PHOTOS, VIDEO, REVIEW: New Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is a Moderate Resort in Deluxe Clothing
This past week marked the grand opening of the Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs and the Disney community was abuzz with the new addition. Granted, there’s been a lot of hype over Gran Destino, with the opening of Villa del Lago and Three Bridges Bar and Grill contributing to it, but a resort opening (or in this case, even just a new resort wing opening) is a big deal in the age of budget cuts and purely cost-effective refurbs.
Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – First Impressions and Lobby
Gran Destino Tower is an aptly-named, towering expanse of a building––a rarity given that most Disney resort hotels, save for maybe the Contemporary Resort, don’t usually have more than four or so stories to them. Speaking of stories, though, what the resort lacks in themeing, it makes up for in opulence.
That’s right, if vaguely luxe is your preferred resort style, then Gran Destino Tower is the place for you.
Many guests likened the resort to being slightly Vegas-y, but for a Disney fan who’s never been to Vegas before, the main comparison I continuously drew was Disney Cruise Line… but without any of the more “magical” elements and Disney nods. I’m sorry, but sprinkling a bunch of hidden Mickeys everywhere just doesn’t cut it for me.
They were all done nicely, in the form of murals, carpets, and wall art, but it just seemed random compared to the more serious (dare I say sterile) surrealist art everywhere else.
By the way, if you’re a fan of resort scents, I noticed a variety of different ones throughout the tower, and it’ll be interesting to see if these become as “viral” or popular as the scents from the Grand Floridian or Polynesian. If you’re sensitive to fragrances, though, keep in mind that they definitely seemed strong enough to trigger some sniffling or sneezing.
Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – Check-In
All guests to Coronado Springs now check in at Grand Destino Tower before moving on to their respective section of the resort (whether they’re staying there or schlepping their stuff over to Casitas.) You’ll notice that while the Tower adds a whole slew of amenities to the resort, it’s at the cost of potentially phasing out older parts of the resort due to distance or sheer inconvenience, like El Centro, and restaurants like Maya Grill… a bit more on that later.
There are traditional check-in counters, but depending on how busy it is once you arrive, you’re ideally whisked away by a Cast Member with an iPad to check you in at any one of the plush seating areas across the upper-level lobby.
We did notice large convention groups attempting to check in here, which led to congestion right at the entrance to the lobby, but moving forward, it is said that the old Coronado Springs lobby will be used to take in conventioners moving forward.
TV screens lining the lobby’s walls play the six-minute “Destino” animated short created by Salvador Dali and Walt Disney that was released posthumously in 2003, which served as inspiration for Gran Destino Tower at large. As you’d probably expect, it’s a slightly weird short that’s heavy on surrealism, but once you see it, all of the design elements used throughout the Tower really start to mesh together and make sense.
What still doesn’t make sense, and is something worth noting in the social commentary realm of things, is how Disney chose not to expand on the existing Colonial and Ancient Mexican themes of Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort and instead went ham (or jamón serrano, if you will) on Spanish influence. However inadvertent it is, as someone who’s Hispanic, it seems fairly problematic to me that the luxurious Gran Destino Tower has an underlying theme of Spanish colonialism masked under the guise of art. The effects that the Tower might have on the rest of the resort’s operations, with Gran Destino being shiny, new, and more sophisticated, and the rest of Coronado falling behind on room occupancy (and therefore lower on maintenance priority lists,) is eerily reminiscent of “how things went down” across Latin America as well.
Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – Amenities
Resort Airline Check-In – Accessible via Porte Cochère (Open from 5:00 AM to Noon)
If you’re flying in and your airline participates in Disney’s Resort Airline Check-In service, you can check your bags ahead of your flight and have them transferred directly to MCO. Unlike most value and moderate resorts, Gran Destino Tower boasts a fully indoor check-in station for this now, with inner queues set up in the comfort of A/C.
Fitness Center – Lobby, near Elevators (24 Hour Access)
The gym is open 24 hours a day, with MagicBand access, and is available to all Coronado Springs Resort guests.
As you walk in, there’s a station with gym towels, fancy pre-soaked and chilled washtowels, and complimentary fruit and ice water.
A variety of exercise machines, free weights, and exercise mats are available for use.
The gym even features two spinning bikes.
The bathrooms here are actually single bathroom/shower combo units. These also come in handy if you want to squeeze a workout (or park visit) in after check-out and would like to freshen up afterward.
Fresh bath towels are available on teak stands.
The accessible shower features a handheld showerhead and a standard wall showerhead.
The shower should be outfitted with refillable H2O shampoo, conditioner, and body wash pumps, as seen by the wall caddy.
Guest Laundry – 3rd Floor (24 Hour Access)
Laundry stations are located on the third floor, with a number of washers and dryers available for guests to use.
Each machine is outfitted with a card reader, which also takes Apple Pay.
Over in the corner is a fancy quartz folding table, complete with a large TV in case you’re stuck here for a while and need some entertainment.
If you want to take in the sights, the view from the 3rd floor isn’t bad, either:
Meeting Spaces – Located Across Resort
As a resort that caters to convention guests, you’ll find that there are a number of meeting spaces scattered about the upper and lower lobbies.
With plush seating and USB charging points, all of these spaces proved to be popular with guests and conventioners alike.
Some of these doubled as lounge spaces, as they were adjacent to the lobby bar.
Barcelona Lounge – Lower Lobby (6:30 AM – Midnight)
The Barcelona Lounge, located on the lower lobby, serves as the hotel’s coffee bar in the early AM hours. It serves a variety of specialty Spanish coffees, as well as a wide variety of cocktails, wines, and beers. You can click through for the full menu below:
They also have these great, custom coasters that match the stained glass work on the bar’s backsplash.
Don’t sleep on the Build Your Own Gin Tonic, or some of the more out-there cocktails like the Cafecito Conquistador (shown below).
It’s a great bar to grab a drink or coffee, people watch, and take in the extravagant lobby.
Walkway to El Centro – Lower Lobby
As mentioned, all guests now check in at Gran Destino Tower. Thankfully, the Tower and El Centro are connected by a new, fully enclosed walkway that links the lower lobby and convention center at Gran Destino to El Centro’s old lobby check-in area.
You follow the hallway to a set of nondescript, hopefully temporary doors.
It’s somewhat eerie to see the once-bustling lobby now sitting completely empty and unused, but some Cast Members mentioned that check-ins for large groups and conventions may be moved to this space moving forward.
It’s truly a beautiful space, what with its columns and arches and hand-painted murals. Hopefully they do something more with it, like converting it into additional lounge space.
Gran Destino Tower Patio and Firepit – Lower Lobby Exterior
While on the lower lobby, you can follow signage out to Gran Destino’s garden and patio area.
A series of mosaic-wrapped wooden benches face the magnificent Lago Dorado.
The mosaic work on these is so intricate and nicely done. The golden tile pieces reflect sunlight differently depending on the time of day.
While the contrasting textural and visual elements here (colorful, shiny tile against grainy wood) work well, perhaps some cushions could help mitigate the potential effects of a searing hot bench surface.
Stepping outside and taking in the splendor of the entirety of Coronado Springs reminds you what a sprawling and gorgeous resort this is.
A fire pit will offer a nice nightly activity once Orlando cools down and stops being the surface of the sun itself.
This outdoor area offers great views up at the water-view side of the resort, as well as Toledo restaurant. For a full-on walkthrough of all these spaces, check out our Gran Destino Tower Building Tour below:
Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – Getting to Your Room
After checking in, you are led over right past a series of mirror-lined booths (complete with charging stations) to the resort’s innovative elevator bay.
Instead of traditional elevators where you press a button to call an elevator and then punch in your floor once inside, this system allows you to pinpoint your destination before directing you to an exact elevator.
It’s odd not seeing a floor panel on the inside of the elevator, but it made for a very streamlined experience.
Once you arrive at your desired floor, you’re welcomed by bright carpets with orange, pink, and yellow designs (and of course, hidden Mickeys) as well as wall art lining the halls.
Some would say the colors are a bit too bright and jarring, but it’s something younger guests will enjoy, and it’s definitely better than just beige.
Long, indoor hallways (thankfully not Kidani Village long) are capped by windows offering full panoramic views of the four parks, as well as views of the rest of the resort. In our section, we could see Space Mountain and the rest of the Magic Kingdom off in the distance in the hall window, plus views of Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios inside our room. Which leads us to the main part of the review…
Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – Room Tour
Standard View Tower Room (Club Level – 15th Floor)
Standard View Tower Room – Entryway
Right as you walk in, there’s this rather large foyer-type space, which is good for luggage, storage, and ECV parking.
Standard View Tower Room – Bathroom
The bathrooms here feature double sinks with small storage cubbies underneath, and some neat Barcelona-style tile accents. Integrated lighting gives the place plenty of brightness. There’s also a magnified makeup mirror on the side.
The usual toiletries: mouthwash, lotion, cooling aloe gel, a vanity kit, a shower cap, and bath soap.
A large glass door walk-in shower features a rain shower and an adjustable, handheld shower head you can switch between. Water pressure and temperature were adequate.
A small shelf for toiletries and a set of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash pumps are mounted onto the wall. Despite outcry against these refillable pump bottles over the years, they’ve really grown on me, as they’re handy to have. My one gripe about the shower is the lack of a shaving ledge for the ladies, (or anyone who happens to shave their legs.)
The toilet is tucked away into its own little room, complete with a sliding door. The sole piece of artwork in the entire room hangs behind the toilet.
You’ll see more of this in the video tour below, but the toilet room houses the bathroom’s two racks of towels. There were multiple instances of jumping into the shower only to realize that the towels were located across the way, making it rather inconvenient, if not dangerous, to leap across while still wet from the shower.
It’s also worth noting that despite being designed with business travelers (i.e. coworkers) in mind, the way the bathroom is laid out is somewhat intrinsically flawed.
If someone’s showering and the sliding barn door is closed, the toilet and sinks become officially unavailable to the rest of the room, essentially defeating the purpose of dividing the bathroom into sections. If you’re traveling with a group or a family, do keep that in mind as it might require you to shower or use the bathroom in shifts. The sliding barn door does have a locking mechanism built into the wall, as well.
At least there’s a hidden Mickey in one of the bolts on the barn door.
Standard View Tower Room – Bedroom
If you’re familiar with the rooms throughout Disney’s Coronado Springs, these more or less follow the same formula. You have two queen beds, with headboards that have built-in reading lamps on each side. No runners and no decorative pillows here.
There’s space underneath the beds for luggage and storage, as well as a middle nightstand with drawers, an in-room phone, and a lamp with built-in USB ports.
I personally didn’t find these mattresses to be extremely comfortable, but that’s just my experience. I feel like without any accents on the beds, they should at least get better, cushier bed linens, as sometimes it really feels like you’re just sleeping encased in a single, thin sheet.
Over on one side, you have this lovely gold foil vertical mirror, but it’s impractical in how close it is to the bed.
You have one foot of clearance between the wall and the bed, basically. They could’ve placed this over by the foyer area right by the entrance to the room, or hung a piece of horizontal artwork instead.
That’s the one thing that really stood out to me about these rooms. Save for the wallpaper on one portion of the room (and the one piece in the bathroom) it’s basically void of any artwork, Disney-inspired or otherwise.
A wet bar/coffee station, work desk, Smart TV, and drawers face the beds.
This large, paisley-embossed faux leather stool also doubles as a potential luggage rack.
Three deep drawers with large metal handles are on one side of the desk.
One of the more distinct aspects of these rooms are these cute armchair nooks, available in most queen bed rooms. A modern-looking armchair (it’s surprisingly comfortable, too) sits next to a lamp with a small marble table for your tablet, phone, and a cup of coffee.
More on these nifty Smart TVs and their built-in interactive menus in the next section of the review.
A glass door mini fridge is stored below. (Shown here with a bottle of water for scale.)
A closet houses a safety box, steam iron and ironing board, wood hangers, and some extra pillows and blankets. All Club Level guests get a set of robes to wear around the room. (You can always request more if you need them.)
There’s a full-length mirror on the interior of one of the closet doors, and I strongly recommend this one over the awkwardly-placed one by the bed. The closet automatically lights up inside when you open it, which is a nice touch.
Standard View Tower Room – Interactive TV
The new interactive Smart TVs at Gran Destino Tower are a great addition, and while they’re still working out some of the features, I think it’s a great concept to start with. You can switch through all the regular Disney Resort channels using a nifty guide, preview your PhotoPass photos, check out restaurant times, connect your devices using Chromecast, and choose from a small collection of Disney and Pixar movies to watch.
For a full tutorial on these new Interactive TVs, check out our video below!
A few things I’d like to see implemented on here: For one, it’d be nice to be able to scroll through restaurant and in-room dining menus on screen, as well as view bus times, just like on the My Disney Experience app. I was also slightly disappointed by the movie selection as it’s the same seven movies (Cars, Monsters, Inc., Ratatouille, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles) that typically show on Freeform every weekend. And of course, a missed opportunity: Why not have the “Destino” short available in the video library?
Standard View Tower Room – Views
Since its announcement, one of the biggest selling points for Gran Destino Tower was the views it promised. We can assure you that in certain places, like Toledo – Tapas, Steak, and Seafood, those views are slightly overstated, but in the higher-floor rooms, like ours, the views were absolutely dreamy.
It wasn’t uncommon for me to lie backwards on the bed, staring out longingly at the Tower of Terror.
Morning views from our room on the 15th floor of Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Believe it or not, this is currently a standard view room. pic.twitter.com/tW80UDDBWh
It’s rare to get to see some of these buildings and attractions from this viewpoint, and the fireworks, while still far away, were a cute addition to the room’s features. Again, the sightlines aren’t perfect, and it certainly isn’t the Contemporary, but it’s a great view for a moderate room.
Many of you are probably wondering, and yes, you can see the fireworks from the room:
The finale of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth as seen from our room on the 15th floor of Gran Destino Tower pic.twitter.com/ZRnO54scpN
For a full overview of the room, check out our video tour below:
Also, since we’ve mentioned them as a point of comparison multiple times throughout the review, here’s a tour of the newly remodeled Standard Rooms at the rest of Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort:
Overall, these Standard View Tower Rooms at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort offer some of the best views you’ll ever get at a moderate resort. We honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they re-categorized these rooms as “Theme Park View” and began charging a premium for them down the line. For now, thankfully, these are less expensive than the other view offered––Water View––and we seemed to like this view better, anyway.
Here’s an example of price differences among Standard Coronado rooms, Standard Tower rooms, and Water View Tower rooms:
Let’s think of this as a base price. With most values priced out at $100 to $120 a night lately, it’s almost a no-brainer to “upgrade” to Coronado Springs for a mere $20 or so more. You’d be getting a more serene environment, with better theming, and upped amenities, to boot.
Upgrading, then, to a Standard View Tower room also seems affordable, with rooms well under $200. While all guests across Disney’s Coronado Springs can access Gran Destino Tower, there is something to be said for being located within the tower itself––no need to brave the elements getting to your room with indoor hallways, for one. Once you’re inside the Tower, all of its amenities are located inside the facility, save for the pools that are scattered across the resort.
As you can see, Water View is currently priced higher than the Standard View. Tack an extra $100 or so a night and you can book a Club Level room with access to the Chronos Club or otherwise purchase access separately. (More on the Chronos Club in a later review!)
In any case, considering the prices across Disney resort hotels, Gran Destino Tower feels like a good value given that it’s the newest in its class. However, as you might’ve gathered from our earlier appraisal and walkthrough of the resort, it’s evident that we left the hotel yearning for some sense of storytelling and nostalgia. The age of Disney storytelling through resort hotels is over. You can walk through Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, for example, or even the older Casitas section in Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, and still feel the “warm fuzzies” of purposeful Disney details, storylines, and romanticism. Gran Destino Tower is certainly grand, but nevertheless forgettable and generic. The one thing it doesn’t lack? Excellent Disney service.
It could’ve been the energy of the Tower’s opening, but seemingly every Cast Member we interacted with exuded genuine warmth and friendliness. Everyone here is certainly proud to be working at Gran Destino, and they exemplified the values and service we came to expect from years past (that has since significantly waned elsewhere across property.)
A gift was dropped off at our Club Level Room, thanking us for being here for the grand opening of Gran Destino Tower! pic.twitter.com/viYHZFD5to
While this was tied in with our Club Level stay, when was the last time anyone got a stack of welcome presents, much less a handwritten thank-you card welcoming you to a resort? Despite our misgivings about the resort’s dire lack of rich theming, it’s stuff like this that keeps us coming back, and helps us recommend Gran Destino Tower to readers.
If you’re planning a resort-centric stay, a couple’s getaway, or are heading onto Disney property for business, give Gran Destino Tower a try. If you’ve always wanted to stay at a Disney Deluxe resort, but have been priced out, Gran Destino is a great way to experience what we’d informally dub as “Deluxe Lite.” Contrariwise, if you’re used to staying at Deluxe resorts, but are tired of paying $400+ for outdated rooms, a stay at Gran Destino Tower is just enough to tide you over until the next wave of generic refurbishments suck the storyline out of your favorite Disney resort. If you’re a Coronado Springs regular already, you now have a whole slew of new amenities to enjoy, but you probably already know the quiet pool by Casitas 4 is where it’s really at.
Have you stayed at Gran Destino Tower yet? Do you have a future stay booked? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and thank you for coming to my TED Talk.