If you have never visited a 5 star hotel such as a Four Seasons, Sofitel or Ritz-Carlton, you may not know the difference between this hotel and a regular resort such as Hilton, Marriott and Holiday Inn. I was lucky enough to have stayed at truly luxury hotels a few times in my life (mostly by using points or on business trips) and have decided to share with you not just the difference in terms of price but the services that you get and why it may not always be economical to go with the cheapest hotel on the market.
I have decided to compare 2 hotels in South Beach, Miami (already an expensive destination) where I have stayed and the difference in price:
Hilton Bentley South Beach: Cost between $250- $550 a night. It is walking distance to South Beach, Lincoln Road Mall, Art Deco District and it is located in a quiet neighbourhood close to million dollar condos. Valet parking is $35 a night, however, due to the location of the hotel, I did not need a car to get around and opted for a taxi to and from the airport costing me $60. Amenities included: sunscreen, expensive shampoo and soap, post sunscreen lotion. The concierge had managed to secure reservations at the latest hot restaurant in town when it was fully booked for that night. Bonus! There was a Hip Hop Video being shot on property which was cool to see.
Miami Beach Resort: Cost between $160-$190 a night. It was located about a 10 minute drive to Lincoln Road Mall, Art Deco District, etc… making it necessary to rent a car and to use valet parking at $30 a night. The traffic jams in rush hour on South Beach made the 10 minute drive a 30 minute drive and every time we took the car out to go to the “happening” places around Miami, the parking would cost us between $10 to $35 a trip. The hotel had the usual cheap soaps, shampoos, and no sunscreen or after sun products. When valet parking was full one night, I was told to go park in a parking lot which was dark and I did not feel safe leaving my car there making me go further along the coast until I found a spot and took a taxi back. When I spoke about this incident to management, they gave me 2 free breakfasts when there were 3 of us staying in the room!!! I was horrified at the bad customer service that I was receiving in the United States.
Therefore, when you do the simple math and compare the price of the room using the lowest possible ones, you get the following:
I have since, realized that you get what you pay for. And unless you are roughing it in hostels and are on a tight budget, I suggest you find deals at higher end hotels or use points which may just end up saving you money during your stay and in the case of Miami, make or break your day!