Learn how hotels and motels in Queenstown differ from other accommodation providers in New Zealand when it comes to booking in peak and off peak season and cancellation policies.
If you’re booking accommodation yourself, as independent travelers usually do, you might get overwhelmed by the amount of hotels and motels that are located in Queenstown. An extension of this is that it won’t be easy to make a choice.
Motels and hotels in Queenstown are no different than any other place in New Zealand or the world for that matter. The only difference is that Queenstown can get very busy at times, so the demand on accommodation may be higher than elsewhere in New zealand.
Consequently, you may encounter Queenstown hotels and motels that apply strange “rules” to booking a room with them. This article tries to put these “rules” into perspective.
Peak Season And Off Peak Season In Queenstown New Zealand
It seems like it’s always peak season in Queenstown throughout the entire year, or at least, whenever I’m there. But there are a few months during the year that can be considered off peak.
Because of the ski season, the peak season for Queenstown starts in June and ends by the end of October. Then there is a relatively calm period in November until mid December when things start to pick up again. And then there is another peak season lasting from December 20 until the end of March.
From this we can conclude that the off peak season is in April, May, and November. Outside of these months, Queenstown is a busy little city.
About Queenstown Hotel And Motel Cancellation Policies
Cancellation policies for Queenstown hotels and motels come in one of 4 flavors:
- A flexible cancellation policy
- A one night’s charge cancellation policy
- A full charge cancellation policy (on no show or when cancelled late)
- A prepaid and non-refundable cancellation policy
The amount of time you’ve got to cancel a reservation depends on whether it is peak season or off peak season. In peak season, Queenstown hotels and motels may ask you to cancel up to 14 days in advance, while in off peak season this cancellation period may be up to 48 or 72 hours in advance.
Even if you opt for flexibility some Queenstown hotels require you to cancel 24 or 48 hours in advance, not to be charged one night’s accommodation. Some Queenstown motels may even charge you the full amount of your stay if you’re late cancelling your reservation. Otherwise, you’ve got up to a certain time, e.g. until 6 p.m. on the day of arrival, to cancel your reservation.
The added flexibility also means that the Queenstown hotel room rates you’ll be paying will be higher than other less flexible rates.
Non-flexible rates usually require full payment in advance without the option to cancel or change your reservation. In essence, it means you lose the entire sum of money that you paid if you do not show up and/or would like to change your reservation. You might find a few hotels that offer an option to change your reservation, but for an additional fee.
The reason why hotels and motels in Queenstown do this is because tourism in Queenstown is big business. Queenstown is one of the most tourist-oriented cities in New Zealand, and much is catered around tourism.
So if you cancel your reservation late and a hotel or motel is unable to get someone else to book your room, they lose money. To avoid this, they’ve put such strict cancellation policies in place to protect themselves against financial loss.
Not all hotels and motels are transparent about their cancellation policy, so if you cannot find the cancellation policy of a Queenstown hotel or motel on their website, send them a short email requesting it. Most will provide you with it; if they don’t or refuse to, it might be best to take your business elsewhere.
It is always best to buy travel insurance that will cover any cancellations you make when choosing a non-flexible rate or when having to prepay your reservation.
You really don’t want to wind up in a situation where 12 days before your trip to Queenstown something out of your control happens so that you are unable to travel to Queenstown (for example, if your mother died), but you also lose $875 or more, because you did not cancel your reservation 14 days in advance. That would be twice as much grief you’d have to deal with.