Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Our Anniversary with Victoria and Albert

I was going to recap the DUI checkpoint today, but I'm still recovering from our anniversary celebration. Bad news first: I forgot my camera. So, no good pictures, which is a shame, because the dinner was like the grand finale of Top Chef Masters. I do have a scan of the menu, though. Link is at the end of this post, and also in the "Links" column of my website.

First things first. We arrived at the Grand Floridian, which is a Victorian era themed resort. You check in with a guard at the entrance, who hands you a personalized parking pass. He must call ahead, because when we pulled into valet parking, the valet (one of at least a dozen costumed staff, all ready to serve), greeted us by name. I wanted to go the full-pampering route, so even though we had only 2 small cases (shoes and war paint take up lots of room!), we let them handle the bags.

Inside, check-in was fast, and they were quick to wish us a happy anniversary and give us special "Celebration" buttons to wear (which we did until we got to our room. Remember, this is Disney Territory all the way).

Our room was across the courtyard, in the Big Pine Key building. First trickle of unease--that meant walking from that building to the restaurant. I'd kind of figured it would be simply getting into an elevator. Had I known, I might have brought an umbrella from the car. But, we'd deal with that if necessary. The other trepidation was that it would mean walking much farther in those new shoes.
Scott, our bellman, brought our bags on a large golf cart and gave us a quick tour of the resort before escorting us to our room. Our VERY expensive but what the heck, it's our 40th anniversary and we hope the last we'll spend in Orlando.

Although the room was elegant enough, I wasn't particularly impressed. The hotel's been around awhile, and is showing her age. They'd recently cleaned the carpets, as the coffee table was on the couch, but Scott took immediate care of that, and did the usual 'lay of the land' spiel as well as bringing us a bucket of ice. Oh, and note the Mickey Mouse lamp on the desk (click for a better view.) Don't think they had those in Victoria's day.

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Nice things: great bed (but it did squeak). Plenty of room. Mini fridge. Two robes in the closet. But as hotel rooms go, it was average, at best. Amenities were sorely lacking. Nice soap -- full size bars, not slivers, but only shampoo, conditioner & 1 small lotion. No sewing kit, shower cap, shoeshine cloth, mouthwash -- things you get in most nice hotels where rooms cost 1/3 of what we paid. No turndown service. I wanted chocolate on my pillow (not that I could have eaten it that night.) Ceiling fan rattled. They delivered a complimentary split of champagne right before we left for dinner, which was nice. And it came with a card signed by The Mouse himself. I'm sure our grandson will like that someday.

Next, we hung the privacy sign on the door (fade to black).

When it was time to go for dinner, it wasn't raining, but the wind was blustery. I didn't break an ankle, and have a fairly low-maintenance hairdo, so things were fine.

On to Victoria and Albert's. Again, we were welcomed and offered anniversary congratulations. When we were seated, the receptionist brought a purse hook so my purse wouldn't have to dangle from a chair or rest on the floor, and the elegance of the evening was established. We spent the next two-and-a-half hours being wined and dined, and not a Mouse in sight. Three bread courses with three different butters, not one of which was in a Mickey mold. From the amuse bouche to dessert, everything was elegantly presented, and phenomenally delicious. Seven courses. Seven wine pairings. It literally looked like what I've been watching on Top Chef Masters. The amuse bouch was actually four dishes, from a custard baked in an eggshell to tomato sorbet. And on and on. Hubby and I chose alternate dishes so we could taste even more of these delights. (If you look at the menu, note that we did NOT opt for any of the 'additional cost' selections.)

After being handed a bag containing our commemorative menus, a small loaf of orange-date-nut bread, the little candies we absolutely couldn't eat, and a long-stemmed red rose, we waddled back to the room. We've eaten at this restaurant on other anniversaries, and the last time, we decided to spring for the room so we wouldn't have to drive back. On a scale of 1-10, I'd give the restaurant experience as 12. The room...maybe a 5.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Sounds like a great time! V&A sounds pretty nice...we did the family thing at Pop Century, so had a very different experience. Maybe someday we can return for the romantic Disney trip.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Terry Odell said...

Having been raised in LA, I was going to Disneyland since the first year it opened. Then, we moved to Orlando, which has to be the theme part center of the universe. Normally, I wouldn't consider anything remotely related to a theme park "romantic", but I give major kudos to Victoria & Albert's for their elegant pampering. It's one of the few places in town where you're not sitting next to someone in flip-flops and mouse ears. (Color me jaded)

Jennifer Ross said...

I'm glad the restaurant experience was everything you'd remembered and more. The hotel report is disappointing, though.

Terry Odell said...

Thanks, Jennifer. I admit I was disappointed in the hotel as well -- although my 'guess' is that most guests are so busy out doing stuff that they don't really use the room except to sleep. But considering the charges (and the hubster made the reservations without even asking about discounts), I expected a LOT more. Service was excellent, but the room experience was more Holiday Inn.

Sassy Brit said...

Shame about the room, but glad you had a fun time, and the restaurant was good! Yum!

I have to ask -- How did you know the bed squeaked? Ah, I know, that old Victorian Mickey Mouse! :)

Just wanted to thank you again, for taking the time out to guest blog, even though you were busy, celebrating!



Anonymous said...

Next time visit the Real Thing: Big Pine Key, just 25 miles up the island chain from Key West for a taste of the real Florida.

Terry Odell said...

Anon - yep, we've been to the Keys. More convenient when we lived in Miami, though. I have a very good friend who lives on Big Pine Key.