Deal-finding strategy for resorts: Start early and wait for a sale

One of the most common questions we get at Everything Resorts is about how to find the best deal possible. Sure, there are people who just pick a resort and book it, but it seems that far more people really prefer to get a great bargain. I answer this question individually to people who email, and now I thought I’d share the main advice with everyone.

It’s a little trickier than you might think because the popular booking sites know everyone is looking for a deal so they tend to make almost every resort seem like a deal is underway. Once you know how it works you’ll be able to find the true bargains without much work.

Step 1 – Start at least 4 months out if possible

Most people don’t realize that resorts tend to start with high prices with 8 or 10 months to go, and they don’t lower the prices until around 3 months out. So if you book your February hotel the June before, you are probably paying more than you need to.

So the tip is to start looking for resorts at least 4 months before departure date, which will allow you to see the “normal” prices and you’ll know when the real promotions begin.

Step 2 – Narrow your list down to 3 to 5 resorts and note the prices

Just as important as starting early, you have to keep your mind open to more than one resort in order to make sure you get a bargain. Not all resorts end up cutting their prices a few months before and if you have your heart set on exactly one place you might get unlucky. For all you know some large group will book there when you wanted to go, or some travel agency will reserve half the rooms for some local promotion.

It’s probably wise to find at least 4 resorts that you’d be happy with, and probably in a similar price range. As long as you look at the locations and guest reviews it’s a very good chance that if they are similar prices then they are probably very similar in general.

Step 3 – Keep track of prices for your travel dates and check every week or so

As mentioned up top, pretty much all the hotel booking sites have this thing where they make it look like almost every hotel is on sale. In some cases they’ll even increase the “normal” price and make it look like the sale price is now a discount. So you can only really trust yourself. Decide on travel dates, even if you might change them before you book, and check prices on specific rooms at your favorite hotels. Make sure you are paying attention to room types because sometimes a Garden View room will suddenly be on sale and make it look cheap even if you want an Ocean View room.

Step 4 – When you see a real discount, book it ASAP

If you check prices on your list of 4 or 5 resorts every week or so, it’s pretty much guaranteed that one or more of them will suddenly have a sale going for your dates. The promotions tend to last for a week or two, but they obviously can sell out sooner, so the thing to do is to be ready to book as soon as you see the sale price.

For the Christmas to New Years weeks you might never see a sale, although you might, but for pretty much every other week you will see promotional rates that are 10 or 20 or 30% lower than when you first looked.