On a recent trip to a resort area hotel, I needed to decide whether to valet park. I was traveling with my daughter and her Technology Student Association team for a competition and we had LOTS of stuff with us. While valet parking might make it easier to unload and load, I recently committed to following a budget and this was an excellent opportunity to save.
Below is a list of factors to consider when deciding which path to take:
- First and foremost, your safety trumps any savings you might realize. If you are traveling alone, arriving after dark, or your hotel is in a large city, valet parking may be a wise choice.
- Is it likely to rain during your stay? Is it humid, snowing, etc.? If you need to look your best, it may be worthwhile to plunk down some extra bills to slide into the front seat of your climate-controlled vehicle under a covered drive.
- How far away is the self-parking? Is it an uphill trek in high heels or dress shoes? Or is it immediately adjacent to the valet? Depending upon the location, it might even be easier to self -park than valet.
- Damage to your vehicle. Will your ride be safer in the hands of the valet drivers or in the general parking area? This one is harder to determine but consider who runs the valet operation. I stayed at a highly regarded hotel several years ago. The day of my departure when my minivan was driven up to the valet area, I noticed a large dent in the rear bumper. I was surprised to learn the valet operation had no affiliation with the hotel chain. I filled out paperwork, made multiple phone calls and was repeatedly stonewalled. When I contacted the hotel, they told me they had no responsibility for the valet operation. You may want to inquire before handing over your keys!
On the trip with my daughter and her technology team, I observed that self-parking was very close to the hotel entrance. It was much more convenient to access my car whenever needed without having to wait for, and repeatedly tip, the valet staff.
So, the answer this time is NO, VALET PARKING WAS NOT WORTH IT!