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Hotel tips for saving some money

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Danbury, Connecticut
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Hotel tips for saving some money

Hi all, as I have posted before, my husband and I are coming to Toronto in July. This thread is intended for those new or not very experienced to buying hotel rooms.

Being a cheap Yankee New Englander (there is no point in trying to pretend I am "frugal' or some other such fancy euphemism) I like to stay at 4* hotels on a 2* budget whenever possible. So here are some of my tips and how I searched for my hotel.

1. Started hotel search on kayak.com. Plugged in travel dates and destination. Kayak scours the Internet to find the top listed prices for hotels. Clicked boxes at the top of the search to re-arrange the results (such as star quality or price high to low). This saves hours on an initial search, and gives a lay of the land of what prices are out there.

2. Now I have some base prices to work with. I checked out hotwire.com to see what 4* hotels they are offering for my dates. Because hotwire lists star quality, neighborhood, and amenities without revealing the hotel's name before purchase, I take that information to betterbidding.com. They have a pinned hotwire list of hotels, plus a chat board where I can post any questions and get help. I was intrigued by the Renaissance, Sheraton Centre, and SoHo Metropolitan on kayak. I found a hotel on hotwire which matches the Sheraton Centre, so now I can compare the two pricewise.

3. If you don't mind even more of a gamble you can try bidding on priceline. It's usually the cheapest out there but it takes some knowledge. If you post your information on betterbidding.com on the priceline board they can walk you through it. At this point I don't want to go the priceline route.

4. Now that I have three hotels targeted, I check out their Web sites for any special offers. Although I love the SoHo Metropolitan's appearance from reviews and such, it's expensive and none of the packages offer a significant discount. So I called the hotel directly and they can't do any better for me either. So for now I rule that one out.

5. The Renaissance is in a good location for the ballgames we are going to, but because it is baseball season they aren't offering any deals, so again I am ruling this one out for now.

6. The Sheraton is offering some nice specials online. I also happen to be a Starwood member (the hotel's preferred guest program, which by the way is FREE to join). One of the specials is a birth year special where if you are staying over a three day weekend you pay $199 for the first night and the last two digits of your birth year for the other two nights. This would get me a three-night stay for $315. So how old am I? You do the math. Compared to the hotel's regular rate of $504 for the same dates, I am loving this birth year special.

7. I compare the birth rate special to hotwire. On the left hand side of the hotwire offering (after you click 'proceed') it tells you the total amount with taxes and fees. The $315 Sheraton rate is cheaper than hotwire. I called and booked it through a Starwoods Preferred Guest Member agent who let me choose bed type and put in a request to stay in the hotel's newer tower. At check in I am eligible for a room upgrade subject to availability. This cost me no star points. The reservation is fully cancellable up until 48 hours of our stay, so if a better deal comes along I can cancel.

8. I continue to bargain hunt...the only thing that comes up is a lower rate for what I believe is the Sheraton on hotwire. The price is now down to the same level as my reservation. However, there is a big difference. Reading the Trip Advisor reviews, there were complaints by hotwire purchasers that the Sheraton would only give them a room with a double bed, even if they were Starwood customers. An upgrade to a king room was $20 a night extra. Also, some complained they were given a room in the older tower which needs renovation. So comparing apples to apples, my reservation is still the cheapest, I mean best, deal I can find for a 4* hotel in downtown Toronto. Occasionally I will also take a peak at Travelzoo.com to see if they have deals too.

So that's where things stand for now. I am paying around $105 a night for the Sheraton Centre. I will continue to look, but I'm pretty happy overall.

Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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1. Re: Hotel tips for saving some money

Great tips, Voyagereuse! There are always people new at this; often the questions on these TA forums are from people needing to learn basic research skills - so thanks for that.

I just wanted to point out that hotwire's star system is their own rating system (they explain it quite well on their site) and that it is not the same as the "Canada Select" star rating system that is used in Canada, nor any other rating system, like the CAA/AAA "diamonds" etc. Chances are that a 4* hotel under one rating system may also be a 4* or diamond hotel under another, but no guarantees. Participation in the Canada Select rating system is voluntary (and, like the AAA program, there are fees to cover the inspections & advertising), so not all properties are in the program.

One more thing to be aware of - hotwire's prices are quoted in US dollars.

P.S. You are a couple of years older than me. ;-)

Danbury, Connecticut
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2. Re: Hotel tips for saving some money

Krp329, thanks for your response! You make an important point about star ratings. I have found some sources more reliable than others when it comes to ratings. Although I love kayak, the star ratings are mostly generated from the hotels themselves, and they often gild the lilly. I have seen many obvious 2* hotels listed as 3* on kayak.

I have found priceline to be an extremely good indicator, most likely because it is the most "opaque" of the travel discounters. Customers get very upset if they buy something believing it to be 4* and it turns out to be 3* quality. So the pinned priceline list on betterbidding.com is a great resource. I like AAA guides too. And nothing beats comments by Trip Advisor posters to find out if a property is slipping in quality or performing above and beyond expectations.

We once stayed at The Holiday Inn Express Mesa Verde in New Mexico and it was absolutely wonderful, much more like a 4* hotel than its 3* ranking. We've also stayed at hotels that back in the day may have been 4* but with that day come and gone, and peeling wallpaper and dirty carpets, were more like a low 2* offering.

So caveat emptor y'all!

And good point about exchange rates. When I converted the rate I am paying for the Sheraton - $315 Canadian is $296 U.S., an even better deal than hotwire's current offering for the same hotel.

Ottawa, Canada
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48 reviews
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3. Re: Hotel tips for saving some money

Hi Voyagereuse,

Thank you for the great tips... like KRP329 I too have discovered in my time on TA that many (too many) Travellers don't have basic research skills... and yet with them one can both learn soooo much about a Destination (GOOGLE is your friend) and ALSO as a BONUS save money... thereby making any vacation even better than first imagined.

I have bookmarked your post... because even I learned many new things from it... so thanks for sharing.

And ya as I tell others generally speaking Star Ratings are awarded by Hotel Industry themselves (or a peer group)... so although they are good as a marker... they don't truly mean a HOOT (pun intended).

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

PS... In life like wine... Some years are better than others.... that was a VERY GOOD YEAR !

;-) *wink*

Oakville, Canada
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4. Re: Hotel tips for saving some money

But in comparing the SOHO Met to the others you were comparing apples and oranges, the SOHO Met is way above the other two. Great to find a unique deal - hey you can sign up and lie about your age :-) Just be aware with hotwire and the bargain deals that there is a good chance you will get the lesser quality rooms. However going for these options in a 4* hotel IMO is better than taking a similar rate at a lower rated hotel - thanks for posting the thread.

Edited: 05 June 2010, 21:57
new york
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5. Re: Hotel tips for saving some money

I have used the pay your birth year rate before (and will again next month) and they do check your birth year because you have to provide photo id.

Kingston, Canada
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6. Re: Hotel tips for saving some money

Great suggestions Voyagereuse!

Thanks!

ktown

Danbury, Connecticut
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5,595 posts
81 reviews
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7. Re: Hotel tips for saving some money

Thanks all, and good point George! I was told to bring proof of birth in order to get the discount.

I am looking forward to this trip so much!

Raleigh/Durham/Cary
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8. Re: Hotel tips for saving some money

In Niagara Falls, do you prefer Embassy Suites,Oakes, Marriott Fallsview or Shearton Fallsview for falls view stay?

For less expensive, do you prefer Travelodge At The Falls, Comfort Inn Clifton Hill, Courtyard By Marriott, Days Inn And Suites By The Falls, Hampton Inn, Rodeway Inn Fallsview, or Travelodge Hotel By The Falls?

I know I can read the reviews but your personal input is so helpful.

You are are great group for your patience and input. I'll have to throw a party for you in North Carolina!!!

Edited: 09 June 2010, 22:49
9. Re: Hotel tips for saving some money

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