$200 GIVEAWAY: Test Driving A New Hotel Booking Engine

I’ve been testing a new hotel booking engine that I really like and I wanted to share it with you.  There’s a lot to cover, including how it works, a first-time booking discount and a pretty cool giveaway.

Full disclosure, I don’t make a lot of my bookings through online travel agencies (OTAs).  I use them to search for what I need and ultimately book at the hotel chain’s website for virtually 100% of my bookings.  I don’t stack some of the small rebates out there, though I know plenty that do. And, I rarely book an advance purchase rate.

One of the biggest reasons I don’t use OTAs is because I want to ensure that I get my elite benefits, points and stay credits.  This isn’t something that’s easy to do with an OTA booking, let alone dealing with some of the requisite hassle of canceling those bookings.  For a while, I really liked Points Hound’s Double Dip product, but when those rates dried up, the hassle of canceling through their site and lack of benefits was an immediate buzz kill for me.

That’s why StayFaster and StayatHand appealed to me.  For starters, they’ve figured out a way to make reservations via a 3rd party site and still receive elite benefits and points for your stay.  That’s a huge plus for me.  Second, they do make it really easy to cancel a reservation (big button on the top right of your screen).

For me personally, just being able to book and get elite benefits isn’t especially valuable unless it’s easy to use the site to search.  Stay Faster does a great job minimizing clicks and page reloads.  They also include some little extras along the way that are timesavers.  The website is somewhat bare bones (light on graphics and “pretty”) but is wicked fast. Here’s a look at the home page:


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Once I key in a few pieces of information, I click “Go” and the system starts doing its work.  The calendar gives me some easy defaults like “This Monday”.

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I found the search to be very quick, as quick (and in most cases much quicker) than other OTAs.  I also tested it on a Gogo flight recently and still got decent results, quicker than running similar searches on Expedia at the same time.  Once the search is complete, the system will display results in list format on the left with a map on the right.

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There are a number of filters and option bits you can select, including enabling/disabling AAA, military and senior discounts as well as filtering for properties that are full service, extended stay or associated with a chain.  Most of these options can be preset in your profile for future searches.

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The site will allow you to see 10, 25 or 100 results on the list view.  What I liked much better than Expedia is that if I start typing in the search box the site immediately filters the results without reloading the page.  So, everything is there and hiding, ready to be sorted without a new page load, something Expedia just doesn’t do very quickly (don’t get me started on Orbitz).

I double-checked some of the rates I found across multiple cities and they matched what the hotels were offering on their websites, including advance purchase and other special rates.  From a responsive standpoint, I found a couple of things I thought could be improved, such as the calendar defaulting to the month you’re searching when you’ve already started a search.  The company responded quickly and has already shown progress on some of those items.  They’ve also shared with me that there are more search option bits to come soon, like the ability to toggle on and off advance purchase rates.

Their app, which is designed a differently to focus on booking rooms near your geographic location, has a phenomenal user experience.  The home screen changes based on which categories you use most frequently.  Once you identify how you want to search (somewhere near you or by entering your own criteria), the display will allow you to see things by list or map.  Both are useful, but the map view is friggin’ awesome.  It puts a gold star on the lowest price, which is helpful in a dense search area.  And, as you zoom in or out or move around the screen, it instantly updates pricing.

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Click on any price bubble and it displays the hotel info.  Again, the info is very elegantly displayed.

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The app also allows you to select some presets for how you want to search in the future.

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Bottom Line

I really like the website and the app.  I personally have more use for the website than the app.  I can see searching and booking on StayFaster, knowing that I can view multiple chains (for me, usually Hyatt and SPG) and book right on the site while still getting my elite benefits.  The folks running the company have rich hotel experience and appear well-equipped to make this product a long-term success.

Now, For The Good Stuff!

Stay Faster is offering each of my readers a 10% rebate on their first booking, without restriction.  This is not a discount, it’s an actual 10% cash rebate.   That’s pretty darn cool.  All you need to do is the following:

1.  Click Here To Register At StayFaster.  You’ll need to click on the “Create Account” link at the top right under the Login tab.

2.  Enter my promotion code.  Wait for it…. PizzaInMotion

3.  Provide a first and last name, plus a password.

Giveaway

That’s it.  You’ll receive a 10% rebate on your first booking once it’s completed.  This is valid for virtually every hotel and rate on the site.  There are a few non-commisionable rates that don’t qualify, marked as “Not Eligible for Promotions”.  You can read the full T&C here.

Please note, I do earn a referral credit with Stay Faster if you use my code.  It doesn’t take anything away from the discount you’re receiving.  Rather, you’re getting the best deal currently available.

And, finally, the giveaway!

StayFaster offered me $200 in credit to use on their site, good for virtually any hotel room bookable through them.  Instead of keeping it, I thought it would make a great holiday gift for one of you.

So, all you need to do is tell me a little story.  Tell me about one of your most memorable hotel stays/vacations.  It can be memorable for a good reason or a bad one, I don’t care.  And, it doesn’t need to be long.

You can enter as many times as you like provided you’re actually sharing a story.  If you’re just leaving a “pick me” comment, you’re limited to one entry a day.  

If you have a memorable picture, feel free to send it along to ed -at- milepoint dot com and I’ll post the good ones!

All decisions by me in relation to the contest are final.

I’ll pick a winner on Wednesday, December 24th, just in time for me to head out for Christmas with the family, and add to someone else’s pile of gifts!


The post GIVEAWAY: Test Driving A New Hotel Engine was published first on Pizza In Motion.

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168 Comments

  1. My favorite hotel stay was at the Park Hyatt Tokyo where every need, whim and care is addressed immediately by a staff that seems hidden until the moment you need them. A day in their Spa and pool (with its magnificent views) was unforgettable.

    1. Michael, I loved my stay there as well. I was able to get a fabulous suite. Only wish my wife was with me to enjoy it!

  2. Signed up and tried using it for upcoming trip to San Juan; but it doesn’t work for Puerto Rico which is part of the United States. 🙁

    1. RC, I asked this question of them just now, and they said they expect to expand beyond the 50 states within 6 months of closing their funding round. I’d expect that to happen in 2015.

  3. Stayed at a small hotel in Korea (many years ago); the room was great, but the toilet was a hole outside and washing up meant a cold tap outside with a pump. I know, countryside and all that – but it was memorable!~

  4. One of my most memorable hotel stays was when I showed up to Thailand (traveling by myself) and they thought I was on my honeymoon so the room was decorated with flowers, fruit, champagne etc. and wondered where the Mrs. was. Turns out (at the time) there was no Mrs.

  5. Many years ago, I stayed at a luxurious hotel in Danang, Vietnam on a business trip. But was struck by the poverty just beyond the gate of the hotel.

  6. Being in New York with my father this year. My parents divorced when I was a youngin’, and we didn’t really ever take a vacation together, so getting to take a trip together as adults was awesome.

    1. Nothing. The only compensation they’ve offered me thus far is going to you in the form of the prize and the 10% discount. In theory, if you book more than 2 reservations with them, I’ll get a referral credit further down the road. But, haven’t received a dime yet and that’s really not my motivation.

  7. One of best R and R vacations was to Isla Mujeres. Stayed at a simple inexpensive hotel, brought along a bag of books, and recharged on the beach with books, beer and ceviche.

  8. I take trips with my kids every year for their birthday. Enjoyed going to DC with my daughter and staying at the Mayflower hotel and looking at the historic ballroom and touring White House.

  9. My favorite hotel stay was at the Holiday Music Motel, in Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin. The hotel has it’s own radio station and live music at least once a week. They even host a poetry slam. The decor is 1950’s-60’s retro rockabilly. It’s a Midwestern gem that I look forward to visiting again.

  10. The first international trip I went on with my (now) wife, we stayed in Interlaken, Switzerland. My wife had never seen anything like it. My family had been staying at our hotel whenever we were in town for decades, so when checking in, she was asked if she was my wife. She turned about 16 shades of red. Now I wish I’d had a camera handy.

  11. Just last month, my buddy and I went on an amazing trip to Copenhagen. It was our first time in Europe. We took a ton of pictures, including the hotel’s tiny shower and its extravagant Scandinavian buffet breakfast. We also took pictures of the city, of course.

  12. Honeymoon stay at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort. The Vice President, Player Development at Atlantic City Casino Marketing Office gave us a great rate and added the Atlantis Experience Pass as well as the Taste of Atlantis Promotion to help make it a memorable one!

  13. One of my most memorable hotel stays was at the Omni Hotel in New Orleans. I had never been to New Orleans and this hotel was perfect — right in the middle of everything and absolutely beautiful. They even gave us coupons every day for Cafe Du Monde. The price was great, too, since we went off season!

  14. This memorable Hotel Stay goes back many years and I don’t even remember the name of the hotel. But on our honeymoon, we spent one night in New York City. I remember being so impressed at the time because there was a phone in the bathroom! Can you believe that’s all I remember about it? Ha Ha!

  15. Another place we stayed was in Mendocino County, CA. I think the name of the place was Little River Inn. What was memorable about it was that it was dog friendly and every day there was a basket or treat of some kind waiting our chocolate lab, who we brought with us. They even provided him his own bed.

  16. We recently stayed at a very nice hotel in Cannon Beach, OR. It was the Hallmark Inn. You could sit on the balcony and be only a few yards (it seemed) from the famous Haystack Rock. Inside was a beautiful jacuzzi pool. It’s one of the nicer (and more expensive) hotels I’ve ever stayed in!

  17. My most memorable hotel stay was at the Fraer Suites Insadong in Seoul when we went to pick up our son we were adopting from South Korea.

  18. Twenty-eight years ago, we spent our honeymoon in Banff in a tent because we couldn’t afford a hotel. At the time, we visited the Chateau Lake Louise hotel, and were absolutely entranced. We promised ourselves that we’d return someday and stay in that hotel for a second honeymoon. Last August we returned and stayed 4 nights in a suite that overlooked the lake. The Fairmont made us feel like royalty, with champagne, comp’d parking and the suite upgrade. It was a dream come true.

    1. heavenlyjane, my wife and I did Banff and Lake Louise about 10 years ago and absolutely loved both Fairmonts. It’s absolutely enchanting in the winter as well.

  19. My favourite hotel stay this year was the Fairmont Château Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies. Magical! Best views. Quiet rooms. Comfy bed. Friendly professional staff.

    1. Jeannette, we loved that property as well. We visited in winter while staying at Fairmont Banff and were so enthralled we switched hotels for part of the stay. Walking across the frozen lake without a single sound in the world was a very unique experience.

  20. My most memorable stay was at the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore with its fabulous 57th floor infinity pool. I went up there at 6:30 am and had the entire pool to myself! It was magical watching the city lights dim and the sun rise.

  21. My friend and I still laugh over the time I did a rewards booking at the Holiday Inn in Waikiki. Every time I collected enough IHG points, I had booked a few more nights. So I had booked it as 3 consecutive, separate reservations . As we settled in for the 1st “stay” a box of macadamia nuts was delivered to our room. And also for the 2nd “Stay” . And then for the 3rd. Guess what! We ate them all.

  22. My first points redemption at the Hyatt Key West Resort & Spa over a year ago. I got over $0.03 per point value and had a blast on Duval St!

  23. Best stay was at the Thalasso in Bora Bora. My wife and I were there this September for our one year anniversary; stayed there for five nights after strategic signups for the IHG card with the 80k bonus and free anniversary nights. We never could afford it in cash but were able to swing it with the cc signups and free nights. Awesome property!

  24. We had a great stay at Vail Cascade this year. We went early, the first week of December, and they gave us an excellent room very close to the ski shop and lift. It was awesome in every way!

  25. One of my favorite hotel stays was with my wife and two friends at the Hyatt regency cancun, which is not a hyatt anymore. It was an absolute steal with points based on location. Anyways, I was a platinum member and when I checked in my room wasn’t ready and the manager just asked me if I would be ok with being upgraded to the presidential suite. I was crazy shocked, but gladly accepted the upgrade. If only all my hotel stays worked out that perfect.

  26. Ahhhh easily one of the best hotel experiences I had ever had was at the Four Seasons Scottsdale – impecable service and I recall sitting on the edge of the golf course with my headphones on, sitting in the shade, being as still as possible as the bunnies tried to figure out what I was doing. The cocktails helped too. Wonderful experience.

  27. Right before I entered the first grade we moved to Illinois from Texas and for 6 weeks my dad’s new company had us live at the Lincolnshire Marriott Resort. It was awesome. They had coin dives all the time, room service, paddle boats and, in short, everything a kid could want. The only negative part (not for me, but for my parents), was that my barely walking baby brother locked himself in the bathroom on my father’s birthday. Because of his age you couldn’t tell him to open it or be helpful in anyway. Still, it was awesome and most likely why I love staying in hotels.

  28. My husband and I treated my parents to a stay at a Town Country Inn & Suites. With my status I received some goodies along with the free breakfast, coffee, and cookies. It was the first time my parents had ever stayed at such a fancy hotel. My dad is pretty down-to-earth and typically doesn’t like fancy anything, but he absolutely loved being able to get a cookie every time we left the hotel to go do something.

  29. 4th of July at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego was awesome!! Friends, a block of rooms, a HUGE suite over looking the barge shooting fireworks at the Big Bay Boom!!!!

  30. My favorite place to stay is the Arizona Biltmore. By going in August, rates are as low as $99 plus if you go through virtuoso you can get $100 dinner credit per stay, and $40 breakfast voucher. Not to mention, they also upgraded us to their Ocatilla lounge which had free beer & wine!

  31. We had a one-night staycation at the Grand Hyatt Denver for our first anniversary and we we were upgraded to the Presidential Suite, which was bigger than our apartment!

  32. I once had to wait 30 minutes before anyone showed up at the front desk of a major chain hotel so I could check in late one night. I expressed my displeasure to the staff member once he showed up and in return, he wrote that I was rude on my hotel bill that was slipped under the door the next morning. The manager comped the room and I got 100k hotel points for the issue.

  33. I realize it isn’t all that glamorous but one of my favorite hotel stays was at the Hampton Inn & Suites, Harbison just NW of Columbia, SC (where our son and daughter-in-law live with 2 of our grandkids). It was just the small things they did that made our stay very enjoyable; a lesson for hotels everywhere that “the devil is in the details.”

  34. We pricelined a reservation years ago for a stay in Houston. We were just going to be there a few hours. I can’t even remember the name of the motel, but it was horrible. My wife made me bring in blankets from the car to put on the bed because she refused to lay on it. We got up extra early and left. And I haven’t pricelined since.

  35. Recently stayed at a Homewood Suites near the DFW airport. The guy checking us in was very nice. When he found out we were leaving early the next morning before breakfast was served, he opened the kitchen area and got us some bananas and boxed cereal for our kids to have on the flight. Little things like that go a LONG way with me.

  36. On a roadtrip through west Texas last summer we stayed at 3 Holiday Inn’s in small towns. My kids were fascinated with the automatic pancake makers. Another of the small things, but I think the basic hotels sometimes can be overlooked or put-down on blogs. Give me a clean place to sleep, a cheap price (or cheap points!), and an automatic pancake maker, and my group can be happy!

  37. Just came back from Hyatt Keywest Fl. the hotel is located in center of town, however it is abit run down and can’t figure it out it is Cat. 6 similar to PH Vienna that I stayed during Thanksgiving holiday. Not going back there again.

    1. karung, we were debating this property for an upcoming stay but a lot of folks noted the small pool and small beach along with so-so rooms.

  38. The Intercontinental Hong Kong! Awesome view if the city. It was my first trip there and was able to see the city where my parents lived before coming to the states 46 years ago!

  39. Most memorable so far was staying at the St. Regis on Kauai with points. Over-the-top luxury, amazing scenery, great hiking, delicious food, awesome beaches and perfect weather. I always smile when thinking about it.

  40. This was an impulsive trip, it was made at the last minute. What a wonderful surprise as I entered the room of Homewood Suites -Hilton It was Quiet and Clean and most important Cozy with a Delightful Firepalce. It was like your very own home. The hotel is in a great location. Great Breakfast and the most Courteous staff. Probably one the most romantic evenings ever spent in years away from the hustle of everyday life.

  41. many memorable stays, recently in June Hotel (small size) in Incheon, the Korean pickup van driver at airport was not easy to understand but efficient once we ‘connected’, after arriving at the hotel, then he did the bellman’s job taking my luggage to front desk, the checks me in, then takes me & luggage to the room, sets up ac, lights and TV remote, unpacks a pair of slippers (commonly supplied in Asian hotels) before he leaves, wow!

  42. I still remember the first time receiving a suite upgrade way before I joined the points and miles game. It actually made it extra special since I was not aware of the status and upgrade system at that time. We were checking into Excaliber in Vegas and the line was extremely long. we finally get to the agent and are told “sorry, we do not have your room category available” (standard, king, NS) What? “But since you were so patient waiting in that line and you are only here one night, I can upgrade you to a 2 room suite.” Score!

  43. One of the best stays I’ve had was at a tiny hotel in Bocas Del Toro, Panama. lazy mornings spent on my terrace’s hammock with some fresh squeezed guava juice = perfection!

  44. I traveled solo to Milan earlier this year and used my Chase free nights to stay at the Park Hyatt Milan. Not only was the service impeccable, but the location and quality of the hotel really made my stay that much more memorable (and made me incredibly sad when I switched to the Crowne Plaza!).

  45. Most memorable trip experience is a Memorial Day 2012 trip to Nashville, Tennessee. My wife is a huge country music fan and Nashville had been on her bucket list. The joy on her face getting to tour the Ryman and seeing a live performance at the Grand Ole Opry made the trip magical!

  46. My best hotel stay was at the Conrad Hilton in Hong Kong as a gold member. Their Club Floor is great and the service up there is excellent and fun as well.

  47. Ed,

    Can you confirm that booking through StayFaster accrues points through the hotel’s loyalty program? I am looking to make one more stay to complete a loyalty bonus promotion and want to make sure the stay credits correctly.

    Thanks!

    1. Jarrett,

      Sorry for the delay in replying. Yes – you earn rewards points. We currently support 23 programs and are adding more all the time. You want to create the account and then put in your rewards number for that program.

      If you have any more questions PLEASE contact FrontDesk@StayFaster.com. We respond quickly!

      Thank you,
      John K. Hart
      Founder & CEO
      Imagine If (the StayFaster and StayAtHand products)

    2. Jarrett, I haven’t personally stayed and had a stay credit yet, but that’s their guarantee. And, the reservations I made confirmed just like my normal stays at Hyatts. Not sure that’s enough to convince you or not.

  48. We actually liked the Manila Hyatt! It was the first time we have eve been upgraded to a suite. Unfortunately we didn’t have much time to enjoy it as we checked in at 3AM and out the next morning. 🙁

  49. Traveling to India for the first time from the US I stayed at the Mumbai Sheraton. This incredible suite was just fantastic. I realized for the first time in recent memory that I was “the problem” guest (I’ve stayed 1500 nights in hotels in the past 10 years, I think I’m a good guest).

    On the first day at the hotel I found the restaurant to be a bit stuffy, but the lounge was fun and festive. The bartender was unable to serve dinner in the lounge, but for me would run to the restaurant and order food so I could enjoy the lounge.

    On the second day at the hotel I turned on the shower, then received a call before I could get in – about 15 minutes later on the call the doorbell to my room rang (it was a suite 🙂 ) – 3 staffers with fire extinguishers and a ladder were present to put out the fire, the steam had set off the fire alarm. My wife on the other end of the line was in quite a shock with all the commotion.

    On the third day I was enjoying a beverage at the poolside bar, I found I got a splinter in my hand from the natural covering of the bar. I went to the Spa to ask if they had tweezers to pull it out. They did not, but were sufficiently worried I would get an infection that they summoned the medic team at the hotel who used their emergency kit to disinfect and work out the splinter. My own mother would have told me it’s just a splinter, but this team (oddly – the same team that responded to my “fire”) was on top of it.

    This was certainly my best stay in a hotel 🙂

  50. For our honeymoon, my wife and I took a trip through SouthEast Asia. Our first stop was Thailand and we stayed at the Renaissance Bangkok Ratchaprasong. The first night there, we were woken up by the fire alarm and someone fervently knocking on our door. When we turned on the lights, we noticed that water was starting to flow in to our room from the outside. The hotel staff member who was at the door explained what happened and asked that we move our items off of the ground and immediately head to the lobby. It turns out that someone in the room across the hall decided to dry their clothes by hanging them off of the fire sprinklers and accidentally set them off (I seriously thought I was in a dream when the hotel staff explained that to me).

    After hanging out in the hotel lobby for about 10 minutes, the hotel moved us to a new room on a different floor. While I was pleased to have a clean room that we could stay in, I was somewhat surprised that no one at the hotel or the Renaissance afterwards offered anything for the inconvenience (they did offer to launder our clothes that had gotten wet during the flooding). But all in all, it wasn’t a huge deal and it definitely made for a memorable start to the honeymoon!

  51. Howard Johnson’s “motel” in Pensacola Florida back in the late 1980’s. Worst hotel I’ve ever stayed it. The door didn’t have a lock, the casement windows had no screens and bugs everywhere. My wife still reminds me of this trip and hotel.

  52. Recently stayed for 10 days at the Aulani Disney Resort in Oahu. the resort is amazing ,esp. the views.
    Disney white glove service is topnotch. We checked in online so as soon as we arrived we were greeted by staff awaiting outside the lobby with sweet smelling flower lei. AMAZING!

  53. One of best hotel memories is lying poolside at the Sheraton Royal Orchid Bangkok after a hot humid day of shopping and sightseeing. The waiters walked around the pool area distributing ice chilled towels to help us keep cool. So refreshing!

    1. Chris, we had a so-so stay there. The power was out when we arrived and the staff did their best to make it better. I wouldn’t mind returning and trying it again (with power). 🙂

  54. We travel to Desire in Cancun a couple of times per year and you always know your vacation has officially started at the check in counter when they greet you with a glass of champagne. Salud!

  55. Worst hotel night -We were non rev flying home & got stuck for the night and because of aircraft matinence. A revune passanger offered us their room at the Omni Cancun that was being compd by the the airline as she could stay with her travelling companion. A sleepless night followed by hotel employees/securtity questioning us in the morning.

  56. I opened my account with Stay Faster. Desire Los Cabos does not exist any more, but we were there for the opening weekend and they left adult shaped chocolates in your room as a welcome amenity. Can’t say I have ever seen that before!

  57. There was a hotel in San Francisco called Hotel California that would give you a tequila shot after you checked in. The bottle was kept chilled and shot glasses, lime and salt were at the ready.

  58. My most memorable stays have been in Switzerland. Two specific hotels that come to mind are the Dolder Grand and the Beau Rivage Palace.

  59. My best hotel experience was ironically, at the Howard Johnson in Shanghai – which contrary to our initial impressions, was a lot more like a 5 star hotel than an American HoJo.

  60. My most memorable vacation was my first time doing Carnival in Trinidad. It was memorable and colorful while also full of alcohol and good food and partying. The Hyatt Regency Trinidad was a fantastic place to stay and my first time having a rainfall showerhead.

  61. Before I got into miles and points I tried to get the cheapest hotel until we stayed in a motel 6 in Minneapolis that had 4 deadbolts and a blood stain on the wall… I vowed never again to be cheap!

  62. Last year my wife, son and I made a wonderful Easter trip to the Hyatt Carmel Highlands. It was a beautiful hotel and Carmel is such a great town.

  63. Earlier this year, my wife son and I stayed at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston. The hotel was beautiful and my son got to take one of the resident dogs (Carly) on a walk. He loved it!

  64. One of my most memorable stays was at the Conrad Macau where they gave me an upgrade to a three room suit and when a storm caused me to have to extend my stay,they let me keep my room and didn’t make me pack up to the much smaller room I had reserved for the extra nights.

    Also breakfast was yummy!

  65. hilton honululu. the evening free cocktail meet and greet go a little ugly….but a beautiful ugly! fun times with random folks.

  66. One of my most memorable stays had to be our honeymoon in Maldives. We only could stay for 5 nights (cleaned out Hilton accounts of points completely pre devaluation!) but what a stay it was. Just floating in the water in the middle of nowhere in the Indian ocean is mind boggling. From food to architecture to house reef teaming with all kinds of fish, turtles, baby sharks, octopus, etc. was out of this world. And to think that this country might not exist as we know it in 20 years time is sad.

  67. I stayed at this great hotel in Amsterdam over the summer, one of my favorites to date. Not only was it full of great artwork by local artists, but the food was amazing too!

  68. Hilton New Orleans Riverside has the most scenic executive lounge I’ve ever been in. Loved sitting up there enjoying a light breakfast or afternoon snack and taking in the city and the mighty Mississippi.

  69. We stayed at the Grand Californian a couple of years ago on a visit to Disneyland. Our balcony overlooked the park and we could walk right out of the hotel into the theme park. I got no points from staying there, but it was still a fun stay.

  70. I am usually not willing to waste vacation time with a timeshare sales pitch, but a few years ago I tried a deal for 3 nights in a 1-bdrm at a Hilton Grand Vacations resort in Orlando. The extra space with two small kids was so nice, and the presentation was completely low-pressure and actually interesting. We did not buy, but it was a nice stay.

  71. The last night of our honeymoon, we stayed at a fancy hotel in Anchorage. We were poor college students and my parents had paid for our honeymoon trip. We had spent most of our funds during the trip, but decided we could afford one hamburger from room service. When it arrived, I was really hungry and scarfed it down only to realize that my wife had nothing to eat. I’ve learned a lot about marriage since then. (And can say that I’m still happily married to that same girl – 16 years now!)

  72. My favorite hotel stay was Aulani in Hawaii. It is a beautiful hotel and the view was amazing. We were facing the ocean on an angle and my husband seriously said “I guess you can see the ocean”.

  73. Stayed at Conrad Maldives last year, and the hotel made a super-early seaplane reservation for us (6:30 am…we arrived at Male one day prior to the Conrad reservation). I probably sounded a little frustrated when trying to negotiate for a later seaplane (but no avail), once on site, the hotel upgraded my stay to deluxe villa to compensate for the bad air from seaplane appointment!

  74. As a kid my family often went to the Mark Hopkins in SF to hang out in the lobby and read newspapers. It’s now an InterContinental property, and I stayed there with my mother and sister recently. Thanks to my status we got upgraded to a room higher up with a wonderful view. I loved this hotel, not only for the family connection (I was too young to remember visiting there as a youngin’), but the room, and the Top of the Mark bar, and the Lobby, and yes, impeccable and very friendly service!

  75. One of our great family memories was made at the Hotel Chateau de Rochecotte in the Loire Valley. At our 5-course dinner, our then 4 year old daughter was seated at our table on a fancy pillow placed a regular chair since there were no booster seats. She had enough formal dining after 3 courses and was then invited to watch Sleeping Beauty in French with the chateau owners’ children in the adjacent salon. She still talks about that experience.

  76. Two years ago I booked a hotel in London for my mother, daughter, and aunt. I spent way too long searching for a good deal, couldn’t find one, and finally settled on one that seemed ok. When we arrived, we had to squeeze past building supplies, down a dark, narrow staircase, into one small room with two double beds and two single beds squeezed into the space–the “family room.” Thankfully we were all laughing so hard that we managed to make it fun, but I vowed then never to skimp on hotel rooms again. Learning from travel blogs on BoardingArea, I am now a Hyatt Diamond and IHG Platinum/Ambassador, but am spending less money on hotel rooms than I did in my bargain days. Thank you!

  77. My most memorable hotel stay was my honeymoon 5 years ago! We stayed at the Hotel Burnham in Chicago and they upgraded up and the hotel was beautiful!

  78. I stayed at a great hotel in Vermont that had an indoor pool in the lobby and rooms that opened up to it from both sides. Hard to explain, but it was a lot of fun!

  79. We stayed at the Disney Aulani after it first opened. We loved every minute. The staff were so attentive to the children. Amazing kids club. One of our best family trips so far.

  80. I booked a room on the Hilton website and there were no rooms with two beds available. I noted that I needed two beds and being Gold thought they might make the effort to make it happen. I got to the hotel and the desk clerk asked “do you really need two beds?”. Yes! I did…my travel companion snored to beat the band and that little space might make a difference. Then she said well I have a room with two queens and a king. That made my head spin. So we got a room with two bedrooms, two baths, livingroom and kitchen. That was adequate!

  81. One of my favorite hotel stays was serendipitous.

    Before WWW (around 1990) I traveled from Monterey California to Orlando. Probably did a connection through SFO and LAX because I had UA status and loved those bonus points. Anyway, I wrote down the hotel reservation information, arrived to MOC, picked up my rental car, and drove to the hotel. The front desk agent said there was no reservation under my name. No sweat, I gave hime the reservation number. Nope, he said, nada. In fact, he said the reservation code is not even in the format they ever use.

    I had traveled enough to know he was not just pulling my leg. Something was weird. He did say that my reserved rate was far below their published rates (it was a nice place) but he would give me an employee discount.

    After checking in and settling in my room, I finally pulled out the sheet of paper with the hotel information. D’oh, I was at the wrong hotel. Even the wrong chain. But I did get a $250 room for $69, or something like that.

  82. Staying at the Sydney Harbor Intercontinental with access to their rooftop club to ring in the new year! It’s an experience not to be missed!

  83. As much as I care about my points and free hotel nights, they can’t match the charm of individually owned bed & breakfasts. Our favorite is the Inn at Cottage Grove in Sonoma CA. Wife and I have been there twice for romantic getaways.

  84. I used Airbnb for an apartment in Hawaii for a week this year. It was great, it was a block from the beach, had beach chairs, towels, and other things to take to the beach. It was also nice to have a kitchen to cook our own food once and a while. It even included a parking spot which was nice for our rental car so that we could get to other parts of the island easily. It was a great experience, and was cheaper than a hotel.

  85. A most memorable hotel experience was in Nepal. A man we met on the bus bragged to us how wonderful his hotel was. So a female friend and I decided to stay there. We climbed 3 flights of dimly lit stair to see a very basic room. I said to him “We would like to stay on the first floor.” He said in return, “Oh,no, that’s where the concubines stay”. We decided to leave immediately. Sure enough as we walked through the lobby it was filled with single men!

  86. A most memorable hotel stay (in a bad way) was in a small New England town. I awoke at 3am to see bed bugs! I packed up with warp speed, booked a different and better hotel, and left as soon as the reservations desk opened in the morning.

  87. A memorable stay was at a hotel near Gainesville in Florida. My traveling companion adjusted the “Sleep Number ‘ bed far too soft and couldn’t get out of the resulting ditch in the center! So, now anytime I mention that a hotel has Sleep Number beds, she rolls her eyes and we have a good laugh.

  88. One of my nicest stays this year was in the Chicago Sheraton Hotel and Tower. Though I was staying on a very low rate promotion, and not as an SPG guest, I was upgraded into a corner, large room with a terrific view.

  89. The Wyndam Harbor Court in Toronto is right on the water. I was traveling with my mother and daughter and it was the perfect intergenerational hotel, something for everyone, including a big swimming pool. We ended up there via Priceline or Hotwire, not sure I would have payed full price for it… Still, nice property!

  90. The Olivedo at Varenna on Lake Como. Spectacular views across Lake Como to the mountains. Ferry is right at the door, with Bellagio 13 minutes away. Varenna is a Medieval village, so lots to see. Great food in house. The owner was always around somewhere to quietly help. Emphasis on quiet, discrete, gracious. Where to go, what to see, where to buy good value silk scarves etc. Day we left, the ferry was pulling out early and we were still getting our suitcases out of the 1 person elevator. The quiet owner ran out into the street & started shouting at the ferry captain. Loudly. It was all very Italian :D. She made then come back to get us. A lot of arm waving & gesturing. And then turned to quietly farewelled us. And continued to give the Captain a piece of her mind as we pulled out. It was a wonderful bit of theatre to add local flavour to my first few nights *ever * in Italy 😀

  91. We’ve starwd at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn twice. Location to theme parks and the nightlife on the boardwalk make it a great choice for visiting WDW.

  92. All-inclusive resorts aren’t for everyone, but my family loves the friendliness, service, and overall feel of the Hilton Rose Hall in Jamaica. At 50k points per night, it’s still a good deal for Hhonors points. Sadly, it’s set to be rebranded to a Jewel resort, but at least my family managed to get two stays in!

  93. We stayed at a Hampton Inn near the Austin airport one night before a flight. First room the toilet didn’t flush. Second room had a king bed for 4 of us. We called to complain and they sent a single roll-away. Um, no. Third room had questionably clean bedding, but we just decided to deal with it. The good news: the manager agreed that was not acceptable and refunded the room charge.

  94. We stayed three nights in Paraty, Brazil, this summer in a local Pousada. We were the only guests! The people there were very friendly and helpful, but they spoke no English and we spoke no Portuguese. It made for an interesting time figuring things out, but we enjoyed the challenge!

  95. the westin madrid is a great hotel, except that the upgrade we received looked out at the plaza where the Spanish were celebrating their euro cup soccer victory….

  96. My most memorable hotel stay was the Courtyard Marriott Hong Kong back in 2012. The staff was amazing and definitely made my first visit to Hong Kong memorable. I can’t wait to head back to Hong Kong and stay with them again next year 🙂

  97. Most memorable trip was staying in the Hilton Park Lane in London and overlooking the city from both my room and the executive lounge. The entire week was beautiful with no rain and very little fog! Definitely would recommend the hotel and would love to return with this $200 hotel cash!

  98. We had a four day mini-vacation in Menorca in mid-October. We’d gotten a great big and cheap airbnb apartment lined up but not for the first night. We ended up at the Barceló Pueblo Menorca, mostly because of price and proximity to the airport (late flight in from Barcelona). We’d never been to a Barceló property before (and quite frankly had never even heard of them), and couldn’t have been more pleased! We got lucky with our room–high up with big balcony–and had payed for dinner and breakfast. The place was pretty empty, as off season. The staff was so friendly and constantly was going the ‘extra mile’ for us. I would stay at a Barceló property again for sure, if the opportunity arose!

  99. I had the misfortune of staying in what can only be described as tenement like conditions in Chinatown; if you outstretched your hands you’d have no problems touching both walls. At $50 I wasn’t expecting fancy; just hostel like accommodations…At 8am I wake to banging next door; it seems like someone was sent to stage an intervention for one of the occupants…Walls being as thin as they were I heard every word.

  100. A worst story of the year would have to be a hotel that’s part of the Choice family in Queens, particularly in LIC, a quick subway ride into Manhattan. The hotel itself was not necessarily a bad one; I think I would have been happy in another room.

    My room had a self-flushing toilet (like every few minutes), but since there was no other room left in the hotel, so I was stuck. This same room was right next to the kitchen, which was convenient for the very decent breakfast buffet, but it meant that I smelled same from early in the morning until I checked out.

    Choice issued a form letter that it was looking into the issue, though I never heard anything further. Choice hotels have their place, but don’t stop collecting Hyatt and SPG points!

  101. My most memorable vacation was our “big” family get together event last summer at Cedarbrook Lodge, the finest hotel near the Seattle airport. We, family of 18, stayed in 6 fabulous rooms with floor to ceiling windows overlooking a well-maintained garden. The inclusive breakfast at this lodge was unlike any other with smoked salmon, capers, wonderful granola, incredibly satisfying and flavorful. Each building of dwellings had a common area with a small library, big TV and a small kitchenette with plenty of snacks and complete with freezer FULL of ice cream that we visited more often than we should 🙂
    We visited Pike Place Market, lunched at Space Needle, amazed at entire Exhibition at Chihuly Garden and Glass, enjoyed a long walk with wonderful views at Olympic Sculpture Park, and got lot of fun and wet during our Ride the Ducks tour. But most of all, we treasured the time together and realized “how blessed we are.”.

  102. Hyatt Carmel Highlands – used FFN promotion nights – upgraded into one of their gorgeous suites in the main building with the hot tub overlooking the coastline.

  103. Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe – used FFN promotion nights – upgraded into one of their cottages much closer to the lake shoreline than their main building, beautiful view and in the early morning as peaceful as that part of Lake Tahoe ever gets.

  104. Hyatt Regency Rochester (see a pattern here?) – business trip, odd timing because of customer scheduling constraints, I had to be on site Thu-Fri then a full work week then Mon-Tue-Wed. Talked to the hotel GM and he agreed to give me a nice discount vs. even the best published rates (incl. AAA and such) for a single reservation covering the entire time. But I still flew home on the weekends. That meant I could leave much of my stuff and just take dirty laundry home. It also meant while I was in the air I was paying for airport parking at two different airports — my own car at my home airport and my rental car at the Rochester airport. Although I’ve done a lot of business travel I’ve never done the management consulting type of gig where I’m deployed to the same customer for many weeks, so this was the closest I’ve had to the experience of living at a hotel.

  105. Last one for today, not at a Hyatt this time. I forget the exact property, but I was at a hotel with three other volunteers, we were presenters for a weekend long leadership development course for college students. Late Saturday evening, all of us were gathered in my guest room producing the CD-ROM discs (yeah, this was a few years back) to give to the participants the following morning. We start hearing a rhythmic thump, thump, thump, from the room next door, getting louder and louder. One of the other volunteers genuinely looked puzzled and asked what was making that noise. I laughed and said “Well, if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, then maybe it IS a duck!” And as if on cue, we started hearing loud moans in addition to the thump thump thump, and three of us burst out in laughter while the asker’s face turned red.

    Since then one of the presenters has made it her mission to find small duck toys that quack to give to us each time we see each other again.

  106. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas was a great stay for our extended family. Old and young alike enjoyed watching the animals from our balcony. My youngest son still rates this as a favorite stay!

  107. We were upgraded to a king suite last summer at the Hilton Barcelona. Loved the extra space with the kids and the short walk to the hop on/hop off bus stop. The staff in the executive lounge was very helpful with our decision-making on where to go and what to do.

  108. Thanks to PH, for reminding me of the Hyatt Carmel Highlands! I love having breakfast there, with that view of the cliffs and Pacific–breathless. It’s a great jumping off point for Big Sur too, which has some of the most beautiful scenery in Cali (and many places!), in my opinion. Loved the hotel’s common areas, grounds, pool (if a bit small’ish), and great rooms.

  109. Driving 2 hours around Lazio to go stay in an inn to find out that they were closed for a family wedding. I insisted we had a reservation to only find out that I had booked in a inn with the same name in Tuscany. They were so kind to put us up for the night, fed us in the morning and gave us a grand tour of their winery tasting room to boot. Now I print out all reservations and look at a map before leaving for a trip.

  110. We’ve also had over 15 stays now at the Park Hyatt Vendome – this last stay was remarkable. Great room on rue de la Paix (only scored this once before) , lovely jr. suite and some of the best service ever. They have really upped their game and for this I will happily burn points or spend a little cash, okay a lot of cash, to stay there a couple of times a year.

  111. One of my favorite hotel trips involved a recent stay at the Radisson Blu Champs Élysées – thanks to my gold status with Club Carlson, and a very kind manager, we were upgraded to a room with a small balcony with a view of the Arc de Triomphe! One of my first really good hotel points redemptions.

  112. One of my most memorable hotel stays was the night we got married. We had a morning wedding and lunch reception then headed out by car from Johannesburg to Cape Town – this was many years ago. We got to the place we had booked for the night and they told us they were full and refused to honor our reservation. There was nothing else around and we pressed on to the next town and by now I was really tired having driven about 500 miles so we stopped at the only hotel in town which looked pretty grim. The night clerk said he had only single rooms so I said that was fine but he said there were two of us and only one could stay in a single room – so we’d have to pay for 2 rooms! I explained we had just got married that day – and he said, “so what?”.

    In the end I had to pay for two rooms! You can guess if we used both.

  113. In 1972 on a road trip through Europe lasting until the money ran out (6 months at a cost of about $5,000 for 2) we stayed in some really “interesting” places. Based on Arthur Frommer’s “Europe on $5 a Day” we decided to double that and spent about $20 a day for myself and my wife. We tried to spend about the same wherever we were, so in Paris we stayed in a very cheap place on the Ile de la Cite where the only difference between a double room and a single room was the price 16 Francs vs 8 Francs – a narrow single bed and the public showers were a block away.

    But in Yugoslavia we stayed in luxury hotels for about the same amount. However, the worst was in a town called Pec in what is today called Kosovo (then still Yugoslavia) we found the only hotel around. We were the only staying guests (apart from the men in the bar/reception area who gave us glaring looks and who seemed to be fixtures). The room had no glass in the windows or the door which had a place for a large glass piece in the center but had just a hole big enough to climb through. My wife was terrified and so we took the very large clothes dresser and set it inside our room doorway so we couldn’t so easily be attacked while we slept.

  114. We stayed in a small hotel in Cernobbio, Italy. Although it was not a luxury hotel, it felt like heaven with our private balcony overlooking beautiful Lake Como. I can still taste the wine that we sipped as we relaxed and enjoyed the view.

  115. I have a bunch of experiences relating to being walked even though I had a credit card guaranteed reservation. (Cue the Seinfeld episode.)

    First one. Five nights prepaid hotels.com reservation at the Radisson Helsinki Seaside. I arrive at the hotel in a taxi from the airport at 1:30am, traveling for a business conference starting the next day at 8:00am. They have no rooms. I go, err, prepaid, how can they give away my room? They go, we’re sorry, we did manage to give away your room. Let us put you up at another Radisson in Helsinki for the night, and we’ll try to make it up to me when I return. Sure enough, when I return the following day, they’ve put me in a suite, not huge square footage wise but all the furniture just nice and cozy and comfortable. And, it’s Finland, so not only is there a proper soaking bathtub, there’s a private sauna in my suite.

    Usually on my business trips I don’t have much opportunity to enjoy the hotel’s amenities or play tourist, but in this case I was continuing to Sweden the following week so I had the weekend in the suite as well, and I did manage to make good use of the sauna….

  116. Another example that shows the value of status to the business traveler. Somewhat similar circumstances: I arrive from the airport at a NYC Holiday Inn after midnight. Usually I don’t think much of the recognition that IHG hotels offer for Priority Club Platinum members; to be fair the status is far too easy to earn. But in this case, there were several parties in the lobby milling around waiting for the taxi cabs that the hotel had called for them to take them to the hotels they were being walked to. I didn’t know the exact details then, but I thought to myself that didn’t seem like a good sign, seeing other guests with their luggage in the lobby after midnight. The front desk clerk quietly tells me, yes, they did hold a room for me, but maybe we could come up with a discreet way for me to get checked in. 15 minutes later, the lobby has been emptied, and the clerk hands me my room keys. Huzzah for avoiding a long ride out to one of the outer boroughs to a hotel, when I had selected this specific Holiday Inn because it was within walking distance of my appointment at the customer early the next morning.

  117. One of the nice things about being walked is often you get the opportunity to double dip. A few months ago, I get walked from a Hyatt House, this time arriving merely at 9:30pm instead of after midnight. I’m really quite surprised, because while I’m not a true regular at this Hyatt House, I had stayed a half dozen times there before and the hotel GM had made the effort (possibly just the effort to delegate to a subordinate… I’m a realist) to send an email asking if there was anything they can do to make my upcoming stay more comfortable. So, I’m “walked” to a nearby Homewood Suites, where the front desk clerk happily took my Hilton HHonors number, earning a decent number of points and miles for a rack rate stay there. Meanwhile, after that first night, I return to the Hyatt House, and they promise to issue a free night’s worth of points. Then when they failed to actually post those bonus points, the next time I’m there, they apologized and issued double the points (two night’s worth). At check out, I’m paying with a Hyatt gift card, the clerk can’t quite figure out how to do it, I wander off to have breakfast, and when I returned, the manager on duty apologizes that they had managed to fail yet again and offers a half night’s worth of points.

  118. Another memorable hotel stay was a hotel in Hawaii we stayed at — I think it was the Kanaapali Beach Resort or Hotel. Our plane landed late and we didn’t get there till 5 or 6 pm. Our room had been given out, but they gave us a penthouse type room for the same price as the standard plain room! Never stayed anywhere that nice (especially for the price we paid).

  119. I don’t know if Bed & Breakfast’s count for this entry, but we stayed in a pretty cool place in Louisiana that was actually situated in the swamp! You could walk out onto the “balcony” and look down at the alligators swimming around below you. Even better, you could hear them bellowing in the morning. I didn’t know alligators made a noise like that. This was a very, very basic place but rustic and unique. You couldn’t beat the atmosphere! It was called Wildlife Gardens in Gibson, LA.

  120. Several others mentioned the Carmel Highlands Inn in Carmel, CA. It was a memorable stay for us, too! We stayed there for our honeymoon, which made it memorable, but it is also such a beautiful place — the whole area is! The view is unbelievable and the drive from there down Highway 1 is not to be missed!

  121. While on our honeymoon, we stayed in several places. We started out with the Carmel Highlands for one night which I mentioned above. We then drove further down the coast and stayed at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, CA. That was pretty memorable too! There are 110 rooms and they are all different and all beautiful! The ameneties there can’t be beat — from dining to the pool to the horseback riding!

  122. One last entry. As I said, we stayed several places while on our honeymoon — we started with the Carmel Highlands which I mentioned above, then the Madonna in — then we drove further down the coast to San Diego where we stayed at the Victorian Hotel Del Coronado. It is the most fabulous hotel you could ask for. Historic, beautiful and just absolutely wonderful. I really didn’t want to leave there — but we continued our trip with a flight back East to visit relatives. We stayed in some wonderful places in New York also, but I think the ones along the California Coast were the most special.

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