Blocking the rooms has been one of the most stressful parts of planning so far. Blocking rooms in a tourist town is great because you have lots of options. But… with that comes some not-so-great things. For example, these hotels don’t need our business like, say, a hotel in a random suburb. So what does that mean? Well… we had trouble finding hotels that would give our guests discounts and/or would allow guests to stay only one night.
After my first two calls, I realized this wasn’t going to be easy. So with my list of requirements in hand, I got to calling and emailing every place I could find within 5 miles of Newport.
My requirements were simple.
- A good rate
- At least one option without the two night stay
Typically when you plan something for the wedding, it only affects your budget. The hotel block affects the individual budgets of most of our guests. With the way the economy is, we wanted to be very conscious of this and reserve rooms that fit different budgets.
We also knew that many of our guests would only want to stay one night. Many guests are only an hour and a half away, but would like to spend the night—not two nights, which is typical in Newport. This was actually the hardest part. I assumed since we aren’t having the wedding in season, a couple places would be more willing to break this. We only found three places who were willing to let us block with one night stays. We only went with one, as the other two didn’t fit other requirements.
Convenience also played a factor. When guests heard there were hotels across the street, many got excited that after the reception they could “stumble home”. Luckily there are three options directly across the street from the reception. In the end, these three won out as part of our four total hotels. It’s nice because not only are they convenient to the reception, they’re also less than 10 minutes from the ceremony, 5 minutes from downtown Newport, across from the beach, located next to many reasonably priced restaurants, and it’s nice that three of these are located in close proximity to each other.
Lastly, we looked for quality. I called at least 15 hotels and knew that each had to fit at least three of the four qualifications. Well, I ended up finding a couple with really great prices, but those were also really of terrible quality. I was hoping to find something under $100 a night, and I did, but they just weren’t places I’d feel comfortable recommending. I looked up the reviews of each place, and some were horrifying. I decided quality is more important than price. If guests would like a cheaper room, I did give a link on our website, so they can make the choice themselves and decide what is important to them.
We ended up with 4 choices.
- 1 with amazing quality, not so amazing price, no discounts, 2 night minimum, very convenient
- 2 with great quality, great discounts, 2 night minimum, and very convenient
- 1 with OK quality, no discounts—but best price, 1 night minimum, convenient
After lots of research on what to ask and what to beware of, then going through the experience, I felt like I should share my new found knowledge with someone!
When blocking rooms, it’s really important to ask the right questions. Some hotels have hidden charges that you forget to ask about, and then they show up on the bill.
- Room block set up fee – some hotels have an administrative fee for setting up the room block. We only came across one and it was $25.00. Two others waived this due to our reception site having a deal with the hotels.
- Unused room fee – some hotels will charge you for rooms in a block that go unused/unbooked. We luckily did not run into this.
- OOT guest bag fee – some hotels charge to either pass out or deliver OOT bags to guests’ rooms. I’ve heard this can be $2-$5 per bag. We again, luckily did not run into this.
- How many rooms can be booked?
- Can more rooms be booked in the future, if the original block is filled?
- Is there a group discount rate?
- What are the rates for different types of rooms?
- Can you block our guests near each other?
- If there is no group discount rate, do you offer any other discounts such as to Triple A members?
- Is there a fee to set up a room block?
- What happens if we do not fill all of the rooms we blocked? Is there a charge?
- Is there a deadline for when rooms need to be booked by our guests?
- Is there a minimum night stay requirement?
- Does the room rate include breakfast?
- How are Out of Town bags handled? Are they delivered to guests’ rooms or handed out at the front desk?
- Is there a charge for Out of Town bags?
- Do you offer any specials for the bride and groom?
Did you have to set up room blocks for your guests? Was it easy or more difficult than anticipated? Do you have any additional tips or questions to share?