Update: this resort is now a category 5, so it costs 20,000 Hyatt points per night.
However, there have been some negative changes, presumably due to its recent sale to Host Hotels and Resort inc. Previously, it was owned by Hyatt corporation. Don’t worry, the resort isn’t leaving Hyatt program, at least not yet.
It’s still a fantastic property for a family vacation, and I’ll get to it later. But these are some things you should be aware of:
1) New parking fee of $16 per night (plus tax).
The resort was kind enough to waive it for us and I didn’t even have to ask. The front desk lady just told me she would do it as a courtesy. Globalists (Hyatt top-tier elites) don’t have to pay it, so it’s not a concern. Anyway, I recommend you request they remove it, especially if you are staying on points or free night certificates.
2) The evening selection at the Club lounge is now noticeably sparse.
I’m not sure if it’s because we were visiting right after holidays, but the selection was pitiful. Some cured meats, tiny shepherd pies and a few pickled vegetables. Definitely not enough to make a decent meal, unless you are into that stuff. Also, I don’t believe they offer free alcohol anymore during happy hour. The dessert selection was kind of pathetic as well. One tiny plate with some treats that looked like they were bought at a Family Dollar.
Obviously, the Club lounge isn’t meant to substitute going to dinner but in the past, we’ve had some decent meals there. My kids were never huge fans of the lounge, so they didn’t really notice the changes.
Breakfast is still good, though. You will get an egg dish of some sort, smoked salmon, fruit and various pastries. They don’t skimp on breakfast…yet. There is one thing I wasn’t happy about. They have a Starbucks coffee machine where you used to be able to get a free capuchino. We stayed two nights and both mornings that option wasn’t available. I don’t know if it’s a permanent thing or a temporary bug.
I suspect that the new owners have decided to cut back on Club lounge offerings so not to cannibalize their on-site dining profits.
3) The resort didn’t appear as clean or tidy as it was in the past.
I once overheard a loud conversation between two employees where the guy was complaining that he can not keep up with all the guests’ requests. This has never happened before. We were visiting right after New Year’s holidays when most families went back home, so I can’t even imagine what it was like when the resort was at full capacity.
The trash can in the Club lounge was constantly overflowing with garbage and the hallways weren’t as clean as they were in the past. Obviously, this is a very large resort, so the upkeep logistics are daunting. But I’m wondering if some workers were laid off after takeover.
4) Choose your room wisely if you are staying on a Saturday night, and ask if there is going to be a wedding during your stay.
This hotel is an extremely popular wedding venue, and most ceremonies are booked on a Saturday night. When the reception takes place on resort grounds, it can get very loud if your room faces the pools like ours did.
Obviously, this is a very nice view which we got due to my husband’s Explorist status, but it meant listening to all the latest hip hop music until 10 PM. There was no possible way to go to sleep, even with a noise machine on. If you have very small kids, beware. We ended up watching Toy Story 2 movie which unfortunately ran till 11 PM, and our kids insisted on finishing the whole darn thing.
I found it ironic that the resort has signs all over saying that quiet hours are from 9 PM to 9 AM. Hmm… I’m sure hosting a wedding brings a ton of profit for the resort, so those folks take priority.
5) The rooms are starting to show their age.
Don’t get me wrong, they are clean and perfectly fine if you are just looking for a place to sleep. However, the carpet and furniture are starting to look a bit shabby.
These are very small things, of course. But if you are looking for a refined/luxury experience and attention to detail, the resort may not be it. Also, this is the first time we had an issue with getting hot water in the morning. Perhaps it was a fluke, but I thought I would mention it.
Why this resort is still an unbeatable value via points or free night certificates
This hotel is a Category 4, so it costs 15,000 Hyatt points per night. You can also use your renewal certificate from Hyatt credit card, an absolute steal for $75. Even with a $95 annual fee on the new version, it’s an incredible deal.
You get a free boat transfer to a beautiful private island, a waterpark with a lazy river, and a fire pit where you can make s’mores in the evening. There is so much for families to enjoy, which is why we keep coming back year after year. I won’t go into all the nitty-gritty again, just read my linked posts on the subject.
If you want to stay here, you can transfer UR points to Hyatt program on 1:1 basis, so even if you value 15,000 points at $225, it’s a great deal during high season. If you have a Club lounge certificate, you can attach it to points reservation and save money on food. The breakfast for four to me was worth at least $50 per day, even if I chose to skip dinner snacks.
Speaking of, I used points for the first night (eligible for Club lounge upgrade) and free night certificate for the second night. The resort let me keep Club lounge access both nights as a courtesy after I asked them nicely.
Here is what you should expect to pay for a basic room during a random stay in March:
You may have to settle for ADA room, because those with two queen beds are obviously in high demand. If you have Hyatt or UR points to spare, I strongly recommend splurging on a suite:
You no longer have to stay a minimum of three nights, but will have to call Hyatt in order to book it. The suite will cost you 24,000 Hyatt points per night compared to 15,000 points for a regular room. For that up-charge you will get a separate bedroom, a sleeper sofa and an extra bathroom. For families of five, this is really the only sensible option these days because you get waterpark access/boat ride for up to four people per standard room.
You can add an extra bed to the living room because we have done it when we stayed here with my mom in 2016. Even if the resort charges you $30/per night for a rollaway, it’s still a very good deal. Alternatively, pack an air mattress in your suitcase.
With taxes and resort fees, the suite will easily run you $900 per night during high season, so using just 24,000 points per night is a fantastic deal. If you are swimming in UR points and still haven’t decided where to go for Spring Break, I strongly recommend looking into this resort. Got an extra Club lounge certificate after matching to Hyatt Explorist status? Even better.
Flying to Fort Myers airport is best, but you can reach the resort in 2-3 hours from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa or Orlando if that’s your preference.
It’s all about making memories
On to the title of the post. We didn’t plan it that way, but my cousin-in-law has booked a stay at the resort with her family during the same weekend. The kids were absolutely thrilled to play with their cousins! We actually vacationed with them at this very same place 2.5 years ago.
The adults had fun too, of course. For one, we took turns going to a hot tub while the other couple watched the kids, something we normally aren’t able to do due to age restriction. But we all agreed that seeing the kids have so much fun truly brought us joy as parents. That’s what it’s all about when you go to this resort.
Last call for current offer on Hyatt co-branded credit card
As I’ve mentioned earlier, the official bonus on this card is supposed to change tomorrow. I’ve noticed that my personal referral link now shows 50,000 points bonus, compared to 60,000 points you can still get via affiliate link.
I hope you consider supporting the site if you choose to apply. Update: the offer has been changed.
Right now you can still get 60,000 points after spending $6,000 in 6 months, which would be more than enough for four nights in a standard room at this property, and almost enough for three nights in a suite once you factor in minimum spending. If you have access to UR points, there is always an option to top up the account, of course. Be aware that this card is now likely subject to 5/24 rule.
You can read my post for more details on the current offer and decide if it’s something you want to pursue. As always, there are other lucrative options on the market that may be a better fit for your specific circumstances.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.