Sunday, January 18, 2015

Walt Disney World Swan Resort

Hotel Details
Hotel: Walt Disney World Swan
Dates: January 15-18, 2015
Rate Paid: $75 + 5,000 SPG per night
Regular Cost: $236 per night 
Redemption: 3.2 cents/point

The Five Star Painting convention was actually being held at the Rosen Centre, but since my mother and I were coming (along with Jack & Connor and their mother), my father decided to switch to a hotel closer to the Disney Theme parks.

After all, it was a lot easier for the fathers to jump an taxi to their conference than it would have been 2 mothers and 3 kids to get over to Disney. Plus, having 2 more stays and 6 more nights at a Starwood hotel definitely helped with my father's quest to re-qualify for Starwood Platinum status for 2016.

As you readers may know know, the Walt Disney World Swan hotel is really a Westin hotel located on the Disney campus and offers many (but not all) the benefits of being a Walt Disney World hotel. For example, we were eligible for the Extra Hours at the theme parks and the free shuttle buses to the theme parks. However, since it was not actually owned by Disney, we did not get the Free Disney Airport Shuttle or access to the Disney Meal Plans. But those weren't big deals to us.

So for $75 cash + 5,000 SPG points per night, we were booked for 3 nights at the Starwood Category 4 hotel. Plus, since my father was a Platinum member, we'd get the $23/night resort fee waived and free continental breakfast each morning. That sure beat the discounted $115/night rate at the Rosen Centre (without free breakfast or complimentary wifi).

We arrived Thursday 3PM in the afternoon (before the big MLK Weekend rush). The bellman grabbed our bags from the taxi and we went up to the empty front desk where a very friendly staff named Matt checked us in.

My father had booked 2 rooms so Matt found both in the system. However, since we were coming during a busy weekend, there were no suites or family alcove rooms available for a complimentary Platinum upgrade. Not a huge deal since we weren't planning on staying in the rooms much anyway. Matt was kind enough, however, go give each room Complimentary Breakfast vouchers for each morning, though the official policy is actually only for the 1 room with the Platinum guest staying in it.

Matt did give us our choice of rooms. Our best options to be close were on the 6th floor. Both were refurbished rooms and had balconies, but one faced Epcot Center where they had a fireworks show every night. The other faced the resort. Aside from the views, the rooms were identical.

While these were the "more modern" refurbished rooms, they still had a lot of standard wear and tear, though we didn't let that bother us. We read enough reviews in advance that we weren't expecting a perfectly new room. The beds were the great Westin Heavenly mattresses and the bathroom had a sink inside as well as a separate sink outside - huge for families.

The Property
After putting getting our luggage brought up, we quickly got settled and met downstairs to explore the property. Since the Swan was a sister hotel to the larger Dolphin across the water, we were able to access all the features of both properties, including the Social Hour (Happy Hour) at the Dolphin's lobby bar on Thursday evenings.

There was a lot of water around. The Swan and Dolphin were separated by a large man made lake with a walkway connecting the two properties.

On the eastern end of the property, there was another lake where the Disney Boardwalk area was.

But one of my favorite features of the Swan was the character breakfasts on the weekends at their Garden Grove Restaurant. Starting at 8AM, they have some Disney characters come out while you're eating breakfast to make your morning just a bit more special.

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