A package deal that ain't no deal: The Sheraton Nassau's "Companion Flies Free" promotion

Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort in the Bahamas is offering a free roundtrip flight deal for guests who book a four-night stay.

On the surface, the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort's "Companion Flies Free" package announced yesterday sounds amazing: It offers a free roundtrip companion flight to the Bahamas for guests who book a four night stay, and 40 percent savings on room rates. But we at Oyster are always a little skeptical of hotel package deals, so we embarked on a fact finding mission to get the truth. Has the recession caused the Sheraton to resort to desperate measures to fill rooms, or is the deal too good to be true? Welcome back to Oyster’s Bundle Breakdowns, where we go through the painstaking process of (roughly) breaking down the costs of popular hotel bundle offerings to determine whether you’re getting a steal or getting robbed.

First, we called the advertised number (1-866-789-5485) and expressed interest in booking a four-night trip for two Jan. 28 - Feb. 1, with roundtrip flights from New York City. The price our helpful phone operative returned with sounded pretty steep, and she couldn't give us an exact breakdown of costs (always a little suspicious), but she gave us enough information for us to figure out the basics:

Sheraton package breakdown

  • Four night stay in a resort view room + ground transportation to and from airport + taxes: $1450
  • Northwest Airlines roundtrip airfare for one + taxes: $384.40
  • Northwest Airlines roundtrip airfare for one: Free
  • Total: $1834.40

Hardly inexpensive, but we figured it might still be cheaper than paying for everything ourselves. To check, we turned to Oyster's handy pricing matrix and picked the cheapest hotel rate listed, from Orbitz.com. We also used Orbitz to check rates for the same Northwest Airlines flight the Sheraton representative selected for us (which was indeed, as she promised, the least expensive option). Here's what we found:

Booking engine breakdown

  • Four night stay in a resort view room: $827 ($206.75/nt)
  • Hotel stay taxes: $115.64
  • Ground transportation to and from airport: $64
  • Two roundtrip flights on Northwest Airlines, including taxes: $582.40
  • Total: $1589.04

So there you have it: Somehow, the Sheraton's free roundtrip flight deal is $245.36 more expensive than using a booking engine to pay for both flights yourselves. Pretty fishy, eh?

Still, sketchy offers aside, we like the Sheraton Nassau: It has great rooms, a gorgeous beachfront, three great pools, a top-notch gym, a friendly staff, and is, in fact, one of the best values in the Bahamas right now. Click here to see our list of ten more cheap warm weather getaways.

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