My hotel decision making process is getting way too complicated…

I love having top tier elite status with Hyatt and Priority Club/InterContinental, but looking back, my hotel decision making process was so much simpler back when I would just instinctively book Priority Club properties.

I have a very brief stay in San Diego later in the week, so figured picking a hotel would be easy enough. I originally booked the Holiday Inn Downtown, for a couple of reasons. First, it was $109/night, and it has a free airport shuttle. Also, staying at a Priority Club property would allow me to earn nights towards Priority Club’s “Sweet Dilemma” promotion and their “Crack the Case” promotion. Basically, I’m earning half a free night at any InterContinental in the world and another night towards unlocking my last couple of “latches” for the “Crack the Case” promotion, not to mentioned another night towards Royal Ambassador requalification. So it seemed like a no brainer.

At the same time, I’ve been doing my best lately to stay at hotels that I can write reviews about for the blog, and let’s face it, a 1970s looking Holiday Inn doesn’t fit the bill. So I considered staying at the Andaz San Diego. While it was a bit more expensive and there’s no free airport shuttle, I do get free breakfast and the hotel looks interesting enough. And frankly, I’m willing to pay the premium if it at least gives me a bit of content for the blog (see how much I care about you guys?;-)). There’s also a G2 bonus for 2,000 bonus points, and it also counts towards Hyatt’s “Great 10K” promotion. But then I read the reviews on FlyerTalk and TripAdvisor, and they were less than stellar. Given the $90 price premium, I decided against it. And I’ve already double qualified for Diamond with Hyatt, so I don’t need to stay at a Hyatt.

Then I decided on the Hotel Indigo, which I’ve heard great things about (and it gets great reviews on TripAdvisor). It actually looks quite nice, though it’s $40 more than the Holiday Inn and doesn’t have an airport shuttle. And I do have a relatively short stay, so what’s the point? I still haven’t ruled out the Hotel Indigo, but I’m still leaning towards the Holiday Inn.

Then I said “what the heck,” let’s see what else is out there. So I decided to hop onto American Express’ “Fine Hotels & Resorts” website, and look up what their properties are in San Diego. The US Grant came up, which seems to be the best hotel in San Diego. Given that breakfast, a room upgrade, and a $100 food and beverage credit was included for the same price as the Andaz, I seriously considered it. After all, I could write a review of a non-chain hotel for once that actually gets stellar reviews, so why not? Then I went directly to the US Grant website, and found that their rate was about $80 lower than what American Express offered. Is an additional $80 worth a room upgrade, free breakfast, and a $100 food and beverage credit? I don’t know, so I decided against that…

So then I…

OK, I’ll stop there. See the problem, though? You’d think trying to maintain top tier status with two chains would almost guarantee I’d stay at one of them, but it has actually done the opposite. In the past, I would have instinctively booked the cheapest Holiday Inn to maintain my Priority Club/InterContinental status, and would have called it a day. Now I find myself actually exploring more options, which, if anything, is giving me a headache…

The worst part of all of this? I’m considering status matching to Starwood, and maintaining Platinum status with them as well. Now that would be a disaster. Though in this case if I were a Starwood Platinum, I would have gone with the Westin, which was only $99.

Comments

  1. I’ve got to say, I love the U.S. Grant and would be interested in getting your opinion of it!

    Also, the OMNI is a really nice hotel.

    But if you really want to go first class and get a great story for your blog, have you considered the Hotel del Coronado?

  2. I sometimes have the same problem! Too many choices, and trying to balance all the great promotions and the status… šŸ˜‰
    But Andaz San Diego is a really cool unique hotel, I would strongly recommend staying there!! The breakfast at the rooftop restaurant near the pool is amazing, and it’s a really happening hip hotel.

  3. Just to complicate things a bit more, don’t forget:

    1) You earn no Priority Club points or free nights under the “Sweet Dilemma” promotion after 10 stays

    2) “Crack the Case” night credits are earned for ANY paid rate, including IC Friends & Family rates and Priceline.

  4. Personally, while I like the Starwood program, I find the vast majority of their properties overpriced for getting a night’s sleep. Two programs of heavy focus is about right, as it really gives you the room to maximize good promotions without really causing any hassles if the program you need has a horrible promotion (Because I’m not a fan of marriott properties, they are the program that I dropped, partially because their properties are lackluster, and partially because their rates are awful compared to what I can get with PC and Hilton)

  5. While the US Grant doesn’t have a chain in the name, it is part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection. I spent a night there a couple weeks ago and scored a huge two room suite, with two full baths. Really a wonderful hotel.

  6. This is why hotel status is overrated. I say you keep top tier in one program that has some nice international properties and then stay wherever you want once you’ve re-qualified. Free rooms and upgrade benefits are nice, but staying in new locations in new cities is a lot of fun too.

  7. As Mike said, US Grant is a Starwood Hotel.

    You express exactly why I do not bother trying to help people with a concierge style hotel booking service. There are far more choices and variability in planning hotel stays than airline travel.

  8. Also to note, the US Grant has about 47 suites out of 248 rooms, so any kind of Starwood status gets the upgrade.

    There is a $2.50 bus from the airport, or a cab is $9 so don’t worry so much about the free airport shuttle…

  9. Lucky i know exactly how you feel. I work in the Hotel industry so for me it takes forever. Its so many different things and it takes me weeks to make up my mind!

    let alone add into the mix points etc!

  10. @Coins. Your problem is one that all wise frequent flyers ( to include Flyertalkers) have. Sometimes, we’re too smart for our own good! And when you throw in a ‘must use’ Marriott award soon to be expire cert, it makes your life even crazier. And for good measure, don’t forget any 5000 Points Break options.
    And for goodness sakes, don’t forget about staying at a Hotwire 4* property for $59 + taxes and fees. You could do worse.
    FYI, the Indigo downtown Dallas was a nice experience.

  11. I visited 60 hotels in San Diego summer of 2009. Here’s my review of the Holiday Inn Downtown – in-room A/C unit, scratchy sheets, not enough pillows on bed, no-name coffee in room brewer (4-cup machine), no closet in the room – only an armoire. If you want to stay at a Holiday Inn – I’d go for the Holiday Inn San Diego Bayside – much nicer, recently renovated – and free bikes for guests to use. Basic alarm clocks in both hotels

    Andaz – only 3 years old, cool hotel – very interesting room – had a super tall tub (needed a stool to safely get in and out – back when it was called the Ivy they had a free Escalade that would take you around the Gas Lamp quarter. This room is no good for sharing as the tub is surrounded by glass and in the center of the room with no privacy.I-Pod Dock radio.

    US Grant – really nice rooms, cool lobby, was closed for 2 years while they did a complete remodel – the rooms/sheets/bathrooms are top of the line. You get a Meile coffee maker only in suites, the rest of the rooms have to go to the lobby for the free coffee service in the a.m. CD Player alarm.

  12. I wonder how you afford the weekly revenue flights and weekend hotel stays as a college student. Of course, you now have your awards travel service to subsidise this hobby. But still…. I wonder….

  13. Unless there’s a promotion like Hyatts FFN where I can get lots of miles and free nights I tend to go with Priceline.

  14. It has become quite a chore to set up a vacation. There was mention of Holiday Inn Downtown and Holiday Inn Bayside. Take both of these properties and you get Holiday Inn San Diego – On the Bay. Our property is located in Downtown and across from the bay and cruise terminal. We also provide free shuttle service to the airport, cruise terminal, Gaslamp Quarter, Seaport Village, MCRD and Zoo. There various rates and packages to fit your travel needs. One way to narrow the decision process would be to compare the loyaly clubs first (this would be a great blog). After narrowing it down to 2 choices, decide which brand gives you more coverage. Then choose the best option within the brand. If you are not a frequent traveler, then deal hunting may be the way.

  15. If you’ve maxed out on Priority Club staus this year, be sure to wait until Jan 1 to crack any big cases in the Priority Club promo, since those points would count towards getting a jump on your 2012 status.

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