Update: It’s rare that a post becomes obsolete a week after writing it. Marriott released its new rewards chart and doubled/tripled the price of this hotel to 25K Marriott points a night. The good news (?) is that the Swan and Dolphin are now 50K points a night, so the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista is still IMHO the best deal in Orlando.
This week I’m at Disney World researching updates for volume 2 of Disney World Hacks. I am not a fan of the Swan/Dolphin and generally think Disney World is a good place to rack up points as opposed to a place to redeem them.
I have finally found an exception to the rule and have a recommendation for those who want to book Disney World Hotels Using Points: The Sheraton Lake Buena Vista (LBV). It is a hotel that does not get much love from miles/points enthusiasts and that is a real shame. Let me lay out some reasons why I’m a fan.
The Sheraton Lake Buena Vista is 1/4 to 1/3 the Points of the Swan or Dolphin.
The Swan/Dolphin cost 12,000 SPG points a night. (Note that these values are subject to change with the Marriott Rewards update on August 1, but they will be in the same range.) The Sheraton Lake Buena Vista is a category 2: which means it is 4,000 weekdays but drops to a jaw-dropping 3,000 SPG points on weekends.
The Sheraton Lake Buena Vista is a nice hotel.
I am not going to tell you that the Sheraton LBV is a five star resort. It is not, nor does it try to be. However, neither is the Swan/Dolphin, as my friend Robert at Milenomics can attest. What the Sheraton LBV is is solid. It is clean, fairly fresh, and is a place I would return. The Sheraton LBV also offers family sized suites with bunk beds, but I would book two rooms for more than four if I were using points as upgrades are never a guarantee. Two rooms at the Sheraton LBV are still half the price of one at the Swan/Dolphin.
The Sheraton Lake Buena Vista is an amazing deal for Starwood (Marriott) Platinums.
The Sheraton LBV waives both resort fees and parking charges for Starwood Platinum members. The resort also offers breakfast for Platinums. I was told to expect a $5 upcharge for a full breakfast instead of a continental but was invited to utilize the entire buffet.
I want to give a shout out to the breakfast. While in some ways it was your typical 3.5 star hotel buffet, a couple of features stood out. For one, on weekends the hotel brings in a balloon artist who was making kids smile all over the restaurant. For another, the hotel offers a freshly made green juice as a complimentary beverage on their buffet. That is not something you normally see and more than made up for the industrial pastries.
The Sheraton Lake Buena Vista is in a terrific location.
Ok, I know you can not walk to Epcot from the Sheraton LBV. However, you are one block away from Disney Springs Hotels and within sight of the Bonnet Creek properties. You could rent a car, pay $22/day for Disney World Parking, and be miles ahead of the game. Uber is also easy and affordable, being about $15 each way to the Magic Kingdom and $12 to the other parks.
Remember, Disney World is the size of San Francisco. If you are planning to visit every park, any hotel is going to be far away from at least one of them. You might as well use the size to your advantage.
What the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista does not offer.
The one place where the Swan/Dolphin and Disney Springs Hotels beat the Sheraton LBV is their relationship with Disney. Disney has given a select group of hotels special access to Fastpass+ and extra magic hours. Those hotels include the Disney Springs Hotels along Hotel Plaza Boulevard but do not extend to either Bonnet Creek or to Good Neighbor hotels. If a sixty day Fastpass+ window is important to you, be prepared to pay up.
An easy hack to get a sixty day Fastpass+ window (and free Disney Magical Express transportation from the airport) is to book a one night stay at a Disney Resort for the first night of your vacation. You can then book your Fastpasses for the entire trip at the 60 day mark. This does require you changing properties, but you will save a bundle over a Disney owned resort.
Have you tried the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista? Do you agree that it’s a steal on points? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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