Every agent has a list of suppliers that they are "allowed" to book with, meaning that their agency has a contract with that supplier who has agreed to pay a commission to the agency. That list is usually quite big (Apple, Funjet, Go Go, WorryFree, TNT, GWV, Travel Impressions and so on....). The way it works is if I check for a certain hotel and the place that I personally like to book with is sold out, I move along to the next place, and then the next.
If NO ONE has the hotel, I have to say it's sold out. Now, just because it's sold out for ME, doesn't mean it's sold out for everyone. Each supplier is given a certain number of rooms at each hotel that they can book. For instance, Apple starts us out with 14 standard rooms and maybe some suites. Once they are gone, they are usually gone. Occasionally, they may release a few more but it's not likely. Another agency may deal with a different supplier that I do not have access to and they may indeed have that hotel still available. Sort of makes the agents who say that it's sold out look stupid :roll: , but that's the jist of what goes on.
As for booking with the other companies you mentioned, I am unfamiliar with them. But you have to decide what is most important to you...to get the exact hotel you want and take a chance with a company in another country you are not familiar with or stick with a well known tour company, such as Apple, etc.
If something were to happen while you were there, would an in hotel representitive be there to help you out? This is a question that you should ask. Being left standing at check in without a room or getting bumped to a hotel you could have reserved in the first place (and maybe paid less for) isn't the best way to start a vacation.
P.S. hey snoopy...do I know you? :lol: interesting, this incognito stuff. :wink: