Wyndham Vacasa: Incredible value possible, good value likely, frustration guaranteed

17

Wyndham Rewards points recently became far more valuable.  Maybe.  New developments initially made me extremely bullish on acquiring Wyndham points, but my investigation led to frustration.  Here’s the story…

Vacation rentals like the one bedroom home shown in Sea Ranch California can offer absolutely incredible value for your Wyndham points… Maybe.  Probably not.

In 2019, Vacasa (a vacation rental management company) bought Wyndham Vacation Rentals.  And in February 2021, Wyndham Rewards made it possible to redeem points for any of Vacasa’s more than 15,000 vacation rental properties.  Here are snippets from their press release:

Available to book today, the new offerings give Wyndham Rewards members access to Vacasa’s entire vacation rental portfolio, more than doubling the number of Vacasa properties previously available via the rewards program. Vacasa’s vacation rental portfolio spans North America, Belize and Costa Rica and complements Wyndham’s existing redemption portfolio, which now offers more than 50,000 hotels, vacation club resorts and vacation rentals globally.

and:

Wyndham Rewards prices vacation rental free night redemptions at 15,000 points per bedroom per night. Members can browse available properties—including thousands of studio and one-bedroom options—by visiting www.wyndhamrewards.com/redeem and following the booking instructions for their preferred vacation rental partner.

15,000 points per bedroom per night

The press release shown above states that Wyndham prices vacation rental free night redemptions at 15,000 points per bedroom per night.  That could be incredible if true.

Following the press release’s instructions to visit www.wyndhamrewards.com/redeem, I found this:

And, upon clicking “Learn More,” I found this:

Notice that there is no information at all on Wyndham’s website about redemption costs.  Clicking “Explore Properties” goes here: www.vacasa.com/go/partners/wyndham-rewards.

From the above screen you can browse Vacasa’s vacation rentals, but you’ll see only cash prices not point prices.

Incredible value theoretically possible

After clicking around a bit on Vacasa’s website, I found that this link, www.vacasa.com/search?place=/usa/, showed me all properties in the United States.  From there, it was easy to filter to properties with no more than 1 bedroom, but with very high nightly rates:

The point of this exercise was to find incredible rentals that could theoretically be booked for only 15,000 points per night.  Just because a house only has 1 bedroom doesn’t mean it isn’t huge and luxurious.  If it’s really possible to book a $600+ per night house for only 15,000 points per night, that would be incredible.

In order to test things out, I picked an attractive rental in Sea Ranch, California.  It wasn’t the most expensive I could find, but it looks amazing and is a place I’d actually consider if this works out.  The property required a 4-night minimum stay and averaged $650 per night before fees.  After fees and taxes, it lists for $3,592.67 total, or $898 per night, for the dates I chose.

My next step was to call Wyndham to see if this place would really cost only 15,000 points per night…

My fun phone calls

Wyndham’s website urges Wyndham Rewards members to call 866-996-7937 to book Vacasa Properties.  I didn’t have enough points to book the Sea Ranch house shown above, but I called to try to find out the following:

  • Is it really possible to book a property like that for only 15K points per night?
  • Are any fees passed along?  The cash booking showed $457.60 in fees.  Would we have to pay that if we booked with points?
  • What is the cancellation policy for award bookings?
  • If we don’t have enough points, can we put a booking on hold until we earn enough points?

Rather than describe my frustrating phone calls in excruciating detail, let me cut to the chase: After hours on the phone, I failed to learn the answer to any of the questions above.  When I finally got a person on the phone, she wasn’t prepared to answer any questions.  A few times she put me on hold to ask others, but came back with completely unhelpful non-answers.  The best she could do was fill out a booking form that would be sent along to some mysterious place, and that would maybe lead to booking the place I wanted.  Or not.  I don’t know.  I wish I had gone along with the lark of filling out the form – maybe that would have led to some answers.  Alas, I did not.

Blackout dates, blackout rates, and 30K per bedroom likely

While I couldn’t find any information on Wyndham’s website about using points for Vacasa Properties, I did find a Wyndham Rewards FAQ item that probably has the right answer:

Even though Vacasa Properties isn’t specifically mentioned above, I believe that this FAQ item applies.  Here are the key details:

  • Award nights cost 15K or 30K points per bedroom
  • Blackout dates/rates apply
  • Cancellation properties vary by property
  • All accommodations have minimum stay requirements

I previously wrote about a similar Wyndham deal with using Wyndham points to book Cottages.com properties for 15K points per night (at the time — now 15K or 30K): Seeking value, finding adventure for 15K Wyndham points per night.  In the comments of that post, a reader named Angela said that the awards were bookable only if the bedrooms were under $350 per night.  This is almost certainly what the FAQ means by blackout rates (“Blackout dates/rates apply”).  I don’t know that the $350 cap applies here, but it’s likely.

Educated guesses

Which properties does Wyndham charge 30K points per bedroom instead of 15K?  I can only guess.  Maybe they look at the nightly rate and charge accordingly:

  • Up to $175 per night per bedroom: Charge 15K per night
  • $175 to $350: Charge 30K per night
  • Over $350: Do not allow free nights

To be clear, the above is just a guess as to how this might work.  If they do have cash ranges like this, the specifics are almost certainly different from what I wrote.

More educated guesses:

  • Are any fees passed along?  No.  When I used Wyndham points to book a Cottages.com property a number of years ago, I wasn’t charged any fees.
  • What is the cancellation policy for award bookings?  My guess is that it follows Vacasa’s standard cancellation policies (found here), but with points rather than cash. Specifically:
    • Cancel 30 or more days before your stay for a full refund of points
    • Cancel 7 to 29 days before your stay so that your points will apply to a future booking.
    • Note that there are different rules for properties in Delaware, North Carolina, and southwest Michigan.
  • If we don’t have enough points, can we put a booking on hold until we earn enough points? No

Very good value still possible

Let’s pretend for a moment that my educated guesses are exactly right and that Wyndham charges as follows for Vacasa Properties (and doesn’t charge fees on award stays):

  • Up to $175 per night per bedroom: Charge 15K per night
  • $175 to $350: Charge 30K per night
  • Over $350: Do not allow free nights

There are many fantastic looking one-bedroom properties available through the Vacasa website.  Take the Westport California property shown above, for example.  Daily rates vary by date, but are almost always less than $350 per night.  For the two nights I picked, the rental price was $596 ($298 per night).  After taxes and fees, the total price came to $938.62, or $469.31 per night.

If we could book the above property for 30K Wyndham points per night and with no fees, then we would get $469.31 / 30K = 1.56 cents per point value.  Compared to our current Reasonable Redemption Rate of 0.70 cents per point for Wyndham points, 1.56 cents per point is great.  I expect that many one bedroom Vacasa Properties will offer similar value.

Conclusion

Upon first glance, it looks like booking one-bedroom Vacasa Properties with Wyndham points could offer incredible value.  After digging deeper, though, I believe that good value is likely, but incredible value is probably out of reach due to blackout dates/rates and some properties charging 30K points per night per bedroom.

Despite the fact that my initial excitement was squashed, I’m still enthusiastic about the idea of booking Vacasa Properties with Wyndham Rewards points.  Similar options with other hotel chains often offer poor point value (Marriott’s Homes & Villas, for example).  Wyndham’s approach makes it possible to get very good value, and Vacasa truly has a huge selection of properties available in North America (and some in Central America).

The biggest problem right now, is that booking Vacasa Properties with Wyndham points is extremely difficult.  I’m hoping that Wyndham will improve this and/or that someone will dig up a phone number of a group within Wyndham or Vacasa that knows how to book these things.  If/when either happens, I’ll update this post with that information.

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