Sunday, January 6, 2013

Best Rate Guarantees Applied - Atlantis Resort, Bahamas

This past summer, we spent some time in the Bahamas at one of the most expensive water park resorts in the world, Atlantis.  Especially when the park is crowded, the only way to gain admission is to stay at the resort or purchase an all-access day pass ($120 per person) at the cruise ship dock.  Even with a tour or day pass from a cruise ship, you may not be given access to the whole resort.

There is one other way to get in, using a little-known agreement between Atlantis and the nearby Comfort Suites hotel.  If you're a guest at Comfort Suites, everyone in your room has access to the entire resort, as if you were staying at Atlantis.  Needless to say, this can be a tremendous bargain, and once we booked a room for our whole family just to get access to Atlantis.  We didn't stay the night or even see our room, and the staff at Comfort Suites were fine checking us in and out the morning of our water park visit so we didn't even need to go back to the hotel.

What if you want to do even better, getting your entire family access to the resort for free?  Using the Best Rate Guarantee techniques discussed in my last post, you can do just that, and I'll walk you through the process step-by-step.

First, we'll pick a date and go to choicehotels.com.  We'll enter our date and number of people, and search for the "Best Available Rate".  Then we'll get a list of room types and prices, along with a list of standard amenities:

Searching for a room.

On the date we picked, the price to beat is $314 (1 King Bed, Suite) or $339 (2 Double Beds, Suite).  We'll also want to check the cancellation terms and total price by clicking through to the next page:

Room details.  Note the total price.

There are some housekeeping gratuities and an energy surcharge that are charged when arriving at this hotel.  These are like "resort fees", and there's really no way to escape them.  Either way, we don't need to worry about them now because they aren't part of the rate.

Next, search for a lower price.  This is typically pretty easy.  I typically start with kayak.com, hotelscombined.com, or trivago.com because they list multiple booking channels with a single search.  Sure enough, trivago shows a couple of good options for a price match!

Hotel search results for 3rd party sites.

Next, we need to click through to all the sites that offer lower rates.  Some have no room descriptions or bed types, so they likely won't work for a price match.  We're looking for sites that have an exact match  and a lower price.  Here's a site that lists the room for $311.75!

Found a lower price!

Now we'll click through to the specific room type to confirm a match.  Everything matches up word-for-word, so this is an excellent candidate for a BRG.

Checking the room description and cancellation policy.

Next, we'll double check the total price (with taxes) just to make sure the site isn't applying a booking fee.  In this case, the total price at the 3rd party site is about $9 cheaper -- excellent!

Finally, we'll book the room on choicehotels.com, knowing that we can always cancel if something goes wrong.  Then we'll fill out the Best Rate Guarantee form.  Typically, an agent will respond via email within an hour or two, even on weekends.

For a 30 minute time investment, we've just booked a free $315 suite at the Comfort Suites Paradise Island.  Even better, most of the other people at the water park have probably paid $371 or more per night to stay at Atlantis.  Even just for water park admission, we've scored a great deal!

Note: The screens above are from actual searches for future dates and prices; however, the dates and 3rd party website offering the competing rate have been blacked out to protect the hotel.  Please use this technique in moderation and provide the hotel with good reviews if you enjoy your stay.

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