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Whoever said "nothing in life is free" never looked for a hotel deal in Florida. Just in time for spring break, a handful of properties in the Sunshine State are giving away at least one complimentary night when you book a stay. Here are three places for families to snag a free night (or even two):

Third Night Free at Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach

Nabbing a free night at any hotel can be a great deal. Nabbing a free night at a luxury hotel is arguably better, because those per-night savings can run into the hundreds of dollars. Take the Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach (www.fourseasons.com/palmbeach/), a bastion of understated luxury located on a quiet expanse of beach in one of Florida's toniest communities.

For stays through April 3, the resort is running a Stay Longer, Third Night Free offer that translates to a 33% discount on a three-night stay. Since nightly rates for a moderate garden-view room start at $479, that's no small savings. More good news: The offer is good for all room categories, so the higher you go, the more you save. A three-night stay in an ocean-view room with two double beds (normally $679 a night) will cost $1,358 instead of $2,037. If you're up for a splurge, this is a fantastic way to get it for less. Want even more good news? There is no limit to the number of free nights you can get. Book a six-night stay, and you'll get two nights free -- still a 33% discount, with savings potentially reaching four digits.

The resort's 210 guest rooms boast private balconies and marble bathrooms. The pool is staffed by attendants at the ready with towels, lemon water, popsicles, chilled face cloths, Evian spritz and fresh-cut fruit. There's an 11,000-square-foot spa and tennis courts -- not to mention a multilingual concierge who can arrange for you to go deep sea fishing, sailing, snorkeling or horseback riding on the beach. Does it sound like you'll be reaching into your wallet all day? Not true. Four Seasons offers an impressive line-up of complimentary services and activities, including a 24-hour fitness facility, yoga classes, full-day children's program, and dining for kids ages 5 and under in The Ocean Bistro. For the duration of the third-night-free offer, the resort is hosting special "spring break" activities, including baseball-themed evenings with ballpark fare and baseball-related games and entertainment. The sports theme continues on the weekends with supervised, family-friendly games on the beach such as flag football, ring toss and softball.

Fourth Night Free at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort

Sprawling across 2,400 acres on Florida's northwest Gulf Coast, the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort (www.sandestin.com) could qualify as a destination in its own right. The resort's accommodations are grouped into 30 "village neighborhoods," with 1,800 lodging options ranging from high-rise beachfront condos and dockside villas to bayfront condos and golf course townhomes. It's hard to imagine ever running out of things to do. There's a pedestrian village with shops, restaurants, nightly entertainment, and the Baytowne Adventure Zone (think zipline, ropes course, and eurobungy). You'll also find four golf courses, 15 tennis courts (and a top-rated kids' tennis program), multiple swimming pools, miles of bike and jogging paths, half a dozen kids' play areas, a five-acre nature park, plus a fitness center and spa. Head to the beach for free rentals of kayaks and boogie boards, or go to the marina for sailing and fishing. When parents need some alone time, kids ages 3 to 10 can check out the kids' club. Beyond the adventure zone and beach fun, there are teen sailing classes, a dedicated teen pool area, and an arcade.

With the Sandestin's Spring to the Beach promotion, you get a fourth night free when you pay for three. When we test-booked a four-night stay in April, we were pleased to see that the promo rates (starting at $96.75 a night) are identical to the resort's regular rates. (This is important, since resorts often jack up the nightly rate on a promotion to recoup some of the cost of the "free" night. Not the case here.) More good news: The deal delivers a 25% savings across the board, so you could also nab a two-bedroom beachfront condo for $232 a night (instead of $309) or a two-bedroom golf course townhome for $180 a night (instead of $239).

The promo runs through May 26, but if you book by February 28 you get a $25 resort credit as a bonus. Whether you book online or call tel. 800/622-1038, use promo code Spring.

Fourth and Fifth Nights Free at Universal Orlando

With the opening of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter (www.universalorlando.com/harrypotter/) slated for spring, legions of Hogwarts fans have set their sights on a trip to Universal Orlando this spring. As luck would have it, Universal Orlando is running a Buy 3, Get 2 Free promotion at an assortment of off-site partner hotels now through May 27. For a price starting at $254 per person, this package gives you five nights for the price of three, plus theme park tickets and a few other add-ons. Is it a good deal for families? We crunched the numbers to find out.

We test-booked this offer for a family of two adults and two kids between 3 and 9 years old on a late-April stay at the Doubletree Hotel at the Entrance to Universal. The package includes:

  • Five nights in standard double (worth $174/night x 5 nights = $870)
  • Four four-day base tickets to to the two Universal Orlando theme parks, valid for one park per day ($134.99 x 2 adults + $117.99 x 2 kids = $506)
  • CityWalk Party Pass ($11.99 x 4 people = $48)
  • Scheduled shuttle transportation between hotel and Universal Orlando (always free to hotel guests)
  • Early admission to Islands of Adventure theme park (normally available to guests at higher-priced on-site hotels)

If booking these components independently, a family of four would pay a total of $1424, or $356 per person. By comparison, the package price for this stay comes to $905, for a savings of $519 and a hefty 37% discount. It works out to just $226 per person, which actually beats the advertised starting price by $28 per person.

Deal or no deal? Muggles, rejoice! This is a great deal for the hotel we tested. Note, however, that the amount you save will depend on your travel dates and the hotel you select.

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