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Why Go: After a day assaulting the theme parks, sometimes what a family really needs is the creature comforts of a home away from home. The Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa has a convenient location inside Disney World and yet manages to provide a blessed respite from the masses along with stylish, condo-style accommodations. (Disney prefers the term “villas.”) The 65-acre property is the eighth resort in the stable of Disney Vacation Club properties, and the sixth inside Walt Disney World.
Set amid a well-groomed landscape of parkland and lakes, the resort calls to mind its namesake, the 19th-century retreat in upstate New York known for mineral spas and horse racing. Not only did Disney’s designers use colorful mock Victorian architecture and equine motifs, but they borrowed actual street names and even the city’s motto—“Health, History, Horses”—to capture the spirit of the original Saratoga Springs, where our correspondent, Suzanne Kelleher, and her family happen to live. (“The attention to detail is amazing. The main swimming pool is named after a real mineral spring in our hometown. At check-in, my kids noticed that the beautiful white merry-go-round horse in the middle of the reception area is a replica of those on the Victorian carrousel in Saratoga’s Congress Park.”) Still, this is no carbon copy of any worldly place, and Disney’s creativity extends beyond mimicry to magic. Observe how the jockey silks displayed in the Turf Club lounge are embossed with Mickey’s silhouette. And cast an eye to the adorable children’s waiting area near the check-in desk, with its kid-size mahogany loveseats, chic wainscoting, and a portrait gallery that showcases not Kentucky Derby winners but framed sketches of horses from Disney’s animated films, including Mulan’s stallion, Khan.
The Saratoga Springs Resort is a super choice for parents who want to balance their kids’ need for non-stop action with their own need for some down time. Though there’s much to delight young children here, the resort’s standout amenities appeal chiefly to adults with a taste for the good life. The property’s award-winning spa—one of the two full-service spas at Walt Disney World—has been listed as one of the top five destination spas in North America and the Caribbean in a past Condé Nast Traveler magazine readers’ survey. In addition to boasting the most impressive fitness center at Walt Disney World, this resort is one of two Disney properties to offer walk-on access to golf at the Lake Buena Vista Golf Course. And in the evening, Downtown Disney and its dozens of restaurants and nightclubs are a short walk or ferry ride away.