Cooling Down Hot Hotel Market

There are a lot of sites out there offering to find you the cheapest hotel room in Orlando. But this is not one of them.

Not today, anyway.

Nothing wrong with spending less on where to spend the night.

This is a common attitude:

Since you only go to a hotel room to sleep, you’re not going to spend much time there…except to sleep…so why not get the cheapest room you can find?

Why not?

But what if it was a Star Wars themed hotel?

Might that change your mind?

No such hotel, obviously. But perhaps in the future?

For right now, we can think of some reasons for spending your money to stay in a decent hotel.

Comfort, among them.

A feeling of well-being and security.

Adequate rest. And more.

But this subject comes up with news that the area’s visitor-booming theme parks are turning to a source of income outside of higher ticket admission prices: hotel rooms, of course.

As for hotel prices…we’re not going to give you the cheapest.

There are plenty of other sources for that.

Finding the right hotel is tricky

We’ll give you something better: How to find the right hotel for you.

Ten hacks with some you might not have known…or realized.

Of course, you might not even want a hotel.

There have always been other options.

And in recent years, even more have come up.

You can pay less if you choose a hostel or various internet sites for renting rooms.

Up to half less, in many cases.

Or even more.

Or you can rent someone’s home or condo.

These are also often cheaper than a hotel. And they offer more space as well as amenities such as a pool, etc.

Or you can stay at a campground or rent an RV.

Nothing wrong about any of those choices.

But let’s say you are tradition minded:
you want a hotel room.

The cheapest?

Find another site.

But you want a hotel room and are willing or able to pay a somewhat higher cost…

Now we can help you.

If you want a hotel…

This is timely because of the recent theme park moves. Adding new hotels.

They justify it by pointing to the need for funding new additions.

This is not done with a great concern about your getting a good night’s sleep before you buy your Disney tickets or Universal Studios Orlando tickets or admission tickets to LEGOLAND or Busch Gardens Tampa.

It’s just good business sense.

The hotel business in the area is extremely profitable.

So there are a lot of hotels around here: at last count, almost 150,000 of them in Orlando, or either the second highest or first highest number of rooms in the entire United States.

You’d have to go to Las Vegas or New York City to even try to find more rooms.

Of course, you only want one or maybe two.

The where-to-stay boom has not been left in the closet by the theme parks.

Universal is building its fifth hotel, expanding another and looking to double its room inventory.

SeaWorld has eight hotel “providers.” And perks there include free transportation, and others.

LEGOLAND only has one hotel. But it also offers various perks

Walt Disney World Resort has 23,000 hotel rooms throughout 18 properties.

It also has 800 campsites at Fort Wilderness and 3,000 timeshare units.

Disney World has not built its own new hotel since the opening of Art of Animation in 2012, but time-share suites have been added at the resort.

Reports cite more hotels on the way.
And so what about a Star Wars hotel?

There’s been no mention of it.

Staying at Star Wars

But why not?

Disney does have themed rooms.

And overseas, a “Toy Story” hotel is planned to open at Shanghai Disney Resort.
So possible, but who knows?

Theme park hotels are almost invariably more expensive than comparable places. They are also more convenient.

And there are the perks.

You already know the advantages of, say, Disney hotels.

If not, they will tell you.

All theme park owned hotels have various perks. But let’s mention Disney’s since they are best known and most extensive.

Let’s try to find all of them so you can decide if it’s worth your cost

No. 1:

“Guests of select Walt Disney World Resort hotels get first access to reserve a limited number of Disney FastPass+ attractions, shows and more per day—up to 60 days before they arrive!”

So says Disney.

But that’s only the first one.

Other hotel perks

Extended theme park hours. Every day to select attractions.

Complementary transportation and parking. Motor coaches, ferryboats and the monorail included.

Complimentary MagicBands. Can be used not only for hotels but park access, check-ins at entrances, and making shop or restaurant payments. Choice of seven colors (we’re not really sure this color consideration is really a major selling point…).

Complimentary Wi-Fi. Yes, stay connected (if you really want to).

Various dining plans. Your choice.

Free complimentary airport service that includes trips there, as well as luggage delivered to your hotel (Disney does a far better job of making sure this happens correctly, as opposed to the airlines’ frequent policy of lost items…trust us on this one).

Disney movie screenings are part of the added entertainment at some hotels.

Story or themed rooms (no Star Wars…yet).

Family suites with some available for half a dozen people or more.

Did we miss any of the perks? Easy to do.

Did we also include the “legendary” Disney service? They say: “Know what it’s like to have a Fairy Godmother” (We are not sure what that really means, but it sure sounds good).

So now we get to what you should know before selecting your hotel-motel.

A dozen considerations:

Where it’s at. What’s the famous phrase in real estate? The most important thing is location, location, location.

Applies to hotels, too.

You’ll certainly do a lot of walking around theme parks (No matter what your estimate is, it will probably be too low. One active guest we know, admittedly a fast walker, traipsed almost 12.5 miles during one day at Universal).

But walking is not the entire issue here for location, either.

Even the most diehard Orlando fan admits traffic is a growing issue. Direct routes are often congested as well.

If you know the back roads, you might be more inclined to stay a distance away in return for a lower room rate.

But most visitors don’t know the back way, and who wants to navigate it anyway? One more added non-fun burden.

So it all adds up to location.

Extra fees. These are the things they don’t usually tell you about.

Wi-Fi, for one.

So-called resort fees to use such commonplace items as swimming pools. Access to the Internet. Etc.

At times, the higher quality the hotel, the more they may charge for fees. Watch out for the ones they don’t tell you about.

So be sure to ask:

What’s included in the basic room rate?

Ratings. Don’t be blinded by them. But they are an indication of whether or not you will be satisfied.

In the old days, places like AAA (American Automobile Association) had a lot of various and always boring ratings. They seldom told you enough for you to decide: book it or avoid it?

Internet sites today are not always reliable either because we have seen many cases where hotels and others falsify or put out raving recommendations or in some cases, disgusting appraisals.

So don’t be slavish about it but take a look anyway.

If at all possible, check how other guests felt.

Sure, those are on the Internet, but they don’t, and perhaps never will, replace word-of-mouth personal experiences of friends and relatives.

Onsite facilities. But customize this for your own group.

Since you are in sunny Florida, you almost certainly want a pool.

But do you really want or need a golf course or a restaurant?

Many all-you-can-eat places might be better described as all-you-can-stomach.

But if you don’t play golf and your culinary preference is limited to McDonald’s or Burger-King, why pay more for a hotel with an attached restaurant?

But on the other hand, does the hotel offer a free breakfast? This is not a huge budget item, but it can be a convenient and handy way to start the day to fortify you for braving theme park lines.

Even if there is not a breakfast, you might want some kind of simple kitchen facilities (actually, this is the kind of thing you often remember after arrival: Why didn’t I think of asking whether they had microwaves?).

Cooking appliances are always nice to have if just for snacks, but simple devices to heat up quick meals are even handier when you may be tired enough to want to simply stay home.

Special needs covers a lot of ground. Obviously, any special needs of your group needs to be considered. But that does not mean you have someone with you who walks slowly.

Kids are special needs of their own, and you certainly want a place friendly to them.

Think ahead. Maybe you need baby sitters. Does the hotel have them? Pet-friendly may also be among your requirements. And if the pet is along, will it cost you more for a deposit?

You do need to find out beforehand.

Too late when you arrive, of course.

We repeat: think ahead.

So consider this as your own personal homework prior to leaving home.

Chain or not? One of the major hotel differences is chains versus individually owned. The later are disappearing but in the past, many travelers preferred their often personal touches.

Choosing an established chain sometimes adds reliability that past performance will be standard for you, the guest. But if you do choose a smaller inn sometimes owned by a family, you may very well find a truly high quality of service and attention.

Floor plans count. Many hotel chains (Hilton is one example) have floor plans. So pick the best one for you and those with you.

Hint: collects hotel blueprints and floor plans. So, when you book through them, a “room concierge” will help you figure out the best room, based on the rate and amenities like a view or extra space.

Beware of expansions. Many hotels (including ones here in Orlando) are expanding. Hotels try to do the best they can, but this is often not a friendly move for guests.

So instead of asking for the best room, which many people do, find out how to get away from any construction.

Another hint: many hotel-goers find their room faces the parking lot. This is convenient for parking vehicles but lacks the right spirit of inspiration.

So you might look or ask for a room with a view. You might not always get it, but that walk to the parking area is often good exercise.

The far more important point is to avoid construction dirt and noise.

Watch it with discounts. Be very, very careful when you book a deeply discounted room. It might be fine, but the tendency is to give you the worst rooms desirable.

These are usually through discounted internet sites.

Hey, nothing wrong with that if you are interested or need to save money. We’ve all done it.

But he extra careful.

Hoteliers often justify or rationalize it this way: “This cheapskate does not pick us because we are the best or have good service but because we are the cheapest. No questions of quality. So we probably won’t see them again so #$%^$$#$ them.”

Besides, any hotel likes to keep their best rooms for more frequently staying guests.

Different dealings. Many hotel guests view this transactions as similar to buying already fixed price items at a shopping mall. No.

There is more flexibility in negotiating for a room online, by telephone or in person.

You can always ask for a better room depending on what you want: a view, perhaps, or free movies or even a free mini-bar.

Some (not all) service people have flexibility in this area. And it never hurts to ask, as the old saying has it.

Getting walked. There is an expression in the business of getting “walked.”

Not at Disney or Universal or other theme parks, of course…or not likely…but at other properties.

That means overbooked hotels (a common practice, just like the airlines). The hotel has to find an alternative booking.

It can happen to anybody, including you. You won’t like it.

Your chances of that happening are greater if you only booked for one night (probably not, since most guests are more likely to budget more time for a park)…or if you have a deeply discounted rate (that is more likely, but again, not really commonplace).

What never to do:

Pay for a mini-bar. Such outrageous prices that even some hotels, and chains, have stopped supplying them.

Let your kids have the key to the mini-bar (same reasons).

And what to do if your only real concern is to save money on your hotel stay in Orlando?

We do have a suggestion, and it’s the obvious one:

Stay with someone you know. ###