Apr122010

Four Points “Breakfast for a Buck” is No Deal

When does a $1 breakfast cost $31?

When you are booking the Four Points by Sheraton “Breakfast for a Buck” room rate or perhaps in Las Vegas when you accompany your $1 breakfast with a table full of Keno cards.

Four Points by Sheraton, Starwood hotels mid-range hotel brand, has a promotional campaign hitting the hotel industry media outlets today.

MarketWatch.com – What’s a Dollar Buy These Days?

Hotel Check-In (USA Today) – Four Points by Sheraton Hotels offer $1 breakfasts this summer

“Four Points by Sheraton is launching an eye-opening “Breakfast for a Buck” package today, which gets you a delicious, hearty breakfast for just a dollar.”

Sounds great!

Unfortunately, the “Breakfast for a Buck” just isn’t true in the sense that most travelers would use when searching hotel rates. Breakfast for a Buck is $1 over the Best Available Rate, often written as the acronym BAR. The problem with promotions based on BAR is the Best Available Rate rarely means the lowest rate available when searching for hotel rooms.

There is actually a better promotional rate currently offered with AAA called the “Breakfast for Two Daily” rate with Starwood hotels rate code: AAABFS

This Starwood Hotels link shows participating properties for the AAA special rate offer.

Here is a comparison of the two special offers for the Four Points San Rafael in Marin County, California. Saturday, April 24 – Four Points San Rafael

“Breakfast for a Buck” rate = $110 night and includes one breakfast.

AAABFS rate = $102.65 night and includes breakfast for two.

AAA rate without breakfast is $81.75.

Who wouldn’t rather have two breakfasts for $7.35 less than one breakfast?

Here is my comment today at Barbara DeLollis’ Hotel Check-In column for USA Today regarding this breakfast offer.

The real deal!

Unfortunately this is one of those special offers that will likely cost you more than the value of the breakfast. 

First, the fine print for this offer states the “breakfast for a buck” only applies to one guest. The other guest pays regular breakfast rates. 

Second, the rates I checked showed a substantial premium for the “Breakfast for a Buck” room rate. I find AAA rates are generally the lowest rate about 50% of the time. 

Here are sample rates for Four Points hotels in San Francisco Bay Area for Saturday, April 24:

Breakfast for a Buck rate is coded “FPBPKG”. 

Four Points San Francisco Bay Bridge, Emeryville

FPBPKG rate = $100 or $112.07 after tax

AAA rate = $84.15 or $94.31 after tax.

Breakfast for a Buck actual cost = $17.76

Four Points San Francisco Airport

FPBPKG rate not available 

Four Points San Rafael

FPBPKG rate = $110 or $122.10 after tax

AAA rate = $81.75 or $90.74 after tax.

Breakfast for a Buck actual cost = $31.36 

Four Points San Jose Downtown

FPBPKG rate = $120 or $138.80 after tax

AAA rate = $101.15 or $117.31 after tax.

Breakfast for a Buck actual cost = $21.49

The real deal on the Breakfast for a Buck deal is that it is NO DEAL!

If the rates are going to be driven up for the Breakfast for a Buck deal, the least Four Points could do is offer breakfast for two adults on this rate.

 

Hotel Rate Quick Tutorial

Best Available Rate usually means a refundable reservation with a cancellation window from one or two days before arrival. Some hotels even allow day of arrival no-charge cancellations on the Best Available Rate.

There are commonly lower rates than BAR.

  1. Prepaid, non-refundable rates
  2. AAA auto club  
  3. Senior rates.

Prepaid nonrefundable rates are generally a discount based on BAR. Prepaid rates can be significant savings but are a risky strategy since any changes to your plans means forfeiting the full price of the room nights.  Free night rates and percentage discount rates are generally based on BAR and often have restrictive cancellation policies.

AAA auto club rates are most frequently the lowest rate available or within a few dollars of nonrefundable prepaid rates. One of the great benefits of AAA is the cancellation policy is usually the same as for BAR rates. The annual cost of AAA membership is worth the money for frequent guests in hotel savings. I have seen high-end hotels drop over $100 per night just by booking AAA room rates. Most hotels offer 10 to 30% off using AAA rates.

Senior rates are variable. Sometimes they are lower than AAA, but generally not, and generally not as widely available. Different hotel chains have different age qualification requirements.

Four Points Promotions – Choose from four great deals (link)

Breakfast for a Buck is just one of four package deals being offered by Four Points.

Great Beer package rate includes two full breakfasts and one half-price beer sampler per hotel stay. Another not so great deal considering the high mark-up on BAR.

Family Friendly Fun package rate is probably the worst value of these four package offers. This rate includes a free buffet or child’s entrée for one child 12 or younger with an accompanying adult purchase of a buffet or entrée.

Drive In, Fly Out package rate. I can’t even give an opinion on this package rate since I could not locate the rate for either the San Francisco or Los Angeles Airport Four Points hotels at various times over the summer. In the past I have found the Four Points SFO parking rate gave me a night’s stay and 10 days of parking for just $50 more than the cost of parking alone at the airport lots.

Unfortunately, I have to say my opinion of these four great deals from Four Points is at least three of the four deals are total BS wrapped up for the undiscerning guest in a pretty webpage and PR.

"Breakfast for a Buck" Four Points Rate Analysis - San Francisco area

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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  1. thanks for posting! I was dealing with this breakfast for a buck in san jose just today. I could not get it to work. Promo said not available. Called SPG, they said the deal is not available “at this particular time”
    What does that mean? Call back in 10 minutes and it will be? Did they run out of eggs and toast? Very vague answers.

    It upsets me because the properly specifically listed this as a promo on their page. On the click thru I get options for bed and breakfast (+$30), and AAA breakfast rate (+$20), but… no $1 buck breakfast promo.

    The only eggs their serving up at the San Jose Four Points are the expensive ones…

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