While hotel points are great, most of the time, they are only a good fit for a family of four, max. And even then, sharing one room isn’t ideal. I can tell you, we are getting to the point where our kids will need their own bedroom.
Sure, some programs allow you to redeem points on suites, but usually it’s not a good deal. The worst offender is Hilton. Have you seen their award prices on one-bedroom suites in most resort properties? Very often they will run at 150K points per night when a room costs 50K points or less. Why would anyone in their right mind go with the suite rather than get two connecting rooms?
Hyatt is much more reasonable in this respect. For example, you can redeem 24K points per night on a suite at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort near Disney, as long as you stay at least three nights. That’s actually a pretty good deal in high season when you look at paid rates.
You can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt program on 1:1 basis as long as you have a card like Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Ink Business Preferred. But it’s still a ton of UR points per night which can instead be used for mileage transfers or for booking paid flights. Plus, a suite is not the same thing as a 2-bedroom/2-bath unit.
Orlando area is overbuilt with resorts and generally speaking, it shouldn’t be too hard to find one that will suit your family’s needs. I actually just went through this process because my parents are coming next year and we plan to spend four nights in Kissimmee. Ironically, hotel points ended up being the deciding factor.
I’ve narrowed my list down to several properties which I want to highlight in this post. I don’t claim that they are the best places near Disney (I’ve only personally stayed in one), but these are the resorts that caught my eye.
I based my search on this criteria:
1) Decent reviews on TripAdvisor. Obviously, you can’t trust those 100%, but they usually give a good indication of what’s in store.
2) Family-friendly features like large pools with slides and preferably, lazy river.
3) Spacious 2-bedroom (or 3-bedroom) suites with a washer and dryer, that will fit six people comfortably.
4) Close proximity to Disney World. I’m not yet sure on whether we’ll end up going to Epcot or not, but I wanted to have a condo that is located within short driving distance, just in case.
5) Reasonable price. I didn’t want to pay much more than $250 per night all-in. That’s why you won’t find any Disney properties on my list.
Without further ado:
Pros: Decent rates, big pool, a fun pirate ship slide.
Cons: Some reviews say that the place is a bit shabby and in need of an overhaul. It appears to be a bit further from Disney than the other properties on my list. Also, there is no lazy river.
Prices: I checked the prices for March, and once you factor in resort fees and taxes, you’ll pay about $250 per night for 2-bedroom/2-bath unit that will fit six. For a little more per night, you can upgrade to a 3-bedroom unit. If you come during off-season, you should be able to get it for much less.
If you don’t have a Booking.com account, you can join via my referral link and get $25 credit after your first stay. Thanks in advance! Not too long ago, I saw a review of this property on TravelingMom website, and it really made me want to take my kids there. If only it was available via points…
2)Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort (not to be confused with Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek hotel)
Pros: Very close to Disney, lots of amenities, no resort or parking fees, bookable with Wyndham points.
Cons: Many reviews say it gets extremely crowded during high season, units vary in quality.
Prices: You will usually get the best deal if you book through AirBnB (when you join via my referral link, we will both get $40 toward a rental) or VRBO. If you are traveling during off-season, you may be able to score a bargain on SkyAuction.
Here is what I found on VRBO for the same dates in March:
As you can see, you can type in the name of the resort and sort the results based on price. By the time you add up taxes and cleaning fees, you’ll pay around $250 per night, which is about $100 less than it costs via Wyndham website.
If you are swimming in Wyndham points, you can consider burning them on this property. However, a 2-bedroom condo will run you 30,000 points per night. If you are a family of four, you can reserve a 1-bedroom condo for 15,000 points per night, which is a much better deal. A minimum stay of 2 nights is required and you should be able to book it on Wyndham.com
Pros: Brand new, upscale, resort-like setting, many water features, close to Disney.
Cons: Very large complex, away from the main drag, some growing pains due to ongoing construction.
Prices: They vary depending on the season, but I found rates to be within $250-ish range. Interestingly, one of the most cost-effective ways to book this resort is to use AAdvantage miles if you happen to have a co-branded AA card. It can be issued either through Citi or Barclays. Of course, it does depend on your speculative valuation of AAdvantage miles (mine is 1 cent). Read my post on using AA miles on hotels.
This rate is for March and includes tax, but you may be charged a resort fee of $20 per day. I called the hotel and they weren’t able to give me a definitive answer on that one. As you can see, you can book a 3-bedroom unit for extra 7,400 miles per night.
Pros: Lots of amenities, huge lazy river, clean and spacious units, close to Disney, ability to use IHG points.
Cons: Many units are located far away from waterpark and pools, requiring you to use a shuttle or a car. They also nickel and dime you, requiring guests to pay fee for use of floats, certain slides etc.
Price: The 2 bedroom/2 bath unit runs at $208 per night (plus tax) or 35K IHG points in March of 2018. Refundable rate is a bit higher.
That’s the resort we ended up booking, and I explained why in this post. I have stayed here before, though never actually used the pool area. I know, crazy. We basically used it to spend the night while enjoying Fort Wilderness campground area during the day.
Other than the fact that the resort is so darn huge, it’s a pretty neat place to stay, and I’m sure my mom will love it. My friend at Savvysunshinewife blog just posted a review of this hotel not too long ago. Keep in mind that they were upgraded to East Village, which normally costs extra.
Which option is best?
I honestly don’t know because like I said, I’ve only stayed in IHG property. However, if I wasn’t saving my AA miles for our trip next year, I would be seriously tempted to burn them on The Grove Resort and Spa Orlando. The biggest reason? Their Surfari waterpark that is set to open in 2018. When I called, they wouldn’t give me a specific date, but said it should be ready before spring. Of course, no guarantees. See photos here
Few details on the waterpark:
- Two Wave Simulators for Surfing
- Dual Water Slides
- Kid’s Splash Pad & Water Play Area
- 700 foot winding lazy river featuring cascading waterfalls, water cannons, and overhead bridges
- Zero-Entry Pool with Reclining Lounge Chairs
It’s very likely that the rates will increase after the completion, so if I have any leftover AA miles, I might burn them for 2 nights at this resort just to try it out.
My reader Cheapblackdad stayed at several resorts near Disney, and here is what he had to say:
Orlando has so many family-friendly resorts, it can be totally overwhelming trying to pick one. If you are cheap like me, it can be an agonizing process. So, if you are swimming in IHG points, consider burning them and calling it a day. Ditto for AA miles and Grove Resort and Spa, though you may want to hang on to your stash in anticipation of an upcoming flight redemption.
All in all, as long as my kids have access to a pool and a slide, they are going to be happy no matter where we stay. Check Nancy’s post Seven Best Credit Cards for “Off the Charts” Hotel Redemptions for ways to reduce your out-of-pocket cost if you choose to pay cash for any of these resorts.
Readers, please list some of your favorite reasonably-priced resorts near Disney!
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.