I had this plan to stay onsite for the duration of our time at Walt Disney World in Florida. My husband however had other ideas. It took a fair amount of persuading to convince me that we also needed some time spent off site.
We spent the first two nights of our holiday on site at Animal Kingdom lodge and the next three nights at Fort Wilderness. They were great places to stay at and we loved our time there. However we equally loved our time spent off site in a villa. Yes we had to spend more time getting to the parks and paying for parking at Disney World however we saved money by staying off site and we had our own pool and hot tub! We stayed at theLake Berkley Resort in Kissimmee. Which is an off site with villas and it took approx. 20 minutes to drive to the closest Walt Disney World park.
Lake Berkley Resort, Kissimmee Florida
We chose Lake Berkley resort by asking google which villas had close access to fishing lakes in the area. My husband didn’t want to spend every day at the Disney parks so we wanted easy access to Disney for us and fishing for him. One website that kept coming up in our searches was Home Away, which is who we booked through. It is a website where property owners advertise their places for holiday rentals. Like AirBnB it is not regulated. So book with caution and make sure you have suitable insurance in place should anything not be as expected.
Lake Berkley resort is located on the outskirts of Kissimmee. It is just down the road from Medieval Times and also one of the biggest Wal-Marts in the area. There’s also plenty of restaurants on the Highway 192. The resort states that it is 8 miles from Disney. Because of the traffic systems in Florida it always took around 20 minutes to drive to the parks. You have to wait an age if you end up at a red light!
It is a gated resort and you are given a ticket for your car to show on entry once you are registered with the people on the gate (24 hours security). People live here as well as there being rentals for holiday makers.
Facilities at Lake Berkley
As well as a fishing lake, which you are free to use during your stay, there are many other facilities at Lake Berkley. We were lucky that the villa we were staying in had fishing rods and tackle ready and waiting for their guests. We also made sure that we had a villa on the lake to make access as easy as possible. There are three fishing lakes at Lake Berkley.
The lake we over looked had a large children’s playground which was a pleasant spot to stroll over to and spend some time at.
There was also a volleyball court and a half size basketball court. Also on site you will find a clubhouse with gym, games room, floodlit tennis courts, convenience store, communal pool and splash pad and a heated spa. There is also an internet cafe with computers, desks and printers. We didn’t have time to check out all of the facilities. However, we were more than happy and satisfied with the lake for fishing and the playground on the same lake.
Our Villa at Lake Berkley Resort
We stayed at 963 Lakeview which was just a short drive from the main entrance. Here is a link to where we stayed. The owners live in Europe however they have a management company in charge of the property and that is who you are in contact with should there be any issues with your stay. We had a problem with the phone and we were unsure how to ‘turn off’ the pool alarm. We rung the company and they were over within 30 minutes. He was very helpful and even called by a couple of times afterwards to see how we were doing. He was also a big help when my son fell ill and we couldn’t get hold of my husband.
There was a welcome pack waiting for us when we arrived with a few drinks and essentials. The villa is huge. Obviously not all the villas on the resort are the same. Ours had coded entry to the villa which was great fun for us as we’d never come across that before.
The villa has Wi-Fi, a safe, full washing facilities including a drier, washing machine and dishwasher. Built in sound system, TV’s in all bedrooms and the lounge. A swimming pool and hot tub. We stayed in February which meant the pool needed to be heated. They included the price of heating the pool within our stay. The villa also had air conditioning plus two large fans in the lounge.
Lake Berkley is home to alligators, as is practically every single lake and body of water in Florida. We only ever saw them basking on the bank in the centre of the lake. We did think we were seeing them in the water for some time. Then when my husband was fishing with bread one day we realised it was indeed turtles. The turtles would come and sit right by him hoping for some bread. Sadly some even hooked themselves on while swimming about in the water. This apparently is quite rare! The main advice is to take care around the water’s edge and refrain from leaving your pool doors propped open incase an alligator decides to use your pool.
Check in was at 4pm and check out at 10am.
We paid just under $2,000 for a 7 night stay in February 2018. Lakeside villas are more than those situated away from the lakes. There are also villas without pools which are again cheaper. We used our pool a lot and were glad of it after the heat and walking of the day. We paid a refundable damage deposit of $350 on top of the 2k. They offer 100% refund cancellation up to 60 days in advance. The villa sleeps 12 people (10 adults). We had more rooms than we needed and because of this they reduced the cost of our stay for us. Pets are not allowed and it’s a non smoking villa.
Here’s some photos of the interior of our villa.
We loved the villa so much that we would not hesitate to return. It was private, well equipped, beautiful setting, clean and extremely spacious.
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