Priceline.com for Hotel Near Park (Mediocre Hotel Advertised as Upscale)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005 10:36 PM
I just wanted to voice my frustration here, and ask if anyone here has had the same experience with reserving a hotel near a park.

My apologies if this isn't coaster related enough.

I am staying at the Holiday Inn Tampa Busch Gardens, which according to Priceline, who I booked through, is a 3-star hotel. Last night, on the trip down, we stayed at a 2-1/2 star hotel (also a Holiday Inn), which was much nicer, and seemed to have more amenities. The part of the hotel they put me in doesn't even have elevators! (And I know part of Breakers at CP doesn't, but that is historic. This isn't.)

Based on all your experiences, is it normal for a hotel near a park to be worse than average for the chain/hotel type? It seems like the proximity to the park (5 minutes) is allowing the hotel to take advantage of the tourists, and pass off a mediocre hotel as an upscale hotel.

-Sam

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005 10:50 PM
Priceline is an interesting site for hotels. We have only really been burned once by the site. That was this Spring when we stayed at Holiday Inn Nikki Bird in Orlando. Let me say that we enjoyed our hotel stay the year before a lot better (we stayed at La Quinta Lakeside). Just be careful. There is also a website that gives reviews of their stays that they booked on Priceline. URL escapes me right now, I'm sure someone will post it here. But like I said, you will get more hits than misses with Priceline than other sites.
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Thursday, April 21, 2005 12:42 AM
This is the first time in almost four years of using them that I have a real reason to complain.

Why is a 2-1/2 star in Knoxville, TN much better than a 3 star in Tampa? It is nice to be near the park, but proximity to a park should not be a reason to give the hotel more stars than it deserves! That is what really ticks me off. Technically, this hotel meets Priceline's criteria for three stars, but in reality, this place is a dump. I've stayed in what would be considered one star hotels that are nicer than this!

Anyway, am I alone, or are there others that have fallen into this trap when visiting a park?

-Sam (who is typing this outside, because their so-called high speed internet isn't even available in the building where they put us!)

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Thursday, April 21, 2005 12:52 AM
I have loved (!) my Priceline experiences. In May/June 2003, I took an 8 day coaster trip with Peabody, all hotels booked through Priceline. Every hotel was great, with jacuzzis, etc. It was sweet, and the average was $34/night. That was a GREAT trip.

Obviously, YMMV. :(

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Thursday, April 21, 2005 9:35 AM
The best site for boning up on priceline, hands down, is www.biddingfortravel.com.

Priceline can be inconsistent in their ratings, for a variety of reasons. First, there are just a lot of properties to rate, and it's hard to be terribly accurate. Second, if a hotel is partially renovated, guess which customers get put in the older rooms? Guess which rooms the *rating* is based on? Third, hotels will ask to be "downrated" if they are the only hotel in a particular rating/geographic area, because otherwise the bidding is no longer opaque. (In other words, if there is only one four star in, say, Birmingham, and you bid on a four star there, you know exactly what hotel you are getting in advance.)

Read priceline's descirptions of what consitutes a 3-star hotel; if any of the listed amenities were not there, send them a comment via feedback suggesting that the property be downrated.

That said, this is not a problem unique to priceline. For example, I've been in properties that cover a vast quality range, all of which are rated three AAA diamonds, and some that are "worse" than other two-diamond properties.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005 9:43 AM
My one experience with Priceline will be my last. I booked a flight to Pensacola for a two-day trip. The flight there left at 8 p.m. and the flight out left at 8:30 a.m., so basically it cut my vacation down to 12 hours. It was cheaper, but I'd much prefer to pay extra and choose when I leave.

As far as hotels, I have heard that a lot of times, the nicer hotels will not honor your special requests and such (i.e. high floor, city view, nonsmoking room) if you booked through Priceline. Again, I'd rather pay extra and get what I want.

And as far as hotels near parks, I've only stayed at one, the Country Inn and Suites across the street from SFGAm, and it was quite nice.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005 9:49 AM
Airfare has become a commodity; I suspect their air bookings have just about dried up. (In fact, their advertising now seems to focus exclusively on hotel stays.) Priceline airfare certainly only makes sense for longer trips, for exactly the reason you point out.
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Thursday, April 21, 2005 9:53 AM
I've done pretty well with Priceline in the past, haven't used it much lately because i've neded to be more specific about times/places, etc. Definitely sending feedback TO Priceline is a good idea...

That being said, there are a LOT of real dives around BGT....I learned the hard way myself...*shudder*.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005 9:55 AM
I do not think your experience has anything to do woth staying near a park. This was just a bad apple for you. I've used them a lot and would guess about 20% of the time something like this happens. However, another 20% of the time I get something way better than expected...
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Thursday, April 21, 2005 10:12 AM
MOST parks are in way better neighborhoods than the one BGT is in....SFAW and Coney notwithstanding, LOL...;)
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Thursday, April 21, 2005 11:01 AM
Hmm, I never imagined BGT being in a bad neighborhood. SFoG maybe, or Kennywood, but not BGT.

That could be a whole 'nother topic.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005 11:36 AM

As far as hotels, I have heard that a lot of times, the nicer hotels will not honor your special requests and such (i.e. high floor, city view, nonsmoking room) if you booked through Priceline. Again, I'd rather pay extra and get what I want.

We've used about Priceline around 20 times over the past few years. While it's true that some hotels are not as accomadating to Priceline travlers, most treat you just like any other guest. We've had very few problems with special requests.

I've gotten some very nice hotels through Priceline at rates that wouldn't normally get you a Motel 6. Even those that were average were well worth the price.

It definately pays to do some research first. I'd strongly suggest the biddingfortravel site linked above.

Kyle



*** Edited 4/21/2005 3:37:34 PM UTC by Recess***
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Thursday, April 21, 2005 11:55 AM
Some random thoughts:


Based on all your experiences, is it normal for a hotel near a park to be worse than average for the chain/hotel type?

Not necessarily normal, but I've found that any 'touristy' hotel usually doesn't compare in quality to an equivalent one near say a convertion center or downtown.


It seems like the proximity to the park (5 minutes) is allowing the hotel to take advantage of the tourists, and pass off a mediocre hotel as an upscale hotel.

Like others have said, the hotels don't rate themselves. I'm not sure if Priceline using the industry standard AAA ratings or creates their own, but the hotels can't be blamed for the rating priceline gives. This leads to:


Technically, this hotel meets Priceline's criteria for three stars, but in reality, this place is a dump.

So we've learned that amentities don't = quality. ;)

Seriously, I just went by priceline and read their hotel ratings guide. It really doesn't say anything about the quality of the place you'll be staying (except for the generic description of "high quality"), just what amentities it offers.

Also, hotels who put themselves in the priceline rotation do so for a reason. Think about it. Why would a hotel agree to give their rooms away for next to nothing? They're not selling on their own at the 'standard' rates they set. That could be happeneing for a variety of reasons, but you have to wonder why.

I know the public excuse is "unsold inventory" and many companies do use the 'heads in beds' approach. It's one I disagree with (as does my wife who is a GM at a hotel and the company she works for) - when you stop and do the math you're not making any extra money giving away $30 or $40 rooms on priceline. You now need additional labor to clean the room, you will likely go through more breakfast invetory, additional utilities will be used, you spend more in laundry to wash the beddings, etc.

All the heads in beds approach does is artificially inflate occupancy numbers to please corporate.


Second, if a hotel is partially renovated, guess which customers get put in the older rooms?

This is absolutely true and again, really obvious if you think about it. Those hotels don't give a crap about you. You're just a head to fill their occupancy goals. There are plenty of people in the hotel who paid a full rate that could be as much as 3 or 4 or 5 times what you paid. You're essentially going to get the leftovers - unrenovated rooms, smaller rooms, rooms in noisier locations (by elevators, pools, or lobbies) - things like that. Of course, if the hotel is exceptionally dead (and it very well may be if they're resorting to Pricline), then maybe only 10 of the 100 rooms are sold and the worst available rooms are still very nice.

In the end it depends on a combo or your expectations and dumb luck. That's why we're seeing the varied responses in this thread. Some people expect more in a hotel than others and depending on the day you're staying, the hotel that has availability, and what choice you make on priceline - you fill in different variables to the equation and get this plethora of responses.

FWIW, this hotel snob (and semi-control freak) wouldn't touch priceline with your money.

*** Edited 4/21/2005 4:31:23 PM UTC by Lord Gonchar***

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Thursday, April 21, 2005 11:59 AM
I use priceline almost every time I take a roadtrip. After all, we usually have to do a late check-in anyway. We usually check out early, and as long as there are visible "stains" on the sheets, I am good for the sleep.

Only use priceline is you do not care what kind of dump you are put up in though.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005 1:06 PM
AAA guide books for me... and staying at hotels who's names I recognize... and also not expecting the world. We've never been to terribly "disapointed".
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Thursday, April 21, 2005 2:28 PM

I've found that any 'touristy' hotel usually doesn't compare in quality to an equivalent one near say a convertion center or downtown

That's true of whole areas as well: areas that cater strictly to tourists (Branson, Pigeon Forge, Sandusky) have lousy hotel stock generally. Areas that also have a business draw or do significant convention business tend to have nicer places, even within the chain.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005 2:40 PM
True, Brian.

That's exactly why we do things like drive right by PKD from the north and stay in Richmond, or stay in Waterbury for the LC/SFNE combo, or stay in Buffalo for the SFNE/Seabreeze/Falls combo.

It's also why I lean towards Marriott as they tend to be more business customer oriented in their approach. Of course, that hurts when going somewhere like the Dells (no Mariott hotels) or Virginia Beach (only 3 hotels on the beach) or Canada's side of the falls (again, just three hotels) or similar cheeseball tourist traps.

I'm willing to drive a little to the park in the morning to avoid the 'touristy' hotels.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005 3:32 PM

Marriott

Two words: Residence Inn.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005 4:28 PM
Yep, I always look for hotels that cater to the business crowd, because I know they'll usually be nice, quiet, clean, modern and have lots of amenities.

/hotel snob

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Thursday, April 21, 2005 5:33 PM
^Yep, that's me too.

I usually don't just use one site, rather, I shop around with a few different sites. Orbitz, hotels.com, expedia - Ive used 'em all. My tip is to try and read customer reviews of the hotels (if available), and hope that there are more than just 1 or 2.

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