A while ago, I saved money in Chicago by sleeping in a Korean spa. I was pretty close to replicating this adventure in Vancouver.
A lot of us got in on the Cathay Pacific First Class mistake fare from Vietnam to North America. I just flew mine from Hanoi to Hong Kong to Vancouver. Seat 2A is my favorite seat in the sky for many reasons. Anyway, my final destination isn’t Vancouver, so I booked a separate ticket home the next day. That means I needed a roof over my head for the one night in Vancouver after my dear CX F drops me off around 10pm local time.
My go-to accommodation in Vancouver is to redeem 12,000 Hyatt points for Hyatt Regency Vancouver. Hyatt has a relatively small global footprint, but its award chart is second to none for mid-tier redemption across the globe. With Marriott, Hilton or IHG, good luck finding a solid 4-star hotel in the center of one of the world’s most expensive cities for the equivalent of 12,000 Hyatt points. The Hyatt Regency in Montreal, also centrally located, is only 8,000 points.
Unfortunately, this hotel also plays games with its award inventory. It does so differently than other hotels. I’ll write a detailed report separately, but basically they blocked award availability for the entire summer. That’s right, zero days available on points during the summer. I did protest but to no avail. I researched other award options but no good deal came up.
Now, I didn’t expect to sleep much, since I will just have gotten up for the day around 6pm local time, and history told me I would be in no mood for sleep until day time next day. With that in mind, it didn’t make sense to splurge on hotel. I checked my favorite non-chain booking site, booking.com, and found this:
It’s a dorm room with shared bath in Simon Fraser University. I could have it for $40 all in. It’s on Burnaby Mountain away from central Vancouver. To get here from Vancouver airport, I’d have to take the metro to basically the Hyatt (speaking of its good location), transfer onto a bus, and walk in the dark trying to find the exact location at 10-11pm with luggage. But to save ~$100, I was willing to do it. Plus, I wanted to visit Burnaby Mountain anyway after seeing central Vancouver previously.
However, there was another hassle. Despite anticipating jet lag, I was planning to do some sightseeing the next day before the flight. Wherever I end up, I’d need to come back to Burnaby Mountain to pick up the luggage before going to the airport. There’s a review saying the dorm wouldn’t let them store the luggage or something. And the dorm is much farther than Hyatt from just about anywhere I was going to be (other than Burnaby Mountain, but I wasn’t going to do that last). Nonetheless, I was going to work something out once I arrived.
Alas, it was not meant to be. A few days before arrival, I checked Hyatt.com and the hotel released last minute award inventory, which they had told me they might. Now that I can use 12,000 Hyatt points + an Explorist Club Access Award to be comfortable, did it still make sense to use $40 instead for something that’s definitely way less comfortable and convenient? It probably would have made a more interesting blog post if I decided yes – especially just after stepping off Cathay Pacific First Class. But… no, it didn’t make sense any more.
Now you might say I’ve become more spoiled. After all, I did sleep in the Korean spa to save $$. But, there are a few differences:
- That was a weekend trip; I didn’t have a check-in luggage to drag around
- I was definitely going to that spa anyway, and it only cost $10 more (compared to $40 here).
- The Hyatt Regency Chicago was 15k a night at the time and definitely not as good of a hotel as the HR Vancouver; the lounge was also closed on weekend. There were no other great points options.
- Jet lag wasn’t a factor; my schedule and hence my dependency on the accommodation was much more predictable.
I’m very glad I chose the Hyatt, because I ended up sleeping most of the night, and went to bed again after the free lounge breakfast. I was still sleeping when I got the wake up call at 10 minutes before my late checkout of 2pm! This was unexpectedly good jet lag recovery. It also helped that the Hyatt bed was heavenly – it pulls you in and makes you stay in! It was more comfortable than the bed at Hyatt Regency Bali. By the way, I love that Hyatt hotels proactively offer late checkout, as occurred here. I’ve gotten this many times at various Hyatts as Diamond and Explorist. I don’t remember ever being proactively offered this as a Hilton Diamond/Gold, the old Marriott Gold, and IHG Platinum.
Anyway, by applying an Explorist Club Access Award, I was automatically put into a club-floor room with good view. Service at this hotel has always been very good by North American standards. I love its elevator system – no stopping at every floor when it’s busy. The location is impeccable – just a few minutes from the metro and the water. Boutique Gastown is a 10-15 minutes walk, Chinatown 25 minutes. It was plenty of stuff to do for a day (3 hours since I overslept!).
In a Nutshell
“Unfortunately” my plan to be frugal was disrupted by Hyatt opening up last minute award inventory (as they are suppose to all along). I should have looked up local Korean spas and probably would have found some nice options, but last few months have been crazy with work. Anyway, Vancouver is a gorgeous city, and I hope to be back soon with more time to do it justice. If you have a CX F coming up, enjoy the turbulence – it seems to get worse every time!