Monday, July 01, 2013

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress hotel review

We were recently invited to stay at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress to sample first-hand the renovations they've undertaken. In my case, the whole hotel was new-to-me, so my review will also delve into simply what is available here. But I'll start with the bottom line: this is a full-service four-star hotel at prices that mimic the Value Disney resorts. In other words, it's a bargain for what you get. More importantly, it boasts so many included ("free") amenities and activities that it really is a destination hotel. The next time I go back (and I will go back) I will be ignoring the nearby parks and just hanging out here all day.

For simplicity, I will divide this review into paragraphs, FAQ style:

The HRGC is awfully close to Walt Disney World. If you know the area, it's off SR-535 right next to the 7-11 and Ale House restaurant. Translation for those out of town: it's about two minutes away from the Downtown Disney entrance to the Disney property.

They offer shuttles to the local parks (Disney, Universal, SeaWorld) but we didn't sample these.

Amenities and Renovation
They recently re-did some of the lobby area and much of the outdoor areas, so a lot is brand new. The main thematic feature - the rockwork and grotto - is original to the property, though, and it's a real eye-catcher. The pool runs through the rocks and caves and opens out on the other side. There's nothing like swimming through a dozen waterfalls - I wish more pools had waterfalls like this.

The $22 resort fee is mandatory, so you have paid for all the activities already, and they are therefore "free" when you are on property and you might as well use them. The list impressed me:

  • pools and waterfalls
  • bike and family surrey rentals
  • rock climbing walls
  • nine holes of "pitch and putt" golf - something bigger than mini golf, smaller than real golf. Junior golf?
  • golf driving range
  • tennis courts
  • canoes
  • paddle boats
  • kayaks
  • aquacycles
  • sailboat
  • fitness center (double the size you're expecting)
  • 4.7 mile (!) jogging trail

Families on a tight schedule may want to dash off to the parks, but I'm planning to use this hotel simply to do the included activities. I could burn an entire day working my way down that list, with at least half the day in the pools, waterslides, and hot tubs.

Rooms are about $150 a night in summer (unless you want Club/Concierge access, which adds about $100). For comparison, that's exactly the same price as Disney's All Star Music in summer (taking into account the seasonal upcharge). Obviously, there is a world of difference in luxury and amenities between All Stars and HRGC. Disney has the edge when it comes to whimsical theming, but HRGC is no slouch on the theming side (at least the "placemaking" side).

There's an upscale eatery called Hemingway's, a very casual scramble-style food court, and a midrange restaurant (which we sampled) called Cascade American Bistro. We had great entrees (many of them sport a seafood theme) and absolutely remarkable sushi that was some of the best melt-in-your-mouth sushi-grade fish we've had on the East coast. We'll be back for that alone.

It costs $15/day for resort parking, or $23 for valet.

Press Release: Summer Splash

Book your next vacation at and use code SUMMER to receive a food and beverage credit for use during your stay now through September 30, 2013. Enjoy the resort's award-winning restaurants including Cascade American Bistro, Hemingway's, or the new On the Rocks pool bar. Rates begin at $149* (terms and conditions apply, based on availability).

Enjoy the photo tour below!

Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.