My third-party travel booking nightmare turned into a dreamy booking

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Updated: Feb 1, 2024
Ok, for many years I’ve said it time and again, I’ve never had trouble booking using the bank’s travel portal or third-party booking such as Expedia, Travelocity, Travelzoo, HotelTonight, and such. I’ve also booked many flights thru Chase and American Express travel, many boutique hotels with Chase and Capital One and I never once had a problem. We are talking worldly travels to Bali, Peru, Japan, Philippines, Spain, Amsterdam, and more. Yes, never a problem. Until now.

We don’t have a reservation for you, Mr. Francisco

Nancy and I strolled around Santorini. We had a booking at Nomikos Villas in Fira. It’s a property that we booked using Capital One Trave portal. Our Capital One Venture X gives us $300 annual travel credit when we book our travels via Capital One. For me, I use this perk when I search for specialty boutique hotels and many of those are located in Greece.
The standard room that we booked was only $169 per night (including fees). The reviews and photos looked great and we couldn’t pass up the $169 deal.
I told Nancy I had no desire to visit the property during our stroll since we were going to check in the following day. But we were only five minutes away from Nomikos Villas, and decided to visit anyway.
Nomikos Villas, oh my! What a gorgeous boutique hotel that’s facing the caldera. Arguably stunning property. Olga, from the front desk, greeted us, and we informed her that we just wanted to double check if she had our reservation. She remembered me because I sent an email 3 weeks ago. I actually had two reservations (one I had to cancel and the other one I kept).
After giving Olga our confirmation info, our reservation was not in their system. Nancy and I both checked our Capital One trips, and her account did have the hotel confirmation number but Olga could not retrieve Nancy’s reservation.
The issue: Capital One had a confirmed reservation but Olga (Nomikos Villa) could not see that reservation.

Step one – Get to the source

I wasted no time by making Olga check her system. I had to get to the root cause. My booking was with Capital One, that was my focus.
I pulled out our Capital One Venture X card, called the #, spoke with Edith, Capital One rep, who confirmed that she could see a valid reservation a standard room for $169. It was an active reservation.  I had the call on speaker so Olga could hear the conversation. Edith offered to check on our reservation, and promised to call us back.
After 15 minutes, Edith apologized that while Capital One provided us a hotel confirmation number, that # was never confirmed by Nomikos Villas which was the reason I was not in their system.

Step two – Fix this, Capital One

Edith kept on apologizing, but I explained to her that her apology did not put me in a good position. We were without a room to use. She offered $100 credit as a courtesy, and while I appreciated that I respectfully said the trouble this had given us. We were on vacation, thousands of miles away from home, a dream vacation, and now we are left with the task of finding ourselves a room on our own. I said that was unacceptable. I told her I wasn’t mad at her, but upset with this situation. She apologized, and understood, put me on hold and got her escalations manager, Sam.

Step three – Capital One, please do better

Sam, the escalations manager,  apologized, and offered to book another room for us at no additional cost. He started blurting out different properties, and I had to stop him. Why? I told Sam it took us weeks to look up different properties for this dream vacation. We searched and read reviews online, watched YouTube videos about the properties. While I appreciated his help in being proactive in booking us a room, I simply could not decide on a whim and agree on whatever property comes out of his mouth. I reiterated, this was a dream vacation, location was key, and the type of room and amenities were all part of our research.

Step four – Negotiate

Sam apologized once again. He understood my frustration. He said that if I were to book on my own, the “credit” would not work. He would have to book it on his end (which I understood). We had to come to a compromise. You have to picture that we were at Nomikos Villas front desk (a tiny little space) when this call took place. I asked Sam to please call us back in one hour. I also asked him to please provide the names of the properties he saw that were available. I wanted to give them a quick look and make my decision from there. Sam provided a list of 10 properties. He assured me that the properties he mentioned had available rooms which would cost more, and that I would not be responsible in paying for the price difference.

Step five – Look up the properties and make a decision and stat

Nancy and I went to work. We got on my PC back at the hotel and began looking at the properties Sam provided. We chose 3 out of the 10 properties and prioritized the ones we liked best.

Step six – Confirm and book with Cap One

Sam called back an hour later. We told him of the properties we chose (from the list he gave) . We chose Adamant Suites | Luxury Hotel at Fira in Santorini. (how appropriate is that name). Surprisingly, the lowest priced suite starts at $756 with a private pool and views of the caldera). Sam checked it, confirmed it was available. He didn’t even pause to think of the price difference. Remember, the booking that failed was Nomikos Villas for $169, and Adamant Suites at $756. That’s a $587 price diference!
Adamant Suites Santorini


Step Seven – Have the travel department confirm by calling the property

I told Sam that while I trust his confirmation and commitment to resolving this issue, I needed him to call the property directly and confirm that our reservation was indeed in the system. Sam said that was part of his process, and once again, he offered to call us back within a half hour. He did call us back, and provided us the name of person he spoke with over at Adamant Suites

Step Eight- From $169 to $756 – King Pearl Suite with private pool & views

Sam booked us a room, in fact, a better room – a suite with our own private pool with direct views of the caldera. Nancy and I walked over to Adamant Suites, and spoke with Milat who confirmed with me the room was reserved under my name. He also showed the email he received with the confirmation. Milat said everything looked good. All we needed to do was to show up on the day of check in.

Step Nine – Capital One confirmed again

Sam called me once more to ensure that we were able to check with Adamant Suites directly. I did tell him that everything seemed to be in order. He and I summarized what to expect next.
  • The original $169 charge will stay on our account (this was the room for Nomikos Villas)
  • The new booking of $756 was already pre-paid by Capital One and will not be charged to us, all we have to do is show up
  • Any incidentals or taxes/fees will be our responsibility
  • Capital One will also issue a $100 courtesy credit for all the hassle
Sam informed me that he will be off on the the day we will check in and once again advised us to call should there be any issues. He wrote detailed notes on our account.

Takeaways from this experience

Once I realized there was an issue, I had to act quickly and I had to go through the appropriate channels in order to get this resolved.
  • Deal with the 3rd party – in my case, Capital One
  • Provide all the necessary information
  • Explain the hardships caused by their issue
  • Allow them to review and provide resolutions
  • If the resolution is unacceptable, acknowledge the resolution but respectfully ask for the next level for escalation
  • Work with the next level and come to a compromise
  • Be clear and be realistic with your expectations
  • Have a back-up plan in case they are not able to work with your first option
  • Follow up and ensure all details are covered
  • Make a note of everyone you talked to
  • Try and get their best contact information


Biggest lesson-learned

Things happen. Bad things happen. It happens to big and small businesses. When these thing occur, I try to put myself in their situation, and since I still need their help, it’s best that I give them the opportunity to rectify the situation. That is what Sam from Capital One did. The moment he realized that he simply could not just provide the solutions, he realized that I needed him to know the gravity of the situation. it was until then when he realized how to best assist me with this issue.

I took the high road. I didn’t scream in anger the entire time. I was in need of their service, they have the ability to make it right, and I gave them that opportunity. In many cases, that’s all you can do.

What if things didn’t go my way? My goal is to find a place to stay, so that’s first and foremost. Once I find a place that would work for us,  I’ll continue to document and send a letter to Capital One. I would also try and see what my travel insurance could do to help cover the costs associated with finding another property.


Wait, Jason, what about Adamant Suites?

Here’s a teaser. Post to follow.

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Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


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