Staying at Walt Disney World isn’t cheap and one way to lower your costs is to use the Marriott Free Nights Certificate, good at any room costing 50,000 points per night or less, that comes with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant credit card issued by American Express. The cool thing is this free night benefit is often is worth more than the cost of keeping the credit card, doesn’t require you to spend a certain amount of money on the card, and doesn’t require you to have any points in your account. It’s simply a totally free night, including tax.
It makes sense to try to get the most value out of the free night. If you can stretch your vacation one more day, that could be very valuable to you and your family.
Here are the Marriott hotels in the WDW area where you can use your free night:
Now that Marriott Bonvoy has gone to a point chart with Off-Peak, Standard and Peak rewards, where you can stay with a free night certificate, can depend on what pricing the hotel is charging for a night.
A 50,000 point free night can always be used at a category 5 hotel if reward nights are available. You’ll be able to stay at a category 6 hotel during off-peak and standard rate nights, and you could even snag a category 7 at off-peak pricing.
Category Five Hotels
There are a few 35,000 point category 5 hotels nearby. The massive 1,400+ room Gaylord Palms and the 2,000+ room Orlando World Center Marriott mega-resort are both located just a few minutes outside Walt Disney World. However, I can’t recommend either of them as somewhere to use your free night certificate at either of these locations.
The Gaylord Palms charges $24 a night for self-parking and a $30 a night resort fee. The World Center Marriott charges $22 a night for self-park and a $30 a night resort fee, Using a “free” night at either of these hotels would cost you over $50. Marriott does charge the resort fee, even on free nights, as they state on their website.
The Card Member may be responsible for payment of additional mandatory resort fees at properties where resort fees are applicable, and is responsible for all incidental charges.
While both of these hotels do offer amenities that other hotels in the area do not, I don’t think it’s worth an extra $30 a day since you don’t come to Orlando to sit at your hotel.
The 115 room Bohemian Hotel is an Autograph Collection property. It’s a more refined stay away from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks. There’s no shortage of restaurants around, including one of our favorite off-property places to eat, Columbia.
The hotel doesn’t charge any resort fee, and parking is only $16 a day, which is reasonable for Orlando.
The Bohemian isn’t the style for everyone. It’s definitely a more laid back vibe and that’s not what most people are thinking about when they come to Orlando. They want to get to the theme parks. There are many more hotels to fill that need.
Category Six Hotels
When you think of Walt Disney World hotels and Marriott Bonvoy, two properties come to mind, the Westin Walt Disney World Swan and the Sheraton Walt Disney World Dolphin. Both hotels are category 6 properties and will cost between 40,000 and 60,000 points a night. The considerable worry was that once Marriott had point categories, these resorts would be at peak level for the whole summer season. Turns out, that’s not the case, at least for now. Here is the calendar for July at the Swan. The only night in peak season is the Fourth of July.
The downside of staying at the Swan or Dolphin is they charge a $30 a night resort fee and self-parking is $25, while valet parking is $35. These costs are not waived for free night redemptions.
One new property entering the mix is the new JW Marriott opening in the Bonnet Creek area in 2020. This hotel will also be listed in category 6. If you’re wondering, this is the hotel you have watched them build as you’re crossing I-4 entering Disney property.
There are several other Marriott Bonvoy category 6 properties located farther away from Disney World. If you’re looking for a more varied Orlando vacation, some of these might interest you.
The biggest fear that people who loved staying at the Swan and Dolphin had when Marriott announced variable pricing was that the popular time of the year would always be categorized as peak season. I’m happy to see that didn’t happen and that even in the busiest of times, Marriott is offering rooms at standard and even at off-peak pricing. This means you’d be able to combine a 50,000 point free night certificate with some off-peak nights to have a reasonably priced Disney summer vacation.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary