Through September 4, travelers can save 50 percent on every second night at 49 Starwood resorts, mostly Sheratons and Westins, in the U.S., Mexico, the Bahamas, and Fiji.
Bookings must be made by August 15 and charged to a MasterCard. The special rate, promotion code ZM5, is prepaid and non-refundable.
Bargain Hunters Beware
There are two noteworthy caveats with this promotion.
First, the rate is for prepaid, non-refundable reservations. If you have to change or cancel the reservation, you’ll forfeit the entire amount.
More serious perhaps are the rates linked to that ZM5 promotion code.
In test bookings for a two-night stay in mid-June at the Sheraton Maui Resort &amp; Spa, for example, the average per-night rates were as follows:
- $322 per night with the MasterCard promotion
- $319 per night with the &quot;Endless Escape&quot; rate
- $255 per night with the Automobile Association rate
Not only were the other two rates lower than the MasterCard discount, they had no penalties for changes or cancellations as well.
You might well wonder what the point of a promotion is if you could get a significantly better rate, with less onerous restrictions, simply by showing your Auto Club card. Perhaps Starwood can say — I can’t. If I were a hotel marketer (as I once was), I’d be embarrassed to go public with an offer that, at least in the test case, delivered such sub-par value.
There may be some combinations of hotels and dates where this promotion amounts to a good deal. It’s worth a look to see. But be sure to compare the so-called promotional rate with the lowest standard rate and the Auto Club rate. Sometimes promotions aren’t worthy of being so called.
Reader Reality Check
Have you ever paid a so-called promotional rate only to discover that much better deals were available?
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