Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa - a review

We stayed in Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa for the first time in September. We really really loved it... so much so that we're staying there again next April/May for our 2017 Disney holiday!

Saratoga Springs is located in the Disney Springs resort area and is in a great central location. Launched in 2004, it's a relatively new resort compared to the others we've stayed in. The resort is inspired by New York's Saratoga Springs and has five distinct areas - The Springs, The Paddock, The Carousel, the Grandstand and Congress Park. Saratoga Springs is classed as a 'deluxe' Disney resort which means it has certain perks, such as a balcony and more amenities for your room. 

We stayed in the Congress Park area which was only five minutes' walk away from The Carriage House (the lobby and main concourse). This proved to be very useful for our refillable mug top-ups! However, for me, the huge plus of staying at Congress Park was the convenient walkway to Disney Springs. We always spend a lot of time in this bustling area of Walt Disney World and being able to walk there in ten minutes saved us so much time and effort in terms of waiting for transport. It meant we could pop over to Disney Springs whenever we had a couple of hours to spare, and it also provided us with lots of lovely views as we walked! 

We stayed in a 'studio' at Saratoga Springs which is suitable for up to four people. We were situated on the first floor (or second floor in American terms) and were really pleased with the size and quality of our room. It contained a queen-sized bed, a double sofa bed, the aforementioned balcony with a little table and two chairs, and a kitchenette area with a sink, fridge, toaster, microwave and coffee machine. There was plenty of storage room for our suitcases, clothes and shopping and it continued to feel spacious for the whole length of our stay! Our room was cleaned every day and we were very impressed (as always) with the attentive and friendly nature of all employees at the resort.

We wandered around the other resort areas a few times during our stay - this really is a huge resort. There are five bus stops scattered throughout Saratoga Springs for your free park transportation, one for each area, so it's worth considering this when you decide where you'd prefer to stay. The Grandstand is the first area where the buses pick up and drop off, and the Springs is the final area. You can also catch the boat or the bus to Disney Springs if you'd prefer not to walk, which might be useful if you're staying a little further from the walkway. All five areas are full of pretty buildings and situated in beautiful surroundings with various views, fountains and backdrops so you can't really go wrong with your choice! 

On the food front, Saratoga Springs offers a table service option and a counter service option - The Turf Club Bar and Grill and The Artist's Palette, respectively. Although we didn't eat at the Turf Club during our stay, we made good use of the Artist's Palette for breakfast and lunch on a couple of days and had some lovely quick meals there. You can also buy lots of snacks at the adjoining gift shop if you need to use up your Disney Dining Plan tokens on your last day! 

Saratoga Springs offers a main pool and numerous quiet pools around the resort. The main pool boasts the On The Rocks pool bar for all your drinks and snacks so you could happily spend a good portion of your day there, and it's also within throwing distance of the main building. The quiet pools in the Paddock and Grandstand areas also have their own pool bars which is very convenient for guests staying in those areas, and a few of the quiet pools are open for 24 hours.

I can't comment on the spa or the golfing facilities as we didn't use these during our stay, but it's always good to know that those options are there if they're important to you and what you want out of your holiday. 

I really can't wait to go back to Saratoga Springs next April. Like every other Disney resort we've ever stayed in, the customer service is second to none and you're made to feel welcome from the second you arrive until you leave on the Magical Express. 

Have you ever stayed at Saratoga Springs? As I'm sure you can tell by now, I'd highly recommend it! 

Monday, 14 November 2016

Ten reasons to be happy

As more time passes since my diagnosis and my operation, I feel as if I should be improving a little bit every day - physically and emotionally. However, I'm definitely learning that this journey isn't that simple. Sometimes, I feel sad. Other times, I feel angry. Sometimes, it's too hard to be positive and I get fed up of pretending. And, most days, I'm EXHAUSTED.

Although I'm very good at putting pressure on myself and berating myself for not getting better quickly enough, I'm trying to remind myself that this ordeal has been a pretty big deal and there are no set timescales to follow in terms of my recovery. Easier said than done, believe me, but a lot of people have told me I need to be kind to myself and I think they're right.

In order to help me through my recovery and to try to counteract the negative emotions when they crowd me, I'm trying to focus on the little (and big) things that make me happy. I thought I'd share some of those things with you...

1. My family and friends

I blogged about the support of my family and friends last week, and these amazing people in my life are still continuing to support me every day. My support network is definitely something to be positive about! 

2. Christmas is coming

I've always been a huge fan of all things Christmas, and this year I'm even more excited than usual about the festive period. After such a horrible few months, it'll be really nice to end 2016 on a high with my favourite time of year. 

3. Florida 2017

We've booked to go back to Walt Disney World next April and I couldn't be more excited. A huge incentive to keep positive and keep improving! 

4. Hot chocolate

I've drunk a ridiculous amount of hot chocolate during the last few weeks, even by my hot-chocolate-addict standards. I'm steadily trying all the different festive drinks, one by one.

5. My car

I'm now allowed to drive again after having an enforced six weeks off after my operation. I have a new-found appreciation for my car and how much I rely on it! At the moment, I'm mostly using it to satisfy my craving for hot chocolate...

6. Cosy nights in

Our cosy nights in are currently even more welcome than usual as I'm so tired all the time. I'm spending a lot of time in my pyjamas, slippers and dressing gown in the company of our latest Yankee candle! 

7. Books

I'm making the most of my free time and reading book after book after book! Reading always makes me happy and is by far my favourite form of escapism. 

8. Food

Well this is an obvious one (for me)... sometimes, when I'm having a really bad day, the thought of having a nice evening meal or eating out in one of my favourite places makes me feel happier even it's only for a few minutes! 

9. Autumn walks

The weather has been lovely for the most part during my recovery so I've been for lots of autumnal walks. Definitely the prettiest season!

10. My iTunes

On those days when I'm busy blogging or don't feel like watching TV, I love listening to my iTunes on shuffle in the background. Who couldn't be cheered up by the likes of McFly, S Club 7 and B*Witched?

What makes you happy during difficult times? Let me know! 

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Two very simple words... thank you!

If you've read my most recent blog post, you'll know that I've been going through a difficult time during the second half of this year. I really couldn't have got through it all without the support of my family and friends and I want to thank you all a million times over.

Sending gifts and cards (and gift cards), giving me a hug, sending me positive vibes via Instagram or Twitter, having a hot chocolate with me, sending me a text or motivational Disney quote... all these things, however big or small, made me feel a bit better when I was at my lowest and continue to give me the strength I need to get through this.

Special thanks go to Neil and my parents for being the best husband and parents anyone could ask for during what was undoubtedly a horrendously difficult time for them too. They saw me and supported me at my worst, visited me in hospital twice every day, came with me to appointments, helped me with those little tasks I just couldn't do on my own, completely took over the bigger tasks so that I didn't have to think about them, listened to my worries, and held me while I cried.

I know I'm incredibly fortunate to have such an amazing support network and I need to remember this through everything that's still to come. 

I thought I'd include some photos of the gifts and cards I've received as another way of documenting my journey. I didn't take photos of everything because some days I didn't feel well enough to take photographs (I know, I must have been REALLY ill). Also, it won't surprise you to hear that I ate some of the edible gifts before I had a chance to photograph them... I had to celebrate getting my appetite back somehow!

So, here are just some of the lovely things I received:

I really was and still am overwhelmed by everyone's kindness and support - thank you!