I was looking at Marriott's website today. The home page for reservations has an ad for Sand Dollar Hawaiian Vacation Packages. I decided to analyze the deal for hotel and car packages. Flight inclusive packages are also available and perhaps this research will help you assess the value of the package with a flight, if you so desire.
Marriott has an offer on their home page for the Sand Dollar Hawaii vacation package. The package is four or five nights at a Hawaiian resort with car and/or flight included in package price.
Loyalty Traveler investigates this deal.
Sand Dollar Vacation Package Perks:
Last night of the stay is free,
5,000 Marriott Rewards points.
The Fine Print:
No Marriott Rewards points are earned for stay based on the hotel rate, except the 5,000 points awarded for the vacation package purchase.
No elite night credit earned for stay
JW Marriott Ihilani Resort 5th night free + breakfast
Waikiki Beach Marriott 4th night free breakfast
Kauai Marriott Resort 5th night free + breakfast
Waikoloa Beach Marriott 4th night free + breakfast
Wailea Beach Marriott 5th night free + breakfast
Sample Costs for Vacation Packages:
Waikiki Beach Marriott, $1,595 for 4 nights, April 7-11, 2008, with free breakfast and an economy size car from Budget. Room is an Ocean View room with balcony. There is an option to change the car size on the reservation page. Trip insurance is another option for about $115.
Wailea Beach Marriott, $1,767 for 5 nights, April 6-11, 2008, with free breakfast and an economy size car from Budget. Terrace view overlooking hotel grounds.
A feature of the booking process is the vacation package booking page requires entering an airport. This is a troubling first step if you don't know the Hawaiian airport that corresponds to the hotel you want to book. Honolulu only brings up Waikiki Beach Marriott and OGG only brings up Wailea Beach Marriott for the April dates used above. KOA Kailua/Kona brings up Waikoloa Marriott. Lihue Airport, Kauai offers Kauai Marriott Resort.
Waikiki Beach Marriott,
Comparison of Vacation Package to other available rates for a
4-night stay, April 7-11, 2008.
Vacation Package (room + car) = $1,082.49 for 4 nights, April 7-11, 2008, in ocean-view room with balcony, 28-32 sqm, includes 4-day Budget economy size car rental.
AAA rate (room only) = $1,177.80 for a 4-night stay at $263/night + tax for $294.45.
The vacation deal is a winner in this case because you have a free car for your trip while saving $95. The AAA rate will earn 10,000+ points and elite credit compared to the vacation package that only earns 5,000 points and no elite credit.
Hawaiian Sand Dollar Package (room + breakfast) = $1,377.12 for a 4-night stay
(1 night free discount is in price given).
Daily rate is $410 for ocean view room ($459.04 with tax) and includes daily free breakfast, but no car. You can use the vacation package with car and pay car charges and still have $200 for food at the hotel or elsewhere. The Hotel + car package is a better deal.
All in all, the Marriott Waikiki Vacation Package wins on price, and the Marriott Rewards member needs to decide whether a free car is worth the points and elite credit not earned. (Deluxe ocean view is $311/night (AAA rate) and was not offered online as a Vacation Package booking option for dates tried.)
The Sand Dollar link I followed from the homepage did not lead to Sand Dollar Vacation package rates with car + breakfast in most cases, but rather an option for just room + car package. These tended to be the best deal and much lower rate than the breakfast included Sand Dollar package.
JW Marriott Ihilani Resort, Oahu, Hawaii Vacation Package Comparison:
Oct. 6-11, 2008, 5-night stay on AAA rate = $1,802 for mountain view room.
$322/night (AAA rate) mountain view room for Oct 6-11.
$360.52 with tax = $1,802.60 for 5-night stay (AAA rate) in mountain view room.
$1,610 in base spending =16,100 points points earning potential
A vacation package loses out on 11,000 points and 5 nights elite credit for the Marriott Rewards loyalty program member. Assume the points have a $100 value.
JW Marriott Ihilani Resort Vacation Package rates for October 6-11, 2008
5-night stay in Deluxe Ocean View Room
Regular reservations booking page offers:
AAA rate (room only) = $2,334.40 for Deluxe Ocean view room.
$417/night + tax $466.88 x 5 = $2,334.40
Leisure Rate (room only) = $2,457.55 for deluxe ocean view room
Deluxe Ocean View room 58sqm is available for $439/night on "leisure rate".
$439 + tax = $491.51 x 5 = $2,457.55 for deluxe ocean view room 5 nights
Aloha Package (room + $300 dining credit + internet) = $2,793.45 deluxe ocean view room
Deluxe Ocean View room which includes a $60/day dining credit for $499/night. Includes internet.
$558.69 total/night after tax = $2,793.45.
This adds internet and choice of dining options with a $300 dining credit for an extra $459 over the AAA rate. You are probably better off just paying for your food and internet.
Sand Dollar Vacation Package (room + breakfast) = $2,888.60 Deluxe Ocean view room
$645/night with breakfast and 5th night free.
With tax = $722.15 x 4 nights = $2,888.60 for 5 nights (5th night free)
4 options and 4 prices for 5-night stay in Deluxe Ocean View room at JW Marriott Ihilani for October 6-11, 2008:
The AAA rate, usually one of the best deals available for a hotel rate, stacks up well against the other offers in the search for a deluxe hotel room stay. The AAA rate is $554 less than the Sand Dollar vacation package offering free breakfast as the only additional amenity. The little advertisement in the corner of the Marriott reservations home page is one to watch out for. Comparison shopping can save you hundreds of dollars.
AAA auto club membership provides high value.
Don't be fooled by the flashy advertisements. You are likely to get a lower value upsale unless you carefully compare the vacation package cost add-ons to the best available rate for your desired hotel stay.
The Sand Dollar Hawaiian vacation package is an upsale package that does not provide the best available value in these sample searches.
If you desire a deluxe ocean view room, a vacation package may be your best bet if you want a car for your Hawaii vacation, but always try AAA and senior rates, if applicable to see if you can build your own better vacation package for less money.
Budget options for JW Marriott Ihilani, Oct 6-11, 2008
Sand Dollar package (room + breakfast) = $2,172 for mountain view room and complimentary breakfast daily
Marriott Vacation Package (room + car) = $1,774 for 5 nights in mountain view room
with a car, but no breakfast.
(Also, need to add $20/day for car parking. About $1,900 with parking.)
AAA rate (room only) = $1,802.60 for 5 nights in mountain view room
$322/night + tax for $360.52 x 5 nights = $1,802.6
In this small sample size, Loyalty Traveler finds Marriott's Hawaii Sand Dollar Vacation Packages are No Deal.