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A Wyndham Fail that Turned into an IHG Blessing in Disguise

I’ve mentioned before that Wyndham program and its ineptitude infuriate me. I don’t know if it’s just me, but any time I need to modify a booking or even make a new one, I can almost count on various issues popping up. Their online reservation system doesn’t always work like it’s supposed to, and calling Wyndham will take 30 minutes of my time, guaranteed. I’ve vowed to give up on Wyndham on more than one occasion, but keep coming back because there are gems to be had… for now.

But this time Wyndham failure actually worked to our advantage. So let me share the story with you. Few months ago my sister-in-law decided that she would go to Charleston for the weekend. She wanted to take my kids and her parents with her, so they would need two rooms. As soon as she mentioned Charleston, I knew just where I wanted to burn my points: The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel

This is a fancy shmancy property that rarely costs less than $250 per night, even during off-season.

There was one problem. I only had 30,000 Wyndham points, and I needed 60,000 for two rooms. No worries! I had a reservation at Wyndham Fort Myers Beach hotel, which I wrote about earlier in the year. I used my points to book a suite, so hated letting it go. But the property in Charleston just looked like a terrific redemption, and I love historic properties. I wanted to live vicariously through their trip.

Yes, it’s refundable. No, you can’t cancel it.

So, all I needed to do was cancel the reservation. But… The nights were booked separately, one from mine and the other one from my husband’s account. I was able to cancel the first one without any issues, but hit a snag with the second reservation. So, I was 15,000 points short.

Reluctantly, I decided to call Wyndham, but the customer service line was closed for the day. Yes, unlike all the other major programs, they are not open 24/7. I tried various things, but no luck. Since it was a points reservation, it had to be handled through Wyndham.

Alright, I went ahead and made the reservation for three nights and went to bed. The next morning, standard award availability was gone and the rate was $300 per night (for upgraded room). I called Wyndham and asked if they would be able to manually open award availability. You can guess what the answer was. By the way, not to be mean, but Wyndham reps are more clueless than those at IHG, so that should tell you something.

My in-laws didn’t want to pay $300 per night, so we decided to scrap the whole thing. I seriously felt like crying because I really wanted them to stay at this property. To my surprise, my sister-in-law told me that she was glad things worked out the way they did. She didn’t want to offend me, but Wyndham property just wasn’t the best fit for their plans. For one thing, they would have to pay a valet parking fee of $35 per night, and breakfast wasn’t  included.

Holiday Inn Express isn’t fancy, but it works for families

We used IHG points to book two rooms at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Charleston Arpt-Conv Ctr Area At the time, the property cost 20,000 points per night (18,000 points with IHG credit card). It looks like it’s now 25,000 points after the latest adjustment.

Well, they ended up having a great time! The hotel was clean and the beds were super comfortable. Breakfast was included, so it saved them a lot of money, plus made it more convenient each morning. They didn’t have to wait for valet to bring the car, so they were free to come and go as they please. And most importantly, the hotel had, drum roll, please:

An indoor pool

Image courtesy of ihg.com website

Yes, a pool. If you have small kids, you probably know that this  is the number one requirement for a hotel. Wyndham had an outdoor pool, but it was unusable in November due to cold weather. So all in all, this was a much better fit for this particular trip. Sure, Mills House would be terrific for an anniversary or a couple’s getaway. This wasn’t the case here.

Both IHG and Wyndham co-branded cards are listed in my “best hotel sign-up bonuses” page. Depending on your circumstances, it could make sense to get both.

What I did with my Wyndham points instead

Since the suite at Wyndham Garden Fort Myers Beach property was no longer available for my dates, I decided to check out brand new Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach resort I was already debating on swapping the reservation to this property anyway, and this new development made my decision easier. So, for 30,000 Wyndham points I booked a weekend getaway at a hotel that is going for $300 per night. Not too shabby, eh?

And the other 30,000 points? I didn’t have any specific plan for the stash, but just few weeks ago an opportunity presented itself. You see, my in-laws are having their 50th wedding anniversary at the end of the year. My sister-in-law decided to take them on a 7-night cruise leaving from Puerto Rico.

She needed 2 hotel nights in the area, and I had just the property in mind: Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa My cousin-in-law and her husband stayed here last year and really enjoyed it. So, this is my anniversary present to in-laws, and I hope they’ll like it.

Interestingly, Wyndham never deducted 15,000 points for the second night at Rio Mar property. Reluctantly, I called them to let them know about this mistake. Sure enough, even giving the points back took 40 minutes of my time. Come on! I seriously thought about hanging up and just keeping the stash, but didn’t feel right about it.

At the end of the phone call, I requested some compensation for the trouble and the agent offered to deposit 1,000 points. I told her that wasn’t good enough. After all, I just stayed 40 minutes on the phone to make sure they get back their 15,000 points. In the end I got 3,000 points, which may come in handy for Go Fast rate. Good enough.

But Wyndham, if you are reading this, for the love of the hobby, can you fix your award reservation system? Next time I’m just keeping the points.

But thank you for being incompetent this particular time!

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Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.

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18 thoughts on “A Wyndham Fail that Turned into an IHG Blessing in Disguise

  1. I really love Holiday Inns. We stay in them quite a bit when we travel back and forth to see my in-laws. And of course we’re going back to the Holiday Inn in Montego Bay for Spring break for the 3rd time.

    • @Holly For the most part, we’ve had good experience with Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express. I really like the fact that breakfast is included in the last one. But even Holiday Inn has reasonable prices and kids eat free. It’s definitely a good fit for most middle-class families.
      The value on all-inclusive in Jamaica can’t be beat during spring months. You can’t stay anywhere in Caribbean this cheap on points. Well, assuming one has accumulated the points ultra cheap, which I did. And I’m sure you did as well!

  2. I too have earn points/free hotel nights for a fancy hotel and then realized that a lower star family hotel was a better deal for my family. I used a free any Hyatt night in NYC- at the Hyatt Place! 😀 It had room for the five of us and free breakfast! It was also a good location near Time Square.
    I also have good luck with Holiday Inns and Expresses for family rooms. There is a newer Holiday Inn Express in the middle of no where in the town where my extended family lives and I can book any room there online for 20,000 points a night including two bedroom suites!

    • Hey, New York is expensive, so I bet even Hyatt Place costs a fortune! I totally get it. There are fancy properties out there, but many of them don’t make sense for families with kids. When you have five people, your options are limited. I love Holiday Inn Express properties that let you book suites on points. Those rock! Unfortunately, most hotels only release regular rooms.

      • 2 weeks ago booked TRYP NY located in Times Square, a Wyndham hotel. Family of 4, 2 queen beds. Used 45k points. Stay is Dec 14 to 17th, a really popular time that will get booked. Room rates are $450+/night. They even offered points and cash which was a better deal but my points will be expiring soon so needed to burn them. Many people give up booking TRYP with points because you can’t do it online and the standard Wyndham rep cannot do it even if they think they can (and they will waste your time trying). Eventually the rep transferred me to the “TRYP dept” and I asked for their number directly. I’ve called the TRYP dept back directly to make minor changes. The competence of the people in the TRYP dept that I dealt with were outstanding. The direct phone number if anyone is curious is 866-315-0884.

    • @Kent C Thanks for your comment! I actually saw that TRYP property and wondered how the redemption process would work. I didn’t feel like calling because, well, Wyndham. “Standard Wyndham rep cannot do it even if they think they can (and they will waste your time trying).” Spot on!

    • @Nick There are definitely many decent hotel choices in the area. I guess I was hung up on Mills House. Probably because I love historic properties with character. But the truth is, it wasn’t a great fit for my in-laws’ trip. The fanciness would be lost on my kids.

  3. Holiday Inn Express with room enough for 4, free breakfast and indoor pool would be at the top of my family’s list as well. I myself like the fancy hotels, but with a family, us moms just have to be practical sometimes. Thanks to the poster about the NYC Hyatt Place — I was debating about staying there or Hyatt Centric Times Square, but with kids, this may be the best deal. Thanks for the write up.

    • @Stephanie I hear you! I actually enjoy fancy places too, I’m just cheap and have to wrestle with myself to justify the cost. But yeah, with kids, free breakfast and extra room are wonderful. I haven’t been to either of NYC properties, so can’t comment on them. But since you don’t have Diamond status, Hyatt Place may be the way to go. Nancy has reviewed the Hyatt Place near La Guardia, I imagine they are similar. You can see her post here http://savingforadream.blogspot.com/2015/10/hotel-review-hyatt-place.html

  4. @Leana — thanks for the link to Nancy’s Hyatt Place/La Guardia — that was a great write up. Fortunately, we’re only 4 so I can fit us in a closer hotel in NYC…and in my old age (well at least I feel super old after a long day of sightseeing), it’s all about getting a hotel in the heart of the city so I don’t need to spend an extra 20-40 minutes traveling to my hotel. I’d rather spend hotel points on convenience than on a free breakfast, but if I can get both, then it’s a score in my book.

    • @Stephanie Totally! I would go with a more central location. I just thought the two properties are probably similar, so it would give you an idea on what to expect.

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  6. It always amazes me how bad some of the hotel IT systems are. There always seems to be some sort of issue popping up. I recently tried to change a Hilton free night certificate reservation to a different room type and ended up with a $920 credit card charge and they deducted all my points. So frustrating!

    • @Cardpediem I’m sorry about your troubles with Hilton! I agree, it is frustrating. This Wyndham issue probably took several hours of my time. Crazy. Sometimes I wonder if it’s all worth it. Though it probably is considering how much money I save on travel.

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