Pretravel Checklist–Part 2–Confirming Hotels

I’ve checked my flights to make sure that I still have reservations, seat assignments, and that no horrendous schedule changes have taken place.  Now it’s time to check on hotel reservations that I made several months ago.

In August, I made reservations for one night both pre- and post-cruise in Venice using  I always make totally refundable reservations.  The pre-cruise hotel is right in the heart of the action in Venice, near the train station and near, but not on, the Grand Canal.  I wanted to be near the Piazzale Roma, where the bus drops you off from the airport.  The hotel is also walkable to the People Mover, which will get us from the Piazzale Roma to the ship.  The location is great, but I have low expectations of quality, as the hotel is only €50/night.

Normally I would want to stay right in wonderful Venice for our last night, but we have to catch a 6:40 am flight the next morning!  Back in August, I had my eye on the Courtyard Marriott, but there were no rooms available on Marriott points.  So I booked a small hotel near the airport for €65 a night.  However, a couple of days ago I was reading Drew’s blog Travel is Free about a new tool called Hotel Hustle.  It tells you when hotel award availability opens up.  Kinda like ExpertFlyer except for hotels!  It wasn’t so much the tool that caught my eye, but Drew’s comment that he often sees award availability open up close to his stay dates.  I had always ASS-umed that when awards were gone, that was it!

So I checked the Marriott website, and lo-and-behold, there were rooms available on points; and not only that, they were at a 5000 point discount!  So I reserved the Courtyard Marriott for 30,000 points.  The cash price of this hotel is $133, so I’m getting a value of 0.44¢ per point.  Not great, but typical for hotel points, and I’m in the mood to burn points anyway!

Of course I have email confirmations of these reservations, but I’ll have hard copies of them in my packet of papers.  Sometimes it is so helpful just to produce a piece of paper.  When we were coming back from our Northern Aegean trip in June, we had an overnight layover in Frankfurt, and I had booked the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport with SPG points.  When we got there, they did not have my reservation.  They finally found it in their system, but they said it was for a day back in March, and they had me down as a no-show.  My cell phone was dead, so I couldn’t produce the email confirmation.  All I had to do was whip out my paper confirmation with that day’s date, and they gave me a room.  Given enough time, I could have produced my email, but having the piece of paper saved time and hassle.

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