I almost Blew it!

A few months ago, I put a plan together for a trip to Hawaii for this October.  This trip would be a TRUE Budget Vacation.  Since I have become a devout travel site follower over the last 2 years, I really wanted to flex my muscles a bit and see just how low I could get the vacation costs for a trip like this.  It has been an interesting experience with some speed bumps along the way.   Check out my post What are the Odds! to read about some of those initial obstacles.

Airfare

  • I paid for all my airfare using Southwest points I earned earlier this year
  • My husband is using my Southwest Companion Pass so his 4 segments came to $22.40 for the taxes and fees
  • I used my American Express Airline Fee Credits to cover 100% of the costs for adding Early Bird Check in to all my flight segments
  • And I used Southwest Gift Cards (earned from Rebate apps) for 2 of my husband’s Early Bird fees and paid for the other 2 with our Capital One Venture Card so we got 100% of that cost Reimbursed

All in for Round trip air and Early Bird Check in on all flights $22.40

 

Car Rental

We weren’t sure at first if we were going to want to book a car for this trip (Deciding if we Need to Rent a Car in Oahu Hawaii)   but in the end, we decided to get one for just the 3 days we would spend on the North Shore.  I was able to book the exact type of car rental I wanted from Alamo (whom I prefer) using  Autoslash and Priceline for a rate of  $126.48.  Even though I think this is a great rate, I have requested Autoslash continue to track the reservation and notify me if the rate drops before we go.

3 Day Car Rental $126.48 (could still drop….)

Hotels

We decided to divide our 6 day trip in half to see more of the Island.  The plan was to spend 3 days in Waikiki at the Hyatt Centric and book fully using points.  Then spend the last 3 days on the North Shore at Turtle Bay Resort. We would also need 1 hotel night in Oakland California for a layover on our return trip.

The Turtle Bay Resort was our agreed upon splurge for the trip.  I was happy to be able to book our 3 nights at the posh resort coming in just under our $1200 budget.  We even scored a $100 Resort Credit to use during our stay.  Two weeks ago as I was checking some details on our reservation, I found the rate had dropped a bit so I  Renegotiated my Hotel Rate.

Final cost for 3 Nights at Turtle Bay Resort $1123 (plus $100 Resort Credit)

I chose the Hilton Oakland Airport for our layover night in California.  This hotel offers a complimentary airport shuttle and free breakfast as a perk of our Hilton Honors Loyalty account.  It ticked off all the boxes we needed to streamline the stop over.  Plus we will get 12x points by paying with our Hilton Surpass card.

Final cost for 1 night at Hilton Oakland Airport $153

For the Hyatt Centric the Rewards Room Rate listed was 1500 points per night so we would need 4500 points for 3 nights.  Our plan (FYI this was already our plan b for getting these points) was to complete the spend requirement on our new Chase Sapphire card and then transfer enough points to Hyatt to cover the cost of the room.  Although we finished the spend requirement the first week of September, we had to wait for the points to apply when our statement cut around the 20th.  That was something I didn’t count on.  Rookie Mistake!  As soon as the points hit the account, I double checked the room rate at Hyatt (which still showed rooms available at the 1500 points rate for our dates) and then transferred the points.

All was good until I went to complete the reservation.  During the final step, a message popped up saying there were no rooms available at that rate for those dates. Whaaaaat?  I wish you could have felt my heart literally sink in my chest. All my hard work and planning …. KABOOM!  Plus the points were now transferred to Hyatt.  No undoing that.  I took a few minutes to breathe and to think.  Then I picked up the phone, called Hyatt directly and explained the scenerio to the Customer Service Agent.  Although she was not able to help me, she did get a Manager involved to see what he could do.  There was a long silent hold period while they did whatever they did on their end before he finally came on the line to give me the verdict:

I am very sorry this happened.  There are only 2 rooms still available at the hotel for your dates.  There are no King rooms left.  I can give you a Two Queen room at the 1500 points per night rate, if that works for you?

Relief swept through me. “Yes!  That will be fine!” I immediately responded.  I am pretty sure I announced that I wanted to hug him for making everything work for me.  Taking the room with Two Queen beds is a very little inconvenience compared to us having to pay for 3 more hotel nights, plus Resort Fees.  (When you book Reward Nights with Hyatt, they waive the Resort Fees.)  Getting this worked out saved us $254 a night plus $39 per night in resort fees.  A total savings of $879 for the 3 nights.

Final Cost for 3 nights at Hyatt Centric Waikiki $0

Grand total for Air, Car and Hotel for 6 nights in Oahu, Hawaii is $1424.88 (includes 1 California layover hotel night)

I feel pretty good about that.  Getting such great deals on the bones of the trip means we will have plenty of money for food and awesome adventures while we are there.

 

What I Learned

I really thought that I had blown it.  I had put together what I though was a great plan.  We earned the points very quickly to transfer to Hyatt, but I had not counted on the 2 weeks wait for the statement.  Also, I really thought that checking the room rate before moving the points was enough to ensure that everything would happen properly.  So many lessons learned!

One thing I did right though was not giving up easily.  Taking a minute to pull myself together and directly presenting the case rationally to the folks at Hyatt and asking for their help was a good move.  This is the 2nd instance this year where I have had outstanding Customer Service from Hyatt.  They are worming their way deeper into my heart!  I am feeling thankful and lucky that they were able to salvage my plan.  I have learned a lot while planning this trip that will make it much easier as we put together our Budget Trip to Portugal for next year.