Middle Age Miles

Fourth Night Free with Amex at Destination Hotels and Joie de Vivre (and Is It a Good Deal?)

Executive Summary

Amex is running a 4th-night-free (4NF) promotion with Destination Hotels and Joie de Vivre Hotels & Resorts, from now through March 31, 2019. You must pay with an Amex card and book your room direct using the promotion code DPSUM0.

Is it a good deal? Maybe. We spot-checked two properties – one from Destination Hotels and one from Joie de Vivre – with dramatically different results. On one, the Amex 4NF promotion looked quite strong. On the other, better rates were readily available.

Relevant Links and Terms

Here are the links to the landing pages for the promotions:

Destination Hotels / Amex 4NF promotion landing page

Joie de Vivre / Amex 4NF promotion landing page

The terms of the offers say that you must book online using these landing pages. And you might as well do so, to be safe. However, the true key and absolute requirement is that you must book directly (that is, not through a third-party online travel agency) and enter the promotion code DPSUM0 in the Corporate/Promotion Code box under “Special Codes.”

Relevant Background and Context

Destination Hotels and Joie de Vivre are both part of the Two Roads Hospitality group. Interestingly, Hyatt recently reached an agreement to acquire Two Roads. The acquisition is set to close by the end of 2018, and Hyatt expects that the Two Roads properties will be integrated into the World of Hyatt program in 2019.

To give you an idea of the properties available through this promotion, here are the lists of properties for Destination Hotels and Joie de Vivre (note that the Villas at The Lodge at Kukui’ula are excluded from this promotion):

Listing of Destination Hotels

Listing of Joie de Vivre Hotels & Resorts

Many of the Two Roads properties – like the two we use for our case studies below – are leisure-focused properties that may be very attractive for award redemptions once they’re integrated into World of Hyatt. We’re also looking forward to the implementation of Hyatt’s strategic partnership with Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) within the World of Hyatt program. Of course, we’re always excited to be able to earn and redeem hotel loyalty points at a wider variety of nice properties. As a result, there’s certainly some enthusiasm around Hyatt, which was a big motivator for us to recently obtain the Chase World of Hyatt credit card.

We don’t know yet exactly when the Two Roads properties will be integrated into World of Hyatt. If they’re integrated before this promotion ends on 3/31/2019, that would be a nice opportunity to earn Hyatt nights and points while also taking advantage of the fourth night free.

Against that backdrop, we were happy to receive the snail mail brochures announcing this promotion recently and to test it out to see if it’s really a good deal.

Is It a Good Deal?

We decided to test one Destination Hotels property and one Joie de Vivre property to see whether the 4NF Amex promotion is a good deal? We semi-randomly chose two very nice-looking properties – the L’Auberge Del Mar from the Destination Hotels portfolio, and Carmel Valley Ranch from Joie de Vivre. For each property, we looked at a 4-night reservation from December 11-15.

Our results were mixed. For the L’Auberge Del Mar, the 4NF Amex deal seemed to beat other publicly-available rates (and we don’t have access to any “secret” rates there!). However, for Carmel Valley Ranch, we were able to do much better using promotional codes and rates that were available on the hotel’s own website.

L’Auberge Del Mar

L’Auberge Del Mar, Del Mar, California (a Destination Hotels property) [image courtesy of the hotel]

Using the Amex 4NF promotion, the prices for some representative rooms at the L’Auberge Del Mar for 4 nights, December 11-15, were:

  • Cabana Room – King Bed:  $261.75/night
  • Coastal Room – King Bed:  $329.25/night
  • Coastal King with Fireplace:  $389.25/night

All rates are exclusive of a $39/night resort fee (ugh!) and 12.9% taxes.

We then compared these rates to booking.com. On booking.com, the rates for these same rooms were exactly the same as the pre-discount rates shown on the hotel website. That is, compared to the booking.com rate, the Amex 4NF promotion would actually give you a free fourth night (setting aside the resort fee and taxes).

The per-night rates on booking.com (excluding resort fee and taxes) were:

  • Cabana Room – King Bed:  $354/night  ($1,416 / 4)
  • Coastal Room – King Bed:  $444/night  ($1,776 / 4)
  • Coastal King with Fireplace:  $524/night  ($2,096 / 4)

We noted that on a booking.com reservation, we had the option of using a shopping portal to earn cash back or airline miles on our stay. The best options were Top Cashback at 6% for cash back and American Airlines at 4 miles per dollar for airline miles. Even using one of those, the 4NF Amex promotion was far better (25% off the base rate and taxes).

Next, we tried another code that we found on the Destination Hotels website, TRAVEL. This actually didn’t originally appear when we were on the site, but we found it later. The TRAVEL rate said it had discounts up to 25%, with a food and beverage credit. At the L’Auberge, the credit turned out to be $25 per stay.

Using the TRAVEL rate, the Cabana Room wasn’t an option, and the Coastal Room (with and without fireplace) was priced $25-30 higher per night than when we had used the Amex 4NF promotional rate. Here’s what TRAVEL gave us:

  • Coastal Room – King Bed:  $355.20/night
  • Coastal Room with Fireplace:  $419.20/night

Even if you deduct the $25 per stay credit at face value, the Amex 4NF rate still easily beat the TRAVEL rate, at least for a four-night stay. But if you’re staying for a shorter time, it looks like the TRAVEL rate is at least a helpful discount.

Thus, at L’Auberge Del Mar, the Amex 4NF promotion looks pretty good.

Carmel Valley Ranch

Carmel Valley Ranch, Carmel, California (a Joie de Vivre property) [image courtesy of the hotel]

Using the Amex 4NF promotion, the rate for the lowest-priced room at Carmel Valley Ranch for 4 nights, December 11-15, was $262.50/night (excluding a $45/night resort fee (double ugh!) and taxes).

However, when we clicked over the the Carmel Valley Ranch’s dedicated web page, we immediately received a pop-up box (actually, a slider coming from the left side of the page) that alerted us to a promotion using the code GIFT. The GIFT code was for up to 25% off when you stay 2 or more nights plus up to $100 in hotel credits. It’s good through 3/31/2019, same as the Amex 4NF promotion.

When we ran our same search for 4 nights at Carmel Valley Ranch on December 11-15, the GIFT rate came back at $248.44/night – actually lower than the Amex 4NF rate – plus we’d receive a $100 hotel credit.

Clearly, the GIFT rate beat the Amex 4NF rate, hands down. And that’s even on a four-night stay. The GIFT rate would also apply and be more flexible if we wanted a shorter stay. And we didn’t check it, but the hotel website also advertised a third-night-free promotion, which could be very interesting.

Carmel Valley Ranch – promotional rates from hotel website

Conclusion

This is at least an interesting promotion, in that we found a very nice property in L’Auberge Del Mar where it appears to give the best publicly-available rate. But our experience with Carmel Valley Ranch reminds us that we should always shop around to make sure we’re getting the best deal – and that here, in particular, we should be trying the TRAVEL and GIFT rates, as well as thoroughly checking the Destination Hotels, Joie de Vivre, and specific hotel websites for active offers and codes.

In any event, we certainly like the fact that Amex is actively partnering with hotel groups like Two Roads and Preferred Hotels and Resorts to bring us more options to potentially get better value for our travel dollar.

Which Destination Hotels or Joie de Vivre property would you like to visit? Will you be able to take advantage of this promotion before it ends in March? Please share with us in the Comments!


At Middle Age Miles, we’ll always try to help you get the most value for your travel dollar, including being able to stay in a nice hotel like these Destination Hotels and Joie de Vivre properties for less!  To see more of our tips on how to save money and get great value on your hotel stays, please Like and Follow us on social media at:

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