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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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.