[Update: A few more Fairmont hotels have since been added to the promo including Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City] A few days ago Fairmont’s Stay Close promotion came out and the focus was on the grand hotels in places like Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper and Whistler. Since then, a few more have been added to the list including hotels in Toronto, Ottawa, Scottsdale, Austin, and Washington, DC. This makes the promo a bit more interesting for anyone looking for ideas for a trip later in 2020, provided the COVID-19 situation improves such that travel is reasonably safe. I’m going to highlight the Ottawa and Washington hotels in this post.
From the promo website:
Although the eligible stay period goes till the end of the year, not all hotels have the same booking deadline. For example, it’s June 21st for the Fairmont in Washington but July 15th for Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier.
Each hotel has its own blackout dates. Check the “Offer Details” on the promo website for specifics. The “Stay Close” rate is unavailable at the Fairmont Washington DC Georgetown October 14-17, 2020. The Chateau Laurier in Ottawa does not appear to have any blackout dates.
A refundable deposit is required to make a reservation. This appears to be equivalent to the original nightly rate, so if you’re staying just two nights, the deposit is the full amount for the stay. Check the reservation terms carefully for the applicable cancellation deadline.
When searching for rates, you’ll see that the promo rate is averaged over the length of the stay. The second night will not be 0.
Fairmont Chateau Laurier September 5-7:
Visit a National Capital or Two
Ottawa and Washington, DC are interesting potential road trip options from the Maritimes if you’d like to avoid flying. If you have flexibility, you could also time your trip to coincide with a slower tourist period to somewhat limit interaction with other humans. I suppose it might be a slow time all around for the foreseeable future as many people refrain from travelling.
The Fairmont Chateau Laurier is a property steeped in history in a prime location in the city centre of Ottawa. Checking random dates throughout the remainder of 2020, availability was good and this promo rate came in lower than many of the hotels nearby.
Four night stay August 6-10, $109.50 CAD per night:
Ottawa has a number of world class museums and even a quick trip would be a super opportunity to enjoy some of the fascinating culture and history our capital has to offer. There were a number of dates in October and November with rates in the $130 – $150 per night range.
If you’re going to fly, there are non-stops from most Maritime airports. The base level of Air Miles required is 1700 for low season and 2200 in high season. Unfortunately, it’s 25,000 Aeroplan miles which would seldom be a good deal unless Ottawa is your free stopover on the way to somewhere out west. Paying cash for flights is likely your best bet. The airfare for the dates shown above is in the $250 range on Porter, Air Canada and WestJet.
Assuming borders are open to tourist travel to the US again, the American capital is an equally appealing destination for anyone interested in museums and historical sights.
The Fairmont Washington, DC, Georgetown gets glowing reviews and has terrific low rates through this promo, especially if you aim for weekends or holidays like US Thanksgiving or the days leading up to Christmas. Because many of the locals are from away and head home for holidays and very little government business is happening, hotel rates are low during these periods and public transit is not as busy. You could hit the museums when they open when crowds are low and visit outdoor sights in the middle of the day.
Four night stay December 18-22, $94.50 USD per night:
These rates are comparable to those you can find at various mid-range brands like Hyatt Place or Hilton Garden Inn. So for a similar price you can stay at a more upscale hotel if that’s something you fancy.
The Air Miles redemption rate is lower for Washington than Ottawa at 1500 miles for low season and 1900 in high season. With Aeroplan, if you connect in Montreal, you can take advantage of the 15,000 short-haul redemption and include a free stopover if you wish. Current airfares to the most convenient airport, Reagan National (DCA), are as low as $265 although for the sample December dates above the lowest fare is $442.
Obviously there is a lot of uncertainty about leisure travel and how soon it will become a mainstream activity again. If you’re willing to take a gamble that you’ll be comfortable travelling later in 2020, you can lock in a reservation and then cancel with no penalty if you decide against it later.
I wish that Fairmont would provide a flexible date search feature on their website. It would make it a lot easier to scope out the cheapest dates. Otherwise, check the rate calendars on the Hilton or Marriott websites for a few hotels to get a sense of rate variations throughout the year.
This Fairmont BOGO promo at select properties has the potential to spur a few people into travelling again. Hopefully it heralds the beginning of a period of enticing hotel deals as Canadians gradually emerge from the pandemic lockdown. I’m pretty sure I won’t be in the first wave of travellers to test the waters but I will watch with keen interest as others take the plunge and report their experiences.