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iahphx

Priceline Hotel: trying for Tucson

By iahphx,
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I've got a June trip to Tucson planned, and I'd sure like to stay in a priceline-priced resort. A few years ago I snagged the Sheraton El Conquistador for less than 50 bucks on priceline if my memory is correct (there was probably some bonus money involved). I understand the Loews Ventana Canyon went for $50 last summer.

So far, I've bid up to $55 with no luck. I will be patient, and hope for the return of some bonus money. Hotwire seems to be selling a resort for $70 in June, which I'm curious about. That seems to suggest I'm shopping in the correct price range.

Anybody with any recent experience bidding in this market?

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Looking at this some more, I see Hotwire's $70 resort is in the Foothills section, and that Westin is directly selling its La Paloma Resort in that zone for only $95/night for June.

Logic would therefore suggest one could likely get this resort for under $60 (or its nearby equivalent competitors) eventually on priceline.

One thing that is interesting is that the Starwood group (of which Westin is a member) seems to now be trying to sell its hotels for less on its own website. It even offers a price match guarantee (not applicable to hotwire and priceline, of course). This move -- which makes logical business sense to me -- could mean that the "golden age" of priceline discounts may be nearing an end. Obviously, picking your own hotel -- and getting their frequent guest points -- is worth something.

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obviously, picking your own hotel -- and getting their frequent guest points -- is worth something.

The hotels themselves are in a "catch-22" situation between having unused inventory and cheapening their brand name by offering too low of a price... Priceline and Hotwire offer a good alternative to them as the typical Priceline customer is indeed "buying an opaque product."

As well, the frequent guest points you mention do indeed cost the hotel money, and therefore makes a guest that gets points a "higher cost customer" than somebody who doesn't get points (ie- Priceline and /or Hotwire).... so there should always be a discount available for a Priceline/Hotwire customer since they cost the hotel less.

I really don't see "higher end" (3* and 4*) properties lowering their direct rates too much further.... with occupancy levels so low (due to terrorism, war, recession, viruses, etc) how much lower can they go before they degrade their brand? However, we may indeed eventually see the gap close between Priceline/Hotwire rates and conventional bookings as the hotel industry sees higher occupancy rates.

This would make sense, since Priceline/Hotwire get excess inventory that the hotel doesn't expect to sell, so if thier own bookings are up, it leaves less rooms available to offer to Priceline and Hotwire.

Just my .02

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Really tempting to forget about priceline and book the hotel I want directly. I see Hotels.com wants only 75/night weeknights for the Loews Ventana, but 89 on weekends for June.

The only thing keeping me from doing so is that in the "foothills" section three are really only 3 hotels -- the Loews, the Westin La Paloma and the Ventana Lodge. They all seem nice -- at this point I don't have a preference -- and there's no doggy hotel I can get stuck with.

So far I've bid up to $58, and I will ultimately stop at $60. Even priceline admits the average room rate for a resort in Tucson is only $95. Not sure why it's like pulling teeth so far.

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Maybe it is 'like pulling teeth' because they are just finishing their busy Spring season now and are just starting to plan in detail for the slower 'summer' season.

I would be willing to bet that there will be more availability by the first or second week in May. I think mid-May is the switchover date to lower prices for some of the resorts.

Any reason why you are not including Tucson North for resorts? I know El Conquistador used to participate as a Sheraton but maybe not now as a Hilton? The Westward Look Resort is quite nice, though, we stayed there for a week a couple of years ago and quite liked it. Stayed at the El Conquistador the year prior, and liked it a lot, also, but it was pricey to book direct.

I know the Westward Look has come up on Priceline, I wonder if it is the Resort that appears for some dates on Hotwire? I am pretty sure it would be included in Tucson North. It definitely has tennis, spa services, and golf nearby. It also has a special rate for some dates in June of $79 or $99 (depends on room type) that you can book on the Web site (use COOL2003 for the Promo Code). Or you could try bidding a bit lower in this zone as a possible alternative to the Foothills region.

Just some thoughts.... :)

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Thanks, scorp -- I've been sort of avoiding the "north" section because we'll be visiting family in Tucson and it's just more convenient to be in the Foothills. Otherwise, I'd have nothing against the North (although it is perhaps slightly less convenient for most Tucson sightseeing/dining activities).

I did just find a remarkable "direct" deal with Wyndham for the Ventana Lodge. If you book 2 nights under their American Express $89 promotional rate (see the website), you get a night free. That's the best "direct" rate I've seen at a hotel of this caliber in a long time. So I booked it. I can change my mind later if I want to. The only bad thing about the rate is they have something like a $20 daily resort fee, which is pretty outrageous, but I'd have to pay that on priceline (I assume it's the same with hotwire?).

The Ventana Lodge is not as well known as the Westin or the Loews, but that's probably because it has only 50 rooms. Kind of a boutique suite resort hotel. My only hesitation is that I'll be travelling with my kids and they might like the pool/waterslide area of the Westin. But the Lodge offers much bigger rooms, which seems like a plus in their favor. Anybody with a first hand opinion?

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That looks like an incredible deal! And the rooms there look fabulous! I am so glad you posted some info on this - I am definitely going to keep that place (and those specials) in mind.

By the way, join Wyndham By Request if you have not already. They will add a couple of little touches to your stay (I always ask for wine and cheese for my welcome amenity!)

There might be a waterslide at the Westin, but Wyndham says it has an Olympic-sized pool... and there is always tennis and horseback riding or hiking for your kids! (Maybe you could adopt me!!!???) :)

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Yeah, scorp, I'd say it's a surprising deal. I was stunned when I priced it out -- so much so that I called the Wyndham res line to confirm. If you don't do the AMEX R&R promotion, it looks like rates start north of $150 with no free nights. Just a bizarre disparity.

Frankly, I haven't seriously tried to directly book a resort in the US in years -- I'm spoiled by priceline's always-better-than 50% discount. But when I started seeing Tucson resorts come in under $100 -- and getting nowhere with priceline in the $50s -- I explored all the direct promotions. I'm still wondering if this one could be a mistake.

And yes, I'm already a member of Wyndham's by-request program. I joined after I was awarded a Wyndham on priceline a couple years back. To my surprise, they honored the perks on that priceline stay, and a subsequent one. Now I see the website specifically says no perks for priceline/hotwire rooms, so I don't know what would happen. The perks are clearly worth "something" -- their new "free long distance" program is unique. If I have the time, I may just call a friend or two just for the thrill of running up a free long distance tab at a hotel!

I will still keep my eyes open for reported priceline deals, however. If for some reason the Westin pops up for $50 or less (hey you never know, maybe we'll get bonus money) I'll consider it -- especially if they don't have a $20 resort fee like the Wyndham. Otherwise, I'm very happy with my good fortune, and will remember to peak at the Wyndham website more frequently in the future.

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Hotwire seems to be selling a resort for $70 in June, which I'm curious about.

This is a bit of a cross-posting because I also posted some of this information in the Hotwire help forum, but if you are still looking for Hotwire information for this trip (don't think you stated your dates), here are some details on the Hotwire hotels in Tucson from the vacation package section:

3 * Westward Look Resort

Restaurant(s), Pool(s), Fitness Center, Business Center, Golf Course Nearby, Tennis Court Nearby, Spa Services

4.5 * The Lodge at Ventana Canyon

Resort, Restaurant(s), Pool(s), Fitness Center, Golf Course Nearby, Tennis Court Nearby, Spa Services

3 * Holiday Inn Tucson-Airport

Shuttle, Restaurant(s), Pool(s), Fitness Center, High Speed Internet Access, Business Center, Laundry Facilities

3 * Clarion Hotel Tucson-Airport

Shuttle, Restaurant(s), Pool(s), Fitness Center, Complimentary Breakfast, Business Center, Laundry Facilities

3 * Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Tucson North-Oro Valley

Pool(s), Fitness Center, Complimentary Breakfast, Business Center, Golf Course Nearby, Tennis Court Nearby, Laundry Facilities

3 * Sheraton Tucson Hotel and Suites

Restaurant(s), Pool(s), Fitness Center, Complimentary Breakfast, Business Center, Golf Course Nearby, Laundry Facilities

4.5 * The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa

Resort, Restaurant(s), Pool(s), Fitness Center, Business Center, Golf Course Nearby, Tennis Court Nearby, Spa Services

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Just returned from the Lodge at Ventana Canyon, and I've got to tell you that the summer AMEX R&R rate is one super deal. $89 night, third night free (plus the somewhat nasty $20 resort fee). In addition to the usual Wyndham By Request perks like an enormous welcome fruit & cheese basket and free local and ld phone calls (which are supposedly excluded with priceline rates) the hotel apparently out of the kindness of their hearts gave us a $12.50 daily per person breakfast credit (even for our kids), and paid the tax and gratuity to boot. This even allowed us to eat the Sunday Brunch buffet for free (kids pay a dollar per year, and I could apply the extra to the adults). Tell me the last time a hotel casually threw in brunch for you! (it's never happened before to me).

The hotel itself is quite nice -- rooms (they're really studio apartments) are huge, the staff is quite accomodating, and the location and desert views are great. The place will never win an architectural award, but I wouldn't call it ugly. Golf and tennis facilities are great, and there's an olympic sized pool club. Oh, and you get turndown service with a rotating cookie selection.

What more could you want for this price? Priceline be damned!

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Just looked at "tobb" and I see more frustration with tucson resort bidding. This summer, it looks cheaper to buy direct. Not that the hotels are making it easy, of course -- it looks like you have to wade through all sorts of special promotions to find the best one for you.

Who'd ever believe priceline would be an easier way to rent a hotel room?

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