BUDGET TRAVEL BLOG

How to Get Luxury 5-Star Hotel Deals

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Travel is an industry that sells you temporary luxury. It's why a one-week vacation for a family of four costs the same as their monthly at home cost of living. Fortunately, the price of attaining luxury can vary substantially, and high end resorts rarely change the same rates across the board for the same rooms. Whether you want to stay at the Four Seasons, the Fairmont, Ritz Carleton, or the Mandarin Oriental, here are proven ways you can snag great luxury hotel deals. 


Over Water Bungalows
If over water bungalows have been beyond your financial reach, you need to know about the AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort. Just 10 minutes from the Kuala Lumpur airport, these over water bungalows go for as little as $83 U.S./night ($102CDN). In the screenshot below you can see this fare in my search result which is accompanied with over 5,000 reviews and a 7.2/10 guest satisfaction rating.


If you love this deal, but aren't keen on going to Kuala Lampur, PriceOfTravel.com compiled a list of the worlds's 28 cheapest over water bungalows with the bulk of them being in the Maldives, Malaysia, and the closest one to North America being in Panama. View the full list here.


Luxury Downtown Hotels
Looking for a metropolitan experience? Luxury hotels located near convention centres routinely offer discounted blocks of rooms for conference goers, with the best luxury hotel deals being for conferences attracting high net worth professionals (i.e.: executives, lawyers, doctors, dentists, entrepreneurs).

Now you never heard the next part from me, but you can get these discounts even if you aren't attending the conference. Of course, your stay has to be during the conference dates to qualify, but all you need to do is call the hotel, say you will be attending the conference, and say the conference quoted you the group rate you saw on their website, and that they told you to call to book your room. 

How to Find Group Discounts at Luxury Hotels:
1. Lookup the upcoming events at the city's biggest convention center. For example, here is the list of upcoming events at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver:


2. Look for conferences that attract high net worth professionals. For example, I'm going to select the Rocky Mountain Dental Convention, and you can see the convention center has a link to the conference website which I'm going to click:


3. Once on the conference website, lookup the section for exhibitors, and it almost always has a tab with accommodation options: 


4. This is where you will find the discounted conference rates. In this case:

  • 36% OFF at the Four Seasons ($235 v.s. $368 standard rate)
  • 23% OFF at the Hyatt Regency ($199 v.s. $259 standard rate)


5. To book a room at these discounted fares, you need to book you room direct with the hotel:
  • If the conference posted a discount code, use that code on the hotel's website when booking your reservation.
  • If no discount code was posted, call the hotel, say you will be attending the conference, and that you were told to call the hotel to get a room at the conference group rate.

* Before you Do This: Every conference agreement is unique, and you will occasionally run into unexpected roadblocks. But with the sheer volume of conferences taking place in every big city, you will occasionally snag better luxury hotel deals using this hack than with other strategies.


Hidden Luxury Hotel Deals
Before you book any luxury hotel, always compare the price you found to Priceline which sometimes offers deeper discounts than other websites. You will often get a better fare for a 5-star hotel in the same area as the one you were considering. The catch is, Priceline does not reveal the exact hotel until you pay a non-refundable booking. This isn't as crazy as it may sound, as Priceline does reveal: 

  • City name and area of town (i.e.: Central Park South, NYC)
  • Hotel category (i.e.: 5-stars)




Keep the 3rd Party Commissions for your 5-Star Room
Anytime you book a room on a third party website, that website earns a third party booking fee from the hotel which can add up to as much as 30% of your fare. Hotels choose not to undercut these websites because it boosts their profits for direct bookings, and it inflates all hotel costs across the board. 

To get a cut of this booking fee, hotel booking websites Triphop.com and TRVL.com split the commission they receive from hotels with you. Better yet, they disclose how much you will get in your search result, which can be upward of 10 - 20% of your room rate:

This Triphop.com listing at the 5-star Park Hyatt Dubai offers $102.39 in cash back (18.5% of the total fare) for a 3-nigh stay.


Cities with Cheapest 5-Star Hotels

This study by PriceOfTravel.com ranks 104 cities with the least expensive 5-star resorts in the world. Number 1 on the list is Kuta which in the outskirts of Bali, Indonesia, with 5-star hotels going for as little as $24/night. Kuta overtook Phuket which dropped from the top spot to number 4.

As incredible as this deal is, you might not be willing to fly to Bali for it. Here's what you can do instead:
  1. Start at the top of this list of cities with the world's cheapest 5-star hotels.
  2. Scroll down until you find a destination you'd like to visit. That is where you should take your next 5-star escape.
  3. To deepen your discount, leverage the above mentioned hacks using Priceline, conference discounts, and/or collect 3rd party booking commissions.

Luxury Furnished Condos

How does two hours of your time sound in return for upwards of 50% OFF a fully furnished condo for a 3 or 4 day stay? I routinely stay in furnished condos at deep discounts in return for attending timeshare sales presentations - and often leave with freebies which have included dining vouchers, discounts on excursions, hotel gift cards, and it's even how I got my DVD player!

Two ways to get invited to a timeshare sales presentation
  1. IntervalWorld.com has a list of vacation ownership companies you can browse. These websites often post deals on their homepage, and you can contact them directly to book your ownership presentation.
  2. Timeshare companies also exhibit at consumer travel and vacation shows where they have contests you can sign-up to. Although I've never won a prize this way, I always get a follow up call offering me a discounted stay at their resort if I agree to attend their ownership sales presentation. 
Once you book your ownership sales presentation, watch this video for details on what to expect, and how to navigate the presentation to not buy anything.


5-Star Hostels

Before you frown at the mention of hostels in a luxury travel article, meet HostelGeeks.com co-founder and world traveler Matt Kiefer who may be the world's most hosteled person. In every major city, Matt found the best, swankiest and classiest hostel, ranking it as a '5-Star Hostel. "From roof-top swimming pools, to stunning set-ups in former wineries and art galleries, we have certified one amazing hostel in almost every major world city" Matt says. His acclaimed list of 5-star hostels includes Captain Coconuts located in Gilli Air, Indonesia (picture below). Click here to see a video of the hostel:

                 

Leverage Strategies to Multiply your Savings
The following video shows how I got 60% OFF at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier by leveraging a corporate rate I was entitled to, with gift cards I got from from Costco and a BMW test drive:


Summary on Getting Luxury Hotel Deals

Unlike most luxury travel articles that tell you where to stay, this article empowers you to find luxury hotel deals anywhere in the world. This is your 'how-to' guide for planning 5-star luxury vacations online, and is sure to land you lavish digs at enviable rates.


Here's to Toasting in Luxury Hotel Lounges!


P.S.: If you do this, consider accessing Triphop.com via a link within this article. I earn a small commission at no cost to you, enabling me to offer free content without any ads.



Once feeling unable to afford to travel, Russell Hannon uses lean principles to travel at a fraction of the going rate. He has been featured on CNBC, FOX, CBS, America Tonight, CTV, CBC, Around the World Travel TV and nationally broadcast lifestyle and personal finance shows. He also wrote 'Stop Dreaming Start Traveling: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling More and Spending Less' available at StopDreamingStartTraveling.com.


FREE GUIDE: Download 'Beat the best Online Fare - Every Time, Every Flight at BreakTheTravelBarrier.com  

Ways to Save on a Weekend Escape

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When's the last time a trip cost less than you expected?
This travel spending survey says 68% of travelers overspend when on vacation. If you're like most people, you likely don't get to travel as much as you'd like to. And when you finally do break away for a quick escape, you justify overspending using the logic you deserve it, and that you won't let a dollar deprive your long overdue holiday. 

TRUTH IS you don't need to spend a fortune to have a great vacation, and here are some quick and easy ways you can save money on a weekend road trip. 

                                                                
CLICK HERE to hear me discuss ways to cut the cost of a weekend road trip on CBC.


WAYS TO SAVE on ROAD TRIPS

                                                             
To find the best price for gas at nearby gas stations,
Gas Buddy is a GPS integrated app that lists all nearby gas stations with prices by fuel grade and directions from your current location.


If you are a Costco member, just about every Costco store sells discount coupons redeemable at nearby restaurants, hotels, spas and attractions in the form of $100 pre-paid gift cards you can purchase for $80, and also in bundles of 3 for the price of 2. You won't always find these discounts on the store's website as they are local deals, so you can call a store in your destination city to find out what discount coupons they have, or simply stop into a store once you arrive: 



If you subscribe to either Groupon or Living Social,
two weeks before your trip, change your hometown in your account to the destination you will be visiting to get emails with discount coupons that target locals. These deals target locals and tourists are often unaware of them:



For 2-for-1 coupons and upward of 40% OFF 
activities, restaurants, golf, spas, hotels and excursions in most major U.S. cities, travelzoo.com has more than 1,600 discount coupons neatly organized by city. On their homepage, simply type the name of the city you will be visiting in the search field, then browse all the discount coupons specific to that destination. I did this prior to visiting New York City and scored 2-for-1 tickets to the Lion King on Broadway:



To find inexpensive things to do,
before your trip, run a google search using the name of the city you will be visiting with the words 'events newsletter.' When your google search returns all the local events newsletters, sign-up to those that interest you. This is a clever way to learn about free and inexpensive events most tourists do not know of. I did this before traveling to Phoenix, and it's how I learned of a Major League Baseball Cactus League festival taking place in old town Scottsdale. The festival was free to attend, and I would have never known about it had I not signed up to that newsletter:



If you are looking for a last-minute flight,
air traffic are prices are heavier on long-weekends, so being flexible is important to getting a good deal. I find great flight deals by following a handful of newsletters and social media pages that scour thousands of online deals and share the crème-de-la-crème for you to cherry pick from. They consistently impress me with great deals, and I list them here.

The most common mistake travelers make on a weekend escape is trying to do too much by cramming as much as you can into the little time that you have.  Yes I get that you want to make the most of your weekend escape, but don't discount the value of rest and relation.

CLICK HERE to hear me discuss ways to cut the cost of a weekend road trip on CBC.


Once feeling unable to afford to travel, Russell Hannon uses lean principles to travel at a fraction of the going rate. He has been featured on CNBC, FOX, CBS, America Tonight, CTV, CBC, Around the World Travel TV and nationally broadcast lifestyle and personal finance shows. He also wrote 'Stop Dreaming Start Traveling: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling More and Spending Less' available at stopdreamingstarttaveling.com

FREE GUIDE: Download 'Beat the best Online Fare - Every Time, Every Flight at breakthetravelbarrier.com                  

Pocket Commissions When Booking Your Hotel

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Do you book direct with hotels to avoid paying third party booking fees? If so, I hate to break the news that you still pay these fees even when booking direct. 

That's because hotels bake the cost of commissions they pay to third party websites (i.e.: Expedia, Priceline, Hotels.com) into their rack room rate. This is one reason fares posted by hotels are not lower than those offered on third party websites, but there are other factors...

Third party websites would go broke if they charged more than the hotels themselves for the same rooms. The reason hotels do not undercut these websites is they get a lot of business from these websites they would not otherwise get. So it's in the hotel's best overall interest to keep prices at par.

Difference between booking direct v.s. a third party:

   Commissions Loyalty Rewards 
 When Booking Direct  Hotel bakes 3rd party commission costs into room rates  Entitled to points per the chain's loyalty program
 Booking via 3rd Party  Website gets a commission from the hotel  Not entitled to points when booking via 3rd party websites



Earn Commission When Booking Your Hotel

Triphop.com splits with you the booking commissions they receive from hotels for your hotel booking. Although commission amounts vary by hotel, you can realistically get 10 - 12% of your room cost back as I did while visiting Colorado Springs:



Cash back payouts of 10% or more are hands down better value than what the top loyalty programs offer, which is 1 free night for 10 nights paid. If a 10% incentive isn't enough to sway you, Triphop.com rewards are paid in cash, whereas points offered through loyalty programs limit your redemptions to rooms within their chain and catalogue items. 


 

 
Business Travelers

If you travel for work on the company dime, book your hotel on  Triphop.com using your personal credit card, then claim those expenses for reimbursement from your company. Since Triphop.com releases your cash reward to your Triphop.com account upon checkout, you get 10% or more of the cost of a room you didn't pay out of pocket for. 



Cheers to earning commission when booking your hotel!

P.S.: If you do this, consider accessing Triphop.com via a link within this article. I earn a small commission at no cost to you, enabling me to offer free content without any ads.



Once feeling unable to afford to travel, Russell Hannon uses lean principles to travel at a fraction of the going rate. He has been featured on CNBC, FOX, CBS, America Tonight, CTV, CBC, Around the World Travel TV and nationally broadcast lifestyle and personal finance shows. He also wrote 'Stop Dreaming Start Traveling: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling More and Spending Less' available at StopDreamingStartTraveling.com.


FREE GUIDE: Download 'Beat the best Online Fare - Every Time, Every Flight at BreakTheTravelBarrier.com  

Camp Free (or super cheap)

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Tips for Glampers & Budget Travelers


If you've been following me on Facebook or Twitter (@Russellhannon), you likely know I have a weekly Budget Travel segment on CBC. It has me staying close to home for the summer, as I have to appear live in studio. This suits my travel style as I tend to travel most during the shoulder season when there are fewer travelers, prices are lower, and the temperature is comfortable in most places.

For many, camping is part of the summer travel experience. And with camping season in full swing, it seems fitting to kick off my summer travel series talking about:

  • Ways to Camp Free (and super cheap)
  • How to snag a campsite in peak camping season
  • Budget-friendly tips for "Glampers" (a.k.a.: Glamorous Campers)
  • Resources for first-time campers
  • Tips for finding campgrounds at the last-minute

CLICK HERE
to listen to the interview.

      OR

CBC did a fantastic job converting the interview into an article.
CLICK HERE for the full article.


When researching campsites
Freeampsites is an app with a map that has pins showing campsites that are FREE to stay at. Each campsite has a brief description and many have guest reviews.

AllStays Camp & RV is an app with maps with 30,000 U.S. and Canadian campgrounds including RV parks, military family camps, and overnight RV parking at Walmarts, casinos. truck stops with amenities and rest areas. You can browse guest reviews and the app has site specific information on pricing, GPS coordinates and utility information including whether each site have a pool, playground, laundry facilities, propane, RV dump stations and pet policies. The maps are downloadable so that you can access them offline. This can come in handy - especially handy when mobile reception is not always reliable in the country.

The local author section of every bookstore likely has books with information about nearby campgrounds and outdoor excursions in addition to local hiking guides and trail maps.

For newbie campers: Parks Canada offers this camping packing checklist to help you pack all the things you'll be glad you have once you're in the bush.

Before you rent a camper or RV,
ask yourself if you know someone who owns one. Often, campers and RV's spend most of their time parked in the driveway. By offering a few dollars to borrow one from friends or family, they will often be glad to lend it to you, and the dollars they get in exchange will be a much appreciated bonus.




Happy Camping! 


Once feeling unable to afford to travel, Russell Hannon uses lean principles to travel at a fraction of the going rate. He's been featured on CNBC, FOX, America Tonight, CBS, CTV, CBC, the National Post, Around the World Travel TV and nationally broadcast lifestyle and personal finance shows. He is the author of ‘Stop Dreaming Start Traveling: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling More and Spending Less’ available at StopDreamingStartTraveling.com. 

FREE GUIDE: Download ‘Beat the Best Online Fare – Every Time, Every Flight’ at BreakTheTravelBarrier.com