With leisure travel looking increasingly unlikely for Singaporeans in 2020, staycations are all the rage now.
The STB has approved more than 100 hotels for staycation guests, a list that continues to grow by the day. But how do you ensure you’re not paying over the odds for your staycation? And where would you even begin to look for the best deals?
Obviously, the hotel’s official site or an online travel agent like Trip.com/Expedia would be a good place to start. You might also check out the Singapore Hotel Association’s (SHA) staycation packages page.
Don’t stop there, though. In this post, I’ll walk you through some often overlooked channels for sourcing staycation deals.
Buying staycation vouchers on Chope/Fave/Klook
These prepaid packages usually come with additional inclusions like F&B credit, early check-in, late check-out, or room upgrades. Some allow for open dating — buy the voucher now and decide when you want to stay later.
You may even be able to save a few additional dollars off your package by making use of one of the many promo codes out there for these sites (for example, Klook is offering $30 off staycation packages of $150 or more when you use a Visa card).
A word of warning though. These vouchers may not always represent the best deals, and blackout dates may apply. Be sure to comparison shop before pulling the trigger.
Trip.com’s hotel flash sale
Trip.com has partnered with numerous hotels in Singapore to offer ‘hotel presales,’ which work the same way as staycation vouchers.
Customers buy open dated vouchers to lock in savings now, and book whenever they’re ready. All vouchers are fully refundable till the point of booking, so it’s fairly low-risk should you change your mind.
Some of the better deals I’ve spotted here include the Ascott Orchard for $176 nett per night, Hotel G Singapore for $153 nett for two nights, and the M Hotel for $182 nett per night.
Corporate rates for public and private sector employees
If you work for a ministry, stat board or large-sized company, check with your HR department about hotel discounts. Many hotels offer special corporate rates to employees of certain companies, which can be used for both business and leisure travel.
For example, employees of the Ministry of Education can join the MESRC (Ministry of Education Sports & Recreation Club) can avail of this. This gives them access to special discounted staycation rates, such as the W Sentosa for $350++, Park Hotel Clarke Quay for $130++ and the Grand Park Orchard for $168++.
Special rates for healthcare workers
If you’re a healthcare worker, you may be eligible for the special ‘healthcare hero’ rates that many hotels are offering. It’s always worth checking with the reservations team at the property you have in mind.
For example, healthcare workers can enjoy a deeply discounted rate of just $288++ at the Mandarin Oriental, or $275++ at the Ritz Carlton Millennia. The Ascott group of serviced residences are also offering up to 40% off its best flexible rates for healthcare workers until the end of 2020.
Opaque booking channels
If you’re not fussy about where you stay and just want a good deal for a given level of quality, consider Hotwire’s Hot Rate hotels or Priceline’s Express Deals. These are known as ‘opaque booking channels,’ wherein the hotel’s name is revealed only after you make full payment.
Don’t worry — you won’t end up with a budget hotel in Geylang (unless maybe that’s what you want). Both Hotwire and Priceline let you see the location and the star rating of the hotel as well as what amenities are available (for instance, free parking, breakfast, swimming pool or gym). This helps reduce a bit of the information asymmetry inherent in the model.
Should you spot a deal you like, make the purchase and the hotel’s name will be revealed. Do note that refunds are not possible, so be sure you’ve locked in your dates first.
Hotels tend to use opaque channels to move last-minute inventory they can’t sell, so you’re more likely to find better deals the closer you are to the intended stay date.
Check for credit card promotions
Most people know their credit cards can get them shopping or dining discounts, but did you know that quite a few banks have tied up with hotels too?
Citibank, for instance, is offering special rates at The St Regis Singapore, InterContinental Singapore, PARKROYAL Beach Road and numerous other hotels. Similar offers are available for DBS, HSBC, OCBC and UOB customers too.
The Entertainer app retails for $65, and comes with more than 3,000 1-for-1 F&B and recreation offers. What fewer people know about is the travel section of the app, which includes 1-for-1 deals on hotels around the world.
For instance, you can currently book a suite at the Grand Park City Hall, and receive the second night free ($279 worth of savings). Alternatively, you could book a suite at the Royal Plaza on Scotts Singapore and get a second night free as well ($488 worth of savings).
Unfortunately, those are the only two hotels available in Singapore at the moment. However, with hotels desperate to fill rooms, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see new additions soon.
As a reminder, all HSBC cardholders receive a complimentary copy of The Entertainer. This comes with the same hotel offers as the regular app.
Staycation offers are plentiful, but the variety cuts both ways. On one hand, it’s easy to find a deal for the place you’d like to stay. On the other, you’ll probably have to do a little comparison shopping to know that what you’re booking is worth the money.
But isn’t that the case with most things anyway? The best deals come to those willing to invest the time, and these resources will be a great place to start your search.
DBS/POSB Credit Card Welcome Gift: Receive S$250 cashback or up to 60,000 miles when you apply for select DBS credit cards and fulfil the relevant promotion criteria. T&Cs apply.
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