Friday, June 11, 2010

Test Drive: 50% Off Sales from Two Major Hotel Chains

Two good-sized chains are looking to generate both publicity and business by slashing their nightly rates 50% for the summer months. But are these promotions actually deals or simply PR? I did the searches and crunched the numbers so you don't have to. Here's what I found.

Accor Hotels

The Accor Group of hotels, which comprises Novotel, Mercure, and Sofitel, says it's halving prices at 800 participating properties (you'll find them in Burkina Faso, Guadeloupe, Fiji, Italy, Canada, you name it). But they're making customers jump through hoops to get at the discounts. A ticking clock on their website reminds visitors they must book stays no later than June 16 (for travel between July 8 and September 6.) And better be sure of your plans: to get the discounts, you'll have to pay in advance and give up your right to change or cancel your reservation in this way.

So is it worth locking yourself in, in this fashion? Not necessarily. I tested the sale, searching for hotel rooms in 4 French-speaking destinations, for the dates of July 21 through 24. I compared what I found at the Mercure website to the offers on one of my favorite hotel search engines, Here are the results:
  • Novotel Montreal Center: $113 per night with Mercure's sale, $75 per night if purchased through Travelocity
  • Novotel Paris Tour Eiffel Paris: $122.45 through Mercure,  $119 with and
  • Residence Mercure Diamant, Martinique: $72 through Mercure, $71 though
  • Ibis Brussels Off the Grand Place: $85 with Mercure, $94 with, and
Not a great record for the Mercure sale, eh? 

My conclusion: Though the sale offers some genuine values, be sure to check other sites before purchasing, especially if you worry your plans may change.

Coast Hotels

This one seems to be a winner, discounting properties throughout British Columbia and Alberta. Again, the promise is 50% off the published rates for travel now through Sept 30 or Oct 21. Act quickly: you must book by tomorrow (Saturday, June 12) to get the discount. Be aware that there are long lists of blackout days including some properties where the discounts are available only for weekday stays. You'll need to use code TZO to get the discount.

Here's a sampling of the searches I did, this time for stays between July 25 and 27:
  • Coast Victoria Harborside Hotel and Marina, Victoria: $129 through Coast, $146 through
  • Pyramid Lake Resort, Jasper: $139 through Coast, $206 through
  • Coast Blackcomb Suites at Whistler: $79 through Coast, $99 through itself
My conclusion: Jump on this one if you plan to travel in BC or Alberta this summer.

(Photo of Jasper by Richard Taylor)

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