The Deal Mommy

How do you Decide When to Splurge on Hotels?

Camp Mom South America is only two weeks away and I need your help. I don’t know if it’s the new continent thing, if it’s the off-season part or just plain indecision but I’m struggling with two of my hotel choices. I’m hoping someone out there has experience with either and can give me some guidance. Here’s my over-reaching question: how do you decide when to splurge on hotels and when to save?

I’ve nailed down a couple of criteria but then have two specific situations where I’m having trouble taking my own advice. That’s where you come in.

Cannes Hotel: how do you decide when to splurge on hotels? In this case the Holiday Inn beat the Hyatt Grand for view.

When to Splurge on Hotels

  • When the hotel itself is the destination (IE Hyatt Cannes Martinez.) The historic property was on my bucket list, so the category 7 points plus cash plus suite upgrade made sense. Although to be fair the view from the Holiday Inn Cannes was nicer.
  • When it’s a once in a lifetime destination or event. Macy’s Parade and Bastille Day Fireworks come to mind. Although neither of those hotels was particularly high end, I would have spent what it took to make either happen. 
  • When you’re celebrating a personal milestone. 

Otherwise, I tend to find a balance on the comfort/price scale, even when using points. Two destinations coming up have really put me into a dilemma. 

Iguazu Falls

The only hotel with a view of the falls is the Sheraton Iguazu. The Sheraton requires us to reserve two rooms for four people at a gag-worthy price of 24,000 Starpoints a night. The hotel itself is dated and gets mixed reviews if not for the view. 

Almost 50K Starpoints for two nights? That’s easily a week at an equally nice or nicer property in a different location. We’re probably not making it back to Iguazu so my own criteria says to go for it- and they are points from signup bonuses.  However the thought of it makes me want to throw up. 

San Pedro de Atacama

Hotels in San Pedro go from 5 star all-inclusive resorts to two star hostels with nothing in between. I technically have the Ultimate Rewards points to get three nights at $900 (ACK) a night for the three of us at the five star property. 

Again, it’s a once in a lifetime destination, but it’s also just me and the Deal Kids so I feel guilty blowing out the budget without Deal Dad in tow. Yes, the all inclusive includes meals and tours but I have trouble thinking how we’ll spend the extra $800/day over the two star on food and tour guides, no matter how special. 

That said, I’d hate to have a less-than-optimal experience and know I could have afforded to go all out. 

Hence my dilemmas. I know these are first world problems but would appreciate your input, especially if you have visited either destination. 

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


13 thoughts on “How do you Decide When to Splurge on Hotels?

  1. April

    My $.02: You should save when you know that the frugal experience will give you a somewhat comparable experience to the splurge (ie Sheraton vs Westin along the same strip of beach). You should splurge anytime your options are nice hotel vs hostel.

    I feel your pain with spending so many points at Iguazu Falls vs a week elsewhere, but keep in mind you aren’t spending a week elsewhere — you’re spending it at Iguazu Falls on your biannual family vacation. I doubt you’ll regret spending the points when you’re able to open your curtains in the morning and sip coffee in your pjs while gazing at the falls.

    Splurge in San Pedro, as well. It’s just you and Deal Kids during this stretch so you don’t want the stress of being the only adult available to negate any surprises that might come with winging it in a hostel (insects/rodents, partying backpackers, etc). Also, give yourself permission to let go of the pressure to get your full $800 worth of the splurge. You don’t want to set yourself up for guilt-driven guilded cage syndrome. Think of it as an insurance policy — that extra $800 buys you a staff equipped to handle chicken-sized cockroaches and drunk neighbors, and it’s also your backup plan in case the Deal Kids (or you!) need a day to chill.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Well said. It’s just so hard to let go of the hard earned $$- even when the currency is points.

  2. KE

    Did the Sheraton Igauzu back in October. Do not underestimate the ability to walk out of the hotel at 8am directly on to the park trails and have the falls virtually to yourself. It is amazing.

  3. Kelly

    Oomph the thought of spending 50000 points really pains me if the hotel itself doesn’t get great reviews, regardless of the view. And I really do find those points more difficult to earn than UR. As for the five star, is it at the tail end of your trip? I had a travel agent tell me 15 years ago that it is best to have your hotels get nicer as the trip ends, rather than starting out at the nicer place, and I have found that to be true. It doesn’t always work out but if I can arrange it that way I do it and don’t feel bad about ending on a high note. I wouldn’t factor the absence of deal dad in – 3/4 of you are there! Although does it bust the Camp Mom/Atlantic Coast Beach house comparison budget? 🙂

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      San Pedro is towards the back end. You’re right- I need to let go of the guilt. I’m trying to figure out if there’s a 3rd option- to five star just the tours. That might be the happy medium.

      And I can at least rest assured my vacation won’t be cancelled by a hurricane, as 1 in 4 August Outer Banks trips are 🙂

  4. AlastairDeacon

    My husband and I stayed a few nights at the Sheraton Iguazu Falls a few years ago. I’m always trying to get a deal, as are you. And most of the time you (and I ) succeed.

    Then there are times you pay the going rate, either in points or cash. And it’s well worth it. That’s why we play the game. So when you actually have to pay, you either have miles/points/cash in the bank to get the experience you really want.

    We thought Iguazu was well worth it. We liked the property and enjoyed being so close to the park. Please go for it, you’ll be happy you did.

    And as a PSA, yes, if you leave food on your patio for even a few minutes, you will have monkeys on it. Before you can blink. Keep your patio door closed. You don’t want to deal with them on a personal basis. But with the door closed, we thought it was totally cool.

    Have a great trip.

  5. Jeff The Wanderer

    For Iguazu, I had a similar dilemma. I was traveling solo so didn’t want to spend all those points. I ended up using Airbnb and staying in town on the Brazil side. I could still be in the park all day (on either side) and it wasn’t a long ride home afterwards. The nice part about being in town was that I was quite close to a ton of dining options that were cheap and amazing. If I went again, I would definitely stay in town on one side or the other.

  6. thedealmommy Post author

    You all make great points. If it were one room it would be a no-brainer. The 2nd room just offends me.

  7. Kate

    I was in San Pedro a year ago. I would absolutely go for the upscale hotel. It’s challenging enough anyway.

  8. Kate

    Just checked your post again. The tours are not inexpensive. It is also challengingly to choose the tours. (We ended up driving ourselves, but we had two,adults.) I think this is definitely an occasion to go all out and enjoy your points. Good chance you will never make it back to the atacama.

  9. RunningGirl

    Checked out of the Sheraton Iguazu last week. I needed 3 rooms for 3 nights each and payed with points. WORTH ALL THE POINTS!!! To be in the park each morning. No transportation. Good hotel with excellent staff. Seeing the falls from my balcony. Would do it all over again.

    Stayed in a very inexpensive, basic B&B in San Pedro last year. Perfectly fine. You don’t need a fancy place there – save the $ and use it towards excursions. Went horseback riding through Valle de la Luna, booked a full day tour with a private car and driver and explored the amazing sites. And this is coming from someone who would live at El Palacio Duhau-Park Hyatt BA (stayed 2x in last 6 months) if given the chance.

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