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Holding Up? A Disney World Swan Reserve Return One Year Later

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Disney World Swan Reserve

Walt Disney World Swan Reserve

We recently completed our second stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Reserve, just over a year after our first.  We didn’t return based on an outstanding first visit; our previous experience was far from perfect.  Why we came back boils down one word – location.  We enjoy convenient walking access to EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios from the property and weren’t interested in the older, gaudier Swan or Dolphin properties for a similar Marriott points total.  And I’ve been curious to see how the fairly new Reserve has aged after a year.    Here are my main takeaways from our second stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Reserve.

Check-In Challenges

Sardines

First off, I will say again that the Swan Reserve’s lobby is entirely inadequate for this hotel’s size.  The Swan Reserve is certainly not gargantuan at 349 rooms, but it’s not small, either.  Regardless, I’ve seen Hampton Inns with more lobby space.  To make matters worse, the Swan Reserve is hemorrhaging with people at times, probably due to the fact there’s often one agent, at most, at the front desk.  As I mentioned in my review, there’s room for four.  The lobby reminds me of countless Walmarts with 15 or so checkout lines and one cashier.

Disney World Swan Reserve

The corridor between the front desk and the main elevators is about five feet wide (pictured above).  It’s awkward for anyone, bags or not, to negotiate such a small area while allowing space for oncoming foot traffic.  I couldn’t help but think of those old bridges that only allow one way traffic.  The former can be quaint, the latter is just thoughtless design.

Swan Reserve Check-In Time Tricks

We arrived at 4 pm check-in time (for the sake of accuracy, my folio notes 3:59 pm).  The agent was pleasant enough but advised that our room wasn’t quite ready.  I questioned this, based on the property’s 4 pm check-in time.  She attempted to resolve this by saying that it would just be a few minutes.  I calmly told her that’s basically what we were told last year, and the hotel didn’t end up having the room ready until around 6 pm.  Also, I mentioned this hasn’t happened at any other Marriott property I’ve visited in the past 12 months.

She departed to talk to a manager and returned about five minutes later.  Magically, she  assigned us an available room.  I caught myself over-thanking her for providing a remarkably basic service – giving us a room at the hotel’s advertised check-in time.

The arduous task of obtaining a room at the Swan Reserve confounds me.  The property is seemingly obstructing paying guests (cash or points) from obtaining what they purchased.  Heavily consider the check-in wild card before booking a stay here.  Those on a tight schedule will probably do better elsewhere.

Housekeeping Shines

The property received what I consider the highest hotel compliment from my wife.  On multiple occasions, she mentioned to me that the Swan Reserve “feels clean.”  I very rarely hear her say this about any hotel.  Indeed, everything about our basic two queen room was immaculate.  All hotel surfaces, including the carpet, desk, dresser, bathroom floor and counterspace, felt pristine.  Without asking, we received new bed sheets on the sixth morning.  All housekeeping was completed promptly, as we often returned back to our rooms by early/mid afternoon to a clean room.  (This makes the front desk’s inability to issue rooms in a timely manner even more ridiculous.)

Handy Elite Breakfast

This is my first time reaching Platinum (or higher) status in Marriott’s program in years.  Naturally, I was curious about the Swan Reserve’s breakfast benefit for such loyalists.  The member and one guest have four options for continental breakfast:

  • In Room Dining
  • Amare at Swan Reserve
  • Garden Grove at Swan
  • Fresh at Dolphin

We exclusively used the first option, as we considered the others unnecessary time-sucks.  And what’s the point of anything beyond in room dining when the offering is so austere?  Indeed, the breakfast card’s complimentary offering only allows the following: choice of coffee or juice, breakfast pastry, and choice of oatmeal, fruit salad, or yogurt.

That said, it was the perfect amount of food for our family to start the day.  We needed most of our stomach real estate for the parks, anyway.  I easily accomplished online ordering each evening for the next day’s breakfast.  Our requested 6 am delivery was on time most mornings, with a few morning deliveries about 10-15 minutes late.

Disney World Swan Reserve

Conclusion

But here’s the big question: will I/we be back?  Probably.  Am I excited?  Not really.  But again, this property has one thing that’s enough for many, including us – location.  Those in power at the Swan Reserve probably know this, so it’s no surprise they don’t really try to exceed expectations.

Have you recently stayed at the Swan Reserve?  What’s your opinion?

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I consider this property the last choice out of the 3 options here b/c of the longer walk to get anywhere- I also disagree with the statement that the sister Swan and Dolphin properties are “gaudy”….really? They’re great places to stay!

  2. I stayed recently, and was both pleased and disappointed. It is a very nice hotel, but has zero Disney magic. Stay here for strategy and redemption/earning in the Marriott program. The bus to Magic Kingdom only goes to the TTC, the boats require a lengthy walk to reach, the laundry required going across the street to Dolphin. The shower door was damaged upon our arrival, and after 2 family members showered I realized it was dangerous and had to have a repairman come late at night. However, it is clean and crispy looking.

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