Beating Tight Hotel Award Availability

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I have well documented my recent struggles with hotel award availability issues during the busy summer travel season.  We just completed our short weekend trip to one of my favorite resorts, Hyatt Lost Pines, which we were only able to secure close-in by using this controversial method of booking a room.  As a final resolution to that story, we indeed did receive a standard non-ADA room as promised by the resort in advance, so all’s well that ends well in that regard.  However, we did not want to go through that sort of ethical dilemma again the next time we wanted to visit that resort for swimming and all around outdoor fun.

Standard room secured this year, but what about next year?

Standard room secured this year, but what about next year?

So, we returned to my tried and true method of booking awards as far in advance as is humanely possible (which I had actually done in the first place, I’d just messed up the travel date).

We are now home for most of the rest of this summer, but that just means that naturally my thoughts turn to next summer’s adventures.  I’m not sure what all next summer will have in store for us with a then 6 and 1 year old, but I know that we will probably want our “hometown” resort of Hyatt Lost Pines to be a part of our fun.  This is one of the many Hyatt properties that is proving to be very difficult to book on points during peak season for a variety of reasons ranging from general high demand to lots of “non-standard” room categories popping up that are not bookable on points.

However, harder to book does not mean impossible to book, so we re-trenched and planned a year in advance.  You can now book Hyatt awards online 13 months in advance For weekends next June the resort still had pretty much wide-open availability for award rooms and we were happy to snag one.  In fact, via a call to Hyatt I was able to book one on a cash and points rate and then apply a Diamond confirmed suite upgrade since I’m sure we will appreciate the extra space for our family of four.  So, by simply booking (much) further into the future than we did for this trip I had my pick of room types and award rates.

This is not a strategy unique to this resort.  I also looked at availability next summer for several Hyatt properties that I know are tight with availability and found similar availability results at every single one.  The Andaz Maui, Grand Hyatt Kauai, Hyatt Regency Hill Country, and Park Hyatt New York all had standard award availability for the dates I randomly looked at next June when I can assure you many of those properties are going to be very tight if you are looking close-in for this summer.

Look forward to Grand Hyatt Kauai for a year!

Look forward to Grand Hyatt Kauai for a year!

We all know pretty much when school gets out for the year next year, and we all probably know some destinations that our family would enjoy next summer.  If you have the points, it makes sense to go ahead and lock in something you think will work and then adjust or cancel it as needed as the time gets closer.  That is a much simpler and less stressful situation than waiting until the availability is either gone or so tight that trying to make it work causes your hair to turn grey or start falling out.

If you want to start locking in airline awards note that most airlines allow booking roughly 11 months out, so we still have another month or so ago before those schedules will be open into next summer.

Anyone else already have some trips locked in for next summer?

 

Comments

  1. You picked better than we did. Yesterday I cancelled our points stay at Hyatt Lost Pines for this weekend. No need to burn points to sit in a hotel room and watch it rain. 🙁

    • Bummer, but glad you were still outside their 72 hour cancel policy! Hope you can try again later this summer!

      • Tip : Even if you are not outside 72 hour cancellation window, you can call them and reschedule it on a later day and then cancel (if needed)

        • That does generally work pretty well, though is not 100% (I’ve had it fail on me). Totally worth a shot though!

  2. No problem at all to book reward stays using Choice Privileges points today for Disneyland Anaheim hotels next weekend. Plenty of availability at Anaheim hotels for Wyndham Rewards points too. Not exactly the Hyatt, but the Howard Johnson Anaheim is the #1 ranked hotel on TripAdvisor with rates over $200 per night. Available for 15,000 Wyndham Rewards points.

  3. Hotels are getting as mean as airlines when it comes to loyalty programs. It is a bait and switch scheme where they attract customers to their programs and once you are hooked they start taking advantage of you. I just read your post about the ADA room since I was on vacation the last two weeks and was offline most of the time. I won’t give my opinion if what you did was right or wrong but I find that hotels are playing games with customers so customers will find ways to play games back to the hotels. Rooms ARE available most of the times. The hotels just don’t want to give them out on points. That is it!!! All it takes is for someone in the IT department to click a button and the award availability is gone. Thus, hotel points are getting the same as miles. Earn it and burn it!!! I don’t trust any loyalty program anymore and if I can I will pay for my family trips so I don’t have any headaches when all I want is to relax and have fun with my family. As my Corporate Finance professor used to say: Cash is King!!!

    On the ADA room that you booked and for all the haters that responded to you I always had a curiosity to really understand what defines a real disability so you get preference in some instances. I am not American and I came to this country many years ago and I follow all the laws of this country by the book. However, I sometimes scratch my head when I see people parking on disable parking spots, they place their disability card on the mirror and walk out of their cars in a much better shape than I am (I am blessed I have no disabilities at all, I am fit and play sports almost everyday). Are they really disabled or they are using that mirror sign from someone else to take advantage? Same goes for the use of wheelchairs on airports. People request those, they have all sorts of advantages to go through security, immigration, etc.. and once they are out they walk normally. Do they really need it or they are trying to game the system? Same goes to ADA rooms. Do people really need them or they book them because it is convenient? I once was given an ADA room at a Hyatt as an “upgrade” at check in since the person told me they had bigger bathrooms. All I am trying to say here is that in my mind the entire system is wrong. I am all for people with disabilities to have advantage and everything else that can make their lives easier but I question how many people that have the rights to use these benefits really need them.

  4. I don’t really fell like re-litigating the entire ADA room controversy, but a close friend of mine had a handicapped parking spot because of a heart condition. She looks perfectly “normal” but qualifies as disabled because of a medical condition you can’t see. And she walk normally too. She could also drop dead at any moment. I don’t think that’s a trade most people would be willing to make just so they can park closer to the Wal-Mart.

    • Agree lots of disabilities you can’t see and I’m very grateful I can walk from the far end of the parking lot without putting life or limb in jeopardy.

    • If you can walk normally, you probably don’t need a handicap placard. Usually the requirements are inability to walk more than 50 feet, requiring oxygen, or severe heart dysfunction (which usually means their activity tolerance is severely diminished). So someone that looks normal and can walk in and out of the store and from the front to back of the store without being winded likely doesn’t qualify for their handicap placard.

      Having a heart problem and being at risk for “dropping dead any minute” is not a reason for a handicap placard if you go on and walk a few hundred yards without much problem.

      One lady where I work parks in the reserved parking that costs us about $60 a month. But if you are handicapped, since it is the closest parking, you can park there for free. She walks in and out to her car with her cane. Basically carrying the cane. When I see her in the buildings or on campus – no cane. Walking hundreds of yards without any obvious problem.

      I fill these out as a doctor and think the abuse of them is astronomical.

      • That is my point. Just spent 2 weeks in Hawaii with family. Parking at popular beaches is very difficult to find. I either had to park very far from the beach or wait in the car for a long time until a parking spot was available. However, I saw more than once a mini van full with kids and two adults parking in the handicap parking, they placed the handicap sign on the mirror and left happy and looking very healthy to the beach. Again, I am not here to judge anyone and I did not ask what issue they had that qualified them as “handicapped” but it really calls my attention that maybe not even 5% of the times I saw someone parking in those preferential spots I saw someone really looking in bad shape leaving the car.

        • I was in costa rica last week and because labor costs are very low (like $2/hr), they have guards everywhere – shopping centers, grocery stores, banks, all hotel and housing entrances, etc. Very often, the handicap spots had cones in them or they were roped off. The guard had to manually allow a handicap person to use them. Plenty of open handicap parking in that country.

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