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If you’ve booked a Walt Disney World vacation recently, you’re well aware that a trip to the most magical place on earth doesn’t come cheap. But as many budget-conscious travelers have discovered, staying at an off-site hotel can help offset the high cost without sacrificing much of that signature magic.
Add in the ability to save even more by redeeming hotel rewards points from the most popular hotels’ loyalty programs, and being a bit further from all the pirate and princess fun doesn’t sound so bad after all. Plus, not staying on property might hold other perks as well. Maybe you’re a big fan of the Mouse, but don’t want to be surrounded by pixie dust every second of the day. Or perhaps Disney is just one of the destinations you plan on visiting while vacationing in Orlando.
Regardless of the reasons why an off-site stay might make sense for you, actually sorting through the 300-plus hotels surrounding Walt Disney World Resort can be as daunting as braving that first drop on the Tower of Terror. But not to worry, as we’ve taken that plunge for you, compiling a list of the best off-property options – categorized by rewards programs – that deliver quality, comfort, and convenience at prices that could put a smile on Grumpy’s face.
IHG One Rewards is IHG’s loyalty program, and it was recently revamped with new elite status perks. You can earn points with IHG’s suite of credit cards, or you can transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Bilt Rewards to the program.
With nightly rates starting at just over $100 – including a daily “amenity fee” – this off-site option is one of the better deals that’s just a stone’s throw away from the magic.
This Holiday Inn is less than a 10-minute stroll from Disney Springs, and it also offers free transportation to and from the theme parks. That latter perk is part of the Disney Good Neighbor program, an official stamp of approval from the Mouse that guarantees comfort, quality, and value at selected hotels not owned or operated by Disney.
Of course, IHG One Rewards members can make a stay at the Holiday Inn Resort Lake Buena Vista even more affordable if they’ve got some of those precious points burning a hole in their account. Award stays here generally range between 14,000 and 28,000 points per night.
Another fantastic, family-friendly pick – especially for those with younger kids – is this Holiday Inn featuring its very own waterpark. As another Good Neighbor partner and IHG One Rewards property, it features both the Disney perks and the ability to earn or redeem IHG points.
It’ll run you slightly more than the above option and it’s a bit further away, but its super-casual atmosphere and young family-aimed activities and amenities make it a great choice for those looking to balance their Disney days with some off-site fun. Just don’t be surprised if you have difficulty dragging your little ones away from the waterpark when it’s time to actually hit the parks. Here, expect to spend 10,000 to 23,000 points per night.
The Holiday Inn name has become pretty synonymous with affordable, family-oriented hotels that – for better and sometimes worse – definitely feel like part of a nationwide chain. And while many of the company’s 30+ Orlando area hotels totally fit that bill, the Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort bucks that reputation with a bit more luxury than you might expect from the brand.
Multiple pools, restaurants, golf courses and other amenities ensure you’ll have no problem filling those days and nights that you decide to skip Disney World, while its villa and studio-style rooms guarantee a comfortable stay.
This upscale take on the cost-friendly chain will run you at least $50 more a night than the previous pair of Holiday Inn picks – and it’ll soak up more of your IHG points with 2-bedroom villas going for 40,000 points when there’s availability – but the extra investment will be worth it for those looking for fancier, resort-style accommodations at a budget price.
World of Hyatt is a favorite among travel rewards enthusiasts due to its predictable award charts, excellent elite status benefits and high-quality hotels around the world. You can earn Hyatt points with a Hyatt credit card or by transferring points from Chase Ultimate Rewards and Bilt Rewards.
There’s a slew of Hyatts near Disney World, but our favorite is the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. It features a varied range of quality dining options, upscale amenities – including a massive lagoon-style pool to rival any at Disney’s resorts – and a gorgeous golf course. This property screams luxury but comes in at a more moderate price of $250 to $300 per night. That said, everything at the Grand Cypress, from the food to the family-friendly activities, feels worth it.
It’s also just a five-minute drive from Disney’s parks – with free transportation provided by the hotel – making it a fantastic off-site option. As a Category 4 property, standard room rates range between 12,000 and 18,000 points. If you have the World of Hyatt Credit Card, you can even use your Category 1-4 free night certificate — an annual benefit you receive simply by being a card holder.
Another solid choice for World of Hyatt members looking to put those points to good use is the Hyatt Place Orlando/Lake Buena Vista. This one won’t quite bathe you in luxury like its costlier cousin, but it will save you about $100 per night without sacrificing much quality or comfort.
What it loses in amenities, it makes up for in convenience and Disney-tied perks. As part of the Disney Good Neighbor program, it offers transportation to and from the parks and an on-site Disney guest services representative to help with park tickets, dining reservations and other Disney-specific needs and planning. Plus, it’s just a a five minute walk from Disney Springs.
As a Category 2 property, standard room rates range between 6,500 and 9,500 points per night.
Marriott Bonvoy is one of the most popular hotel loyalty programs, in large part because of the hotel group’s massive worldwide footprint. It offers a handful of cobranded credit cards and you can transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Bilt Rewards to Marriott Bonvoy.
Both pack many of the same extras as a high-end Disney resort – from fine dining and gorgeous pools to a plush, full-service spa and plenty of on-site family activities – but at rates that won’t break the bank (standard rooms fall into the $250 to $450 or 43,000 to 84,000 points per night range.). Toss in tempting Disney perks, like early park entry and walking paths to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, as well as the ability to redeem Marriott Bonvoy points, and it’s hard to beat these best-of-both-worlds options.
If you want to smartly invest those Marriott Bonvoy points and retain many of those Disney park perks, but prefer to pay less than half of what the Swan and Dolphin will run you, the Residence Inn Lake Buena Vista is a great alternative. While it’s slightly further from the magic and feels a bit more like a chain, its standard rates – starting around $100 per night or 20,000 points – are hard to beat.
Plus, the Residence Inn has full kitchen-equipped suites and a complimentary breakfast buffet, which are fantastic inclusions for families looking to save on dining. On top of all that, the hotel regularly runs package deals that further slash the cash prices for Annual Passholders and Florida residents.
Hilton Honors is another reader favorite. You can earn points with Hilton’s American Express credit cards, or transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards at a 1:2 transfer ratio, meaning 1,000 Amex points is worth 2,000 Hilton points. If you’re a Lyft rider, you can even earn Hilton points when you ride with the app.
Like its Holiday Inn neighbor, the Hilton Orlando shares many of the same perks desirable to Disney park patrons, from proximity to Disney Springs to those coveted Disney Good Neighbor benefits. But even without those magical bonuses, the Hilton does just fine on its own, featuring enough restaurants, pool areas – complete with a lazy river – and activities to keep you entertained on-site.
It also differs in price, as you can expect to spend closer to $200 to $250 or 60,000 points per night for a standard room. That said, this option gets a bump for both being part of Hilton Honors, as well as benefiting from recent, extensive renovations that push the boundaries of its “budget” category.
Crave the comfort, quality, and conveniences of a Disney deluxe resort, but don’t want to break the bank on a week’s stay at the Grand Floridian or Polynesian Village hotels? The Signia by Hilton has got your back and then some with nightly rates beginning around $300.
While standard room award rooms are few and far between, you can book a premium room award for around 90,000 Hilton Honors points here. While that starting rate is steeper than most of the other picks on our list, it’s a steal for those looking for a luxury experience that’s not fully immersed in the Disney magic 24/7.
That’s not to say the Signia isn’t a perfect choice for those destined for Disney. While not owned or operated by them, this high-end Hilton is part of its Official Walt Disney World Hotel program, meaning perks aplenty that go beyond even those of the Good Neighbor program.
On top of its close proximity and convenient transportation options, guests enjoy early park entry and the ability to book advanced Disney dining reservations. Of course, if you need a break from Mickey and his pals, this one also packs all the expected deluxe amenities and activities, ensuring a great time even if you never set foot on Disney World’s Main Street USA.
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