March 12, 2013

Travel Tips: How to Book the Best Hotels


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I am almost positive that when daylight savings snuck up on us, it decided to jump the clock ahead a full week just to see if anyone noticed. Seriously, where is time going and why wasn't I invited?!

Believe it or not (I'm choosing the latter), we are in our final few weeks before our journey west! Which means I have roughly 736 things to do in approximately 1,209,000 seconds...
1,208,999...1,208,998...

Do not panic! I have it under control. In fact, I crossed off some major to-do-list items yesterday by booking our mini-road-trip-vacation plans yesterday! Those four nights between Colorado and California are now the shiny, glorious carrot-of-resort-bliss that's dangling in front of my face as I begin the tiresome task of building a bonfire with all our belongings packing up our lives. After planning a few rendezvous in foreign countries as our household travel agent over the years, I have learned some tricks I thought I would share with you.

Dailey Travel Tips: How to Book the Best Hotels


1. Use (& abuse) the third party travel sites...

The major websites (cheaptickets.com, cheapcarribean.com, hotels.com, tripadvisor.com) are super user -friendly and make it easy to find, sort, and compare dozens of hotels at once based on specific criteria. They also help you get an idea of the hotel or attraction's ratings at a glance so you can get an unbiased idea of the quality overall. Reviews will also help reveal some major deal-breakers like hidden fees (parking, resort charges) or construction (is the pool out of order?) that hotels aren't freely advertising.

2. Compare your top choices based on priorities and criteria...

price, location, amenities, etc., so you have a clear idea of the pros and cons of each. This will help you sort through the shiny advertisements, photos, and larger-than-life descriptions and so you can make a confident commitment to your destination.

3. Go directly to the hotel's site...

Once you have narrowed down your options and are ready to make reservations, check out the hotel's actual websites to find additional packages and options. I have found that the packages hotels advertise on their private sites are superior in quality and inclusions than the "deals" you can find elsewhere. If you are having trouble figuring out how to get the most bang for your buck, don't hesitate to call up the reservations desk. I simply told the concierge what our plans and priorities were (nice room, spa treatments, meals, etc) and she was able to create a custom package for us that was a few hundred dollars less than if I had booked things individually. Some hotels also offer add-on menus with items at discounted prices ($100 dinner credit for $80, $50 spa credit for $25) that help you save up-front on things you know you'll take advantage of.

4. Don't be afraid to ask for freebies...

While on the phone with your new best friend, the hotel concierge, take the opportunity to toss in some details about how you're booking a very special trip (birthday, anniversary, babymoon, etc.). They will usually share in your excitement and offer to assist you with any special plans, but most importantly they often make a note in the reservation about your special occasion, which means a potential room upgrade or maybe some flowers, champagne, or chocolates will be waiting in your room on arrival which will impress your spouse and result in vacation-optimization.

5. Review hotel policies and be cautious about charging things to the room...

Hotel tax is outrageous, often upwards of 15%, which could get tacked onto that "convenient" continental breakfast you opted for each morning. Unless they are already included in your room charge or package, you could be stuck paying extra $$ in additional tax on your meals or activities because you added your bill onto your stay instead of paying for it individually. Obviously, vacations aren't cheap and you've likely already budgeted out your expenses ahead of time, but read into the fine print upon check-in before getting tempted to causally wave your hand and exclaim, "charge it to my room, daaaarling" while ordering that poolside pina colada. 


happy hotel hunting!!

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