The Deal Mommy

True Deal Mommy Confession: I’m Vendoming Vietnam

Executive Suite at the Sheraton Hanoi. At least it’s only 8000 starpoints a night.

Credibility is the most important asset a blogger can have. With that in mind, I need to call myself out…

My post about Vendoming is the single most read piece I’ve written. Even more than the story of British Airways dumping me in the wrong country. If you have a few hours to spare, check out the comments…they’re worth the read.

To recap, “Vendoming” is a term I coined referring to the Vendome district of Paris, specifically the Park Hyatt Vendome. The term is defined (to me) as “overplayed, entitled arrogance” and is typified by the traveler who ditches local culture and real life hotels in favor of what I’ve termed the “Points Blogger Circuit”: Milan, the Maldives, and the 5 other places that you see reviewed over and over again.  It’s flying around the world and only eating at the club lounges of hotels and airports. You get the jist.

I’m in the process of narrowing down the plans for Camp Mom Asia 2015. I’ve decided to do Vietnam with the entire 10 days and booked 3 (coach) tickets JAL non-stop from Tokyo to Hanoi for 28,000 American Express points and $444 thanks to the BA Transfer Bonus. So now I know that I’m arriving in Hanoi and departing from Denang 10 days later. So far, so good.

But then I noticed an alarming trend. When thinking about hotels, my keyboard went immediately to Award Mapper to find chain hotels. And it stayed there. If I couldn’t find a chain hotel my thoughts went to Luxury Link, Jetsetter and Secret Escapes, all luxury sites where I’ve booked successfully in the past.

Wait a minute. This is SOUTH EAST ASIA. Where I’ve lived in style for $18/day. What am I doing? This is Vendoming of the worst kind: totally gratutious. I know better than to waste points or pay luxury prices, don’t I?

Well, maybe not. You see, I’m going solo with an 8 and 11 year old who have never been to Asia, and will be coming straight from 1st-world-on-steroids Japan. Vietnam is going to be a mind-bend like they can’t imagine.  Frankly, it will be for me as well.  I’m 15 years removed from the girl who lived in Asia and tromped around responsibility-free. And I’ve never been to Vietnam, either.

I’m thinking if I can at least ensconce the Deal Kids in a bubble for a few hours a day they’ll be more able to handle the chaos outside. Am I not giving them enough credit? They did fine in Guatemala and were only 4 and 7 then.  But again, we had an amazing condo and we traveled as a family.

Readers, I’d appreciate your thoughts.  And if you have any Vietnam recommendations, I’d appreciate them, too.

The Deal Mommy is a proud member of the Saverocity network.



30 thoughts on “True Deal Mommy Confession: I’m Vendoming Vietnam

  1. Becky

    I haven’t been to Vietnam, so take my thoughts with a grain of salt. BUT if Vietnam is anything like Laos, you’re overthinking things (and I’ve heard Vietnam is even more tourist-friendly). Just as easy to get around as Guatemala or anywhere else I’ve ever been.

    Maybe do the Vendome bubble while you’re in Hanoi for the first few nights as an adjustment period? Then switch to something more local afterwards? I’d guess you’d be fine and you could save your points for another time when hotel rates are out of your budget.

    But I appreciate the honesty and know you’ll have a good trip no matter how it works out 🙂

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Thanks. That’s how I felt about Thailand, but it feels like a lifetime ago. Appreciate the more recent ground level update.

  2. Leslie H (tripswithtykes)

    There’s nothing wrong with a little Vendoming. That’s why we save the miles and points – to travel more and to travel better. It only becomes a problem when you are doing it all the time and for no reason other than just consumption. Go for it.

    FYI, my family stays once every year in the Ritz-Carlton at Lake Tahoe with our Marriott points. Total luxury and totally overdoing it, but it also gives us value – easy ski slope access with small kids (one who needs naps) and a ski concierge who helps us carry all of their stuff. Wise use of the luxury, I think.

    1. Becky

      Love the phrase “wise use of luxury”. If Vendoming in Vietnam brings peace of mind and helps you enjoy your stay when you’d otherwise be stressed, that’s worth every point you have.

    2. thedealmommy Post author

      Thanks, Leslie. It’s a balance: making sure they see something new without turning them off or freaking them out.

    3. leana@ Milesforfamily

      I very much agree with Leslie. It’s OK to do it now and again. That’s why this hobby is so awesome: You CAN try different styles of travel and it won’t bankrupt you. I think the problem arises when you start following others for no other reason other than it’s the “thing” to do.
      Frankly, Maldives look nice, but there are other places I want to go to first. I’m not against it, but I’m not dying to visit it either. Hyatt Vendome stay may actually happen (gasp!), but only if we are in Paris for 2 nights. I will NEVER burn my Ultimate Rewards on it. But it doesn’t mean that others shouldn’t.
      Oh, and traveling with kids definitely changes things. Safety, comfort and predictability suddenly become very important. That’s where chain hotels shine.

  3. Points With a Crew

    I like to say that having a budget isn’t supposed to be something that inhibits you, but rather the ability to NOT spend money on some things so you can spend it on the things that are really IMPORTANT to you!

  4. Kim

    It’s been a number of years (maybe like 7) since I’ve been in Vietnam but, it was my first trip to Asia. So, I was really nervous. It’s a pretty established tourist destination. They got it down very well, maybe too well. And it was really easy to travel around. It seemed most people followed the same sort of tourist route. You’d often see the same people in different cities. We didn’t stay in any chain hotels, I didn’t really see very many in fact. But, we didn’t slum it either. All the hotels also acted as travel agents as well. They could book tours, transportation and hotels to your next destinations. I think with hotels stay where you want. But, I would think location would be the most important. Like I really liked staying in old Hanoi. Have a great trip. Vietnam by far has had the best food I have ever had. And don’t be afraid to eat with the locals on the street. We were really nervous about that at first but, some of our best meals were eaten from street vendors.

  5. John B

    I haven’t been to Vietnam in about 6 years, but I remember it being very tourist friendly in the two locations I visited (Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang/ Hoi An). I would take my 2 year old without reservations (take “reservations” any way you want, it was very tourist friendly). That being said, unless the VN Dong has really gained some value, luxury is cheap. I’d still get a highly rated hotel based on personal recommendations or trusted sources, but I would be hesitant to go with a major brand just because of the premium your going to pay for little more than a brand in this case. I don’t say that lightly because I do love my luxury and my hotel loyalty, but in both VN and Cambodia, my experience is that big brands don’t do it that much better than local 4 star hotels. I would guess $65-$100 a night would get you multiple beds and a large enough room to fit you and the kids at a 4 star level without paying for a brand name and still probably getting breakfast. I paid $45-$65/night 6 years ago.

    My best tips would be to visit Hoi An for a few nights when you go to Da Nang. It is a nice beach town with plenty of good hotels and is only about a 20 minute taxi ride from the airport in Da Nang. It also has some great tailors who can have anything from a dress to a 3 piece suit made in about 24 hours with very good quality and at a reasonable price. 6 years later and everything I had made at “Yaly” (popular tailor with multiple locations in Hoi An) is still in my wardrobe.

    One note about my lodging in Hoi An. I stayed at the Hotel Indochine, but I wouldn’t recommend it. After I returned to the states one of the hotel staff contacted me privately demanding I send him $30 because he has undercharged me a booking fee for tickets I had them arrange for me. He claimed his boss was going to take it out of his paycheck. I’ve never experienced that at any other hotel in the region, but I certainly wouldn’t go back. And no, I didn’t send him $30.

  6. PatMike

    We just returned from Vietnam in November. Loved it!
    We started at the Intercontinental DaNang (amazing and uber-vendoming property).
    Loved Hanoi. Stayed at the Hilton in the center of town. Great location but rooms were so-so. Sheraton is a bit on the outskirts, by the John McCain lake, but seems better suited for a family.
    We also stayed 2 nights at the Sheraton Nha Trang, where we shamelessly went there just for the hotel.
    Was upgraded to enormous suite at Sheraton HCMC (not towers building), but I found Hanoi to be the most interesting.

    It looks like DaNang and Nha Trang are poised to be new SE Asia beach destinations.

    Have a great trip!

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      I was hoping you would chime in! Thanks for the recommendations. Do you think 2 full days is enough for Hanoi?

  7. aresay

    I was in Hanoi last May. I thought about using hotel points, but there are so many good affordable non-chain options. We stayed in a “honeymoon suite” at the Tu Linh Legend hotel (ranked #19 out of #507 on Tripadvisor) for a little under $40, including breakfast. They also had a “family room” option which was a little more. Very friendly and great customer service.

  8. Point Princess

    I don’t think you’ll have a problem at all in Vietnam. I spent 3 weeks there this summer as a solo traveler on my first trip to Asia, and I really didn’t have any problems. You can get pretty nice non-chain hotels in that $15-$30/night range. I think at those prices it is stilly to use points.

  9. Point Princess

    In Hanoi I found something on HostelWorld that was a hotel and my friend and I split it, but I don’t remember what it was called (nor can I find a conf. email). I didn’t stay in Da Nang, but there are a ton of hotels there. I stayed in Hoi An but also don’t remember where 😛

    1. PatMike

      If we’re talking Vendoming in DaNang, it has to be the Intercontinental or Hyatt…
      IC is awesome and a great use of free night certs.

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  11. Gary Leff

    There’s nothing at all inconsistent with using points to stay in nicer hotels than you would otherwise afford (or be willing to spend money for) and engaging the local culture.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Thanks for stopping by and for your insight. I know you’re a fan of street food et al so get what you are saying. I’m hoping to strike a balance. However, with the kids I find myself going higher end that I would by myself. I just don’t want to train them wrong: they already complain when the Hyatt we’re in doesn’t have a lounge!

  12. Elyn

    I am doing the exact same thing in Vietnam (and other parts of SE Asia) this summer. I’m also in your position of having stayed in the $18/night places when I was younger. Going into this trip, I knew I wanted to stay at more comfortable hotels. Of course there are local options that are quite lovely in the 30-40 range. But, if I have points, why not use them. $0 is cheaper than $40. It is also a place by place consideration for me. In Hanoi and HCMC, points hotels. In Hoi An, a 18/night guest house that is top-ranked on TripAdvisor. In Bali, AirBNB.

    I still plan to engage with the local culture and there will still likely be locals working in the hotels. I’m not that worried.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Hi Elyn,
      I’d love to hear which places you picked. So far my points items are the Sheraton Hanoi and the Hyatt Da Nang. Others TBD.

  13. Susanne

    We were in Vietnam in October and also loved it. Very tourist friendly. We used Hanoi as our base and stayed at the Silk Queen Hotel in Old Town. We could not speak more highly of the hotel and its staff. Clean, comfortable and caring for $38.00 a night. Ask for Ms. Rose or Ms. Anne.

    Stayed at the River Sun in Hoi Ann. It is a located on the river a little out of town. Easily walkable. They also provide the use of free bikes and have a pool which we loved.

  14. Solewalker

    I’m not sure which Sheraton you’re staying at, but if you are staying at Sheraton Westlake, while nice, is some ways from the Old Quarter.

    On other specific advice that will save you some headache and arguing with shady cab drivers when getting around – go with Mai Linh taxi company.

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