As a member of the Disney Vacation Club, I’ve gotten to visit almost all of the resorts in the DVC lineup. What I’ve discovered over the years is that my passion for several of them has risen or waned, depending largely on recent experiences. My position on the topic has evolved, as politicians are prone to say. Here’s my current list of my seven favorite DVC resorts.
7. Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort
I think the strongest compliment I can give DVC is that I shortlisted 10 different properties for these seven spots. The competition for the final slot was brutal, as I changed my mind several times. In the end, I sided with one of the most important traits. I chose kindness.
I understand that kindness is a strange thing to quantify at a Disney resort. Cast members are famously thoughtful, especially at the Disney parks and their nearby resorts. At Hilton Head, the DVC property isn’t even on the beach. You’ll have to walk or drive roughly a mile to get there, although Disney does own a lovely private beach area once you arrive.
The Hilton Head property is gorgeous by any standard. It has to be, as the competition for hotel occupancy in the city is brutal. With so many luxury resorts in the area, Disney officials knew that the one they built at Hilton Head must tower above the competition. It does, as the DVC hotel is currently ranked second among all resorts in the city.
All other things being equal, I would favor a different beach property, the one at Aulani. Things aren’t equal, though. The staff at Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort is the nicest bunch of people that I’ve ever met in my life. It’s not an anecdotal opinion, either. When you read the 1,000+ reviews on TripAdvisor, you’ll notice that several of them go out of their way to praise the cast members at Hilton Head. It’s the strongest brand of southern hospitality I’ve ever witnessed, and I say that as a lifelong southerner.
6. Disney’s Old Key West Resort
The original DVC resort remains one of the best almost 20 years later. When Disney themed this property, they hearkened back to the glory days of Key West. It was a time when Ernest Hemingway typed up his masterpieces while six-toed cats wandered in and out of his room. The hotel somehow recreates that ambience, albeit without the Key West cats.
When you wander this campus, you’ll see old school villas closely identified with the earliest days of the timeshare market. The difference is the Disney touch. While the villas are the largest in the DVC lineup, starting at 390 square feet, it’s the background you’re most likely to embrace.
Despite being so spread out, Old Key West provides a sense of community. The guests most likely to stay here are the ones who have been DVC members for many years now. The resort embraces this demonstration of loyalty. Olivia’s Café, the Table Service restaurant close to the lobby, has a special wall full of pictures of past visits by DVC members. It’s the homiest touch you’ll find at any DVC resort.