Senior Discounts, Travel Clubs, and Hotels
The facts about all of the discounts available to seniors today
Maybe it's my widening girth, my whitening hair, my increasing nostalgia for "slow music." But the travels of senior citizens interest me more and more, and provoke these comments on recent developments.
That 10% Lure: Call me a grouch, but I'm not impressed with the discounts for mature travelers offered by most hotel chains. Since that's the exact amount that hotels pay out to travel agents, and since most senior-citizen travel programs require (in effect) that passengers avoid the use of travel agents, the hotels and airlines are frequently saving 10 percent on their senior-citizen programs and then simply passing on that 10 percent saving to the senior citizen.
In other words, they're not spending a red cent to obtain their senior business. Which seems a bit chintzy.
Best hotel bets
Does anyone do better by America's elderly? A few do. And they deserve acclaim as a means of nudging the others to do more. Here's a sampling: (keep in mind that discounts may vary from location to location)
Starwood Hotels (Sheraton, Four Points, W Hotels, Westin Hotels and Resorts): Though they caution that the discount can be withheld during periods of peak business, and is not applicable to minimum-rate rooms, virtually all Sheratons give a 50 percent discount to persons 60 and older. Phone toll free 800/325-3535. Web site: starwood.com/.
Marriott Hotels: At more than 2000 Marriott Hotels in the United States, seniors (62 and older) save at least 15 percent off normal rates. This includes Marriott's Fairfield Inns and Courtyards by Marriott (two subsidiary chains), and Marriott's Residence Inns. Phone Marriott itself at 888/236-2427, Web site: marriott.com/.
Days Inns: AARP members receive 15 percent off at participating Days Inns, and all Days Inns offer 10 percent off to senior citizens over 60 with proof of age. Reservations: 800/329-7466. Visit daysinn.com/ for more information and online reservations.
Howard Johnson's: 20 percent off for AARP members, at all the nation's Hojos. Phone toll free 800/IGOHOJO. Web site: hojo.com/.
Ramada Inn: AARP members get 20 percent off normal rates. Phone toll free 800/2-RAMADA. Web site: ramada.com/.
Radisson Hotels: Begun in September of 1997, the "Senior Breaks" program allows persons 50 or older to stay at any Radisson Hotel Worldwide (there are 427 in 300 countries) at a discount of 15-40 percent off the regular rate. For more information, call 800/333-3333. Web site: radisson.com/.
Choice Hotels (Clarion Hotels, Quality Inns, Sleep Inns, Friendship Inns, Rodeway Inns and Econo Lodges): offer 20-30 percent discounts to persons over the age of 60, and 10% for people 50+. AARP members get 15 percent off. Reservations must be made through the chains toll free number (800/4-CHOICE), so check first with the local hotels to make sure the "discounted" price you're getting from the nationwide reservations center beats any local discounts (sometimes it won't). Web site: choicehotels.com/.
Hyatt Hotels: Ages 62 and older save up to 50 percent on regular rates (Average discount: 25 percent) at participating hotels in the US and Canada. Web site: hyatt.com/.
Wyndham Hotels and Resorts: AARP members save between 35- 40 percent off regular room rates (the average discount is 15 to 20 percent off). Just call 877/999-3223 and request the AARP rate. Or you can book online at: wyndham.com/.
Travelodge: Members of AARP or CARP receive a discount of 15 percent off the regular room rate with advance reservations. Travelodge also offers the standard 10 percent off for those 50 and older. Call 800/578-7878 for reservations or book online at travelodge.com/.