Disney by Design
Great design and…Disney? The two aren't mutually exclusive. In fact, the Walt Disney Company has always dabbled in the architectural avant-garde, hiring architects such as Robert Venturi, Philip Johnson, and Michael Graves to design buildings for their theme parks, resorts, and corporate campuses. Influential mid-century artists such as Mary Blair were also on the Disney payroll, as Walt himself recognized that talent, creativity, and attention to detail would always surpass cost-cutting gimmickry, especially when it came to crafting superb vacation experiences for guests.
Disney's carried on this tradition of employing star architects and artists to design and decorate their resorts over the years. Though Disney hotels are associated with families, at many of the newer resorts, you'd be hard-pressed to find a Mickey Mouse motif anywhere. These are upscale resorts are aimed at adults who wish to immerse themselves in a totally cultural – not just Disney-branded – experience. Disney even offers a points-based vacation ownership program that allows guests to purchase timeshares in several of their most design conscious, adult-friendly properties. Check out the Disney Vacation Club to learn more; below are a few of our favorite options.
Disney's Aulani Resort, Oahu, Hawaii
The Aulani Resort was designed in consultation with Native architects and cultural experts for a totally Hawaiian experience (Disney started from scratch when they were advised by experts that their original plans were inappropriate). Guests have the option of staying in ultra-lux suites or simple studios, while vacation club members can purchase 1-3 bedroom villas for their own use.
The lobby of the Aulani boasts artwork by contemporary Hawaiian artists, including Martin Charlot and Solomon Enos. While the resort offers all the on-site amenities you expect from Disney, including great dining and lounging options, it's located near to several "must-sees" in Hawaii, such as Diamond Head, the Honolulu Zoo, and the Dole Plantation (featuring the world's largest maze).
Animal Kingdom Villas, Florida