Tokyo Olympics Hotel Award Space is Gone. It’s Time for a New Plan.
I snoozed and missed out on hotel award space for the Tokyo Olympics. As I’ve mentioned, my wife and I are planning to go to the Tokyo Olympics next year in July 2020. I got so caught up in worrying about flight arrangements and the ticket lottery for the games that the hotel booking hadn’t crossed my mind. Last night, I thought I’d take a look. There’s nothing. Award space at the time of the Olympics next year is basically 0. Here’s my Plan B…I mean D.
Hotel award space searches
Without beating around the bush, I found nothing that works for us. Hyatt has absolutely 0. Marriott has nothing. Hilton showed only one possibility, needing 430,000 points for just 2 nights’ stay at the Hilton Tokyo Bay.
The room is a premium room option, the Happy Magic Room with an ocean view. Not only do I not have 430,000 Hilton points right now, that’s also a lot for 2 nights when we still need to plan other nights in Japan outside of Tokyo.
Hotel Awards Plan B – Expand the Search
Seeing the lack of Tokyo hotel award space, my wife suggested we try to stay an hour away and just take the train every day. Since we’re planning on using the Japan rail pass with unlimited rides anyway, this is a good idea for Plan B. I expanded the search radius.
Marriott still told me there was absolutely nothing. Hyatt showed me an available hotel 2 hours from Tokyo but kept giving me errors during booking. I picked up the phone to call to finish the booking.
The Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort and Spa was the closest Hyatt property to Tokyo showing availability. It’s a 2-hour train ride from Tokyo each way, but this seemed like our best bet. Turns out the reason I couldn’t book it is because no “standard rooms” are still available. There are only premium rooms that can’t be booked with points. The cheapest was $680 per night. I hung up.
Plan C – Pay With Cash
My next idea was to look for something off-brand and inexpensive around Tokyo that we could stay at. I’m easy to please on this. I went to Hotels.com and put in some very basic options: free wifi, guest rating of 5/10 minimum, $300 per night maximum. The only things that showed up were hostels. In fact, among those, all of them were for “female only” and “male only” rooms. Not a good option to book something requiring us to sleep in separate rooms. When I clicked all of the property types I was willing to take, the hostels disappeared. My search results became 0.
Plan D – AirBnb
Plan D became AirBnb. Mark recently shared his Airbnb likes & dislikes here. Since we couldn’t get any free stays around the time of the Tokyo Olympics with a hotel award, combining all of the previous ideas was the end result. For $100/night, we’re staying an hour from Tokyo. Anything closer is booked up or horribly expensive. We booked through DeltaAirBnb.com to at least get some extra Delta miles out of the deal. I used RebatesMe.com to get some cash back on the deal. It’s not free, it’s not perfect, but it was the best I could do with the options in front of me. (note: make sure your host has a license to operate Airbnb in Japan, due to new laws)
Final Thoughts for Anyone Still Looking for Tokyo Olympics Hotel Awards
If you snoozed on this like I did, the options are minimal. That’s putting it lightly. I booked an AirBnb host with a friendly cancelation policy. I’ll still be looking for other options along the way, since I have until June 15 next year to cancel this booking. I focused too much on the other things and overlooked the hotel room. Knowing that most hotels don’t black out award booking space, I underestimated the necessity of booking early. Lesson learned.