phenomenal. The entertainment activities available on site are perfect for a relaxing week at the beach. You’ll get to do as much as you want while still luxuriating in the warm glow of the Florida sun.
To my mind, Vero Beach is a great place to own for a certain kind of DVC member. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to spend every single vacation at a Disney theme park, Vero Beach provides a delightful counterbalance. Every other year, you can just go to the beach instead.