Travel Mania

The travel matrix booking system @ GCHR

Back in the days when Wotif was the main, big travel website here in Australia, I found booking things online was so easy. It looked a little like the matrix photo above, except with a lot of green instead of orange and yellow.

Wotif had this great matrix where you could easily compare prices at various hotels for a fortnight, a simple click of the arrows gave you the next fortnight, and you could see with one glance which were the cheapest days to travel and which hotels had the best deals for your dates.

I had been booking via Wotif for the past 12-14 years anytime we needed to travel within Australia purely because it was so easy. I did not mind the booking fee because HEY, finding what I was looking for was simple and easy. I actually used to enjoy doing the research and finding the best dates and the best price for when we were travelling.

All this changed in early 2015, when Wotif kicked the matrix to the kerb and replaced it with this shyte.


I was blissfully unaware of this until now, because we have not been travelling a lot lately. However the parents have now gone to Canada and Alaska for a summer holiday and we needed to book a night up in Sydney to pick them up, so I typed in my go-to site Wotif and was stunned to find the awesome matrix is gone.

I don’t even know what the heck that is, up there. What do I care how many people booked the hotel in the past X hours? Or how long it has been since someone made a booking there? Why is there an identical phone number on all of the listings? Oh, it is your phone number, Wotif? If I wanted to know your number, I would find it. I would expect the number on the listing to be for the hotel itself. WTF, WOTIF?

Then I discovered our the prices at our go-to place to stay, Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport, had risen to a somewhat terrifying level – up by $80 a night for the room we usually stay in – and yet the hotel has not had any kind of refurbishment or upgrades that I can see. The last time we stayed there it was looking very tired. Plus now they want what seems like an outrageous sum of money ($30) to park our car overnight. In fact, all Sydney hotels do!

I faffed about for two days across the various hotel booking websites trying to find a better deal for that hotel and I epically failed. In the end, I gave up on all the booking sites and booked with the hotel directly because the prices were identical and I get free wifi booking with the hotel. Considering they want about $25 for that, it is a decent saving.. even so, the amount I am paying for one night is too much.


Sydney Airport Stamford, we might be breaking up soon. This next stay would have to be *exceptional* for us to keep going back. There are multiple new hotels opening near you, and we’re ready to give them a try.

In October, Sephyroth is flying out to visit. He arrives at 6:05am, so we needed to book another night at an airport hotel to collect him. I found and booked the new Meriton Mascot Serviced Apartments which does not open until August. Meriton consistently gets good reviews across their current apartments so we will give them a try, who knows, it might turn out to be our new Sydney Airport go-to hotel.

We also had talked about staying in Sydney for a few days – as we did on his last visit in 2011. I started the hunt on the travel booking sites and found 3 nights in a 2 bedroom apartment would be around AUD 1,000 to 1,500 ***PLUS*** carparking fees starting at $25 per night and going right up to $60 per night. For self parking, not valet!

I said to The Other Half, maybe we should think about other destinations. What about the Gold Coast? We have not been up there for a while. We can drive up so we’ll have a car, we can find a place with a kitchen so we can cook a little to save $$ if we like, there is loads to do up there, parking is usually included, and Sephyroth will get to see a bit more of Australia this way.

I checked in with Sephyroth. He thought this was an awesome idea. And thus began a journey of my nightmares, using these travel sites to try and find pricing, some of which are purely there to give you the prices on a multitude of OTHER travel booking sites.

Whenever we have travelled as a family to the Gold Coast, we usually stay at the Breakfree Peninsula and we have done for a long time now, since the late 80’s. The building was built in 1982, so when I read reviews that some of the units were looking tired, I was not too surprised. They are almost as old as I am, and I am pretty tired myself! ;)

Despite possible tired-ness of the units, the grounds are beautiful and they have several pools on site, we like the place, we know the location and love the view, so that was number one on the list. Mantra Circle on Cavill was another – much more expensive – contender. I also liked the look of Artique.

Broadbeach was also considered, there were two locations there I found interesting – the Phoenician which I have liked the look of on previous visits and Belle Maison.

I remembered that Andrew had been to the Gold Coast recently – they stayed at the Chateau Beachside Resort. The location is fantastic. Sadly this was not an option for us because we need two separate bedrooms with at least a single bed in the second bedroom. Chateau does offer a sofa bed option, but I would not inflict that upon Sephyroth for 6 nights in a row. Nor one night. I’m wacky (nice?) like that!

After checking all the travel websites I gave Flight Centre a call, and they gave me a price for the Peninsula which was $100 cheaper than any of the booking sites had done – including the Breakfree site itself. BOOK IT, I said!

I said to the lovely girl at Flight Centre that she had taken a great weight from my shoulders, however the nightmare was not quite over yet, as I still had to book nights for the journey home in Tamworth and Bathurst – the boys want to see the car museum there. She said oh, let me look at that for you, I’ll give you a call tomorrow with the prices.

The next day, there was the rarest of experiences here in the Shoalhaven – the lovely girl at Flight Centre actually called me back! I’d done some research in the meantime and picked out a few options. Unfortunately her wholesaler did not have those options available, so I just booked the Peninsula with her and got back on the discount website search for the other locations.

I’d already picked out good options for both of those locations and it did not take very long to make final decisions and book those last two places to stay.

I tell you something, if you are ever in Tamworth you will be spoilt for choice of great motels to stay in. The reviews for at least 4 of them are consistently excellent. Bathurst is a different story, I struggled a bit to find a decent place there and we even considered staying elsewhere. Of course I will give you a full review of these places once we have been on our trip.

Thank the deities that particular travel booking nightmare is over.

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4 thoughts on “Travel Mania

  1. I agree with you about Wotif. I don’t think we’ve used them since the change. You could once pretty well guarantee getting the best prices by using Wotif or a similar site. Not so now. You can often do just as well by booking direct and as you say, there can be bonuses, such as free wi-fi. That we have to pay for it at all really galls me. Nearly everyone needs it and should just be a part of the accommodation. Yes, travel agents can still get you a bargain, but not always. Interesting post, to me anyway.

  2. I don’t travel so don’t know anything about booking websites. If I was to travel, I’d be more likely to email several hotels in the area and get quotes, then make a decision.

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