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When Wyndham first launched the ability to redeem points at their condo, timeshare, and vacation rental properties, I was super excited. Traveling as a family (and even as just a couple), there are features to many of these properties that make them a better choice than a typical hotel room in so many ways. At the top of the list: a real kitchen, no matter how small it is. My wife has some dietary restrictions, and we have enjoyed properties that provide the means and tools for cooking your own meals.
But the more I’ve tried to actually use the Wyndham program for their condo properties, the more disappointed I am. The older kids and I recently took a quick trip to Napa to enjoy the Vino Bello Resort, which is a nice place (SEE: Vino Bello Resort Napa Review), the issues with Wyndham’s program terms notwithstanding (SEE: Waive that resort fee! Holding a hotel to its program policies). But for a couple other potential stays I hoped to book, I ran into a major problem.
Reality: everything is blacked out
When I was searching for the crème de la crème among Wyndham properties still available for 15,000 points (SEE: 10 remaining gems after the brutal Wyndham devaluation), I discovered a worrisome trend: so many nice properties have so many dates blacked out that they are virtually impossible to book. I’d noticed that there are generally a good number of weekends unavailable at the properties I have looked at booking, such as those in Napa, Bend, and San Francisco, but I could usually find a weekend that could work for us.
However, some were far, far worse. Consider the Heidelberg Inn, a property near June Lake on the eastern side of the Sierras, a place I’d love to spend several days. No matter when I look, I get the same availability. That is to say, none.
I did my best to account for the minimum stay requirements. For many Wyndham condo, timeshare, and resort properties, you have to book for a minimum of 2 nights, sometimes 3. This isn’t explained well on Wyndham’s website, and the search results don’t give you any indication that the “No Availability” you see is because you’re looking for too short a stay. It took some trial and error on my part to figure out what was going wrong.
Even searching 3-night stays for weeks on end, I couldn’t come up with a single potential three-night window that I could book for weeks on end. The Heidelberg Inn offers zilch. Zero. Nada.
This is the same story at a number of properties I was moderately to highly interested in booking. I understand the need to hold back peak season dates at time share properties, but at least throw program members a bone and release some dates. There are certainly good properties out there, as far as availability goes. But it is either the absolute wrong season for the location, or the property isn’t as desirable. It took me sporadic searching for quite a while to pin down the dates we finally did manage to stay at the Vino Bello Resort in Napa.
Reaching out to Wyndham
With the Heidelberg Inn and a few other examples in hand, I decided to email Wyndham Rewards and see what was up with their program. As far as I understood, their properties were not supposed to have blackout dates. In the case of the Heidelberg Inn, the property still had many base level rooms available when you search to book with cash via other channels. None of these show up in the Wyndham Rewards search, however.
My email listed out about a half dozen properties at which I could not find any availability. The response I received from the Director of Global Communications was fairly prompt, and it read as follows:
Thank you for sharing this with us. Wyndham Rewards members are able to enjoy the benefits of the program with thousands of vacation club resorts and vacation rentals through our relationship with Wyndham Destinations (i.e., Wyndham Vacation Resorts) and other partners; these properties are subject to blackout dates/rates based on availability. We’re working with the team at Wyndham Destinations to understand more about what’s driving the experience you’ve described. Nevertheless, Wyndham Rewards continues to offer more than 9,000 hotels in more than 80 countries with no blackout dates on standard room types.”
Looking deeper into the terms, I discovered that Wyndham only “guarantees” no blackout dates on their hotels, not the condo and timeshare properties. So the Director of Global Communications is right; you’re basically out of luck if a property decides it doesn’t want to offer any nights available for rewards stays.
Thanks for nothing, Wyndham.
We’ve had all of one stay at a Wyndham condo or timeshare property, and I have two more booked. We’ll see if I actually stick with them, as these weekend stays are the most prone to cancellation, and I often book them speculatively. What I don’t want is to be stuck with a bunch of Wyndham points that are all but impossible to use at places besides the Super 8 across the river.
Has your experience with Wyndham condo, resort and timeshare properties been similar to mine?