Ajay and I do like to escape our busy metro life and often dash away on a short vacation every now and then. We try and make use of the public holidays and long weekends. In fact I hardly remember being in Mumbai for any long weekend last year. In the past we’ve driven down to the Le Meridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa on the May 1 long weekend, soaked ourselves in the Maldives during the Ganesh Chaturthi holidays and even dashed off to the Park Hyatt Hyderabad over Eid celebrations. When we want a break in the hills up north, our favorite holiday resort to unwind is the JW Marriott in Mussoorie.
Last year during the Independence Day long weekend we vacationed at the Grand Hyatt in Goa where we got a 50% discount under the celebrate with Hyatt promotion. The year before that we were again in Goa though this time at the Park Hyatt Resort & Spa which was again booked under a discounted promotional rate. As a cherry on top both years we were able to use our Diamond Suite Upgrade and other elite benefits.
Now that the August 15, long weekend is just about 40 days away, I have been racking my head for a few weeks. This is perhaps the longest weekend this year and starts from Saturday, August 12 and goes all the way up to Tuesday, August 15, 2017.
So here’s the problem, about 8 weeks back when we started planning the weekend I began looking at stay options inside India. Since we’ve been to Goa twice already during August I thought may be this year let’s enjoy the rains in Kerala. I’ve heard good things about Bekal so I checked the rates at the Vivanta by Taj, Bekal. To my horror the cheapest a room night was priced at INR 16,000/USD 247 during this period.
Next I thought, let’s take a look at the Taj in Kumarakom, which is about 2 hours drive from Cochin. Another surprise the hotel showed sold out in the month of May itself.
I thought probably Rajasthan won’t be very crowded as it’s off peak season there, so I checked the rates at the Taj Lake Palace Udaipur, a hotel I’ve spent a night at before and couldn’t get enough of. Hmmm, so the room rates here were INR 20,000/USD 310 per night. Since, I was in the Rajasthan frame of mind, I also checked the availability at the Jaisalmer Marriott Resort & Spa that opened its doors late year around the same time as W Goa.
The rooms here are priced at INR 9,200/USD 142. So that is not too bad, however the quickest way to get to Jaisalmer from Mumbai is to fly to Jodhpur and then drive 300 kms to Jaisalmer. The return flights from Mumbai to Jodhpur are priced at about INR 10,000/USD 155 per person and the hotel one way transfer is INR 9,000/USD 139. All in all, although the room rates are acceptable the entire trip will cost us a lot of travel time and travel money.
I then decided to narrow my search closer to Mumbai. Currently the Le Meridien Mahabaleshwar costs INR 16,000/USD 247 for a night. Hilton Shillim Estate and the Radisson in Alibaug are both sold out for that weekend. I have even checked boutique resorts like the Machan in Lonavala which is selling for INR 16,000 a night.
Circling back to Goa, a standard room at the Park Hyatt and The Leela today is selling for INR 15,000/USD 230 plus per night.
I’ve looked up almost 50 hotels across India and nearly every luxury hotel in India is charging a 50% premium in the second week of August and with GST kicking in from July 1, the taxes will only be higher than the 21% we were paying before.
I have also been on top of all hotel promotions to find a good hotel deal in August but apart from Hyatt’s mid year sale I haven’t come across any worthwhile offer. I’m actually wondering if it’s a better idea to plan a trip to Dubai or Southeast Asia where good hotels are still available at half the price of Indian hotels for these dates or should I just book an overpriced room at one of the available hotels in India.
It’s not that I haven’t thought about reward nights, but I find that using points for reward stays in Asia where hotels are relatively priced cheaper is not the best use of points. I also completely get it that it is well within the hotel’s rights to shoot up prices so that they can make a profit. After all, they are not charities. So, while I am still figuring out my holiday plan for August 15, I have 3 questions for all of you :
- Where are you staying on your next vacation ?
- How many weeks/months before do you book your hotel stays for an upcoming vacation ?
- Where do you find the best value for money for your hotel stays?