Long Weekend = Overpriced hotel rates?

Ajay and I do like to escape our busy metro life and often dash away on a short vacation every now and then. We try and make use of the public holidays and long weekends. In fact I hardly remember being in Mumbai for any long weekend last year.  In the past we’ve driven down to the Le Meridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa on the May 1 long weekend, soaked ourselves in the Maldives during the Ganesh Chaturthi holidays and even dashed off to the Park Hyatt Hyderabad over Eid celebrations. When we want a break in the hills up north, our favorite holiday resort to unwind is the JW Marriott in Mussoorie.

Morning Yoga Sessions at the JW Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa

Last year during the Independence Day long weekend we vacationed at the Grand Hyatt in Goa where we got a 50% discount under the celebrate with Hyatt promotion. The year before that we were again in Goa though this time at the Park Hyatt Resort & Spa which was again booked under a discounted promotional rate. As a cherry on top both years we were able to use our Diamond Suite Upgrade and other elite benefits.

The Park Hyatt Goa Resort & Spa Pool

Now that the August 15, long weekend is just about 40 days away, I have been racking my head for a few weeks. This is perhaps the longest weekend this year and starts from Saturday, August 12 and goes all the way up to Tuesday, August 15, 2017.

So here’s the problem, about 8 weeks back when we started planning the weekend I began looking at stay options inside India. Since we’ve been to Goa twice already during August I thought may be this year let’s enjoy the rains in Kerala. I’ve heard good things about Bekal so I checked the rates at the Vivanta by Taj, Bekal. To my horror the cheapest a room night was priced at INR 16,000/USD 247 during this period.

Next I thought, let’s take a look at the Taj in Kumarakom, which is about 2 hours drive from Cochin. Another surprise the hotel showed sold out in the month of May itself.

I thought probably Rajasthan won’t be very crowded as it’s off peak season there, so I checked the rates at the Taj Lake Palace Udaipur, a hotel I’ve spent a night at before and couldn’t get enough of. Hmmm, so the room rates here were INR 20,000/USD 310 per night. Since, I was in the Rajasthan frame of mind, I also checked the availability at the Jaisalmer Marriott Resort & Spa that opened its doors late year around the same time as W Goa.

The rooms here are priced at INR 9,200/USD 142. So that is not too bad, however the quickest way to get to Jaisalmer from Mumbai is to fly to Jodhpur and then drive 300 kms to Jaisalmer. The return flights from Mumbai to Jodhpur are priced at about INR 10,000/USD 155 per person and the hotel one way transfer is INR 9,000/USD 139. All in all, although the room rates are acceptable the entire trip will cost us a lot of travel time and travel money.

I then decided to narrow my search closer to Mumbai. Currently the Le Meridien Mahabaleshwar costs INR 16,000/USD 247 for a night. Hilton Shillim Estate and the Radisson in Alibaug  are both sold out for that weekend. I have even checked boutique resorts like the Machan in Lonavala which is selling for INR 16,000 a night.

Rates at The Machan for second week of August 2017

Circling back to Goa, a standard room at the Park Hyatt and The Leela  today is selling for INR 15,000/USD 230 plus per night.

Other hotels like the Grand Hyatt, W Goa and all the Taj hotels are showing sold out for the second week of August.

I’ve looked up almost 50 hotels across India and nearly every luxury hotel in India is charging a 50% premium in the second week of August and with GST kicking in from July 1, the taxes will only be higher than the 21% we were paying before.

I have also been on top of all hotel promotions to find a good hotel deal in August but apart from Hyatt’s mid year sale I haven’t come across any worthwhile offer. I’m actually wondering if it’s a better idea to plan a trip to Dubai or Southeast Asia where good hotels are still available at half the price of Indian hotels for these dates  or should I just book an overpriced room at one of the available hotels in India.

It’s not that I haven’t thought about reward nights, but I find that using points for reward stays in Asia where hotels are relatively priced cheaper is not the best use of points. I also completely get it that it is well within the hotel’s rights to shoot up prices so that they can make a profit. After all, they are not charities. So, while I am still figuring out my holiday plan for August 15, I have 3 questions for all of you :

  1. Where are you staying on your next vacation ?
  2. How many weeks/months before do you book your hotel stays for an upcoming vacation ?
  3. Where do you find the best value for money for your hotel stays?

Comments

  1. Try this place in Goa – olaulim backyards. 4 cottages at a decent rate.

    Peace, Serenity, and some amazing home food.

    Do let me if you decide to take the plunge and go there

    Ps – There are a few people waiting for your Credit card strategy, am one of them. As half year is already over, is there any % possibility that you guys will be publishing one?

  2. Neemrana’s The Hill Fort-Kesroli is an option. They have a pay for two nights and get the third free offer on till September. However you need to see if their ‘non-hotel’ approach would work for you 🙂

  3. AJ, Shipra

    Try Intercontinental, Mahabalipuram, selling at 8400 ++ . It a beautiful property with options to explore nearby places like pondicherry, Auroville
    etc.

    Regards,

    Nitesh

    • @Nitesh, already been there. Too bad we never wrote about it then 🙂 But I will check with the Missy if she wants to go again.

  4. Many of the Taj properties including Taj Malabar (Cochin), where we are booked, have the Pay2 Stay3 offer ongoing. This includes breakfast, half board and all taxes.

  5. You are hilarious, arent you! On one hand you want to travel during busy times, you complain of exorbitant prices and yet you refuse to redeem points cos hotels in Asia are priced ‘relatively cheaper’.

    Now I have seen It all.

    • @RG Good that you’ve seen it all. You see, as a long time patron of some of these hotels, we have price trends in mind. Those trends are being busted way off. And like Shipra said, they have full right to charge what they feel is right. And on the other hand, she and I have full right to voice our thoughts as we deem fit.

      • If you want people to comment, you should expect some who do not agree with your POV, without getting upset.

        Now back to the topic, my point is, say for example if you value SPG at Rs 15/point or whatever your valuation is, then if you can extract, say Rs 50 or 60 or 100/point value out of it, and there is no better time for that than long weekends, or Christmas/New Year break etc, than why bother whether that is in Iceland or Jhumri Talaiya?

        In this game, one has to be as open minded & flexible as one possibly can. When you see value, gotta jump.

        Anyway, feel free to disagree and for godsake, dont take offense.

        • @RG, the first time, you did not bring any analytics on the table, just jest. So we replied in Jest. No offense taken. Just as a datapoint, yes, we are aware of the valuations, and that is why we hold back. For example, if I could use 30000 points of WoH to stay in a room in Park Hyatt Sydney during New Years, when rooms go up to 1400 AUD (normal days itself they are 750 AUD plus), then I am getting a nice value of INR 2.33 per WoH point. Compare that with using it at PH Goa where you get 1.1 INR approx value on these peak days. You see, each of these valuations are subjective and subject to individual assessments. In my book I have the resources to travel far and wide to make better use of these points than to spend them at a resort in India, and that is where Shipra’s PoV comes from as well. As for Jhumri Talaiya, I don’t know where that is, do you?

  6. Try Udaivilas/amarvilas/sukhvilas/Rajvilas. They are offering 3rd night free + INR 10K dining/spa credit. Reservations can be made till 10th July for stays upto 15th September.

    Cheers!

  7. Hi,
    Taj lake palace sounds a good deal. This price os constant throughout monsoon season and didn’t shoot up for 15th Aug weekend.
    I’m planning a week in Leh for the same time by taking 3 holidays, prices were reasonable there. Nothing seemed heavy hiked up.

  8. Have you taken a look at AirBnB? No chains or brands there but sometimes what is available is a welcome surprise.

    • @Rohit, I did come across some beautiful villas with private pools in Maharashtra but there are 2 problems
      1. The smallest available is a 3 bedroom villa.
      2. It’s priced at INR 23k per night
      For that kind of money I’d rather speed up to re-qualify for an existing hotel status.

  9. Aug Long Weekend: Grand Hyatt Goa
    Book 45 days in advance
    Rates are dynamic across all portals. Generally search through all of them to hunt for best rates.

    • Thanks @Ritesh, I think I’m late to the Goa party this year. Did you book directly with Hyatt or get a better rate through OTA?

    • @sagar – The Grand Hyatt, Renaissance and lots of Marriott hotels in Bangkok are all showing under INR 10k a night. Perhaps I should start looking at stay options outside India.

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