Hotel rooms are scarcer than hen’s teeth and the prices are sky high.
Every time I search online, the prices are even higher than they were just hours before.
There’s hardly any availability on Hotwire, unless you want to stay out at Laguardia or in Hoboken. I’ve given up on finding a room that will accomodate all three of us — our daughter will have to stay with her Aunt on the pull-out sofa.
Finding reasonably priced room in Chelsea, our preferred neighborhood, seems impossible. Modest properties like Four Points by Sheraton are charging nearly $300 a night — before taxes.
But wait, what’s this? A listing on Priceline’s Express Deals for a four star hotel in Midtown Manhattan for $135 a night. This wasn’t there yesterday! I wonder if I can snag this property for less by bidding on Priceline’s Name Your Own Price site?
My first bid for $105 is rejected, but I am presented with a counter offer for $125. I know never to accept the counter offer — it usually means the hotel is willing to negotiate. My next bid for $110 is accepted: I won the Sheraton Times Square for three nights.
This is really funny because I remember trying out Priceline for the first time fifteen years ago, and getting this exact same hotel for $100 a night!
We’ve lucked out! I know this hotel is in a prime location on the Seventh Ave. subway line, within walking distance to Times Square, but not right in the thick of things. With any luck, we will land a room with a view of the Thanksgiving Day parade! The rooms at the Sheraton are small, but clean and comfortable.
With Priceline, the rate, including taxes works out to $407 for three nights. Less than half the price.
I paid for the hotel with my Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® credit card, which effectively pays 2.2 percent on all travel and restaurant charges.
Here’s the kicker. Many miles and points bloggers provide a valuation of Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points. Their valuation is typically based on the hotel’s room rate — for 36,000 star points you could get a room “worth” $856, or more than 2 cents per point. But in my estimation, the value of a star point is relative to what you would pay on Priceline — in this case, 36,000 star points gets you a room “worth” $407, or about 1 cent per point. I think it is important to keep this more realistic value in mind when evaluating claims of the “value” of credit card points.
“Value” is a subjective measure — the value is in the eyes of the beholder.
What do you think? Is it fair to value points based on the rack rate, the market rate, or the Priceline rate?