Bundle Breakdowns: The convoluted world of Orlando’s “free” resort credits

See recent posts by Paul Brady

The JW Marriott Orlando, where the free resort credit really is free
The JW Marriott Orlando, where the free resort credit really is free
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Oyster just posted more than two dozen reviews of Orlando hotels and resorts, and the bundled “resort credit” is currently very popular among them. Basically, it’s a gift certificate to spend on resort services during — and only during — your stay. Sounds nice, but the catch is that booking one of these “specials” for a certain room category is sometimes more expensive than reserving just a room of the same type.

You’ll occasionally net a free drink or free valet parking — things that can indeed add up over a multi-day stay — but these so-called deals deserve particular scrutiny. Here’s a closer look at four hotels that are offering room-and-resort credit packages — and a breakdown of whether paying extra for is actually worth it. As it turns out, sometimes it is…

The Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes

The deal:Resort Reconnect,” includes a $50 resort credit and daily breakfast buffet for two at The Vineyard Grill

The price: In mid-March, $384 per night

The breakdown: A room alone sells for $309 a night, and the breakfast buffet for two is $46 a la carte. That means you’re only paying for $29 of that $50 resort credit, so if you use it all — on, say, frozen umbrella drinks at the poolyou’re coming out 21 bucks ahead per day.

Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek

The deal:Grand Getaway,” includes a $50 resort credit and free valet parking.

The price: $329 per night

The breakdown: The same “Disney View” room sells for $289, and valet parking is $20 a night. (Self-parking is $13 a night, so guests are locked into spending something to stash their wheels.) Booking this “getaway,” then, nets you a $50 credit for just $20 extra. That would, for example, save you 60 percent on a light lunch for two at the on-site Harvest Bistro.

Caribe Royale Orlando

The deal:Hop into Spring Package,” includes a $30 food and beverage credit and late check-out of 1 p.m.

The price: $144

The breakdown: A call to the front desk revealed that while check-out is normally 11 a.m., they’ll extend that to 1 p.m. without additional charge; that so-called extra really isn’t. Still, booking this package nets you a rate much cheaper than the “best available” room-only price of $190 for the same mid-March dates. All told, you net $76 in savings and credits by booking this package instead of a room alone.

JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes

The deal:$50 Daily Resort Credit,” includes simply the credit

The price: $269 per night

The breakdown: Like the Caribe, this promo — a room plus a daily resort credit — is currently the best rate the hotel offers, making it a total no-brainer. Spend your free loot on access for two to the steam room and sauna ($40) or on lunch for two at the charming Citron brasserie.

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