Elite Status

The Walt Disney Swan

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I’ve always enjoyed theme parks so when Jeanne was interested in taking a mileage run somewhere to make Gold, I was happy to suggest Orlando and a visit to Sea World and Epcot.

I had no strong preference for hotels. My back up was the Melia Orlando Hotel (the Mona Lisa Hotel when I stayed there) in Celebration, Florida. I’d stayed there earlier this year for a friends’ surgery as it was extremely convenient to the Hospital had 9 foot ceilings and modern furniture,and was only $109 — $10 more than the loud and poorly Caribbean themed Comfort Inn further down the road.

Since the Amex Starwood Personal Card has been my primary credit card for years, I also default to an SPG award stay if I can find a category 4 or less or a cash and points option. I was delighted to see both the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin were category 4 SPG properties.  They are within walking distance of Epcot and even offer a complimentary boat ride to the park. If you hit it right, which we didn’t, you also get special access to some parks, either an extra hour before it opens or after it closes.

The rooms were coming up at slightly over $200 or 10,000points. I usually save my SPG points for use when properties are going for more than $.02 a point since they are extremely valuable when transferred into other programs. But I love the ability to cancel with no penalty.

I booked a two night award stay at the Swan (the more adult Westin property), hoping to cancel if it later was available on cash &points. I was glad I did, because not only did cash & points not come up,but both properties sold out.

Our arrival was marked with great service and a blast of signature Westin air upon entering the hotel. We had no problem checking in at 11 since we’d taken an early flight down on Saturday. As a gold, I’d been upgraded to preferred floor and had a view of the courtyard and Dolphin across the way. The room was decent, a combination of Westin aesthetics with a Disney-ish feel. With two Queen beds, not much room to move between the dresser and assorted furniture but it met our needs. Having a sink both in the bathroom and immediately outside made it more convenient for sharing. Their $12 resort fee included 2 bottles of water, free local calls, and internet. As I’m somewhat addicted to internet access when I travel and not a fan of my smart phone’s tiny screen, I find myself favoring this move to bundled resort fees that make it much cheaper for 2 people to each have internet.

Self-parking was $15 a day with in-out privileges.

On site breakfast options were rather poor. If you want a hot breakfast, you face the crowds swarming into the Garden Grove restaurant at the Dolphin. Otherwise, you’re standing in a long line to grab a bagel or muffin and coffee from  the Java Bar. The evening options were much better. We wound up spending both nights at the Il Mulino bar. Both nights it was fairly crowded with convention attendees, but the service was great, the wine selection and pricing was decent, and we liked the décor. Incidentally, they serve amazing Cosmos.

 

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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.

 

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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel

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