From the front driveway by the valet service area and into the resort lobby,
a transformation of time and place occurs. Concrete pavement gives way to lush
foliage and waterfalls traversed by means of a wooden walkway bridge. Within
the lobby, hotel registration desks fade into the background of the large
atrium/waterfall that fills much of the interior. Floors are slate. Colors are
tiel, rust, and beige. Furniture wicker and cane. The ambiance reflects the relaxed
style of the islands.
Unlike the Epcot resorts which are more traditionally hotels, the Polynesian
resort has rooms in a series of buildings (called longhouses) connected by
walkways maintained in a tropical style. There is more realism here than one might
realize. While some have described the Polynesian as drab, it seems to me that
the Polynesian resort accurately reflects a focus on nature and a relaxed style
that is true to my experiences when I lived in Hawai'i. The theming is subtle.
A repetition of stamped patterns on the walls, for example, that are accurate
representations of Hawai'ian myth and lore.
Concierge rooms are in the Tonga Building, and concierge suites are in the
Bali Hai building. The Bali Hai building has a concierge desk that is staffed
from 7:00AM until 3:00PM. The Tonga building provides full concierge service
from 7:00AM until 10:00PM. The standard rooms are spacious. Color theming and
furniture are carried over from the lobby -- teals, rusts, and beige with
primarily cane furnishings. The bathrooms are the nicest design I've seen
anywhere on property with green marble tubs and elegant fixtures. The only
remaining evidence of the Tonga building's 1970's origins were the low drop
ceilings in the hallways. Again, compared to other deluxe resorts these rooms
may seem very 'quiet' in theming to some. I personally was truly taken with the
subtle and accurate nuances of island life.
There are two pools, the one with a slide and some themed touches very
active until late into the night. The standard, and quieter pool, seldom had
people around it while we were there.
There are no hot tubs (with the exception
of the private one in the King Kamehameha suite). While the Polynesian Resort
offers no health club on site, the Grand Floridian Spa is place equal distance
between the Polynesian and Grand Floridian resorts and has a walkway to it.
And then there is the service. We received an official Aloha welcome from
the concierge staff about 10 weeks before our arrival via a questionnaire. Taking
information for our dining reservations and all other activities requiring
scheduling as well as special requests like celebrations and food
accommodations, we immediately felt a sense of 'all is well and taken care of'.
We received several calls over the next few weeks, from concierge staff and
restaurant chefs alike, ensuring the best service possible when we arrived.
And, indeed, it was the best. From walking in to a sugar-free birthday cake and
balloons when we arrived to specialized desserts every evening to the friendly
can-do attitude to the well prepared restaurants, everything was as good as it
The buffets were fresh and filled with delightful island style dishes. Fresh
whole mangos and papayas were used as garnish, and when we asked if we could
eat them, the concierge staff very graciously offered to cut them into pieces
for us. We ate a lot of mango and papaya. The concierge lounge is well used
and has an ambiance of family style friendliness. There is a corner station for
children set up that has crayons and coloring pages as well as kid style
snacks. The lounge has a 'perfect' view of the Magic Kingdom castle. I'd say
the truest testimonial to the service provided was the couple we met who had
been to Disney World over 40 times -- everytime with the Polynesian concierge
We found here a real Aloha spirit -- a sense of open hearted friendliness
and goodwill -- that I am sure will bring us back again and again. I give the
Polynesian Resort an overall 9.9 rating. When they add the hot tub, it will be
a solid 10.