The lucrative Stay Vancouver promotion is back for another round, this time offering up to a $125 Visa prepaid gift card for staying at Vancouver hotels before February 28, 2021.
While this promotion has been running for a few years now, I personally never had any experience with it until I recently took advantage of Stay Vancouver’s sister promotion, Stay Richmond, on my cross-country trip in the fall, so it’s about time we delve into all the details of this recurring promotion here on the blog.
$125 Visa Prepaid Gift Card on Your First Night
Stay Vancouver is supported by Vancouver’s tourism council, incentivizing travellers to visit the city, stay with its hotels, and spend money locally to support the local tourism sector.
To that end, the promotion offers a Visa prepaid gift card of up to $125 on your first night’s stay at a participating hotel, followed by gift cards of $50 per night for each subsequent night, up to a maximum of five nights.
The full terms and conditions of the promotion are as below:
There are 37 participating hotels in the Downtown Vancouver area, and they’ll each offer gift cards of $50, $75, $100, or $125 for the first night’s stay, depending on the hotel’s underlying nightly rate.
These gift cards will be delivered upon check-in, and in my experience, the check-in staff will often ask whether you’d simply like to skip the physical gift card itself and simply use the amount to offset against your room charge, so you can think of the gift card as essentially a straight-up discount against the nightly rate.
Of course, you also have the option of keeping the Visa gift card for spending elsewhere along your travels, and paying for the full amount of your hotel bill using a co-branded credit card (such as the Amex Bonvoy Card) to maximize your points earnings.
Obviously, if you’re staying at a hotel that’s offering more than $50 for the first night, then you’ll get a better deal on the first night than on subsequent nights.
Some travellers may be incentivized to go “hotel-hopping” between various hotels to maximize their return – for this to work, you’ll actually need to pack up your belongings and move between hotels every day, as the terms above do state that “booking subsequent nights as separate reservations will be treated the same as a single reservation for multiple nights”.
The terms also do state that the promotion is limited to “three bookings maximum per person”; although based on anecdotal evidence, this seems to be loosely enforced, and only comes into play if a certain hotel receives an influx of bookings from the same customer and reports the situation to Stay Vancouver. If you’re travelling as a couple, you can always make additional bookings in your partner’s name to be on the safe side.
The “stay by” date is February 28, 2021, although there is no published end date to the booking window itself, aside from the fact that “this offer is limited and may end at any time”. Therefore, if you’re interested in the promotion, I’d recommend making some bookings as soon as possible – you can always cancel for no penalty up to 48 hours in advance.
Does Stay Vancouver Qualify for Hotel Loyalty Programs?
Now, one key question among those of us who participate in hotel loyalty programs like Marriott Bonvoy is whether we’ll receive rewards points and elite night credits, as well as whether we’ll be able to enjoy our existing elite benefits, for our stays under the Stay Vancouver promotion.
After all, bookings at Marriott and other chain hotels made via third-party travel agencies are typically not entitled to participate in hotel loyalty programs.
The good news, however, is that Stay Vancouver (and the Stay Richmond sister promotion) typically doesn’t count as a third-party travel agency; instead, what they do is take bookings via their portal and then subsequently make bookings directly at the participating hotels on your behalf.
Once these bookings are complete, you can typically get in touch with the hotel via email and request to add your elite membership number to the file, after which the booking will show up in your “Upcoming Trips” section just like any booking you’ve made yourself. You’ll be able to earn points, earn elite qualifying nights, qualify for promotions, and enjoy your elite benefits during the stay all the same.
Maximize Stay Vancouver for Your Trips to Vancouver
Let’s discuss a few different ways to maximize this promotion, which should be interesting to folks all across Canada, whether you’re considering a visit to Vancouver or you’re local to the lower mainland.
Clearly, a Visa gift card of up to $125 for the first night followed by $50 gift cards for subsequent nights can make visits to Downtown Vancouver a lot more affordable. This will be true whether you typically like to patronize high-end luxury hotels or prefer to stay at more budget-friendly accommodations.
For example, the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver, one of my favourite hotels in Canada after staying on two separate occasions, is going for $316 after taxes on many dates; that would be offset by a $125 gift card to result in a net cost of $191, which is a fantastic deal for such a nice hotel, especially if you have Marriott Platinum Elite status or above and can chance your way to a nice suite upgrade.
Other decent hotels in Downtown Vancouver can be brought down to an even lower net cost. The Delta Vancouver Downtown, for example, can be booked for $222 after taxes, offset by a $100 gift card to a net cost of $122.
However, if you’re intending to visit Vancouver for a longer period and you’d rather not pack up your stuff every day to go hotel-hopping, perhaps one of the lower-end properties will be the right fit, given that you’ll get a $50 gift card to offset the cost for each of the first five nights.
A stay at the Days Inn Vancouver, for example, can be as low as $92 after taxes, which is offset by a $50 gift card to result in a net cost of only $42 per night, for up to five nights.
Sure, the room itself may not be the most luxurious and you won’t be earning any meaningful hotel rewards points, but in terms of a budget-friendly place to rest your head in an otherwise rather expensive locale, you really can’t beat that.
No matter which hotel you choose, there appears to be plenty of availability throughout the promotion period, including during the peak travel period around Christmas and New Year’s.
However, in previous Stay Vancouver promotions, the deals have some times sold out pretty quickly at certain hotels, so I’d recommend taking a look sooner rather than later!
Maximize Stay Vancouver for Mattress Running
The other possibility here is for “mattress running”, which refers to the practice of staying at hotels purely for the sake of earning elite qualifying nights.
If you’re a few nights away from the next status level with Marriott Bonvoy or another hotel loyalty program, or perhaps if you’re participating in a status challenge which requires paid stays, then the Stay Vancouver hotel can help you unlock extra nights for a minimal cost.
You’ll want to carefully search across different hotels and different dates to identify the cheapest mattress-running opportunity. At first glance, it appears the Residence Inn Vancouver offers some of the cheapest per-night costs out of all the Marriott-branded hotels at about $110 for the night, although there may be other pockets of dates where the underlying rate is even cheaper.
If you need to mattress-run for a few nights, don’t forget that there’s currently another smoking-hot opportunity in the form of Marriott Bonvoy’s “Week of Wonders”, which can allow you to unlock elite nights at hotels around Canada for as little as 3,600 Bonvoy points per night, which may be an even better deal.
The Stay Vancouver promotion has been a perennial favourite in the Canadian travel scene, whether you’re looking for a cheap stay in Downtown Vancouver for an upcoming trip or you’re a local resident who’s looking for a cheap mattress-running opportunity.
The current promotion results in some very generous nightly cash rates for the winter travel season, regardless of whether you’d like to stay in the city’s leading luxury hotels or stick with more affordable properties, so I hope many of you can take advantage as you consider any upcoming trips to the West Coast.