We have an upcoming trip to New York City, and despite the rumors of travel experiencing a lull, the city is absolutely packed. How do you find value when hotel points aren’t an option?
No (Value) At The Inn
After shopping fastidiously over the last few weeks for our specific three-night weekday stay in New York, we have yet to find a value worth either a points redemption or a cash purchase. I hold status (though credit cards) with Hilton, Hyatt, and Marriott, and somehow I have some leftover status with IHG. And they all have hotels with availability, but none that present the value we have come to expect.
On this particular stay, we have reasons to be in a specific area of Manhattan. That causes issues for us. Truly, this is a perfect time to use points as all of the rates are very expensive, but with dynamic award charts, many of the award prices have also increased.
For example, a Moxy in lower Manhattan is running more than $450/night or 212,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. A Hampton Inn not far away wants 80,000 Hilton Honors points, comparatively, the Conrad selling for $1,200+/night is asking for 90,000 points. And while that should seem like a great value for Hilton Honors points, in fact, about 3x our normal valuation for the brand, this stay is not one where we would be able to spend a lot of time in the hotel but will still need space for our family of four.
Hyatt is a great candidate, and there are 20,000 point options still available for our stay but they are not close to where we want to be and we will spend more time and money in cabs getting to our planned engagements than we’d want to. There are sub $400/night Hyatts around but nothing other than out-of-the-way Hyatt Place properties.
Usually, when hotel cash prices are high, hotel points come into play and save the day. This is where they truly demonstrate their worth. But dynamic charts have made that harder.
One of the benefits of our remaining American Express Platinum Cards is the $200 Fiine Hotels & Resorts credit. The most affordable FHR hotel for our stay is 33 Seaport, a lovely-looking property but one we don’t know well. To keep our costs as low as possible, we would potentially use separate stays booked on different cards and hope the front desk would be kind enough to marry the reservations and keep us in one room.
As a luxury travel agency owner, I was hoping to get by with a little help from my friends. However, the city is absolutely packed and many hotels are sold out making it hard to offer even a last available room at properties that fit our criteria. What’s confusing to me is that we can’t find what’s going on to push the city to occupancy levels I’ve not seen in some time. While I elect not to disclose my specific travel plans here prior to travel, we have already packed UN General Assembly and New York Fashion Week. It’s not during a holiday, and it’s a Monday-Thursday trip.
We looked at the boroughs as well, New Jersey has plenty of options at reasonable rates for dynamic points currencies or cash. The Bronx and Brooklyn are more expensive but add options to the list. However, we will spend more time and cost in transportation than we would save by staying outside of our target area.
I’d look at AirBnBs but the city has done away short-term home rentals and for this timeline, it’s not really our speed.
Can beggars be choosers? Apparently.
What Will We Do?
I can honestly say that I haven’t found myself in this position before. I am tempted to try hopping the AMEX FHR benefit from room to room and finally deriving value from that card benefit. However, I don’t love that plan and I can’t really blame them for making us check in and out every day if that’s what they choose.
I don’t want to mix and match properties like I might if I was traveling alone, I have my wife and kids with me and that would be far too difficult for the effort.
If we are paying more than $1,200 for a three-night stay that we don’t really get to enjoy then at least we should be earning points on the expense so I’m considering a split between an award night and high cash rates.
But really, we have been stumped all week. We can’t figure out why rates are so high, we aren’t sure if they will stay high as we near our travel dates, and we don’t know how much tolerance we have for risk.
In fact, I’d welcome reader suggestions though I understand that there’s not a lot of specific help that can be provided given that I won’t publish the dates of our trip.
Rumors of the death of peak travel have been greatly exaggerated, and despite no clear cause for New York City being overrun, it appears as though it is during our travel period. We will have to be creative and constructive but will continue to check back for a miracle as our travel dates near.
What do you think?