Destination: Honolulu (Waikiki Beach), Hawaii
Dates: Thursday, Sept 7 – Saturday, Sept 9, 2017
Star Rating: 4+
1. Get an Estimate from Hotwire
Filter is for 4-star and 5-star hotels:
Hotwire shows eleven hotels available that meet our requirements: six in Waikiki Beach, three in Waikiki Marina – Ala Moana, one in Downtown Waikiki Beach, one in Kapolei.
Immediately disqualify the Kapolei result because it is too far away from Waikiki (it’s also $450/nt).
2. Cross-reference hotels against Better Bidding and Bidding for Travel hotel lists.
For simplicity, I’m only going to focus on the Waikiki Marina – Ala Moana zone.
Let’s look at the first hotel (4.5-star, $170/nt), click on it for more information.
Important information Hotwire provides us: 95% Hotwire Recommended, 2000+ reviews on Trip Adivsor (with a 4.5-rating), the normal rate ($264), amenities list, and even a hint that the last person to book this hotel got “The Modern Honolulu” hotel.
You can then cross-compare that information to the normal Hotwire list of hotels along with the Better Bidding/Bidding for Travel lists.This 4.5-star hotel is relatively easy, because The Modern Honolulu is the only 4.5-star in the area.
We can also see that its normal rate is $269/nt (very close to the advertised $264/nt rate of the unknown hotel), has a 4.4/5 (close to the 95% recommended Hotwire rating), and a 4.5-rating from over 3000 reviews on TripAdvisor.
The $174/nt hotel: normally $235/nt, 65% recommended on 5 reviews, 4/5 TripAdvisor with 2000+ reviews, a resort hotel (with $31.42/nt resort fee – this is not included in your room rate), beachfront (not oceanfront) hotel
The $199/nt hotel: 80% recommended on 72 reviews, 4.5/5 TripAdvisor with 101-300 reviews, boutique hotel, oceanfront
Both Better Bidding and Bidding for Travel only have 4-star hotels in Waikiki Marina – Ala Moana: the Hilton Hawaiian Village and the Prince Waikiki.
Better Bidding says that the Hilton lists “beachfront” as an amenity and Prince lists “oceanfront” as an amenity.
That should be enough to say that the $174 option is the Hilton, while the $199 option is Prince.
There are some “gotchas,” though. The Prince has never been classified as a Boutique hotel before and the Hotwire recommendation and review counts don’t match.
Especially since the only 4-stars available in Ala Moana are The Prince and three Hilton properties, all of which have more than 5 reviews on Hotwire (the Hilton Hawaiian Village has 10k+ Hotwire reviews).
I’d still be mostly confident that the $175 is Hilton, $200 is Prince.
4. Let’s try one more in Waikiki Beach
#1 is 90% recommended, $168/nt (normally $264/nt), 4/5 TripAdvisor with 2000+ reviews.
Amenities: Resort, Smoke-free rooms, Fitness center, Pool(s), Restaurant(s), Business center, Self-service laundry, Internet access, Golf nearby
#2 is 75% recommended, $166/nt (normally $243/nt), 4/5 TripAdvisor with 1500-2000 reviews.
Amenities: Free Internet, Boutique hotel, Near beach, Smoke-free rooms, Fitness center, Pool(s), Restaurant(s), Business center, Self-service laundry, Internet access, Golf nearby
#3 is 85% recommended, $188/nt, 4/5 TripAdvisor with 501-1000 reviews.Amenities: Smoke-free rooms, Fitness center, Pool(s), Restaurant(s), Business center, Self-service laundry, Internet access, Golf nearby, Spa services, Children’s activities
Four-star options from the Better Bidding list are: Hilton Waikiki Beach, Hyatt Regency, Outrigger Reef, Outrigger Waikiki, Sheraton, Marriott Waikiki, Waikiki Parc.
Marriott Waikiki has 900 TripAdvisor reviews and the Waikiki Parc has 1500.
That means option #2 is most likely the Waikiki Parc, option #3 is Marriott Waikiki.
Sure enough, the Waikiki Parc is listed at $248/nt (close to $243), and the Marriott is listed at $209/nt (only $20/nt savings).
Between the Hilton Waikiki, Hyatt Regency, Outrigger Reef, Outrigger, and Sheraton, you’re splitting hairs.
Going rates for them are:
- Hilton Waikiki: $189
- Hyatt Regency: $233
- Outrigger Reef: $259
- Outrigger: $260
- Sheraton: $293
Given those prices, I’d bet that option 1 is the Hilton, which matches up with the 90% Hotwire recommendation rating.
5. Let’s check Priceline!
Go here: https://www.priceline.com/hotels/ and click on the “Start Your Hotel Bid Now” button and put in your location (Honolulu) and dates (Sept 7-9). This gives us a map of all the Priceline bidding zones.
Where Hotwire had five zones for Waikiki, Priceline has eight. We don’t want to stay inland, so we only care about the following zones:
- Central Waikiki Beach
- The Heart of Waikiki Beach
- Waikiki Beach – Beach Walk
- Waikiki Beach – Kuhio Beach
- Waikiki Beach Marina – Ala Moana
6. Priceline Express
Go back to Priceline.com and do a regular search for hotels. Then click the “Express Deal” button to see all the Priceline Express options.In the Neighborhood Filter, select the five zones listed in the previous step.
It’s important to note that Hotwire and Priceline don’t always have the same hotels classified at the same star-level. The first result, a 5-star in Ala Moana is The Modern Honolulu, which Hotwire considers a 4.5-star.The Heart of Waikiki beach option is the Royal Hawaiian (only 5-star) and the Waikiki Beach – Beach Walk option is the Trump International (the only other 5-star has a 8.9 rating).
Might as well just round-out the 4-star options:
- $163/nt, Kuhio Beach, 7+ rating, 600 reviews (Marriott)
- $181/nt, Central Waikiki Beach, 8+ rating, 500 reviews (Hyatt Regency)
- $202/nt, Heart of Waikiki, 7+ rating, 60 reviews (Waikiki Parc)
- $203/nt, Waikiki Beach – Beach Walk, 8+ rating, 400 reviews (Outrigger Reef)
And the 4.5-stars:
- $205/nt, Ala Moana, 8+ rating, 200 reviews (Prince Waikiki)
- $216/nt, Central Waikiki Beach, 7+ rating, 70 reviews (Moana Surfrider)
7. Before we start bidding
Everything we’ve done up to this point we’ve done half-blind. Hotwire and Priceline give us some information about the hotel, without fully revealing the name.
Bidding is fully blind, you provide a price, star-rating, and neighborhood, and you get what you get.
Let’s say you want to stay at the Marriott Waikiki, which Priceline has in the Kuhio Beach zone. Unfortunately, the Hilton Waikiki is also a 4-star hotel in the Kuhio Beach zone. When you bid on this zone, you run the risk of getting the Hilton. As such, you should only bid in a zone as much as you’d pay for the “lowest” hotel.
The good news is that there are no “bad” 4-or-5-star hotels in those five zones of Waikiki. Sometimes there are undesired hotels that you have to avoid, but that’s not really the case this time.
Seems like the best price for a 4-star is in the $160-170 range, 4.5-star is ~$200, 5-star (counting The Modern as 4.5-star) is $250+.
By bidding, we can probably shave, max, $25 off the 4-star and 4.5-star hotels, but, possibly, much more off the 5-star hotel.
8. Bidding strategy
Go here: https://www.priceline.com/hotels/ and click on the “Start Your Hotel Bid Now” button and put in your location (Honolulu) and dates (Sept 7-9). There are fourteen bidding zones.
Of those, five don’t have a 4-star (or higher) hotel:
- Downtown Honolulu (3-star)
- Honolulu International Airport (HNL) (2.5-star)
- Kaneohe (3.5-star)
- Ko Olina – Kapolei (2.5-star)
- Waikiki Beach South – Diamond Head (3.5-star)
And four more don’t have a 5-star:
- Central Waikiki Beach (4.5-star)
- Central Waikiki Beach – Ala Wai (4-star)
- North Shore (4-star)
- Waikiki Beach – Kuhio Beach (4-star)
If we’re only bidding for 5-stars, this gives us 9 extra bids. If we’re bidding 4-stars, 5 extra bids.
I always like to low-ball the 5-stars to start; sometimes you get lucky!
The Modern is $170 on Hotwire, so we’ll ignore that and only focus on other two options: The Royal Hawaiian in the Heart of Waikiki Beach or The Trump in Waikiki Beach – Beach Walk. Very minor chance you get the Halekulani (which wasn’t available on PL Express), which is also in Waikiki Beach – Beach Walk.
The Royal Hawaiian is listed at $250/nt on PL Express, but we want to save money, and we have 9 bids to play with, so we can put in the first bid around $140.
Your first bid should be in The Heart of Waikiki Beach, 5-Star Luxury, $140/nt as your price.
If you get rejected, add the Waikiki Beach – Beach walk zone, increase your bid to $150 (or however much you want), resubmit.
Keep adding zones that do not have 5-star hotels and increasing your bid until either your bid gets accepted or you run out of zones.
When you add a zone like Downtown Honolulu (which only has 3-star hotels) and keep your star-level at 5-stars, you’re getting a free bid because there is no way that you’ll get a 5-star hotel in the Downtown Honolulu zone (because they aren’t any).
If you don’t have any success with the 5-stars, start the process over, and move down to the 4.5-star and 4-star hotels.
Things to be very aware of:
- BE VERY CAREFUL when selecting zones, especially the undesired ones you’re using for extra bids.
- Once you bid on a zone, you cannot unselect it.
- If you move down star levels, you need to restart your entire bidding process from the beginning (including selection of zones and price).
The Modern and The Prince would be my two picks.
The Prince is rated the #1 hotel in Honolulu based on traveler reviews on Trip Advisor (81% reviews are 5-star, 15% are 4-star). The Modern is rated the #7 hotel (73% 5-star, 20% 4-star).
The Modern also doesn’t have any resort fees ($30-$35/nt).