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It all started a few weeks ago when I did some research for a post with the Travel Channel about hotel reward availability in London during the Olympics. I expected there to be some availability, but I was surprised at how much availability that I found. Then there was an airline fare sale to London during the Olympics. Next I looked at old pictures of me practicing gymnastics for years when I was a child and remembered how big a role the Olympics played in my childhood. Then I watched some of the Olympic trials this year on TV (and even cried when they announced the gymnastics team members). Then I found an Olympics gymnastics ticket available via the official ticket source for Americans. Then I booked a trip to the Olympics. No really, I’m going to the 2012 London Olympics!! Pinch me. Better yet, let me go back in time and tell the 11 year old me that this is actually happening. There is a decent chance my husband is going to be coming as well, but those details are still being finalized. My fingers are crossed tight that he is able to come (he will be combining a business trip with the trip to the Olympics). We could really benefit from a few days together, so we’ll see what happens.
I will be writing some about my experience planning and going to the Olympics over the next month both here and for the Travel Channel’s blog, but the point I really want to get across in this post is that it isn’t too late for you to go in case you are lusting over the Olympics the way that I was. The airfare sale that I got in on is over, but as Miles From Blighty pointed out, there is still some reward flight availability. Even if you just have to pay a regular rate to fly there, you can certainly still use points for your hotel rooms while you are in London.
I currently have several nights booked using my Club Carlson points at a hotel that is going for just shy of 600 Pounds per night. That is insane. I paid about $250 total for my three nights at a Radisson, Park Inn, and Country Inn & Suites hotel during the “Big Night Giveaway” promotion this summer. I received just slightly under 150,000 points for those three nights. Those points that cost me about $250 USD have now secured me a room that was selling for over $900 USD per night. That means that my $250 investment gave me a $2700 return. Insane, insane, insane. Granted, I would have not booked a hotel that was selling for $900 USD per night, but during the Olympics whatever I booked would have been very expensive, especially given the Pounds to USD conversion rate. That said, I do have some interest in using Hyatt points if my husband comes with me since we would then both have free breakfast and enjoy other Diamond benefits. With two of us traveling the value we would get from those benefits would really start to add up. Either way, we can’t really go wrong. Thank goodness for points.
Last time I checked I saw reward nights available with Hyatt, Club Carlson, Hilton, Marriott, and more at the standard reward redemption rates. Of course, booking flights and hotels only gets you close to the action. To really experience all that the Olympics has to offer, you need to actually attend some Olympic events. When I first starting looking for tickets things looked a little bleak for Americans. There are different official ticket sources depending on your home country. I saw decent availability to some events if you lived in the UK or other “approved European countries”. However, the official site for Americans had handball, weightlifting, and not much else. Nothing against those events, but they weren’t exactly the events I had been dreaming of for almost 30 years. I have been to the Olympics as a kid with my own family in 1996 and saw some good events, but I still had never seen gymnastics (You can see how stylish we were at that very hot Olympics below – I was so obsessed with my tickets I kept them around my neck!) It didn’t help my optimism that everyone I talked to said that “tickets are long gone”. There is a (false) impression that if you weren’t selected in the initial lottery that you cannot get tickets.
OCD persistent person that I am, I just kept checking the official CoSport ticket site. There wasn’t much movement in terms of availability for a few days, and then all of the sudden on July 4th I saw many events available. They suddenly had almost all days of artistic gymnastics (don’t let the name fool you – that is the gymnastics that many of us know and love), diving, athletics (ie track and field), beach volleyball, closing ceremonies, etc. I could hardly believe my eyes! Prices are very expensive for event tickets, but at least you know you are purchasing them from the official source, and you are only paying a handling fee above the face value of the ticket. To check ticket availability for yourself go to CoSport.com and select “Products” and then “Individual Tickets”.
You will then see the available tickets. If you see something you want – move quickly to add it to your account. Once it is in your cart you have 45 minutes to make your purchase. If you don’t see what you want then keep checking back. I snagged gymnastics tickets as recently as a few days ago, so there is certainly hope of that happening again. As of right this second I see closing ceremonies, diving, athletics, beach volleyball, and the men’s bronze medal game for basketball. Just to help you avoid sticker shock, I will reiterate that tickets, even at face value, are expensive. That is especially true since many of the tickets left seem to be for the more premium seats. I guess it’s good time to hit the minimum spending requirements on a new credit card?!
It is not too late to go to the Olympics. Heck, it’s not even too late to go primarily on points! Just be ready to rack up some miles and points on your credit card if you want to purchase event tickets. USA, USA, USA!