Regular readers probably know that I am a last minute travel booker. I have known for two weeks that I need to be in Minneapolis in two weeks. On January 17, the round-trip airfare from Monterey to Minneapolis was $390 with United. There was a recommendation to buy from the price trend data on Kayak.com.
I did not buy a ticket.
My focus was our 25th wedding anniversary at the Hyatt Highlands Inn and I put the Minneapolis travel plans on the back burner.
I checked again on January 23 and the United ticket price went up to $404.
I did not buy a ticket.
This week I checked airfare each day and the price was stuck at $456.
Today the price dropped to $410 and I bought my ticket on United Airlines. The only two seats left on the flight were the middle seats in the last row in the back of the plane.
My Simple Travel Life
For years I was United 1K and I flew a few hundred thousand miles in the front of airplanes. The past few years I have experienced a lot of flight time in the back.
I have long said with Loyalty Traveler that I would rather have an economy class seat and a hotel suite, than a first class flight and a crappy room night. Like many travelers getting into the miles and points arena, I experienced several luxury business and first class flights to international locations where I ended up in a cheap-ass Priceline.com hotel room for days that seemed less than satisfying.
After a year of that kind of travel in 1999-2000, my sights were set on making my hotel travel as luxurious as my air travel. For several years I had the best of both worlds, dining in lounges and sleeping in hotel suites.
That is an expensive lifestyle though. And once I started blogging about travel loyalty programs, I gave up the international jet set elite life and truly adopted the poverty jet set life. I keep thinking I will pick up my air travel again, but I am not in any hurry. I travel frequently, when I want, and I am not chasing high elite flying status to get complimentary upgrades that I redeem on flights taken chasing high elite status for another year.
Hyatt Regency Minneapolis is my Shelter from the Storm
Where to stay in Minneapolis was a concern to me after my week in Detroit earlier this month when the weather was far below freezing and snow or ice buried the sidewalks. I wanted to be in a central place for Minneapolis and avoid changing hotels every night; my usual travel style to maximize promotion bonuses with multiple hotel stays.
Once I booked my airline ticket this morning, my thoughts went to hotels in Minneapolis.
The hotel promotions I was looking to fulfill with five hotel nights included Club Carlson, IHG Rewards Club and Marriott Rewards. In five nights I could go quite a ways toward fulfilling IHG Big Win for 80,000 bonus points or Marriott MegaBonus for two free hotel night certificates or Club Carlson for 38,000 bonus points after 3 nights.
One quick check of Kayak.com revealed an interesting hotel rate during my Minneapolis trip.
A search two days ago showed Hyatt Regency Minneapolis with $149 room rates. Today when I checked Kayak for a 5-night stay, the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis came up at $75 per night on Orbitz for a flexible cancellation rate when the Hyatt.com rate was $95 prepaid and nonrefundable or $119 for a flexible cancellation rate.
Hyatt Best Rate Guarantee
Hyatt has one of the best policies for Best Rate Guarantee claims. Simply call Hyatt when you see a rate discrepancy between Hyatt.com rates and another online travel agency rate and the Best Rate Guarantee claim is handled over the phone while you wait.
Hyatt, SPG and Kimpton are the only hotel chains that will process a Best Rate Guarantee claim prior to booking a hotel through the chain’s website. Hyatt and Kimpton will handle the claim over the phone, so there is no worry that the rate disappears before your claim is processed.
Hyatt Best Rate Guarantee approved claims reduce the lower rate by 20%.
Hyatt Regency Minneapolis (5 nights)
Hyatt.com Advance Purchase Prepaid and Nonrefundable = $561.33 (after tax).
Hyatt Daily Rate (cancel with no penalty up to one day before arrival) = $674.73 (after tax).
Hyatt Best Rate Guarantee rate based on $75 per night Orbitz rate (cancel with no penalty up to one day before arrival) = $341.23 (after tax).
Nightly rate $68.20 after tax.
And I applied one Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond member suite upgrade for the 5-night stay.
Minneapolis may be in the deep freeze in the middle of February, but I’ll be in the heart of the city sheltered from the storm, living in a Hyatt hotel suite.
My single five-night stay will also earn one free category 1-4 hotel night certificate with the current Hyatt Gold Passport Endless Possibilities promotion.
Choose Free Nights
Earn a free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel after you stay five eligible nights. Enjoy 4 free nights (valid through July 31, 2014) after you stay 20 nights. From a trip to the San Francisco Bay, to an enchanting escape to Paris or a vacation in the luxurious city of Dubai, your free nights can take you far. Register for free nights.
Hotel travel is my niche.
Now, I just need to figure out how to get out of that last row middle seat on the United Airlines flight.
Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.
Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.