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Wed, Nov. 1st, 2006, 01:15 pm
kevin_standlee: Better Rate at Intercontiental Hotel Grand Yokohama's Web Site

One of Nippon 2007's main hotels -- adjacent to the Pacifico Yokohama Convention Center -- is the
Intercontinental Grand Yokohama. The longest possible stay you can book through the convention's official travel agency is an arrival on Tuesday, August 28, departing Tuesday, September 4. The rate from the official agency is JPY 15,500 per person double occupancy, a rate that is said to include all taxes and fees. The agency also insists on advance payment of the entire stay in advance. They charged me JPY 217,000 (USD 1,850).

Intercontinental is the chain that includes Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express, and while I was checking my points balance in their program, I decided to check what the availability for that hotel was through their web site. Imagine my surprise when I found that you can book rooms for two adults during the convention dates for rates of JPY 18,000-28,000 total (not per person). the JPY 28K rate is Friday night only; all the others are JPY 18K. Net of taxes and fees, the cost is JPY 156,400 (About USD 1,335). That's for "1 Queen bed, Superior Park View," 2 adults, 7 nights. And while it's still expensive, it's $500 less than the official convention rate, and somewhat closer to the rate I was actually expecting to pay. Moreover, this is not an advance-purchase rate; you pay when you get there, like I'm used to doing.

I booked a reservation through the IC Hotels site, and canceled my original reservation through the booking agency. I hope the agency doesn't take forever to issue my refund. (They claim I will get 100% refund as I canceled more than 13 days before the stay.)

I advised their North American agent of this. She and I are both former Worldcon chairs. We both understand the importance of a convention making its room block. However, this $500 difference in rate is just wrong. Nippon 2007 is aware of it, and is trying to persuade the agency to see reason. Any sensible person will book a cheaper rate if it's easily available.

Now there are numerous rate bands available -- go look at the hotel's web site to see them -- some of which are more expensive than the one I booked. Some of them are about what the agency is charging, and some are more, particularly if they have Bay views. As I don't expect to be spending a lot of time in my room other than when I'm sleeping in it, the view isn't that much of a consideration, but I did want to be in the main hotel.

Wed, Nov. 1st, 2006 11:51 pm (UTC)

Very useful tip, thanks!

Thu, Nov. 2nd, 2006 01:36 am (UTC)

Thanks for the heads up, I've now booked there - the big selling point is I don't have to pay till I get there.

Now need to book my flights. What is the nearest main airport?

Thu, Nov. 2nd, 2006 01:48 am (UTC)

Tokyo Narita (NRT) is where you'll want to fly. From there, catch the Narita Express train (not the Shinkansen "bullet train") to Yokohama. N'EX has stations in both terminals 1 and 2 of Narita Airport. Note that the N'EX trains appear to run to Tokyo, where they split and only the rear cars continue on to Yokohama. (The signage is apparently clear, and in both Japanese and English, pointing you to board the rear cars of the train if you're heading to Yokohama.)

The fare appears to be currently JPY 4,180 one way standard class. (I'm planning to buy a 21-day JR rail pass, so I haven't been checking individual fares that often.)

From Yokohama Station, you can either take a taxi or ride a local metro/subway (the Minato Mirai line) two stops to Minato Mirai station (no, I didn't make a mistake -- the line name and the stop you want are the same, and it's not the terminal station of that line, either). Then it's a short walk (apparently all indoors) to the hotel itself.

Thu, Nov. 2nd, 2006 08:12 am (UTC)

Thanks for the tip. I've booked now (phew). However, can anyone tell me what the 'hotel service charges' (of 11,800Y) are for?

Thu, Nov. 2nd, 2006 01:41 pm (UTC)

I am wondering if the other hotels are cheaper by booking direct than through the con website.

Thu, Nov. 2nd, 2006 05:11 pm (UTC)

They may well be. I only researched the hotel I was personally interested in staying in because it's adjacent to the convention center. If you're interested in one of the other hotels, you might want to research it yourself.

Thu, Nov. 2nd, 2006 05:10 pm (UTC)

Other than the fact that I think all the hotels impose it, I don't know what the "hotel service charge" is, either. The rates through the official travel agency include all taxes and service charges; the hotel web sites appear to break them out separately. Me, I've just assumed it's a hotel scheme to pretend to quote lower rates than they really charge.

Fri, Nov. 3rd, 2006 12:53 am (UTC)

I just made a reservation through the Intercontinental Hotel website. It remains to be seen whether any deposit will be charged to my credit card (I had some difficulty interpreting the fine print), but, like others, I wanted a room at the convention hotel. Now I just have to figure out the rest of my travel plans.

Fri, Nov. 3rd, 2006 01:38 am (UTC)

Assuming you booked into the same sort of room I did and got the same fine print as I did, you should not be charged anything in advance. None of the rates I saw on their site were the advance-purchase type. (Holiday Inn Express sometimes has less-expensive non-refundable advance-purchase rates, but there were none of that sort shown when I looked.)

The fine print on my reservation says that if you cancel after 18:00 local time on the arrival date, or fail to show, you'll be charged one night's stay, but that's what I would consider S.O.P.