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A look inside Gran Destino, the new Disney Resort that will be home to top-ranked NBA teams

June 18, 2020
18 min read
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Similar to the travel industry, the sports industry worldwide has taken a major hit due to the coronavirus pandemic — and now, several months after largely shutting down, is trying to get back to business.

In the sports world, this largely means playing games without fans, as most health experts agree packing tens of thousands of people into a stadium could undo any progress we've made in combatting the spread of this disease.

Visit TPG’s guide to all coronavirus news and updates

One league that's ready to get back up and running -- without fans, of course -- is the National Basketball Association (NBA). Interestingly enough, the NBA's return coincides directly with the return of the travel industry, as the league has chosen Walt Disney World in Orlando -- specifically the ESPN Wide World of Sports -- as the location at which it'll hold its practices and games.

Part of the plan to hold the NBA season at Disney World is to have coaches, players and staff stay on Disney property in a "bubble" of sorts to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Disney and the NBA have identified three hotels -- Disney's Yacht Club Resort, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and the Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs -- at which the players, coaches and staff will be staying for the several weeks they'll spend on the property. The teams were given their respective hotel assignments based on their rankings in the league at the time of the shutdown. The top-seeded teams get to check into the new Gran Destino Tower that opened in 2019 at Disney's Coronado Resort.


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(Photo by Ed Pizzarello / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Ed Pizzarello / The Points Guy)

While it's not the priciest hotel at Disney World, it's the only Disney property in the moderate (middle) tier that also has a club-level lounge. It's also one of the newest.

Here's what the NBA players will experience during their extended stay at Gran Destino based on intel from a visit shortly after the opening in fall 2019.

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What it costs

Booking a room at Disney's Gran Destino requires searching for Disney's Coronado Resort. Within the Coronado, you then select the Gran Destino Tower. The new tower has standard rooms, standard rooms with a view, standard rooms with club access and suites. Not all rooms automatically get club-level access, so book carefully -- and, of course, expect to pay more for club access. If your goal is to let your kids go to the club lounge without you, be aware that many of the rooms with club access are not on the club floor.

Related: Best credit cards for theme parks

Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy

Standard rooms with access to the lounge exist, but are scarce and so far haven't been included in many sales or passholder discounts. When available, expect those rooms to start around $300 per night. Gran Destino Tower Suites with club access are more readily available, though those rooms often start around $500 per night. For our dates, we had to book a suite in order to have access to the club lounge -- but having a true suite at Disney for around $500 isn't a horrible thing, considering that standard rooms at Deluxe Resorts like Disney's Yacht Club can cost that same amount without lounge access.

Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy

Location

Disney's Coronado Springs, and the Gran Destino Tower within it, are located nearest to the Animal Kingdom theme park and Blizzard Beach waterpark. This also places them near the three All-Star value resorts.

Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy
Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy

It's a centrally located spot about 10 minutes from each of the Disney World theme parks, though none are within walking distance. The resort is connected to the rest of the Walt Disney World destinations by an included bus network and the pay-to-ride, on-demand Minnie Vans.

The rooms

Although Disney's Coronado Springs Resort has more than 2,300 rooms, the Gran Destino Tower has "just" 545 rooms, of which 50 are suites. The tower has a bright, modern and almost Las Vegas-y vibe that carries from the lobby to the hallways and into the rooms.

Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy

We were most surprised by the check-in process. With the opening of the Gran Destino tower, check in for all 2,300 Coronado Springs guests moved to the front desk of that building (with the exception of some large conferences). That means an even longer walk to some of the outlying buildings. And it should mean longer lines at check in, yet we found the lines quite short.

There was also a floating agent speaking with people in line. The agent periodically pulled a group out of line and checked them in with a mobile tablet while the family sat comfortably. This is by far one of the most relaxed check-in experiences at a Disney World resort.

Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy

Our room was on the seventh floor.

Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy

The living room was equipped with a bright rug, pull-out sofa, chair, storage space and a coffee nook.

Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy

There was also a small table for two with a nice view of Lago Dorado.

Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy

Should you wish to use the living space as a sleeping space in addition to the bedroom, the couch turns into a bed in seconds. Disney World has some of the best pull-out sofa beds in the industry. They're as close to a real mattress as you can get, with a hinged design as opposed to the typical thin fold-over pad.

Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy

Separated from the living space with a real door, the king bedroom had a streamlined aesthetic with modern conveniences, such as bedside lamps with USB and charging outlets — something lacking in the older Disney resort hotels. We were impressed with the number of electrical outlets.

Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy
Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy
Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy

In lieu of an actual closet, the bedroom has a sliding glass door with a mirror. On one side, you'll find a safe and some shelves for storage. Slide the door the other way and you'll see hangers, robes and other necessities. The sliding door fits the décor but it does seem odd for a higher-end hotel to show off storage spaces that are normally hidden.

Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy
Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy

The bathroom was fresh and modern, with a choice of single-use Disney H2O bath amenities or bottles mounted in the shower. In keeping with the upgraded surroundings of the suite, there were also upgraded amenities you wouldn't normally find.

Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy
Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy
Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy
Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy
Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy

Families with young kids should note there was no bathtub in this suite, which could be a deal breaker come bath time.

Club lounge

OK, here's the coolest part for those who enjoy lounges. Located on the 15th floor, the Chronus Club lounge was absolutely on par with what you would find at a Disney Deluxe Resort. There are so many little touches in the lounge. And it's much more than snacks and drinks — they do a great job feeding you as well.

Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy

Open for breakfast, midday snacks and evening appetizers (let's be real and call that dinner), you can rely on the lounge to keep bellies filled and thirst under control.

The evening food selection, including shrimp "paella style," Serrano ham, crab cakes, hummus and fire-roasted vegetables exceeded our (adult) expectations. With more than a dozen options, the variety of food meant most folks should be able to find something to eat. If you have kids who prefer plain food, you may struggle to find something they like. We mistakenly thought a tray of battered and fried fish were lumpy chicken nuggets. Our kids are all-in for fish, but we know many kids who aren't.

Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy
Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy
Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy
Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy
Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy
Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy
Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy
Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy

We found small Ghirardelli chocolate squares, apples and Kind bars that were easy takeaway snacks. And you'll also find Mickey hiding in plain sight in the form of sugar cubes and butter.

Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy
Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy

In keeping with the theme, you'll find a selection of Spanish beers and wines. None of the choices are over-the-top expensive, but if you've tried Spanish wine, you'll know you don't need to spend a lot to find a good bottle. Spanish beer and strawberry cider round out the collection of parental beverages quite nicely.

Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy
Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy

If you have antsy little ones, you'll find a treasure chest packed with toys to pass the time as well as a lending library of books, including some Disney favorites and even a few titles for adults. You can also trade pins with the friendly staff in the Chronos Club.

Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy
Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy
Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy

For seating, you can relax on a couch or get some work done on your laptop (which would be a sin with the food and the view).

Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy
Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy

There are a number of board games strategically placed throughout, and the club also has small touches that tie in the Spanish theme and the theme parks nearby.

Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy
Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy

The price differential for a room without club access and one with club access seems to hover around $70 per night, but we did find club rooms for as little as $15 more per night. Assuming your family of four enjoyed at least one full meal here per day plus snacks and drinks, the math can absolutely work in your favor. There aren't many standard rooms with club access, something that clearly showed up in our search results. On many nights, there wasn't any availability.

On the other hand, there are some excellent restaurants at Disney World, so you'll have to decide if accessible heavy appetizers and cold beverages is a plus for your family.

Amenities

The saddest part of our short stay at Gran Destino Tower was not having enough time for all the new food and beverage choices. The lobby of the Gran Destino is a sweeping two-story space with high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows. That makes a great backdrop for the colorful Barcelona Lounge, where you can enjoy a Spanish coffee or a glass of wine from the region.

Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy

If you're looking for a view with your drink, the Dahlia Lounge on the 16th floor is the right spot. And we definitely have our eye on Toledo, a tapas restaurant located on the 16th floor. Late-night tapas with a view of the fireworks? Count us in.

The fitness center at Gran Destino Tower is much more reminiscent of a high-end conference hotel than a Disney resort.

Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy
Photo by Ed Pizzarello/The Points Guy

We were also pleasantly surprised by Wi-Fi speeds at Gran Destino. This has been a challenge for many Disney World resorts, with some glacially slow Wi-Fi connections. We had no problem uploading these photos from the resort and download speeds were zippy.

Overall impression

Frankly, Disney had us at "new moderate hotel with a club lounge." Staying in a fresh, debut property is always a treat. However, for those who want to be within walking distance of a park or who want to go all-in on Disney theming, the Gran Destino comes up short. However, that's probably not a drawback for the NBA crowd who is there to play professional sports games -- not go round and round on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

But generally speaking, this property is for those who want all of the Disney Resort perks but are OK with a toned-down version of Disney when they retreat to their hotel at night. If you're used to luxury hotels and haven't bought into the "Disney bubble," this new tower is a great choice. The Disney influences in the décor are subtle, yet the excellent service you find elsewhere at Disney World is front and center. Call it a quiet retreat from the craziness of theme parks.

Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Here are some resources:

Featured image by (Photo by Edward Pizzarello / The Points Guy)

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Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023