Hotels like to market their packages to travelers as a great way to get added value. Sometimes the packages deliver, but we routinely see packages that offer either slim savings or none at all. The only way you know for sure is to do the math, each and every time. These two family-targeted packages include a seemingly impressive array of extras. But do they deliver? We crunched the numbers to find out.
Everglades Package at Naples Bay Resort
Naples, on Florida's Paradise Coast, is a perennial favorite for vacationing families, with miles of powder-white, shell-strewn beaches, easy access to the Everglades, and a casual yet upscale feel. Set in the heart of it all is Naples Bay Resort (www.naplesbayresort.com). The resort's setting on the Bay of Naples suggests a seaside Italian village, with a range of lodging options from standard guest rooms to suites and cottages. A member of the luxe Preferred Hotels & Resorts group, the Naples Bay Resort has an organic spa, waterfront restaurant, tennis courts, and five pools, including a kid-friendly lazy river.
Naples Bay Resort is offering a three-night Florida's Wild Side package through Dec. 18, with rates starting at $310 per night for a family of two adults and two kids. But is it a good deal for families? We did the math to find out. A family booking this package for a weekend in August would get:
- a three-night stay in a two-bedroom canal-view suite (in August, worth $182/night x 3 = $546)
- a welcome amenity of two Florida stuffed animals (worth, let's say, $15)
- popcorn and one pay-per-view movie (worth about $10)
- in-room pizza dining on one night (worth about $25)
- four tickets to Naples Zoo (worth $19.95/adult x 2 + $11.95/kid x 2 = $63.80)
- four tickets for a half-day Everglades Adventure (worth $129/adult x 2 + $65/kid x 2 = $388)
- full-day poolside cabana rental (worth $40)
When we price-checked a stay for a family of four in August, the package rate was quoted as $348 per night in a two-bedroom canal-view suite, which works out to $1,044 for a three-night stay. If the components are booked separately, the price would come to $1,088 for the three nights -- $44 more than the package.
Long story short: The package delivers a savings of about 4%. If getting a good price is a priority, you're better off booking a room only and purchasing tickets to the attractions you most want to visit.
Because the package is available for such an extended period, both the room rate and the package price fluctuates, depending on dates. For example, if you were to book a weekend stay in December, you'd pay $269 a night for a room, or $807 for three nights. Adding in the components of the package brings your spend up to $1,348. Comparatively, that same stay booked with the package would cost $420 a night, or $1,260 for three nights. In this case, the $88 you'd save with the package works out to a savings of 7%.
Still, you could pay much less if you booked à la carte and simply opted to forego the stuffed animals, pizza, in-room movie, and cabana rental. Those little extras really do add up when you're paying for them yourself. And with this package, you definitely are.
Deal or No Deal? No deal. When you subtract the value of the window dressing (movie night, cabana rental, stuffed animals), the package price and the non-package price are essentially the same. The resort has basically priced the package to cover the cost of the components.
If convenience is more important than price, you can book online or by calling tel. 866/605-1199 and requesting the "Florida's Wild Side" package.
Family Package on Michigan's Mackinac Island
Families have been returning to Michigan's Mackinac Island for generations, and it's easy to see why: No cars are allowed on the island, and the place seems to have been plucked from another era, with its ferry ride, horse-drawn carriages, old-fashioned ice cream parlors, fudge purveyors, and easy bike path that rings the island.
Set on 18 acres along the southeastern shore of the island, Mission Point Resort (www.missionpoint.com) features a heated outdoor pool, kids' club, tennis, golf, and even a museum with local historical exhibits. The resort is offering a two-night Family Island Adventure package through Oct. 24, with rates starting at $851 for a family of two adults and two kids under age 12. But is it really a good deal for families? We took a close look at the numbers to find out. A family booking this package in August would get:
- a two-night stay in a garden double room (in August, $215/night x 2 = $430)
- two breakfast vouchers for adults; kids under 12 eat free (worth, let's say, $30)
- two dinner vouchers for adults; kids under 12 eat free (worth about $50)
- four tickets to Fort Mackinac (worth $10.50/adult x 2 + $6.50/kid x 2 = $34)
- four tickets to the Tower Museum (worth $5/adult x 2 + $2.50/kid x 2 = $15)
- four half-day bike rentals (for single-speed bikes, $18/person x 4 = $72)
- four tickets to the resort's putting course (worth $12/adult x 2 + $7.50/kid x 2 = $39)
- four tickets to the Butterfly House (worth $8.50/adult x 2 + $4/kid x 2 = $25)
- four round-trip ferry tickets ($21/adult x 2 + $11/kid x 2 = $64)
When we price-checked a stay for a family of four in August, the package rate was quoted as $851 for two nights in a garden double room. If booking the room only using the best available rate, the same room would cost $430 for two nights. Add in the prices of the package components, and your total spend would come to $769 -- so the package price is actually $82 more than what you'd pay if booking à la carte.
That long list of package inclusions seems very impressive at first glance, but the package doesn't save you a dime. In fact, the price has been inflated to more than cover the cost of the individual components.
Deal or No Deal? No deal. You're much better off booking a room and then cherry picking the activities your family would like.
Note: If you book this package, full payment is due at the time of booking. There's a minimum 14-day advance cancellation policy. There are also a few blackout dates. You can book online or call tel. 800/833-7711.
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