Sunday, May 20, 2007

Hotel reservation for my trip to New York City in June

I had expected the process for getting a hotel reservation for my trip to New York City in June to more drawn out, but it is now done. I'll be arriving the evening of Tuesday, June 19, 2007 and departing the afternoon of Tuesday, June 26, 2007, for eight days and seven nights. I had hoped to get a sweet deal using Priceline, but I wasn't having much luck. My best bet with Priceline would have been to wait until the last minute and hope that some "extra" rooms would be available, but with Manhattan being very tight for hotel space, even that seemed rather risky. In the back of my mind I knew I had some Marriott Reward points, but I had always hoped to keep them for something special or when I was really low on cash or something or whatever, so I wasn't seriously considering them until now. I did make a number of bids with Priceline, but even my $100 bid was rejected. Even at $100 a night, for seven nights the taxes and fees came to $122 or an average rate of $117 a night. Faced with the prospect that my hotel bill might run $1,000 or higher, I bit the bullet and used some of my old Marriott Reward points.

Marriott ranks their hotels as if they were hurricanes, so unfortunately their hotels in Manhattan are mostly "Cat 7" with a couple of "Cat 6." Yeah, I know, hurricanes only go up to Cat 5, so that gives you some idea of how expensive Manhattan hotels are. In addition, besides the normal or "standard" reward rates, they also have "Stay Anytime" rates which are 50% above the standard rates (going up to 100% premium for reservations made after June 1, 2007.)

I could have stayed across the river in Jersey City near the PATH train stop for a mere 85,000 points, which is reasonably attractive, but I just didn't want the hassle of a "commute."

I also could have stayed at the Marriott Financial Center way downtown south of the World Trade Center site, which is a "Cat 6", for the standard rate of 130,000 points, but even that seemed like too much of a "commute" from midtown Manhattan.

I ended up selecting the Marriott Courtyard on 40th Street near Fifth Avenue ("Courtyard New York Manhattan/Fifth Avenue"), which is very convenient for midtown but not the circus-like neighborhood like the Marriotts in and near Times Square. This also has the advantage of being "only" a Cat 6 hotel. Even so, the demand and availability meant that I got stuck with having to use the "Stay Anytime" point level of 195,000. That is a lot, but the convenience will be worth it to me since my time does have some value to me. And, this fits nicely into my budget since it will cost me zero dollars.

Unfortunately, this reward could not be reserved online (although others can), so I had to call the Marriott reservations phone line. I didn't have to wait too long, although the recorded voice told me that I might have to wait longer than usual "due to inclement weather", wherever that was.

They give you the option of having a certificate mailed to you, or they can "order" the certificate to the hotel (electronically) so that you basically just show up and say "It's me, I'm here" and they give you your room. They do email you the confirmation so you can print that to show as proof. The reservation did require that I give them a credit card number, but I'm not sure if that was for incidentals or identification. Having the points handled by "e-certificate" also means that you can cancel the reservation and automatically have your points re-deposited to your account without having to mail the certificate back.

I checked the normal Marriott online reservation system and was quoted a rate of $479 per night plus tax for the first three weekday nights, $299 for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on the weekend, and $399 for the next Monday. This does include "free" high-speed Internet access, as if anyone who can afford those room rates would even notice. That totals to $2,733 or with 10% tax would be $3,006. Yikes. This is yet another tiny reminder that I need to reconsider where I really am on the economic totem pole. I did notice that the web page already shows that my points have been deducted.

The bottom line is that I'll have a nice comfortable room in a convenient location with no hit to my budget.

As far as budgeting for future trips, that will be another story.

-- Jack Krupansky


At 11:55 PM EDT , Blogger lastAutumn said...

What about using Mariott Rewards Credit Card by Chase bank? Does it cover any expenses or it's just another waste of money? The list of features at the site look quite attractive...


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