Cheap resort strategy: Sometimes two hotels are cheaper than one

For most people who are looking for a hotel for a week-long stay, simply entering your dates and judging among the results that come up is the best strategy. But if you are the sort who likes to get the best deal possible, and maybe even get in a bit of a splurge for free, there is another way.

This is far from a guaranteed method, but it certainly can work in some cases, so if you are spending a thousand dollars or more on an upcoming vacation, and you are the type who likes to research travel, it’s something to consider. For peak-season travel (like Christmas week) it might not be worth a go, but especially in off season, it can really pan out.

Hotels price by night, not be the week

The important part of this tip is first to realize that virtually all hotels have a specific price for each room for each night, even if you are looking to book for a solid week. Another key thing to know is that most hotels use a computerized booking system where the first, say, 50% of their rooms get the lowest rate, and the next 10% get a slightly higher rate, and so forth. So hotels usually charge a high price for the last few rooms they have because they know someone will eventually come along and pay the high price.

So with that in mind, it’s easier to realize that even when you search for a full week, you are just seeing the average rate for those 7 nights in that room category. Let’s say you are searching Sunday to Sunday in Cancun, for example. If the hotel has many rooms available through Wednesday night, and then a big group is booked in starting Thursday, your room rate might be something like US$80 per night for the first 4 nights and then US$140 per night for the last three.

But, on most booking sites, it will just show an “average rate” of US$106 per night for a total of US$740 for the week. Now, if that’s what they show for a week, before you book it’s worth trying to see what the rate is for just the first or last part of the trip. If you experiment a bit you’d discover that you can book the first 4 days for US$320 total, and then you can look for a nearby hotel, or maybe one in a totally different area, for the last 3 nights.

In a case like this you’ll save money if you find another hotel for less than US$140 per night. And especially during the low season, not all hotels get full at the same time, so you might actually find one that is less full for those last 3 nights and is charging its lowest rate. If you find one like that in the same category, you’d save US$180 over those 3 nights.

Not everyone likes to change hotels in the middle of a vacation stay, and I definitely think changing every night or two isn’t worth it. But moving once from one part of a resort area to another part can actually be a positive. You not only get to compare two hotels and two neighborhoods (for future visits) but you also get a new view and new features and amenities and whatnot. It’s like 2 trips in one, for the price of packing and unpacking once in the middle, plus often saving money as well.