I don't spend much time at the resort either (I never use the pools or anything like that), but the resort theming is still a big part of the experience to me.
My issue with the Swan and Dolphin is the price, though. They're not that much cheaper than the Disney deluxe resorts, and cost more than the moderates. If I'm going to pay those prices, I want the theming. Otherwise I could just stay at one of the Disney Springs area hotels for much less.
They only make sense to me if you have a bunch of Marriott points and can stay there for a reduced rate or free.
The Marriot/Bonvoy point option is definitely a big plus. Especially when it comes to corporate event planning, although to be fair, it also makes a significant impact if your looking to reduce costs and makes an attractive alternative budget planning feature. For anyone that travels at all for work, taking out a Marriot/Bonvoy credit card is an easy way to rack up points, which can help you get a free or heavily discounted stay here, one of the few choices for alternative pricing/budgeting for an on property stay.
We normally stay at the Contemporary but this summer due to construction we booked a relatively last minute trip to Swan and Dolphin and really enjoyed the trip. Given the easy walking access to two parks, and the level of restaurants/pools at S&D, I think it is fairer to compare it to Disney Deluxe Resorts (Boardwalk or Yacht Club) as opposed to moderate resorts, thought to be fair/honest, I haven't personally stayed at a moderate resort.
As to theming, I will admit to never staying at a Pop Century or AoA type property that had themed rooms. However I will say comparing my stays at other Deluxe resorts (Contemporary, Yacht Club, Poly, GF) prior to the the latest round of room renovations at Poly and Contemporary, I didn't see the Deluxe resorts being overly "Disney" themed. Yacht club has its own nautical theme, Boardwalk its Jersey Shore/Cape May type theming. Poly obviously a Polynesian type setting, and Contemporary a "modern" feel. But none of those things really screamed Disney theming. Other than the theme park view from Contemporary (which to be fair to me was the most "worth it" upgrade cost of anything Disney related) nothing at any of those resorts in style really linked me to a Disney experience. It was more the connection via location to the parks that made me feel within the Disney bubble, as opposed to the theming of the hotel itself.
We liked it so much, and given that our kids are getting older and looking at less of an MK centric trip with more time spent at Epcott/HS I priced out a trip for next summer, looking at pricing differences between Boardwalk, Swan, and Marriot World Resort, and found significant savings at Swan vs. Boardwalk (around range of 15-20%) using cash payments only, not points. Marriot World being off site was of course was by far the most economical at over 20% saving (and I do love that hotel itself) but we thought the onsite ability at Swan (we loved walking to 2 parks, and the helpful hint from someone on these boards to just walk to boardwalk or Yacht Club and take their buses to MK and AK was a lifesaver) outweighed the cost savings of off site Marriot vs Swan.
Now that all being said, going back to more on topic. The Reserve really doesn't fit into the Swan/Dolphin motif, and really in my mind does look out of place. That can be good or bad. While not my particular style, it does create a new offering that wasn't available in the area. The more suite focused approach of the hotel creates an opening to a certain guests especially in the convention setting that I can see being appealing. Its "on site" for the convention, yet still across the street and separate.