There are a few different options you can take advantage of in order to get at least 5 nights of Disney lodging for free. One method is for Disney’s Swan or Dolphin resorts while the second method is for the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort. Note that the Swan and Dolphin resorts are luxury hotels (Disney Deluxe resorts) located right inside the park. The Sheraton Lake Buena Vista is just a short (free) shuttle away from the park but is a less expensive hotel. If you follow these steps, you can get 5 free nights at Swan or Dolphin, or 13 free nights at Lake Buena Vista for the same amount of points.
So here is how it works. Many guests are unaware that you can redeem Starwood points at these resorts because they are former Starwood hotels. Marriott now owns Starwood but they still honor Starwood points.
The Swan and Dolphin are considered “Starwood Category 5” hotels, meaning that they will cost you 16,000 Starwood points per night during the peak season and 12,000 points per night in the off-season. If you were to open two Marriott credit cards (one for you and one for your spouse/adult travel companion) and use them for your normal everyday spending, then you would be able to get up to five nights of free lodging during the off-season at the Dolphin and Swan resorts. These rooms normally cost over $300 per night, so this would be huge savings!
As far as the Lake Buena Vista Resort goes, this hotel will cost you 4000 points for each weekday night and only 3000 per weekend night. Therefore, you would receive 13 or more free nights if you adhere to our plan as laid out below. If you would like some nights at Swan or Dolphin and some nights at Lake Buena Vista, you could certainly divide your nights between resorts and experience free lodging both inside and outside the park for a week’s worth of points.
Free 5th Night: One of the perks to using Starwood points at hotels in Category 3 or higher is that the 5th night is free. As Category 5 resorts, Swan and Dolphin both qualify for this perk but Lake Buena Vista Resort does not. It will cost you 48,000 points to get 5 nights at the Swan or Dolphin during the off-season (12000 points x 4 nights + 1 free night = 5 nights for 48,000). You can definitely stretch your rewards points if you go during the off-season. Click here to see the off-season periods.
Fees: Also be aware that you will be responsible for paying a small “resort fee” for each day of your stay. Besides this, your room will be free.
How to Earn your Points
Below we describe how you will earn at least 52,000 points – enough points for either five nights at Swan or Dolphin during the off-season, or an impressive 13 nights at the Lake Buena Vista Resort.
Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card
Both you and your adult traveling companion will first open a Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card. The current offer allows you to earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account.
So after you each make $5k in normal purchase within the first three months, you will each receive 100,000 points and an additional 5000 points for your spending (1%). That means 105,000 points per person and a total of 210,000 points combined! Then you will convert the Marriott points to Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points. This will instantly transfer the 210K Marriott points into 70K Starwood points to be used at Swan or Dolphin. And since Dolphin and Swan are either 12000 or 16000 points per night depending on the time you visit, you will get 4 nights worth. But since anyone who books 4 nights receives a 5th night for free, you will be automatically awarded an extra night at no additional cost. Make sense?
Book your resort with Starpoints
Go online and view your Starwood account with your accumulated points. Book the Swan or Dolphin via “SPG Free Nights!” When you book at least 5 nights, your account will automatically give you the 5th night free. There shouldn’t be any blackout dates.
Total Savings with this trick: roughly $1500 (based in $300 per night x 5 nights).