Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Windsor Hills

Planning for marathon weekend, I knew I needed to find a place to stay that could house not only the three of us, but my parents comfortably.  Even with just the 3 of us, a standard hotel room wasn't exactly a thrilling option- Noah tends to be a light sleeper, so tv would immediately be ruled out.

In June, this wasn't really a problem because we stayed out later most nights and all happily crashed as soon as we got back to the room, but marathon weekend?  This trip would be different.  We knew that we would have to wake up ridiculously early the morning of the race (2 a.m.), but wanted to avoid waking Noah (at all costs.  Really, that's good for no one.).  Plus, my parents were going to drive up from South Florida to babysit while we ran, and I didn't want to make them pay for their own room.

I originally looked into the Shades of Green- I'm active duty military, so this has always been an option- knowing that they had suites available. 1 bedroom, and another room with a pull-out couch was doable, but someone would still be sharing the room with the baby.  And, asking my parents to be quite enough not to disturb Noah?  Unlikely.  

After SoG, I looked into DVC rental points.  But, for a 2-3 bedroom for a week was out of my budget, even for the cheapest time of year.  

That's when I found Windsor Hills.  For the same price as we stayed for 5 nights at a moderate, we found a week in a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom villa (townhome) with a private splash pool and kitchen.  Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it?

We stayed at Wishing Place Villa.  Honestly,I chose this unit because I liked the decor and the tv's.  Knowing that we would be spending a good bit of time there not in the parks, plus being bowl game season, I ruled out any house without quality televisions.  The community is only about 4 or 5 miles off property, and I think we got to the parks faster than had we taken bus transportation from some of the resorts!  Located off of 192 West, there are restaurants, grocery stores, and a Super Target within a short distance.  We couldn't check in until 4 pm, so we headed to our villa after a trip to Super Target.  

Once we checked in, we noticed that our particular villa was child friendly - no gates on the stairs (yes, stairs!), but all of the outlets were covered and there wasn't too much for him to get into.  Leading up to our trip, I kept worrying that somehow Noah would get outside and fall into the pool, but not only pool have an thick cover on top, but the sliding glass door leading outside had an alarm on it, so I didn't even worry about him somehow opening it!  

The kitchen came fully stocked with cups, plates, silverware - I only wish they'd supplied salt and pepper, but I guess you can't assume people won't take those home!  There was a high chair provided, that we kept stored in a closet, so he wouldn't push it around the house (like everything else).  
He liked the living room!
1 bedroom with a queen bed and full bath was downstairs - this was for my parents for the first few nights, and my friend Ruth after they left.

Upstairs, Adam and I had the master bedroom - with a King bed and full bath, while Noah's room had bunk beds, a pack -n play, as well as toddler rails for the beds, if necessary.  The hallway connected the 2 rooms upstairs also stored a small, but new-ish washer and dryer, which we used several times.

My only worry signing up - how do I know that these people aren't going to take my money and run?  Well, I found them 2 ways - through a search of Windsor Hills Villas by owner and Florida Sun Vacation Rentals.  I found too many options to count, and narrowed down by decorating style and quality of tv.  Yup.  No flat screens, we're not staying!  Hey, we did have a few days in Orlando before going to the parks, plus we still had bowl games to watch!

The day after the race, Adam was recovering from being sick, my parents were gone, and I had to entertain Noah without going too far.  We headed out to explore the community.  Small, but adorable.  I didn't want to pay the $10 deposit (fully refundable, but I wasn't carrying cash) for access to the playground and it was a little too chilly to want to swim, we went for a walk and discovered a cute field that I let Noah run around in. 
I took about 30 pictures of him frolicking in the grass.  He had a blast, just running around and playing with the grass.  After a few months of winter, he was enjoying being allowed to romp!

The owner, Beth, was fantastic - she sent us information throughout the process, as well as friendly reminders for payments (which I needed!).  We were equipped with a list of local restaurants and stores, so we knew what was around the area.  The only problem we had while we were there was with the internet, but I think it might have just been my computer acting up.  I contacted Beth (via phone email), and she contacted the rental company within an hour.  

We've looked into DVC multiple times.  I love the idea of being part of the club.  And, comparing the prices to paying for the same quality of resorts, I see how people buy in.  But, knowing Windsor Hills is right there, I can't justify the purchase (nor is it reasonable for us right now, anyways!).  The only trick is they don't supply extra toilet paper, paper towels, soap, etc...  There was a nice welcome package and each bathroom had a starter roll, but that went quickly with 4 adults!  Luckily, we planned ahead and added it to our Super Target shopping list. 

If you're looking for a longer stay where you might not want to be in the parks every day, you should definitely check into Windsor Hills/Wishing Place.  We had a great stay and hope to stay there again soon!

What are your favorite places to stay off property?  



  1. Great review Jenn!! I have not really stayed off property but if we needed to I will be checking this out.

  2. Hi Jennifer,
    My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blog posts about Windsor Hills to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you :)