Today I made the necessary hotel reservations for our holiday vacation to the homeland. Those of you who followed my bloggy adventures on myspace may recall the last time I made such arrangements for a family trip. Quick summary for those who may not remember: I made reservations through Priceline, paid for a three star hotel and ended up in an Extended Stay America. As it turned out, the ESA wasn't quite as bad as I'd feared, but also was not the experience I was hoping for, either.
When The Urban Princess and I did our road trip to Wyoming, last Summer, again I did the hotel bargain hunting (although Hotwire got my business, rather than Priceline). Some of the rooms were good. Some were not. But every step of the way I noticed that the "savings" came at a price... like two adults and four children being stuck in a tiny smoking room with one double bed and not getting any of the perks and freebies (like kids-stay-and-eat-free type goodies that I had assumed just came with the hotel chain experience). Apparently accepting an internet discount rate voids all usual expectations. So using such "deals" didn't end up saving me as much as I thought it would.
(This specific example was a Holiday Inn... The desk clerk begrudgingly moved us into a two-bed room but warned me against booking with the online discount sites again.)
So I'm done with that. I made all reservation directly with my favorite mid-range hotel chain. I've always had great experience with them. Even one particular stay when I was pretty much the worst customer EVER (G had acquired food poisoning at a family function (LONG story... still makes me angry) and projectile vomited all over every surface of this otherwise lovely hotel room - with pretty much the comfiest beds ever... I had to call the front desk for clean towels and bedding and I couldn't apologize enough... I found the maid before we left in the morning to warn her and apologize profusely and she was outrageously kind and generous).
So we'll be paying about $30 more for hotels, this trip, than we would have if I'd done my super-frugal thing. But the increased likelihood of a good family vacation is worth every penny. (In case any of you are wondering, my favorite mid-range chain is The Red Lion. I've always had good rooms and VERY good service with them.)