The artistic spirit of Salvador Dalí meets the magic of Walt Disney in the new Gran Destino Tower, which opened on Tuesday, July 9, at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. With 545 guest rooms, the 16-floor tower provides elegant, thoughtfully designed accommodations for both leisure and convention guests visiting the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Gran Destino Tower is “the centerpiece of our newly reimagined Coronado Springs Resort,” said Thomas Mazloum, senior vice president of resorts at Walt Disney World, at the grand opening. The tower’s striking main lobby now serves as the check-in location for all guests staying at Coronado Springs, Disney’s largest convention resort, where the 1,800-plus guest rooms that debuted in 1997 have all been renovated.
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While Coronado Springs’ original design celebrates the American Southwest and Mexico, Walt Disney Imagineers turned to Spain—home base of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, the resort’s namesake—as their inspiration for Gran Destino. The grand two-story lobby is an homage to Catalan modernism, with Moorish hanging lanterns lining the entrance and laser-cut bronze screens inspired by Spanish tile patterns, in rich red and orange hues, behind the check-in desks.
A sweeping staircase leads to Barcelona Lounge on the lobby’s lower level, where the eclectic patterns and stained-glass wall behind the bar evoke Gaudí. The lounge serves coffees and breakfast items early in the day, transitioning in the late morning to an artisanal cocktail bar boasting an international gin collection.
Two televisions in the lobby screen Destino, the Disney animated short released in 2003 that Spanish artist Salvador Dalí and Walt Disney first collaborated on in the 1940s. The film inspired the tower’s name and much of its design and represents “two great visionaries of the last century coming together,” says Cinde Meade, Walt Disney Imagineering interior design principal. As a convention hotel, Meade adds, Coronado Springs is “all about people coming together and connecting, for business and pleasure.”
Clients will find plenty of places for connecting at Gran Destino. From Tolédo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood, the tower’s signature rooftop restaurant, diners can spy all four Disney theme parks—two from the east side and two from the west.
The 250-seat restaurant’s vaulted ceiling sets a sophisticated mood with stained-glass mosaic accents that change color throughout the day. A chef-attended tapas kitchen serves small plates, charcutería and cheeses, with cazuelas, steak and seafood entrees, and desserts rounding out the Spanish-inspired menu. The adjacent Dahlia Lounge—named for the main character from Destino—serves signature cocktails, tapas and mesmerizing views, with tables both inside and on the outdoor patio.
Three new walkways stretching across the 22-acre lake in the middle of Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort connect to Villa del Lago island and another new dining location, Three Bridges Bar & Grill. The casual open-air restaurant serves distinctive fare, such as fried shrimp corn dogs with smoked paprika fries, as well as cocktails and sangria pitchers.
The bridges make it easier for guests throughout Coronado Springs to access various parts of the sprawling resort. Another walkway across the lake leads Gran Destino guests to the Dig Site—the resort’s pool complex, with water cascading down a Mayan pyramid, a jaguar-themed waterslide and the largest hot tub on Walt Disney World Resort property.
Gran Destino guest rooms are spacious and modern, with either two queen beds or one king with a seating area. Design details include a wall covering inspired by tile medallions, carved wood headboards, platform beds with storage space underneath and a bathroom with a rustic barn door and Spanish tile accents. Tower bathrooms feature showers only (no bathtubs), with double vanities and separate water closets.
Accommodations also include 44 deluxe suites (750 square feet each), and four 1-bedroom suites that feature a separate living area with sleeper sofa (more than 1,100 square feet each). Suites can be expanded by connecting to an adjoining room with two queens.
The resort boasts two 1,800-square-feet Presidential suites on the 15th floor. Guests staying in suites or club-access rooms can spend time in the stylish 15th-floor Chronos Club, where they can enjoy light refreshments, assistance with vacation planning from cast members and views overlooking the Walt Disney World Resort.
Guest rooms at Gran Destino are the first to feature Disney’s new interactive television system, where guests can access personalized content, such as their Disney PhotoPass images, and stream entertainment from their personal devices. The new system will be expanded to all Coronado Springs guest rooms by the end of the year.
While not exactly alike, the guest rooms in other areas of Coronado Springs echo the design of the new Tower guest rooms, with a similar color palette. They were all updated with new fixtures, furnishings and lighting, gaining an expansive desk space, hard-surface floors, platform beds and more.
Gran Destino also boasts its own fitness center; a Disney’s Magical Express bus stop for transportation to the theme parks; the Lantana meeting space, with a pre-function area featuring a show kitchen; and comfortable seating areas in the lobby with electrical outlets and USB ports.
Located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort area, Coronado Springs—including Gran Destino Tower—is categorized as a Moderate resort. Rates in the new tower command a slight premium, however. A recent room search for mid-August at Coronado Springs, for example, showed a standard room rate of $243 for a standard view room, and $287.50 for a Tower standard view room.