Bargain luxury in Hawaii: Greg’s Wyndham Vacasa experience

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I believe that I was the first in the blogosphere to recognize (or at least publish) what an amazing deal Wyndham’s partnership with Vacasa can be.  Over two years ago, I published “Wyndham Vacasa – Incredible value possible, good value likely, frustration guaranteed,” and yet I’ve just now completed my first Wyndham powered Vacasa stays.  Readers may remember that Nick jumped on the deal right away and was happy with his stay.  In my case, the Wyndham/Vacasa stars finally aligned for last week’s trip to Hawaii’s Big Island…

a dining table in a house

Overview

Via Wyndham’s partnership with Vacasa Vacation Rentals, Wyndham Rewards members can book Vacasa rentals for 15,000 points per bedroom per night.  That price includes taxes and cleaning fees.  So, for example, you can book a two bedroom unit for 3 nights for 2 x 3 x 15,000 = 90,000 points.  And if you have a Wyndham Earner credit card, you’ll save 10% and so the price is even lower.  While this isn’t always an amazing deal, it can offer fantastic value.

For my recent trip to Hawaii, I used Wyndham points to book two separate units: four nights in Kona, followed by three nights near Volcanoes National Park.  My wife and I were travelling with another couple and so multi-bedroom homes were much more convenient than separate hotel rooms.

Booking process

The post Wyndham Vacasa — Great Value is Real! has full details about how to book Vacasa rentals with Wyndham points, but here’s the short version:

  1. Start your search here: www.vacasa.com/search?maxbeds=1&place=/usa/
    This link filters to a maximum of 1 bedroom.  If you want more than 1 bedroom, change the filter.
  2. Use the Vacasa website to find properties that are available for cash rates for your dates of interest.
  3. Make sure that the average cost for your stay of interest is less than $500 per bedroom per night.
  4. Call 1-800-441-1034 to book the stay

View of deck and ocean from living room

Using the above process, I first booked a four-night Kona stay.  I had found a number of fine looking two bedroom options, but I wasn’t excited about any of them.  Then I found this three bedroom option.  It’s right on the ocean and it looked spectacular!  At first I thought it would be a waste to pay for a 3rd bedroom that we didn’t need, but when I ran the math I realized it was a no-brainer.  Each bedroom costs 15,000 points per night, or 13,500 points with a Wyndham Earner card (both my wife and I have the business version).  At the time of booking, Wyndham was offering points for sale for just under a penny each.  So, even at a penny per point, the third bedroom would cost us an extra $135 per night, or $67.50 per couple.  That was a very small price to pay for such a huge upgrade over our other options.

I called to book the unit and was pleasantly surprised to find that they let us divide the points payment between my wife and I.  We used her Wyndham account to pay for three nights and my account to pay for the fourth.  The entire call took 29 minutes.  The agent answered the phone right away, but it took a while for her to figure out how to split the payment.

View of open dining and living room space

I later decided to book this awesome looking two-bedroom unit near Volcanoes National Park.  This call was super quick and easy since I paid for this one with points entirely out of my own account.

Kona Stay Review

Kitchen

Our three bedroom unit in Kona was amazing.  It’s a two-story unit with ocean-facing lanais (porches) off the living room and the master bedroom.  The unit itself is large, luxurious, modern and comfortable.  The ocean views were great and we also loved the constant sound of waves crashing against the lava rocks only steps from the lanais.  One perk of the unit that we didn’t use was the sauna in the master bedroom:

Sauna

The only downside to this unit is that it’s not practical to snorkel in the water behind the unit.  There is a protected cove a very short walk to the side (walk across the lava rocks to get there), but even though it was teaming with fish, it was too shallow to swim.  On the other hand, it’s hard to complain when you have such amazing sunset views…

Sunset view

If/when we return to the Big Island, I’ll definitely look to see if this unit is available again!

Value

If we had paid cash, this three bedroom unit would have cost $4,864.64 for our four night stay.  Instead, we paid 162,000 Wyndham points.  That calculates to an excellent 3 cents per point value.

Property Link

You can look for availability here: www.vacasa.com/unit/66701.  Keep in mind that to book with Wyndham points, the average price per bedroom per night must be under $500.  Since this is a three bedroom unit, the cost will have to be under $1,500 per night.

Video Walkthrough

Volcanoes Unit Review

View of open dining and living room space

This house is located deep in the rainforest and just a few miles from Volcanoes National Park.  It was the perfect base for exploring the park.

There was a strong musty odor in the house when we first arrived, but the smell eventually dissipated after the windows were open long enough (additionally, management brought us a dehumidifier for the downstairs bedroom which had the strongest odor).

Aside from the initial odor issue, we loved the house.  The driveway itself is like a nature path through the rainforest, and the interior is spacious and beautiful.  The downstairs bedroom’s shower has windows on two sides facing the thick rainforest foliage.  Some might feel exposed, but only birds and tree frogs are likely to see you.  I loved the feeling of being outside while still in the comfort of the home.

Backyard deck to left of back door

Value

The value wasn’t as extreme with the Volcanoes area unit.  For the nights of our stay, the Volcanoes unit would have cost just over $1,200 for our three night stay.  Instead, we paid 81,000 points.  That’s a value of 1.5 cents per point.  Even though it doesn’t match the 3 cents per point value we achieved in Kona, that’s still a good use of Wyndham points.

Property Link

You can look for availability here: www.vacasa.com/unit/56140.

Video Walkthrough (rear deck and upstairs)

The bad stuff (downsides to Vacasa stays)

Not everything went smoothly with our stays…

Kona

We arrived at check-in time to find that we couldn’t get into the driveway.  There was a gate across the opening.  We thought that was okay because they had sent us a gate code, but it turned out that code was only for the walk-in gate.  After scratching our heads a while, we finally thought to look inside the unit itself where we found a gate remote for the car.  If we had carefully read the fine print below the unit’s “GOOD NEIGHBOR POLICY,” we would have known about the clicker, but who reads that stuff and why is it organized that way?

a screenshot of a white and black email
I added the highlighting to show the info that would have been helpful if we had seen it in advance.

After our stay, we received a very unpleasant email from Vacasa titled “Damage Inquiry”.  The email said “Our local staff discovered damage upon checkout after your stay. Enclosed are photographs of the lanai deck, which show multiple stains.”  These stains were from reef-safe sunscreen spray and the worst of them were already there when we arrived.  Unfortunately, we didn’t think to photograph them at the time.  The email went on to ask for information, which I supplied.  At the time of writing I’m still awaiting resolution here.  Will they try to charge us for sunscreen spray “damage”?  I hope not!

Volcanoes

When we arrived at the house, we tried the supplied door entry code but it didn’t work.  I tried calling Vacasa, but the automated message suggested that texting was even better because the same people are there to respond.  So I hung up and tried texting.  Via text, they supplied a couple of other codes to try but neither worked.  Finally they told me to call the number that I had originally called.  By then, another in our group found that the back door was unlocked and so we were able to get in.  Luckily the supplied alarm code worked to stop the alarm.  Finally, from inside the house, I called again and got a code that actually worked for the front door.

Another issue was the bad odor in the house when we first arrived.  Vacasa passed along our concern to local management.  We also found a big bottle of water on the dining room table and wondered if that meant that the tap water wasn’t safe to drink?  Again, Vacasa passed along our question to local management (the answer is that they recommend using store-bought water for drinking instead of their rain-captured water which is UV filtered).  In both cases, we would have known about these things in advance if we had read the fine print below the unit’s “GOOD NEIGHBOR POLICY.”

a screenshot of a document
I added the highlighting to show the info that would have been helpful if we had seen it in advance.
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