For most families, the main allure of using hotel points instead of booking a vacation rental is so you would have flexibility. At least that’s true in my case. I like the fact that I can change my mind or cancel a reservation if one of my kids gets sick. Unfortunately, some programs (cough, Wyndham, cough) make this process extremely frustrating and difficult. But let me back up.
As I’ve mentioned in the post few days ago, I plan to take my parents to a beachfront hotel for few nights when they come to US in March of 2018. But which one? That was the big question. Another issue was cost. It will come as no surprise that beachfront hotels and condos in Florida are quite expensive in March. That’s the height of spring break, so they can get away with charging whatever the heck they please.
Originally, I was planning to take them to Daytona Beach and possibly burn my Hilton points. However, March is the time when college students descend on this area like locusts. And they don’t usually behave in, ahem, classy manner. I didn’t really want to subject my parents and most importantly, my kids to any vulgar displays or drunken behavior. Sorry, Daytona Beach, maybe next time (during off-season).
My husband suggested that we take them to the west coast of Florida because the water is calmer in that area. And that’s how I ended up booking return tickets from Fort Myers. Now I just needed to come up with a plan to reserve four nights at a beachfront property without draining our savings account in the process.
Fortunately, an opportunity presented itself. You may remember my post A Wyndham Fail that Turned into an IHG Blessing in Disguise In it I’ve mentioned that I used my Wyndham stash to book two nights at a brand new Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach resort and two nights for my in-laws at Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa
Well, my sister-in-law decided to spend only one night in Puerto Rico before the cruise and she wanted to stay closer to the port. So, I had to cancel her Wyndham reservation in order to get 30,000 points back. At the time I also had 12,000 points total between mine and my husband’s accounts.
Hmm… If I canceled my upcoming reservation in Clearwater, I would have enough points to cover one room completely at Wyndham Garden Fort Myers beach property via “Go Free” rate. I could also use 12,000 points for a “Go Fast” redemption rate on a second room. Wyndham Garden Fort Myers beach property is basically a motel, but it’s right on the beach, and that’s all that matters to my mom.
I really hated canceling Clearwater hotel reservation, but decided do it anyway. This short getaway was certainly optional, while taking my mom to the beach is not. Now I just needed to find a competent Wyndham agent and hope their system doesn’t crash in the process.
The rigamarole begins
While most of the time you’ll have to call in order to cancel the reservation, occasionally, crazy Wyndham website will let you do it online. Here is how to go about it. When you go to Wyndham.com, scroll down and select your specific brand, in my case, Wyndham Grand:
Click on it and you’ll see this on top of the page:
If you are lucky, you may be able to cancel without a phone call. That’s what happened to me when I put in details of my Clearwater reservation. No such luck with my in-laws’ reservation, though, so I had to call. After some back and forth, the agent was able to cancel it.
Great… except my points were not redeposited. So, I had to call again. The rep had no clue what I was talking about, so I asked to speak to a supervisor. The points were redeposited after spending only (insert sarcastic emoji) 40 minutes on the phone.
Let’s reserve the rooms in Fort Myers!
The points were put back in their respective accounts, so all I had to do was make the reservations for two rooms. I was super excited to discover that a 2-bedroom suite was available via points:
Since I’m cheap, for a brief moment I even considered just sharing the suite with my mom and dad. Kids could sleep in the living room, and my parents could just share full bed. Nah! That’s not going work, not to mention, having one bathroom for six people is a recipe for disaster. I decided to go ahead and get a separate room for me and my husband and let my parents keep the kids with them.
While reserving two-bedroom suite was relatively painless, redeeming points on “Go Fast” rate proved to be impossible. My account locked up and would not let me complete the process online:
When you see this message while trying to reserve a room, it’s a hopeless case. Call immediately and speak to a supervisor. Apparently, it means that the system on their end is locked up and requires an override. A regular rep will not be able to do it, so don’t waste your time like I did. I spent close to an hour and got nowhere.
The supervisor actually had to call the hotel directly in order to reserve my room, but we finally got it taken care of. This was my third phone call to Wyndham, btw. I felt like popping the champagne, y’all! Alas, my celebration was short lived. When I logged into my account, I saw that one of my Fort Myers reservations was canceled and points were redeposited. What the what?
I called the hotel directly and front desk employee said that yes, the reservation was indeed cancelled. I sure didn’t do it. Once again, I had to call Wyndham to try to straighten out this mess. I immediately asked to speak to a supervisor and my wish was granted. The lady said it must have been a glitch and my reservation is definitely still on despite what website says. She even called the hotel and was assured that everything is fine.
I have no idea if this is really the case or not, but I can’t deal with this rigamarole anymore. I hope I have everything in place, but I seriously doubt it. I do plan to follow up eventually, but at the moment I’m sick of calling Wyndham. It shouldn’t be this difficult to make and cancel a reservation. Something is clearly off on their end, and needs to be fixed ASAP.
The supervisors I’ve talked to were very nice and one even gave me 3,000 points for the hassle. That’s good, but I literally spent 4 hours of my time on this issue. This is something that can usually be done in 5 minutes via other hotel program, any program. I’m not sure 3,000 points is appropriate compensation, though I didn’t really ask for anything. I just wanted to make a freakin reservation, that’s all. Why does it always have to be so hard, Wyndham?
One of the reps I’ve talked to conceded that their reservation system is a bit temperamental (his words). Hmm, is that a politically correct term for crap? I feel like breaking out into a rant similar to one left by “underwear guy” from my TripAdvisor post:
SHAME ON YOU WYNDHAM!!!!
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I feel better now. Deep breath… Ok, back to my pleasant “lady blogger” mode!
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Is it worth it?
Seeing how frustrating the whole thing was for me, my husband asked if it’s worth it. As in, all this miles and points rigamarole. I had to think about it for a minute and said Yes, it is worth it. My out-of-pocket cost will be $400, which I plan to partially cover with travel credit from US Bank Altitude Reserve card. I got 30,000 points via renewal of two Wyndham credit cards, at a cost of $138 total. The remaining 30,000 points were obtained via sign-up bonus ( currently reduced, read about it on this page).
So, for $538 out-of-pocket, we will have two beachfront rooms for four nights during peak season. The retail rate is around $2,000, though I would never pay that much, obviously. Still, a 2-bedroom condo in this very expensive area would cost us at least $300 per night, for a total of $1,200.
So yeah, paying $538 is way more palatable for my budget. I also like the idea of having two separate rooms, which will give my husband and I some alone time. Plus, like I said, the ability to cancel your reservation without penalty is a beautiful thing. Well, unless it’s Wyndham program we are talking about.
P.S. Just a quick note. I have been asked to take my Tuesday post (the one on dealing with the big bank) down, so that’s why it has dissapeared from the site.
Leana is the 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.