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Well, the great San Diego Hotel Nightmare is over for many…and just beginning for others. The hotel reservation system went online today at 9 am pst. The Hyatt was sold out in 13 minutes. By 30 minutes almost every close hotel was gone. As we write this, all rooms have been gone for a couple of hours, even the W Hotel’s $369 “Wonderful room.” There are random rooms available Sunday and a few other nights at some hotels, but you’re going to have to figure that out yourself.

We got in at the hotel of our choice — WOOT! — but only using two browsers and two phones. If you don’t sit at the computer/phone from 11:55 est on, you are NOT getting in.

As in previous years, the website was slammed from the gitgo, with many heartbreaking time-outs causing dashed dreams for another year. Everyone we talked to was anxious, frustrated and then triumphant when they finally got in.

The Bendis Board and Engine compare horror stories. Over on LJ, we heard from Matt High:

Over the past two weeks, I spent a little time looking at various other possibilities. Last year, we rented a vacation condo for a week. It was pretty far from the convention center (about a mile), but otherwise soooooo much nicer than staying in a hotel. The other big drawback is that you have to pay up front. So, I went searching online to see what was available, and quickly learned that all of the good ones were already taken. All that was left was small rooms (i.e. studio apartments), places far away, and expensive suites ($500 a night, very nice). Oh well. Would have been nice, maybe next year.

So, come this morning I come in early to make a hotel reservation (which starts at 9AM sharp), I check and find an email from Travel Planners confirming my reservation. Score! Checked the information again, and notice a problem — it’s for rooms with TWIN beds. Drats, it’s really too late to change it, so I guess I just have to live with it.

At that time, it was already just after 9AM, so I thought I would try my luck with the online reservation system. Hah. As expected (and just like in previous years) the site is slammed, and takes several minutes per page to load. By the time I finally do get through half an hour later, nearly everything is already booked up. Again, no surprise — same as previous years.


And Paul Dini:

Hell Morning
Well, it’s that most frustrating day of the year for comic fans and comic con goers, the morning when hotel rooms go on sale for this July’s San Diego Comic Con. As usual the frenzy started at 9:00 AM Pacific time and as usual, Travel Planners, the crap travel company that the San Diego Con insists on using despite years and years of ineptitude, did their usual crap job. That is to say, from the moment Misty and I started calling just before nine from two separate phone lines, we received nothing but busy signals. We also tried making reservations on line from both a PC and Mac, and again, the page to make reservations timed out every time. After a half hour of misery, I simply called the hotel I wanted directly and yes, they had rooms for the con. I wound up paying a lot more than if I were (theoretically) able to get a room through the con website, but at least I have the satisfaction of knowing I have the room I want in the hotel I want with no money from me going to crap Travel Planners.

But no worries, you CAN still get a San Diego hotel room per Sandiegohotels. You can stay downtown for anywhere from $350-500 a night. The Hyatt is currently $419 a night. Or go out to Shelter Island or Seaworld for $200 a night. That’s not really that bad a deal, all things considered.

The general mood this year seems to be that San Diego has jumped the shark, however. Too much money, too much hassle. A lot of people will make last minute plans or just skip it entirely.

Previously:
(2006) Why you didn’t get a hotel room in San Diego:
(2006) Did you get in?
(2006) No room at the inn 2006
(2005) SD hotel thoughts
(2005) Room at the Inn? San Diego hotel update
(2005) Will trade U2 tickets for hotel reservation

1 COMMENT

  1. I got my reservation, but haven’t received an e-mail yet. I printed off my confirmation, just to be safe.

    It was hell getting a room, I ddin’t really havethis hassle last year. I’m hoping I can just crash at a friends placein SD and cancel this reservation. It would be nice to save that $600.

  2. I want to know WHO got those coveted Hyatt rooms! And HOW! This morning was unreal. I have nothing to add that wasn’t already said above. We got a room, but it was our second-to-last available choice, and booked about 30 minutes after the site went live. THAT was as fast as the browsers would operate.

  3. As you noted in your article above, I was able to reserve rooms through the online system (took about an hour). By 930AM, there were about six choices for 4-person rooms. By 10AM, it was down to the 3 off-site locations. Even the Sheraton (with its 2000+ rooms) filled up fast. As I write this at 3PM, there’s nothing available for anything anywhere of any size, except for single nights here and there.

    This will be my 16th year attending Comic-Con, and perhaps my last. The hassle is just too damn much. There’s so many other conventions out there.

    What I’ve learned: Forget the official channels entirely. Start looking *early* (like 6, 8, 10 months in advance), and expect to pay $300+ a night — in advance — if you want to stay downtown. I’ve reached the point where I would be willing to pay through the nose for convenience, rather than have to spend an hour trying to drive in from some remote location.

  4. I’m glad I had already reserved a room, albeit at a higher price. No luck on finding something better.

    I look forward to buying new comics from Raina! *hint hint I loved Earthquake Weather*

  5. It jumped the shark for me last year. From when I picked up my press badge and was firmly told that there was no press room this year (and since this was my first year as press, well, I didn’t discover that the guy I spoke to was full of XXXX until Sunday) to volunteers telling me I couldn’t sit on the floor and use a chair for desk to type on or saying snottily that I should have showed up an hour early if I wanted to get into a panel (waving the press pass and telling them that I was working for the last hour, and I had an appointment to speak with someone inside didn’t do jack…)

    It did not go well, no it did not.

  6. I got lucky! Booked a room online from Wed-Mon and was done by 12:05 EST. God, is it stressful, though, waiting that last five minutes for the site to go live!

  7. What I’d like to know is who was just reserving Wednesday and Saturday nights at the Embassy? That screwed me up worse than anything…once the online site came up at 11:08am Central.

  8. We had our browser ready for some quick draw action about 5 minutes before registration went live. We even tried typing the URL as an “https”, in hopes of hopping directly onto the secure server (like people did on Amazon for that Xbox sale), but it didn’t seem to make a difference.

    The server seemed to freeze up on our last step, while we simultaneously hit redail on our phone until we got through. The phone method ended up working best in the end.

    I also want to add that the gentleman who helped us over the phone was very friendly, helpful and even a little bit funny, to whomever it may concern.

  9. I got through to the web site at 12:30pm (Eastern) and managed to snag a room at the Westin Horton Plaza. Not bad, really. Took a little patience though.

  10. Okay, I give up; no more San Diego for me. For the second year I totally missed the secret room-block release. In all the sites that I visit, daily, none mentioned which day the release was coming. Probably because all the editors and bloggers need to get their own rooms.

    Heidi, we’ll have to have dinner again at SPX, but I likely will never be at SDCC, again. Can’t say as I’ll miss it, from what I’ve heard, in recent years.

  11. I made a reservation at my hotel of choice last August, just in case I couldn’t get thru today (I couldn’t). So I’m a paying a wee bit more but at least I know I have a room at my fave place. And I agree with Paul, Travel Planners is LAME.

  12. For Otakon, I never get a room inside the official block. I get a room close to Transit. I already have my room for $110 a night five miles away at the Holiday Inn-National City.

  13. Twice I had the Marriot Marina ready to confirm, and twice the %#[email protected]! server lost my info at the last step and dumped me back into the queue. Maddening! Finally got the Sofia (anyone have any idea what or where that is? Jackie E. sent me something saying it was by the Greyhound Bus depot!), which is apparently at least within H-bomb blast radius of the convention center.

    One other strange note. My wife finally got through on the phone and joined the waitlist to move up to a better location. Apparently the waitlist is only for people who already have a reservation. Go figure.

  14. RE: David Frankel…

    Comic-Con sent out a postcard with info about the date the reservations would open up.

    If you aren’t on their mailing list, you should sign up. I know this doesn’t help this year, but maybe for next year if you should change your mind?

  15. I got a room for this year’s San Diego but not at the hotel I wanted (the Westin). It’s becoming a complete joke: this year is the ninth one I’ve attended in a row and unlike most of the people responding to this thread, I have the added fun of travelling thousands of miles to get there (from London) so on top of the pain in the arse that is the annual San Diego room wacky race, I have to shell out around $1200 airfare. Every year there are horror stories of people being unable to get rooms. The show is either a victim of its own success or the travel company isn’t running things as efficiently as it should.
    San Diego is becoming far too much of an effort. This may be my last San Diego too

  16. Haven’t been to SD since 1997. Maybe I’m not missing much.

    Quite a bit different from going in the 1980s, when you could just saunter up to a Harlan Ellison or Archie Goodwin, and have a nice conversation.

    And Heroes’ Con is quite nice…although I haven’t been there for a bit as well.

  17. Being a novice to all this and being my first year wanting to attend I anxiously waited by phone and computer till the “magic hour”. Found out quickly that no amount of technology or skill was going to work. After almost 2 hours of busy signals and slow loading web pages I made it to the confirmation portion for rooms in the host hotel. But each time I clicked confirm I got an error message. Finally lost the page altogether. I was ready to give up and finally after a short time out I was able to get rooms for 2 nights at the Hilton Gaslamp across the street…thus keeping my hopes alive of attending the Comic Con. I agree there should be a better way of reserving rooms and the current system is a bust. I hope the convention was worth all the time and stress just to register. If I plan on attending in the future it will probably be worth biting the bullet and paying extra to get a room at the regular price to avoid all the madness of “after Thanksgiving Day” sales rush.

  18. I’ve had much better success online booking rooms elsewhere in San Diego, often for a fraction of what the cool kids pay for the “official” rooms.

    More cash for comics and other cool stuff is always more preferrable to being six floors down from my favorite Rock Star creator.

  19. Oy, get out of the Sofia if you can, it’s down the street from the City Jail and right next door to the Greyhound.

    I actually had the best luck coming back 2 hours or so after the site went live — no problem getting the site to load, and by then people had canceled some of their 2nd/3rd choice reservations. I managed to get Thurs-Sat nights at Holiday Inn.

  20. In the past, I’ve usually stayed at the San Diego Youth Hostel run by Hostelling International. They used to share space with the Y over by the bus station just north of Horton Plaza, but now own their own building in Old Town. My suggestion? Sometimes they have private rooms available. Or get four (six, eight) friends together and monopolize a dorm room. (Usually bunk beds, but if you’re like most conventioneers, you just need a place to sleep, shower, and store your swag.)

    http://www.sandiegohostels.org/ or 619-525-1531

    They also have another location on Point Loma.

    And one year I did stay at the Y.

    I am also a former employee of HI-AYH.

    If I had money, I’d stay across the bay at Coronado.

  21. http://www.sandiegohotels.com/

    I just searched the above site, and found some decent listings. Select “Downtown” and you’ll do okay. You might also consider the airport, and catch a taxi to the Convention Center.

    Of course, I’m a New Yorker, and a backpacker, so I’m not above walking a few miles to save some money, or taking public transportation to get to where I need to go. Considering the distance travelled to get to the “official” hotels, one might just decide to hop the trolley in front of the Convention Center, grab a seat, and relax for a few minutes on your way back to the hotel. Or just walk from Downtown through the Gaslamp Quarter to the convention center early in the morning. It’s nice and quiet and gets your body warmed up for the convention. Stop by Ralph’s for some snacks to consume while at the convention (I buy a box of breakfast bars) and save time and money. (Convention food is not that great, and the lines are probably as long as those for signings.)

  22. Well just when you thought things were going great. If you recall my previous post after 2 hours I got a room at the Hilton Gaslamp across the street from the Convention Center. Well almost one month to the day I get a call from the company that makes the reservations for the Convention and they inform me that a “computer glitch” overbooked rooms. So I was offered different lodging, 8 blocks away…but on the shuttle route, $50 for my troubles and rooms $20 cheaper a night than the Hilton. Oh, and I was being contacted because I was one of the “last” people who got their room in the big “computer glitch.” So being the nice guy/dumb a** that I am I agreed to the offer. After careful reflection I should have declined the offer and told them its your “computer glitch” so you will have to find another way of fixing it that I had printed confirmation of my original lodging arrangements. Any ways live and learn. Kind of like going to Las Vegas, dont plan on spending alot of time in the room but for sleeping anyways.