New York Hotels Gone Wild!

One of the easiest stories to do on travel right now is the exploding cost of Manhattan hotel rooms. USA Today‘s Matt Krantz turns in the obligatory piece, focusing on the $330 a night Super 8 and then draws the stark contrast

    For less than the price of the Times Square Super 8, guests could stay this week at the Ritz-Carlton in Phoenix, for $249 a night. It boasts an award-winning high tea, a cigar bar and full spa. The Super 8 offers an iron and ironing board.

Of course, the Ritz-Carlton Phoenix isn’t anywhere near Wall Street or Broadway, making it difficult to use as a jumping off point for New York City’s business and sights. But the point is still a shocking one.

(On less busy nights New York City properties are of course much cheaper, Starwood often promotes the Sheraton New York for $159 when not heavily booked and the Ritz-Carlton Battery Park generally goes for about $399 on less traveled days without any kind of corporate discount.)

New York is a great place to redeem hotel points. There are still Category 4 properties in the Starwood chain, meaning 10,000 points per night for a room and availability isn’t usually a problem unless a property is completely sold out.

It’s worth noting that the next few weeks will see Starwood Preferred Guest doing their annual re-evaluation of property categories, and the remaining category 4’s may well become category 5 for next year based on the higher average room rates achieved in 2005. As a result it would be wise to book any potential 2006 hotel nights you may need in New York City (and elsewhere) now. You’ll lock in 2005 award pricing, and if the category goes down or your plans change you can always cancel and rebook (at 2006 rates of course).

Priceline is an especially valuable tool for New York, but the days of scoring the Grand Hyatt for $75 are long in the past. Occasionally the Hilton New York will still go for $110 but the starting price for Four Star properties is generally about $130 at least. A few weeks ago it took a whopping $205 bid to get the generally uninspiring W New York, but that was still less than half that hotel’s price on the Starwood website and far better than paying $299 for the Ramada Plaza or $269 for the HoJo’s at Penn Station.

There are a couple of tricks to scoring good rates in New York, and fortunately I also have some friends with corporate rates that include last room availability…

But in a pinch the Jersey City Hyatt, right next to the Path station, is a good alternative. I’ve gotten it for as low as $58 on Priceline, but even at a fairly normal $179 at Hyatt.com it’s a reasonable choice and much better than paying $330 to stay at the Super 8 in my view!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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