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How To Get Award Nights for the InterContinental Bora Bora Thalasso

In the wake of the Into The Nights promotion, there are a number of “Free Nights” out there. We each got two free nights from the Into The Nights promo, and each have a free night from the IHG credit card annual perk.

One of the nicest InterContinental hotels in the world is the IC Bora Bora Thalasso. What’s particularly incredible for points collectors is that all the rooms are overwater bungalows. Unlike all the other points hotels in French Polynesia, this means that your basic award room is still an overwater bungalow. How awesome is that? Plus, these rooms consistently go for $1,000 a night. So without points, my chances of staying at this hotel are very low.

The problem is that award availability is extremely hard to find because award rooms and basic rooms go so quickly. But I’ll propose two ways that you could find award availability.

1) Book really far out (the lesser option)

Basically, be the first person to book the room. 11.5 months out (?) they seem to release award nights.

The problem with this is that you’re having to really stay on top of checking. If you want 6 nights straight, then you have to be the first to book the room.

The big problem here is simply booking that far out. Besides planning, free nights tend to expire after a year. You could hold the room with points and then when your free night shows up, cancel and swap. But it’s not an easy process.

 

2) Book two weeks out (the better option)

The two approaches are quite extreme but I actually find this approach very reasonable for a couple of reasons. But first let me explain how it works.

First, you need to understand how the cancelation policy works. Reward nights and best flexible rates are different for each hotel, but in the case of the IC Bora Bora, you have to cancel at least 6 days before arrival (you’ll see the cancelation deadline when booking). When you cancel a points reservation, the points or free nights go back into your account immediately, and if it’s a cancelable cash rate that you’re canceling, the card was never charged in the first place, so you’ll see no refund.

What this means, is that your comrades who scooped up award availability earlier and can’t use it, cancel when the trip approaches and they know they aren’t going. Although the same for non-award tickets. People can book cancelable cash nights speculatively and then cancel, and that could still open up basic rooms to potentially use points for.

Now this isn’t a formula that implies checking a week out will find award space. Not at all. But I can guarantee you that a lot of people are canceling more than a week out.

What I’ve noticed is that the month of the stay, there is a lot of award availability. Actually I was watching for the last month or so and at the beginning of November, there was plenty of availability throughout November. Same in the beginning of December. Although right now I noticed that a lot of it is gone during Christmas and New Year week… which I can understand. But otherwise, a couple weeks out consistently has award availability.

 

How you should execute this strategy?

Book the other IC Bora Bora

There are two InterContinental hotels in Bora Bora and they both have the same cancelation deadline. What you can do now is book the InterContinental Le Moana with the same free nights or the same points price. Then when you see availability pop up, you can cancel the Le Moana and book the IC Thalasso.

The reason the Le Moana has way more award availability is because points users prefer the Thalasso hotel. The Thalasso books into overwater bungalow, and the Le Moana basic rooms are on land. Plus the Thalasso is newer, and I wonder if the Le Moana gives more award availability.

Either way, you can always book the IC Le Moana Bora Bora and then switch. The downside again would be that you aren’t guaranteed an overwater bungalow, nor the switch to the IC Thalasso.

Of course you could do the same thing with the IC Moorea if it’s only worth the flight to BOB for the guaranteed OWB.

 

How to make sure you find award space

Does anyone have the time awards are released? I contacted IHG twice to see if they had any sort of schedule for releasing dates, how far out and what times… but they were adamant that they don’t and the hotel manually does it. O_o

There’s no great way other than checking consistently at the moment. However, I did reach out to see if Wandr.Me/Hotel-Tools was planning on adding “IHG award alerts” and the answer was “Definitely coming”.

 

Alerts would greatly improve your chances of getting all your award nights in a row, or possibly finding availability at all. Not 100% sure when this feature for IHG will be done, but Seth’s follow up seemed possible for New Years, but wasn’t certain.

Anyways, if that comes about, it could be an incredible tool even if for this hotel alone.

Otherwise I’m going to go ahead and suggest you make IHG.com your home page for the month or so before the trip.

 

Conclusion

if you’re looking for more information on overwater bungalows in general, check out:

Hopefully I’m not the only one waiting for award space for the IC Bora Bora Thalasso to open up, and this is relevant to someone else. However, it’s pretty specific to this hotel. Although the Wandr.me alerts could come in handy for Hyatt and SPG.

 

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9 Comments

  1. Timely post. I’ve been trying to help a friend grab some nights at Thalasso and noticed what I thought was people canceling 2-4 weeks out.

    Question. I booked 3 nights at Thalasso followed by 2 at La Moana a while back when I only had points to work with. Since then, I’ve received my chase free night plus 4 Into the Nights (wife and I). What would be the best way to substitute my current award booking that is 100% points with these free nights? Should be possible right?

    Reply
    • rephrasing my question – how hard is the process to swap?

      Reply
  2. Drew, can you confirm that the free nights from this promo can be used at ANY hotel and time as long as awards are available. Or are these more restricted like the china promo?

    Reply
  3. Great post on Bora Bora IHG hotels. Still trying to get the two free nights and thought it impossible for the Thalasso. Now, I can work towards it with conviction.

    Thank you

    Reply
  4. I stayed 6 nights at IC Thalasso last month. Originally, I booked about 8 months out, 3 nights at Thalasso and 3 nights at Le Moana due to lack of availability at Thalasso, but after checking in, I noticed that award availability opened up for Thalasso for my last 3 nights and it is far superior than Le Moana. Even though it was within the cancellation deadline, I contacted IHG customer care and they were able to switch the 3 nights I had at Le Moana to Thalasso with no fees

    Reply
  5. As always, fantastic info and greatly appreciated. Nervous about booking first class flights without definite booking o.0

    Reply
  6. wandr.me link is not working.

    Unrelated but I had a united mileage plus award booked in September 2014

    Yyj YVR yyz Mun Zrh bkk pnh stop. Rep icn YVR.

    Then there was a schedule change so it became Yyj YVR Yyc Yyz etc.

    Point is that I think the original Ticket was one more segment than you thought mileage plus would issue (and the modified ticket two more segments). Had to cancel as I got sick.

    Reply
  7. Just got back from staying at both IC’s

    From personal experience, I can see why the Thalasso is so much harder to get. Thalasso is the real deal – if you are on the fence Drew, you need to jump now. There’s no way 50K is sustainable for this. The resort is absolutely phenomenal. Blows away the IC HKG which I know you’re a big fan of (so am I).

    I’ve seen mistake deals that are worse deals than 50K here, and I would say the overwater bungalows were bigger than 90% of the suites I’ve been upgraded to over the years at other hotels.

    The IC Le Moana is pretty meh. Certainly a 5 star hotel, but a pretty big dropoff from Thalasso and not worth paying $400+ to fly to BB. In fact, I would recommend your fallback option if IC Thalasso space doesn’t open up to be the Hilton Moorea. Better than both IC LM and IC Moorea, and doesn’t come with the flight cost of Hilton BB.

    In short, IC LM is the type of hotel that’s good to stay at if you’re already in BB. IC Thalasso is the type of hotel you go out of your way to get to Bora Bora for in the first place

    Reply
  8. I thought I found the secret to the Thalasso, but I see you beat me to the punch line two years earlier. I leave for Bora Bora in one week. My reservation now consists of one night at the Le Moana, 10 nights at the Thalasso, and a one final night at the Le Moana. I booked my rooms one night at a time as they became available around 330 days prior. Once I did that I used a buy one get one free certificate from the ambassador program which is the only night that I will be paying for. I got these rooms saved prior to the increase from 50K to 60K. I have the IHG card which I will get 10 percent back from my used points. I will get an aditional 10 percent back in points from my renewal in the ambassador program. I am pretty proud of myself. The over trip is 16 days. Dream come true.

    Reply

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