Hotwire Deals: A 2021 Bonanza

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OK, Hotwire deal-watchers, we’ve got a big deal for you this time – literally.

As of a few days ago, Disney resort deals have dropped for dates from now all the way out to the end of 2021. In the past we’ve seen Priceline do this, but as far as I know is a new thing for Hotwire. Perhaps more interestingly, the Disney resorts appearing in these deals have expanded to include several Deluxe resorts.

But, here come the almost inevitable *sad trombone*: Don’t get too excited about all of these deals.

Despite what it says in the Constitution, not all HotRates are created equal. If you weren’t aware, both Priceline and Hotwire tack on their own fees to hidden rates above and beyond taxes and resort fees (if a resort charges them). Looking at a group of the recent Hotwire deals, the fee appears to be about 11-12%, but moves around a little. So, if you see a HotRate that lists itself around 11% off there’s a good chance you’re final room price will be near a regular refundable deal rate.

Also, I crunched a few more scenarios and found that in at least some Value resort cases, even deals marked as 18% off still came within a few dollars of refundable Disney rates. The Moderate and Deluxe resorts fared better (pun intended) with 18% off deals, and some of those better than others. Once you start getting into the more magical HotRates marked as 32-38% off they seem to universally save money over any Disney rate, including those with discounts.

The Usual Warnings

I’m going to post a slightly different version of the Calendar of Deals in this post – as you can imagine, tracking every single day from now until 2022 is a lot of days. Infinite, even.

So, for this post my research contains a sample of days to try to catch which resorts you may find – then I ran searches for entire weeks of bookings to see how consistent they might be. Please don’t take the calendars below as evidence of all the dates with deals, there will be more! I do think I’ve caught most of the resorts you might see – even a rare Beach Club Villas deal, which I will go into in a little more detail.

I noticed that some deals appeared only when you searched multiple days – so as we’ve often suggested for Priceline searching, if you have flexible dates and really want to find a good deal, try sliding your start and end dates around and see if Hotwire offers up any new deals for you.

As you read on, remember: ATDM – Always Do the Math. When you think you’ve identified a hidden resort, compare the rates and everything else to Hotwire’s regular pricing and to Disney before you book. Hidden deals can save you a bundle, but I wouldn’t go for a non-refundable deal that only saves a few tens of dollars. Below I’ll include a few examples of good and not so good deals.

Use the Hotwire app if at all possible. Many of these deals will appear in a desktop browser, but many won’t – plus you’ll get a small discount on rates in the app.

Look for coupon codes. RetailMeNot’s Hotwire page often has an active listing, or just scour the Internets with The Google. A few minutes work can save you some good money! For now, I believe the code RMNSPRINGTRIP might offer you $25 savings off a $200 or higher booking, and RMNBREAK will get you 8% off your overall booking.

Oh, also: If you see any deals that don’t have any guest ratings attached – be sure to scroll down the results and see if you can find a matching non-hidden deal to go with it. One example of this occurring is the 3-Star Homewood Suites by Hilton Flamingo Crossings which is showing up in both types of deals without a guest rating.

Bonus Pro Tip

If you are a Samsung Pay user, that app often will offer you “up to 4% cash back award” if you click through their link to the Hotwire app and then book – and that savings should be independent of the HotRate discounts you find. Every little bit helps!

Before we move on, I’d like to mention a little Priceline Express info: Last week at TouringPlans headquarters (I assume there is one, but I’ve not been invited, hint hint) we ran a little test to check out a Coronado Springs deal – some info in the Express Deal booking page made me suspect the deals might be for a Preferred room. A test booking went through normally, confirmation received, but then they couldn’t link the booking to My Disney Experience. As often happens with Disney and hotel resellers, several back and forth phone calls were made with no resolution occurring until about a week after booking when the room magically linked. This has happened in the past, thankfully not too often – but just be aware this might be the case for some Priceline deals.

The Usual Examples

Let’s start with the aforementioned Beach Club Villas rarity. I noticed a “4-star Condo” deal with a 4.5-guest rating on one day in May – by no means a cheap deal at $677 per night, but intriguing as I had not noticed that kind of listing before.

There are only a few resorts with that combination of ratings, but I’ve never seen Condo attached to them: it could not be the JW Marriott since there was no resort fee on the deal, and this rate is very pricey for that resort.

The other possible resorts are Yacht Club, Boardwalk Inn, and the Beach Club Villas. Hmm, well I suppose Condo could be code for Villa? Using the handy Draw feature in the Hotwire app (see the button at the top right of the map), I zoomed over to the Beach Club and drew a large ham-fisted circle around the Villas. The app updated the results to include all of the resorts in that area and Voila! The only two resort results were the 4-Star Condo deal and the Beach Club Villas. (These were 1 Bedroom Villas – and that supposedly 31% off on this day gets you a whopping $1 in savings. The new math these days is killing me, kids. Other days had better discounts.)

Now, I am personally not a $677 a room night kind of guy – but this works for any deal, so when in doubt use Draw.

Another trick is to pay attention to the Hotwire app room descriptions – on the desktop browser booking page you usually see generic room info, but the app can outright tell you: this deal is a Preferred room!

I noticed that some All-Star Movies hidden deals in the app listed the room types as “Deluxe Room” – which is a bit confusing as Disney does not call Preferred Rooms “Deluxe.” I assume they may be, but I haven’t heard any reports back on those.

Here Be The Math

OK, let’s get to some comparisons to show how the %-off discounts Hotwire lists might fare in the real world. Here are three All-Star Movies hidden deals in May, August, and September as compared to Disney’s rates. Since Disney does not have any discounts running for the summer and fall, I’ve included some estimates in gray for apples to apples comparison in case some are released in the future.

Because the HotRates call the rooms “Deluxe”, I’m going out on a limb above and using the Disney Preferred room rates in the comparisons. You can see in the first and last tables that 32% off can mean a wide range of savings over Disney’s rates – and even that nice percentage might end up being a losing proposition compared to annual pass rates!

Personally, I find the May deal to just be an OK discount and might stick to a refundable deal. I might wait on the September deal since that is far enough away I’d be more worried plans might change than the savings I might get over a non-refundable deal. At this point, I think that August deal is just a looooser of deal if Disney doesn’t release more of their own discounts.

Below are some more comparisons for the various time frames using some Coronado Springs and Grand Floridian hidden deals. It is an interesting study to see how the savings compare over time. For Coronado’s deal on November 1st, I suppose I could make the argument that saving $178 off of Disney’s prices now is pretty darn good – and even if they release discounts later I’d still be ahead. Sure, Hotwire might release some cheaper hidden deals later – but maybe they won’t! (Helpful, ain’t I?)

Calendars of Deals

That is probably enough numbering for today – here’s the calendars with a sample of deals over the next several months. Because there were so many resorts involved, I broke the calendars into a group with deals from Value and Moderate resorts, then another group with Deluxe resorts.

First a few more hidden resort examples…

Moderate Calendars

Deluxe Calendars

(Just including a couple of months of these as the resorts are fairly consistent each month – just the pricing fluctuates slightly.)

Extra Credit

If you’ve made it this far into the post – go get a coffee or something stiffer to drink, you earned it. And while you’re at it, treat yourself to a nice stay at the Four Seasons.

If you have any questions, or booked any great deals on Hotwire – let us know in the comments!

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John Tierney

Security. Genealogy. Dad. Husband. Securigenealodadsband. Also: Disney fan who likes deals. and numbers. and churros. You can find his tweeter @JJT and his Instagram is @johnjtierney

9 thoughts on “Hotwire Deals: A 2021 Bonanza

  • March 24, 2021 at 1:12 pm
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    Are you finding the hotwire deals to be more expensive than in years past?
    We have used Priceline express deals quite often and even after fees gotten CSR (preferred room) at 115 a night a couple days after Easter 2019 and the all stars for in the 80s and a suite at AOA for 107 a night. I’m just wondering if you think that deals that good might be a thing of the past

    Reply
    • March 24, 2021 at 1:32 pm
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      I haven’t tracked Hotwire prices nearly as long as Priceline – but compared to the deals just last Fall things have jumped a LOT.
      Last Fall Pop was selling for $87, recent hidden deals were around $118 (36% higher.) Coronado was down around $106, now about $155 (46% higher.)

      I don’t think I’d say I know what either Hotwire or Priceline might do over time, because history has shown they keep surprising me. But if you twisted my arm I’d say we’ll probably see a little more dip in the hidden prices once the current deluge of bookings passes. (Whenever that might be.)

      We have had such weirdness in the market, but I suspect now that the possibility of even slightly more normal travel has arrived the companies are just trying to see how much they can keep the prices up, rather than float deep discounts. Guess we’ll see!

      Reply
  • March 24, 2021 at 6:30 pm
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    Thank you!
    I’ve learned a lot from the Priceline posts and we have gotten to stay at a lot of great Disney hotels that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to because of them

    Reply
  • April 2, 2021 at 2:23 pm
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    4 star, 4.3 guest, bonnet creek, 39$/day resort fee, the phrase says “the last person got WDW Dolphin” is it actually the dolphin? 31% discount it says 136$

    Reply
    • April 2, 2021 at 2:30 pm
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      I usually tell people to ignore the “last person got…” tip because both Hotwire and Priceline prevaricate – lie, even.

      But with the info you cite, in this case it pretty much has to be the Dolphin. The only 2 resorts that are 4*, 4.3-guest in Bonnet Creek are the Dolphin and the Polynesian.
      Of course, the Poly will NOT have a resort fee tacked on – and the Swan and Dolphin resort fees recently increased to $39.38, so that’s a BINGO.

      I’m thinking $136+39 = $175 for Dolphin is kinda OK – not the best deal for it I’ve seen by far, but depends on your dates. I’d just be sure to compare it to the rates on the Swolphin’s own site, sometimes their direct booking beats hidden deals. (But, their site also has a lot of NON-refundable deals, so be sure to check the terms of the booking.)

      Reply
      • April 2, 2021 at 2:45 pm
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        Thanks John! I always have to think about that daily fee as part of the rate and I forget. I’m not really looking for a 170. If I was, I think I’d take the Coronado springs for that date!

  • April 2, 2021 at 2:48 pm
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    I completely agree!

    I am very much philosophically opposed to resort fees – they are all flim flam scammy.

    As much as I’d like to stay at the Swolphins, I’d personally really need the pre-fee rate to be way down low for me to swallow my pride and book something with a resort fee.

    Reply
  • May 22, 2021 at 2:17 am
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    4 star “resort” Bonnet Creek area, one of the amenities is beachfront. $39 resort fee. Would that be Swolphins? (Swan:dolphins resort)?

    Reply
    • May 24, 2021 at 11:07 am
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      Normally you need to keep track of the guest-rating in addition to star rating for an accurate guess – but, yes: $39 mandatory fee is a give away that is is a Swolphin resort.
      Right now on Hotwire the Dolphin has a guest rating of 4.3, while the Swan is 4.4.

      (For the record: over on Priceline the Swan is up a level and is a 4.5* resort.)

      Reply

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