Best entry-level hotel chain?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by servo, Jan 23, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. servo

    servo Silver Member

    Messages:
    736
    Likes Received:
    1,031
    Status Points:
    825
    I'm starting a blog soon that is primarily focused on budgeting and financial literacy, but I wanted to throw in some budget travel pieces as well, because everyone really wants to travel, they just may not think they have the means to, even if that only means domestic travel.

    One thing that I haven't seen discussed on blogs or on here that much (likely because my target isn't people that frequent here or FT) is what the best entry-level hotel chain is, not only for value for cash reservations, but brand consistency and any points/reward earning as well. I would weight the points/rewards earning a little less here, but still want to give it some consideration.

    The players: (I'm using a sub-$80 average price per night per full-price room as my definition)

    1) Choice Hotel Group
    2) Wyndham Hotels
    3) LaQuinta Hotels
    4) Best Western Hotels

    From my experience, LaQuinta wins, but Best Western isn't that far behind. What are your thoughts and experiences? I've never had a poor experience at LQ (nor at BW, but haven't stayed there as often), but I think the Wyndham Hotels are VERY hit or miss.

    The FORMER Super 8 in downtown Atlanta would be a great example of how awful they can be, although I give them credit for pulling the brand name not long afterward. It's now a Holiday Inn Express & Suites (which it appears they did a MASSIVE renovation to - 111 NW Cone St). I had never been to a hotel where I wasn't comfortable sleeping in the room until that place.
     
    flyingdawg, Deal2020 and MyTravels like this.
  2. particlemn

    particlemn Silver Member

    Messages:
    298
    Likes Received:
    583
    Status Points:
    595
    I have found that hilton offers some affordable options to the semi-frequent traveler. I have used mvp codes and gotten rooms on weekends in chicago subs for the low 60 per night. we also find that summers in palm springs(oaky its hot) that rooms often get sub100. and weekend nights during winter months in san diego also run sub 100. this is not great if you are looking for summer travel but if you are looking for casual weekend away trips i have found hilton ot be everywhere and often affordable.
     
    flyingdawg and MyTravels like this.
  3. murakami

    murakami Silver Member

    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    96
    Status Points:
    250
    This doesn't directly answer your question; but when I was a price sensitive budget traveller, I would generally have little to no brand loyalty. For all bookings i would just use Expedia and pick a place that had reasonable reviews at a rate in my range.

    On that note, It might be worth discussing the pros and cons of brand loyalty, proving out that sometimes paying a little extra to earn points in a specific program can be more valuable later than saving a few bucks now.
     
  4. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

    Messages:
    28,214
    Likes Received:
    61,743
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Skip the chains and book cheap through a cash-back portal based on price at that particular time. The value of the elite status is diminished wen you're staying at a budget property which offers free wifi and breakfast anyways and the points will likely not accrue fast enough to get you anything special in terms of aspirational awards.

    I get 5% cash back from hotels.com plus 10% back through their Welcome Rewards program and I'm very, very happy with that RoI.
     
    Fishing4Deals, rwoman, Kalboz and 3 others like this.
  5. WhiteDesert

    WhiteDesert Silver Member

    Messages:
    364
    Likes Received:
    440
    Status Points:
    500
    This would be a great discussion--I would personally find it as fascinating as the endless back and forth threads about the value of HHonors points versus Starpoints.

    I'm currently planning a "work" trip that won't be reimbursed in the short term, so I'm very conscious about the hotel costs. I'm weighing my Gold status with Hilton (DT and a Hampton in the area are showing up at ~$130 with tax) and Starwood (a nearby Sheraton that I is dropping in at ~$160 with tax) against Choice properties that are showing up between $40-80 all in (There is also a Best Western in the area that's coming in around $85 all in). I have accounts with Choice and BW, but I hold no status with either, nor am I actively attempting to accrue points. It's been quite the tug-of-war in my head over the last few days and I keep running the numbers over and over.
     
    rwoman, flyingdawg and Kalboz like this.
  6. WhiteDesert

    WhiteDesert Silver Member

    Messages:
    364
    Likes Received:
    440
    Status Points:
    500
    I hope it goes well and look forward to reading it.
     
  7. Deal2020

    Deal2020 Silver Member

    Messages:
    90
    Likes Received:
    57
    Status Points:
    235
    Choice hotels is good for earning pointsand the points give you very good value for small town but not good for large cities.
     
  8. flyingdawg
    Original Member

    flyingdawg Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,072
    Likes Received:
    1,702
    Status Points:
    1,120
    LQ is pretty consistent with a few exceptions in my experience.
    Choice brands are also a good budget selection, I just don't like the fact that points expire after 2 yrs. Which is pretty qucik especially if you aren't earning/durning pts quickly.
    Country Inn/Suites (Club Carlson) also is a good value. I prefer them over LQ since they offer hot breakfast.
     
    uggboy and servo like this.
  9. clarelouise44

    clarelouise44 Silver Member

    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    4
    Status Points:
    110
    I like the Wyndham Microtels. They are newly built, always fairly priced and seem well run.
     
    uggboy and miles and smiles like this.
  10. MDDCFlyer

    MDDCFlyer Silver Member

    Messages:
    363
    Likes Received:
    516
    Status Points:
    595
    I took up the Choice hotels as part of preparation for Scandinavia trip in the future (as they have great presence there, ranked pretty high on quality there, and redemption on point is extremely reasonable). Their credit card which has no annual fee can give a substantial number of points (if not redeeming in the USA).

    As part of the exercise I had to stay one night at one of the brand chains. All in all, it was not that bad. It was adequate for one night. Breakfast was disappointing (but free), internet worked as expected, the room was worn out but functional. Would I choose to stay there again? Probably no, but with the right points incentive I might.
     
  11. TRAVELSIG
    Original Member

    TRAVELSIG Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,942
    Likes Received:
    5,509
    Status Points:
    4,145
    I would echo the sentiment on here in many cases to skip the chains- especially outside the United States. B&Bs can offer much better value and often better locations- airbnb.com has some interesting offers and the people I have know that rent "entire apartment" as opposed to a room have been very happy. In many countries also hostels are not only geared to youth and offer excellent value. Also YWCA- in Hong Kong for example has the best location in Kowloon (in between the Sheraton and the Peninsula and across the street from the IC).

    In Europe chain hotels are (with some notable exceptions) typically neither the best hotels nor the best value nor the best locations- in Milano for example with the exception of the Four Seasons and Park Hyatt (which during Fashion week will set you back >$1000 a night) the little B&B and small family owned hotels are all far better value.
     
  12. Ed Chandler
    Original Member

    Ed Chandler Silver Member

    Messages:
    430
    Likes Received:
    501
    Status Points:
    645
    +1 on this. There are Hilton-brand properties almost everywhere and points-accrual is easy. It's tough to walk down the street without tripping over a pile of Hilton points.

    Get the Hilton Reserve VISA: Gold status for $95. Their budget properties don't do much for Golds other than the points bonus, but that's where you make your paid stays. Then, when its time for some fun, redeem at the higher-end properties that offer room upgrades, free breakfast, etc. As a bonus, use their "double-dip" to dribble a few points into your airline program of choice to reset its expiration clock.

    I tell the following story all the time to explain the value of loyalty programs, even for the infrequent traveler:

    Hilton was the first program I joined, not having any idea that this points thing would become an obsession. At the time, I joined the program only because it saved me $15 on Internet access for an overnight work trip. I did nothing with the program after that; I completely forgot about it.

    Fast forward about a year and I got to attend a convention in Hawaii (and bring the then-girlfriend). The conference hotel was the Hilton Waikoloa Village in Honolulu. We'd rented a car and there was a traffic back up trying to get into the parking deck, so I decided to let the valet park it to avoid the hassle.

    As I drove onto the property, we drove past a mile-long gaggle of convention-goers waiting to check in. When we reached the valet stand, we could see that the check-in line wound through a maze of velvet ropes before finally reaching the check-in desk where 5 or 6 people were frantically checking people in.

    The valet came over to get my keys and I said something like, "Hell of a line to check-in, huh?" The valet replied, "Do you happen to be an HHonors member, sir?" Then I remembered my almost-forgotten-about HHonors membership and told him that I was. The valet gestured over at separate check-in desk with one clerk and no line. He said, "That's your line, sir" and we were in our room 10 minutes later.

    I realize that's an atypical experience, but it set a heck of a first impression.
     
  13. WhiteDesert

    WhiteDesert Silver Member

    Messages:
    364
    Likes Received:
    440
    Status Points:
    500
    I would echo everything Ed wrote here*. Hilton has been very good to me as a Gold, and when I'm gaming out trips that aren't reimbursed, the numbers really often end up in their favor (over, say, Starwood). Even when the price point of a Choice hotel is $89 and the HGI down the street is $110, I have a hard time choosing the Choice option. The airline miles alone are hard to leave on the table--I just squeaked across the re-qualification line for Gold in 2012, but every qualifying stay I had was at a 500 fixed-mile property (with a couple of variable sprinkled in). I snagged almost 10,000 US miles for those stays, in addition to the substantial point haul.



    *Except perhaps to send some fist shakes Hilton's way regarding redemptions--the premium room nonsense isn't a small thing (and the difficulty in finding standard room awards does throw some cold water on what I wrote above about property prices and point hauls).
     
  14. TWA44

    TWA44 Active Member

    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    12
    Status Points:
    80
    It may be too late but I only just saw your post now. BW will status match and they do it quickly.
     
  15. sunny_sc
    Original Member

    sunny_sc Silver Member

    Messages:
    59
    Likes Received:
    55
    Status Points:
    225
    I know this doesn't answer your question directly but as someone who infrequently stays in hotels, I find that using Hotwire and Priceline work well for me particularly within the US.
     
    traveltoomuch likes this.
  16. WhiteDesert

    WhiteDesert Silver Member

    Messages:
    364
    Likes Received:
    440
    Status Points:
    500
    As I'm sure you can imagine, the tug-of-war in my mind got even more intense in the last week or so after Hilton punched us all in the gut. To add to it, the prices of the hotels that I was looking at have fluctuated wildly since I wrote that comment on the 23rd of January. I've gotten into the habit of checking them every day at about this time (currently 04:00 local) as I coffee up for the day. The DoubleTree that I've been watching has been all over the map (I didn't plot the data, but in hindsight I wish I had), and at one point early last week, for a single day, the AAA rate plunged to $89, bringing the all-in cost to $99.12. Yes please. Two nights snagged. The Sheraton dropped down to $111 at one point, and I've reserved a night there, too.

    So, the trip begins this coming Saturday the 2nd and runs to next Thursday the 7th. Given the recent SPG and Hilton moves, I'm in the middle of rethinking my entire hotel strategy, but for this particular trip, the prices/distances worked out such that I've booked according to my current strategy:

    2-3, Airport HGI @ $100.98 all-in*.
    3-4, DT @ $99.12 all-in.
    4-5, Sheraton AAA club level, $124.54 all-in (I'm not quite ready to give up on trying to hit Platinum this year)**.
    5-6, DT @ $99.12 all-in.
    6-7, Airport Four Points, cash&points 1600/30.

    *This rate beat the absolute snot out of everything I found on Hotels.com in the same radius.
    **I've got a Best Western reserved at $100.11 all-in for the same night, and am still playing around with this stay. I probably won't make a final decision until Thursday. The BW of course provides me with breakfast/internet without status, both of which are important on this particular trip.
     
    tommy777 likes this.
  17. Ed Chandler
    Original Member

    Ed Chandler Silver Member

    Messages:
    430
    Likes Received:
    501
    Status Points:
    645
    Yep. "Wallet loyalty"
     
    Wandering Aramean likes this.
  18. travelpye

    travelpye Silver Member

    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    259
    Status Points:
    495
    Sort of along the lines of Ed's story: As a newbie to the whole loyalty/points/miles area, I joined GH Discovery before staying at the OMNI Shoreham in DC a couple of years ago. I very much appreciated the free wi fi and Starbucks and bottled water (DC in July is hot) delivered to my room, not to mention the option of a giant bagel thrown in for another dollar or so. All that was for just signing up. And i more or less forgot about it, as I ahd no occasion to stay at an OMNI for a couple of years. But my biggest $ payoff from that was at the Quay Grand Suites in Sydney this past April, where they gave me free wi fi, which otherwise cost $28AU a day. That was very handy to make calls via Skype, especially when on hold for a long time with UA. :)

    Re Choice and Best Western. I frankly have found them to be pretty inconsistent in the US. I have stayed in scrupulously clean and convenient BWs, such as in Williams, AZ, and yet also in BWs where air conditioning didn't work (in AZ in June), the room lacked soap, and clean towels, etc. Ditto for Choice properties--just inconsistent.
     
  19. h0pper

    h0pper Silver Member

    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    14
    Status Points:
    105
    Make sure u sign up for Starwoods Platinum Challenge. You have to call Starwood to register for it.
     
  20. WhiteDesert

    WhiteDesert Silver Member

    Messages:
    364
    Likes Received:
    440
    Status Points:
    500
    Yeah...it's 18 nights in three consecutive months, right? Beginning on the first of a month?

    I have a heavy meeting schedule in April, June, and July. But not much in May. I need to see what the logical start point is. Thanks for the reminder!
     
  21. TRAVELSIG
    Original Member

    TRAVELSIG Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,942
    Likes Received:
    5,509
    Status Points:
    4,145
    Just a reminder- IIRC you can only use the Platinum Challenge once- so if you are not sure you will make it- perhaps better to get Gold or Preferred and just use that until you are sure it is the moment to jump to Platinum permanently.
     
  22. WhiteDesert

    WhiteDesert Silver Member

    Messages:
    364
    Likes Received:
    440
    Status Points:
    500
    It's an "only use once" situation if I'm successful, right? If I fail, there appear to be reports of a one-month lag between attempts.

    http://milepoint.com/forums/threads/platinum-challenge-info.25971/

    But thanks for that reminder--I'll definitely be confirming that with SPG whenever it is that I contact them. I hold SPG gold now, so it's obviously not a huge deal if I fail to achieve the target. It's just that everyone touts SPG Platinum so much that I'm curious as to how much different the world feels during a Platinum stay.
     
    TRAVELSIG likes this.
  23. TRAVELSIG
    Original Member

    TRAVELSIG Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,942
    Likes Received:
    5,509
    Status Points:
    4,145
    Having been both Plat and Gold- I don't think the difference is really so great. Best of luck in any case!
     
  24. WhiteDesert

    WhiteDesert Silver Member

    Messages:
    364
    Likes Received:
    440
    Status Points:
    500
    Many thanks.
    It will be interesting...
     
    TRAVELSIG likes this.
  25. daninstl

    daninstl Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,288
    Likes Received:
    1,677
    Status Points:
    1,120
    I stay at a lot of holiday inn properties and they can offer some good rates plus the reward program is very good. I'm also a fan of Drury Hotels. In my part of the world they offer some good properties, some with good sub $100 rates at times. The reward program is good. The breakfast and evening cocktails hours are one of the best in the industry. They also have sister properties under the pear tree inn name, usually older hotels. I've enjoyed reward nights on the San Antonio riverbank and in Colorado Springs with that chain.
     

Share This Page