Pic: Bart at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games (Aug 2008)
My interest for next year’s Olympic Games was low. Earlier this year, I didn’t managed to grab any London 2012 tickets in the disastrous Belgian London 2012 ticket sale nor did I have any luck with the international London 2012 ticket lottery. End of June, Eurostar announced they were selling 2012 return tickets Brussels – London at 99 euro each to celebrate the start of the London 2012 train ticket sale. Why not visit the City for the Opening Weekend of the Games to enjoy the atmosphere, I thought. I booked the ticket and challenged myself to find a reasonable priced hotel room for July 27 – July 29, 2012. “Impossible” is what most people said. If I failed, I could still CouchSurf or bail for 99 euro.
Today, just two months after I booked my train ticket, I can report success. I booked a room for the London 2012 Opening Weekend! And for the first week of the Games too! Eight nights at luxurious hotels in London City Centre… Best Of All, It’s FREE!*
Pic: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Bird’s Nest (Aug 2008)
The InterContinental Hotel Group (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, …) loads it’s hotel inventory 50 weeks in advance. This happens every Sunday morning at 7AM (CET) Rooms are released per week, from Sunday until Saturday. Two weeks ago, IHG did something unexpected. They released reward rooms for the Opening Night of the London 2012 Olympic Games. And on Sunday August 14th, they loaded rooms for the whole first week of the London 2012 Games. Finally, this weekend (Aug 21) the second week of the Olympics was loaded. I didn’t really expected this. PriorityClub had always been very generous with reward rooms, but during the Olympics? The 5* InterContinental hotels in London were not available, but the 4* Indigo boutique hotels , some 4* Crowne Plaza’s and most Holidays Inn’s in the heart of London were available for both paid and reward bookings. The “best available” rates were highly inflated, somewhere between £400 to £800 per night. With 180.000 points in my PriorityClub account, I booked 7 nights (July 27-Aug3) at the Indigo brand at 25000 points per night. Two nights at Indigo London – Tower Hill and 5 nights at Indigo London – Paddington Those 7 nights would have cost me around 5000 euro booked on the best available rate.
On Aug 21st, I had again 16000 points in my account thanks to my stay at InterContinental Bangkok and Holiday Inn Pataya earlier that week. Unfortunately no rooms were available anymore for Aug 3-4, so I booked an 8th night (15.000 points + $60) for Aug 4-5 at Holiday Inn Express London – Swiss Cottage. So that leaves me with one night open on Aug 3-4, 2012. HI Swiss Cottage has availability, but only on paid rates with the cheapest being around 400 pounds for just one night! I rather have a £400 party that night! You’re all invited!
What’s in it for you? If you don’t have a PriorityClub account yet, I suggest you create one now. Sign-up for all available bonuses. Stay a few times at IHG hotels. Soon, you’ll find yourself in a free hotel room at a World Event!
PS: Follow me on twitter to get instant updates on great travel deals.
* Booked with PriorityClub points. 70.000 points were bought (out of 200.000 points required for this booking) 60.000 via the Discover America promo (253 euro) 10.000 via the points + cash option ($60 = 42 euro). Total cash: 295 euro.
Update 1 (24/08/11)
Last night I checked the Reward Night availability again for Aug 3, 2012 in London. I noticed Holiday Inn Express London – Swiss Cottage showed available nights at 25K points. As I had only 2500 points left in my account, I had no other option than to buy (expensive) points via the PriorityClub website. I bought 13K points for 162.50 USD and then selected the Points + Cash (60 USD) option to book the HI Express Swiss Cottage. In total I paid 222.50 USD (155 euro) for my Olympic night on Aug 3, 2012. Total cash: 450 euro.
Update 2 (18/09/11)
This morning, Hotel Indigo London Paddington loaded award night availability for almost every day of the London 2012 Olympics. Consequently, I canceled my Holiday Inn Express London – Swiss Cottage booking for the second weekend of the Games. Canceling the 2 nights at HI Express resulted in a 50K points refund. For my new booking at Indigo London Paddington I used points+cash (15K + $60 per night). At the end of the transaction I spent $120 (90€) and recovered 20K points. Thus, I paid $120 for 20K points which are now in my Priority Club account. This keeps my total for 9 nights at the London 2012 Olympics on 450 euro.