Yesterday I went through an exercise in frustration by trying to book discount room at the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa in Kona, Hawaii. Bob and I already have a reservation for 5 nights using points through our Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) membership. Right now we are booked using 4000 points plus $60/per night. However, I noticed the price of rooms dropped thus decreasing the value of our deal. I decided to see if any of the many “special” deals Starwood and Sheraton deals make better sense now.
I started my research in the morning. I found the lowest rate on the SPG membership website was $149 for a mountain view room, pre-paid, non-changable; and a rate including breakfast for $189 per night.
Later I went on FlyerTalk and found some promo codes for 25% off if you book 5 consecutive nights; ‘Buy 2 Nights-Get the 3rd Night Free,’ and ‘But 3 Nights-Get the 4th Night Free.’ All the promos were through www.starwoodhotels.com. The 25% off promo link stated, “get 25% off our best available rate.” Being a native English-speaker with moderate smarts, I would assume the “best rate” is $149 because that’s the lowest rate I found available. When I followed the 25% off link plugging in our dates the rate came up as $179 per night and that was after 25% was already deducted. When I followed the promo link for 4th Night Free I got a rate of $179 per night. It was unclear if that included the discount of if that was what you pay for 4 nights and then it’s $0 for the 5th night. In both cases, I was able to find the $149 standard pre-paid rate.
This total confusion resulted in me calling the Contact Us number on the website. I started the conversation with, “I want to know the best available rate.” The representative told me the best available rate is $169 per night for a mountain room. I told her about my 25% off promo code and asked if it was 25% off $169 and she replied yes, making the deal $126 per night. Then she looked into the 5th Night Free deal and said the rate was $156 per night for all five nights because the free night is factored into that the reduced rate. I asked if I could apply 25% off to the lowest rate of $149. She said, no that rate is already discounted from $169 because it’s pre-paid and they don’t give further discounts off of discounted rates. She admitted it is confusing and it didn’t really make sense in this case but sometimes various promos do result in better savings. Then she told me to stay on the line and she would look for something better…5 minutes later she came back on with a different deal, “Summer Savings,” via the Sheraton corporate website. This deal was $126 per night plus a buffet breakfast and it’s fully refundable/changeable. The breakfast buffet is $19 per person. Not bad. I booked it and I will decide later to go with this or keep our cash & points reservation using the points when it is more valuable. Even I admit $126 with breakfast is a good deal in Hawaii!
So the lesson in this all-day exercise in frustration is to get out your calculator and don’t take anything at face value just because it says “Best Price,” “FREE” or “% OFF.”