Choice Privileges is currently offering a 25% discount on points purchased by August 16, 2020. Even if you’re not in travel planning mode, it’s worth examining potential deals for when you actually might be inclined to take advantage of such an offer in the future. One interesting possibility involves a new Ascend Collection hotel in Venice, Italy.
Choice Privileges Promotions
There are promotions to buy Choice points a few times a year, usually in the form of a 30% discount or a 40% bonus. Even better is the annual US Travel Association Daily Getaways promo that was postponed this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to the website it may still happen in 2020. The point packages typically sell out very quickly, but it’s the cheapest way to buy Choice points and allows you to buy a quantity above your annual limit.
The other method to acquire Choice points is by registering for their recurring promo where members earn 8000 points (sometimes referred to as a “free night”) after every two qualifying stays. Such a promotion is currently underway until September 7, 2020.
100 Day Booking Window
If you’re not familiar with Choice Privileges, be aware that you can only book reward nights 100 days out. It’s impossible to make a reward reservation long in advance. I’m not sure if it would help, but one could perhaps book a room on a flexible paid rate, then later cancel in hopes that it would go into reward inventory and you could re-book with points.
Seasonal Reward Rates
Another aspect of the Choice program is a phenomenon that has become increasingly common in the hotel loyalty world – dynamic reward pricing. Both the year and the week are segmented into periods with varying redemption levels. You can usually find upcoming rate info on the hotel’s page on the Choice website.
Hotel Aquarius Venice:
Fortunately, this rate structure leaves some room for the occasional sweet spot. Frustratingly, there are a few Choice hotels where reward nights never seem to be available. I guess you could contact the hotel directly to see about a reward reservation if rooms are in fact bookable with cash rates on your dates.
A nice upside of the Choice program is the ability (at some properties) to book upgraded rooms at the standard reward rate. For some reason, in order to see the available room types, you need enough points in your account to make the reservation.
Hotel Aquarius Venice, Ascend Collection
In addition to familiar brands like Comfort Inn or Quality Inn, there are other hotels in the program that are somewhat outside Choice Hotels’ budget-friendly image. In Nova Scotia, one such example is Inn On The Lake in Fall River which is part of Choice’s Ascend Collection.
The Hotel Aquarius is a new Ascend Collection property in Venice, Italy. It has its own website which supplements the information on its Choice Hotels webpage. It’s quite small and has only a handful of reviews so far on TripAdvisor. A “full breakfast” appears to be included for all guests.
Until September 15, 2020, the reward rate at Hotel Aquarius is a very low 12,000 points. If you want to book that by purchasing points during the 25% off sale, the cost would be $89.10 USD after the discount. Because the transaction is processed by Points.com, a Canadian company, we must pay HST on the purchase. So, the result would be in the ballpark of $137 CAD per night. Compared to cash rates, it’s a super deal. However, I don’t know if the low reward rate is connected to the loss of tourism of late, or if it’s possible it could return in the future.
Now let’s look at the time period from September 16 to November 30, 2020 when the redemption rate is still a reasonably low 16,000 points per room, including suites.
It’s $118.80 USD to buy 16,000 points with the 25% discount.
That would be in the region of $183 CAD after currency conversion and HST.
Compare that to cash rates of up to $370 CAD per night for the most expensive room type on a sample date of October 1, 2020.
When the day comes when COVID-19 is no longer impeding leisure travel on a large scale, I suspect there will be a few people headed to Venice so they can cruise along in a gondola while the water’s still clear and before the tourist crowds reappear. If you think you could be one of those folks, the Hotel Aquarius might be a good hotel to keep in mind if you care to dabble in Choice points.