Walt Disney World Swan Hotel Review – A Westin Marriott Property
I’m excited to write this Walt Disney World Swan hotel review after a recent stay here with my wife. If you’ve been to Walt Disney World in Orlando, you’ve certainly seen this property. As a Westin (Marriott) property, did it live up to standards? And as a third-party operator but sitting on Disney property, did it love up to THOSE standards? My Walt Disney World Swan hotel review will cover how to book, the location, facilities in both the hotel and in our room, and the staff.
As a Marriott property in their Westin brand, you can book this hotel using your Marriott points and free night certificates. In off-peak times, this property costs 35,000 points per night. If you have a free night award from a card like the American Express Bonvoy Business Card, that could get you a free night.
The annoying thing is that Marriott (probably intentionally) prices this hotel at 40,000 points in “standard” periods. (FYI, it’s 60k during “peak”!) That puts it beyond those free night awards capped at 35k. If you have the Bonvoy Brilliant Card, those free night awards are worth 50,000, so that works. I had a 40,000-point certificate as my annual choice benefit from Titanium Elite status.
We booked using that award. Even though Marriott later announced an extension to these awards, meaning our original need to “use or lose” this went away, we were so excited for this property that we decided to keep the reservation.
The cash price was $247 per night when we stayed. That gives our 40,000-point booking a value of 0.6 cents per point. That’s average for Marriott Bonvoy awards, per our valuations.
We also paid a resort fee of $35 per night, which I’ll cover in detail below.
Walt Disney World Swan Hotel Review
The Swan hotel is actually part of the larger Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin. The Dolphin hotel looks similar in many ways. It’s a Sheraton property. The Swan is the nicer one, being a Westin property. You can easily walk back and forth between the 2 to enjoy the various restaurants, pools, amenities, etc.
The Disney Swan hotel is in Lake Buena Vista, near Orlando, Florida. It sits between Disney’s Hollywood Studios to the South and Epcot to the North. The hotel is separated from Epcot by Crescent Lake, which is more like a small lagoon. You can walk around the lagoon or take a free boat ride from the hotel to Epcot. More on that later.
Arriving at the hotel, we recognized it from far away and were excited to visit the Swan hotel for the first time. Signs are easy to follow.
There is a giant loop in front of the hotel for drop off, valet, etc. The giant welcome mats show the hotel logo. Huge revolving doors make for easy access even with a suitcase.
My first thought of the lobby was that it doesn’t scream “Disney”. We’ve stayed at official Disney properties before, and this was a different feel. It felt more like a traditional Westin property at first glance. To the right sits the reception area.
Behind the lobby, the main hallway runs left to the West elevators and right to the East elevators. This giant swan fountain sits in that hallway. The rear hallway leads to the restaurants and then rear exit to the beach, lagoon, and Dolphin hotel.
These pictures are the rear of the Swan and the view to the Dolphin.
There are multiple restaurants inside the Swan hotel. These are in the rear, heading towards the back door.
Additionally, there is a coffee shop to the left of the lobby. This is not near the restaurants but is very convenient to the guest elevators. It serves coffee, sandwiches, small breakfast plates, and has grab-n-go items.
To the right of the lobby, there are seating areas and also a place to check in for flights/print boarding passes. There are even monitors showing flight information.
There are so many different areas on the property that we didn’t have time to visit them all, since our main focus was the parks. This is a view toward the small beach area (right, near the water) and the pool/cabanas (left).
Remember that my first impression was that the hotel doesn’t scream “Disney”? To the left of the lobby is this giant gift shop. That’s really the only thing “Disney” inside the hotel. It doesn’t have mouse-shaped items everywhere you look, which is good or bad–depends on your taste.
Access To Guest Areas
Our room was closest to the West elevators, but you can access rooms from either. There’s just more or less of a walk. I was surprised that we didn’t need to tap our room key to use the elevator at all. You could easily visit any floor you want.
The elevator interiors are really beautiful.
If you walk far enough, you go from the West to the East elevators. Our room was at the end of the hall–a corner room.
We had room 776, which is a corner room on the 7th floor. I used a Suite Night Award with my booking. The hotel emailed me to confirm it 3 days prior to our arrival. This room type is “Alcove Resort View, Larger Guest Room”.
The room is large and spacious. You enter immediately into the living room area. Diagonally in front of you is the bedroom area. Along with a king-sized bed, there is a glass desk & chair in one corner and a chair in the other.
The living room area has an L-shaped couch, which was very comfortable. There’s a coffee table and nightstand + lamp. I took a picture from behind the bed over to the living area to show the size of the room. It’s big.
The bed was great, in my opinion. My wife says it was a bit too soft, but we both got good sleep on the king-sized bed here. We each got 2 pillows: one that was decently firm and worth using, plus one that collapsed the moment you touched it, such that it wasn’t worth the effort to make it. We were glad to get one good pillow, though.
Large windows let in a lot of natural light. As the room name suggests, we had a “resort view”, looking out over the property.
I was surprised to see these beaded cords for controlling the curtains on the windows. As so many hotels have moved to push-button or automatic controls now, this was a blast from the past. However, they worked easily and well.
Dresser & Drawers
Near the bed, there’s a large dresser with wooden drawers. The drawers are really spacious. There are 4 drawers, and on the right side a door opens to access the mini fridge.
To the right of the door is the bathroom. The bathroom area has 2 areas. The first area has a sink, mirror, and a makeup mirror. Further in, there’s what you would think of for the bathroom. It has a toilet, shower stall, and sink. Having 2 sinks is nice when you’re getting ready at the same time.
The shower was spacious and comfortable. It’s easy to use and gets hot quickly. However, I will say that the pressure could be better.
The bathroom amenities smelled good. Nothing to write home about, but they were good. This is another area where I will point out that Disney-owned properties have everything with Mickey and characters. Here, the bar of soap was in the shape of a leaf.
The sink in the bathroom area had some signs of wear. The pattern in the sink in the outer area looked like it was dirty. My wife and I both tried to clean it. The black specks on it looked like someone had shaved, not cleaned out the sink, and left a mess for us. Odd pattern to choose.
In the outer bathroom area (the area with just the sink), there is a closet. Inside the closet, there’s a safe, iron & ironing board, hair dryer, and luggage rack.
Room Amenities & Internet
On top of the dresser, there is a coffee machine, ice bucket, and TV remote. The tissue box was empty, replaced by a pack of wipes.
On each side of the bed, there’s a nightstand with a lamp. On my wife’s side (the side closer to the dresser), there was a clock/radio/alarm, as well.
In her nightstand, there were also snacks and bottled water. All of these are included in the resort fee.
There are 2 large TVs in the room. One is on the wall facing the bed, and the other is in the living room for watching from the couch. You can control these with the controls in the room or via your phone.
A Small Issue With The Room
If there’s something that could be improved in the room, it’s the temperature. We couldn’t get the A/C to turn off. Even when the display went off from pushing the power button, the fan kept running. It was really, really cold in the room. It’s typical “Florida A/C is too cold”, which is something I just don’t understand about Florida. We definitely used the blankets on the bed at night. I wish “off” meant “off” for the thermostat. If we’d stayed longer, we would’ve asked someone about it. For one night, we dealt with it.
Amenities & Services On Property
We’ve talked before about getting the perks of staying at Disney without the huge price tag. The magic “sweet spot” here is staying at Disney-affiliated hotels that are actually owned by someone else. There are a fair number of these, and the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin hotel is one of them, so that adds numerous perks and services to cover in this review.
All Disney hotels (both owned & affiliated) offer free buses to the Disney Springs area and to the parks. Because of its location across the lagoon, the Swan & Dolphin property also offers a free boat ride (or you can walk, which is actually faster) to Epcot.
The bus is easy to recognize when catching it from Disney Springs or any of the parks.
Out the rear entrance of the hotel, there’s a covered walkway and then a gangway down to the boat loading area.
The free boat ride takes about 15 minutes to get to Epcot, because it makes 2 stops along the way to pick up/let passengers off at Disney timeshare properties. Inside the boats, masks are required, and there are plastic dividers between seats.
The boat ride was scenic and fun. We used the opportunity to put on sun screen and look at the map of Epcot during the ride.
Marriott is one of the few brands that don’t waive resort fees on award stays. That’s a shame. We paid $35 per night (plus tax) for a resort fee. With tax, it was $39.38. They placed a $100 hold on my credit card at check in, and they subtracted the resort fee from that, refunding the rest.
So, what do you get for this resort fee?
It doesn’t include parking, which is $29 per night for self parking. Valet is even more.
For this resort fee, you get the amenities in the room, like the coffee and bottled water. It also includes access to things like the pool and gym. I find that pretty silly. It’s even sillier that I had to really dig to find out what it covers, because all Marriott told me is that the fee exists.
Walt Disney World Swan Hotel Staff Review
Now that we’ve seen the property in my Disney Swan hotel review, how was the staff? Were the services good, bad, or in between?
Prior To Arrival
The day before arrival, I received an automated email with information. It told hours of operation for things like the restaurants, pool & gym. The email also gave info about transportation to the parks. There also was a link (here) to sign up for activities like fitness classes or spa appointments.
Additionally, the email also mentioned their updated cleaning policies. Highlighted in yellow and in bold letters, it said “Face coverings are optional for all guests.” We were super surprised by this. Not for vaccinated guests–everyone. And not “when inside”–just optional-period-end-of-story. This is not in line with any guidance from Disney, from the CDC, from Marriott–no one. We found this surprising.
Employees all wore masks, and a fair number of guests still had them on, as well.
On arrival, a friendly employee outside asked if we needed any help with our bags. We said we didn’t, so he just stepped aside and left us to head inside on our own.
Reception was a ghost town when we arrived. We went straight to the desk without waiting. The friendly employee greeted us and found our reservation. She confirmed my suite upgrade, thanked me for my Marriott loyalty, and asked if we had any questions. She reminded us that we needed reservations for Disney and asked if we needed help setting those up.
While friendly, she was also really efficient. By multi-tasking, she got everything done without us even feeling like time had passed. She gave us breakfast passes that we could use for a sit-down meal (for 2 people) at a restaurant or use for $20 credit (total, not each) at the coffee shop. This was a benefit from my Marriott Titanium Elite status.
Before we realized it, we were off and on our way to our room with a couple of “thank you”s and “enjoy your stay”s as we walked away. She was friendly and efficient–really good at her job.
During The Stay
We didn’t eat at any of the hotel restaurants, didn’t ask for room service, and had no issues in our room requiring staff. Thus, our interactions with staff were limited to the coffee shop employees and the boat dock crew.
The employees in the coffee shop were decent. Nothing amazing, nothing bad–just decent. They took our order, answered questions, and made coffee. I’m not saying this in a bad way, they just did a perfectly decent job and didn’t leave us wanting anything–but didn’t “wow”, either. Decent gets the job done.
The staff at the gangway for the boat provided information before getting on, such as where the boat goes and the mask policy. They were good at their jobs, efficient, and again “decent”. Got the job done, but nothing you’d consider amazing / nothing negative. Middle of the road, and we are happy with the service we got.
We checked out early in the morning. With this express check out box, we dropped our keys and were done. We didn’t need to see our bill or discuss anything.
Before going to the park for the day, we checked out and left our bags with the staff. This is definitely a common thing, because they had a huge room just for luggage storage. They asked if we were arriving or departing, gave us a claim ticket, and we were on our way. The guy who took our bags was awesome.
When we returned, we had to wait a long time to find someone at the baggage stand. Once we got someone, he asked if we wanted the bags brought in or out to the valet/taxi area. Then, he disappeared. The baggage room is literally 12 steps away. It’s a complete mystery why it took him so long to return with our stuff. Our Uber driver arrived in that time and assessed us a “waiting fee”. The guy who took our bags in the morning was fantastic, but the guy who retrieved them seemed very unhappy to be at the hotel that day.
If I had to sum up my Walt Disney World Swan Hotel review in one sentence, I’d say this: it met our high expectations, and we’d stay there again. The staff were overall very good. The amenities are plentiful and fantastic. The location can’t be beat. While the resort fee is a bit annoying, I can look past it for the great experience we had.