6 Tips to save money booking an overwater bungalow
Unfortunately for many of us, overwater bungalows and water villas are expensive, sometimes shockingly expensive. So it's a common question about how to book one of these beautiful rooms at a discount, and there's some good news about that below.
If you are booking a honeymoon trip and, for example, you want to stay at the same resort where the Kardashians stayed in Bora Bora, then you might have to pay full price. But if you are flexible and you consider the strategies described below you might save up to 40% at a resort that is just as nice, if not nicer.
Here are our best 6 tips for saving money booking an overwater bungalow:
Go in the so-called “off-season”
Each region that has overwater bungalows and water villas has about 5 months of a “high season” and the rest of the year is considered the low season. For the most part these high seasons line up with the drier months in each area, but honestly there isn't a great difference at any time of year in these tropical islands so close to the equator.
This is true of all areas with overwater bungalows: On any given day there is some chance of a downpour, but often it happens overnight, and otherwise it usually happens in the late afternoon and it rarely lasts more than an hour. Interestingly, when you DO get clouds moving in late in the afternoon you'll usually have spectacular sunsets and a wonderfully moody atmosphere. Near the equator, even a single grey day is extremely rare.
If you visit outside of the high season you'll likely save 20% to 40% off the normal rack rates, and your experience will largely be otherwise the same. Check the when to visit Bora Bora, or when to visit Moorea and Tahiti, or when to visit the Maldives pages for more details.
Book a longer stay
Those of us who are on limited budgets might consider booking an overwater bungalow or water villa for only 2 or 3 days. That can be a good strategy, as we'll discuss below, but not always. You won't know if you don't check yourself, that many resorts offer specials such as “book 3 nights and get the 4th night free” or “save 20% on a one-week stay.”
The point is, a 3-night stay might show a quote of, say, US$1,800 but a 4-night stay could be the same. So if you are going to be in one of these areas for a longer period of time, check for the rate on a longer stay to see what discounts are available.
Book only a few nights in an overwater bungalow
Considering the tip mentioned just above, it's wise to check for possible discounts for longer stays, but in many cases, they won't bring the price down enough for some guests. In those cases, you should definitely consider booking an island room for part of your stay and an overwater bungalow for only 2 or 3 nights.
If you read the TripAdvisor reviews on these resorts closely you'll find that the people who stay in the island rooms at virtually every resort end up giving these resorts 4 or 5 stars in all categories. The rooms tend to be quite similar to the water bungalows, and they are obviously closer to the pool, restaurants, and shops, so in some ways, they are more convenient.
So perhaps 4 nights in an island room that is half the price of an overwater bungalow, for the remaining 3 nights, would be a big money saver. And honestly, the novelty of an overwater bungalow might wear off before the week is up anyway.
Book an island room and get an upgrade
This might be the best tip of them all, but it's a bit of a gamble. If you look closely at TripAdvisor reviews you'll notice that a very significant number of people book an island room and get upgraded to an overwater bungalow, at least for part of their stay. Honeymoon couples seem to get upgraded more often than others, so that's another thing to research when looking at reviews.
We can't be sure of this, but it seems that resorts that have more overwater rooms than island rooms will overbook the cheaper island rooms, sometimes by quite a bit, because they know they'll have no complaints from people who get upgraded. In some cases, they'll ask guests checking in if they want to upgrade to an overwater room for a small fee, but in many other cases, they seem to just do it automatically and for free.
To increase your chances of a free upgrade you'll want to book a resort that has far more overwater rooms than island rooms. If the ratio is reversed then you'll be competing with far more people for fewer upgrade rooms.
Don't book too early
Now that virtually every hotel books rooms online, they also change their prices from one week to the next in order to try to maximize revenue. Something you might not realize is that hotels operate in a similar way to airlines in that they keep prices high when the dates are far away, and they only begin discounting a few months out if they still have too many empty rooms.
These resorts know that if you have dates for your honeymoon 6 months from now and you have your heart set on a particular resort, that you'll book it even if they are charging their highest yearly rate. So it's a bit of a gamble if you do have your heart set on one particular resort, but if you wait until 60 to 90 days before your stay you are much more likely to see discounts of up to 30% on the same bungalows.
With the two tips directly above in mind, you might consider booking a cheap island room well in advance and then look for overwater discounts as the dates draw near.
Book online and be flexible
This site – overwaterbungalows.net – is not only the only guide to every overwater bungalow resort in the world, it's also the best place to book these rooms. We are part of the Expedia Affiliate Network, which means you get all the benefits of booking with Expedia or Hotels.com (which are the same company), AND all the benefits of having a guide that shows you all the features and photos of every single resort in the area you want to book.
Once you click on the hotel's name and then to the “check online rates” link, you'll be able to see all TripAdvisor reviews, property details, property photos, and all the booking details. You'll also get the “Low Price Guarantee” for all the resorts that offer a special internet price. In most cases, these prices are lower than prices offered on each resort's own site.
And in reality, these resorts tend to be quite similar, so it's best to be flexible and look for those that offer the “special internet price.” As mentioned above, these discounts are usually between 20% and 40% off, and that adds up quickly compared to a resort that is sticking to its high rack rates.