- Royal Caribbean takes delivery of ANTHEM OF THE SEAS
- Starwood unveiled a new brand named Tribute Portfolio and released a new promotion to go with it! There is only one hotel (the Royal Palm in Miami) in the group right now but others will follow soon in Asheville, Nashville, Savannah and Charleston. My guess is this was a move to rapidly increase the footprint of the Starwood brand since its slow growth was likely part of the reason that Frits van Paasschen appears to have been pushed out.
A little while back I wrote about a neat carry-on that was being developed as a Kickstarter campaign, now I’m back with another really awesome bag that I just stumbled on. While it isn’t as tech laden as the Trunkster, it is very chic and includes some brilliant design elements. The Garment Weekender bag by Hook & Albert is a stylish duffle available in waxed canvas or leather.
Much like last week, this week’s deals are somewhat of a mixed bag in my opinion. (That being said you may find better value depending on your travel style and preferences.) As always, plan ahead for which offers you want to target, logon a few minutes early and keep refreshing your page… these deals are a lot like the old Filenes Basement Running of the Brides sale…
Monday brings discount packages for Universal studios Orlando. As an adult I have no interest in theme parks by and large, but as a kid admittedly I had fun visiting this park with one of my school groups. If you are lucky enough to score one of these deals, it can save a family of four a bit of coin on their summer vacation.
Tuesday we’re back to Vegas with the Caesars group, they are offering discounts at a wide range of their properties in the Las Vegas area and there are some bargains to be had there. This isn’t huge on my list, but again, you might find that it works for you. Most of the deals are for 2 or 3 nights which is too short for me coming from the east coast, but if you’re willing and able to swing a weekend junket or Vegas will be part of a larger trip, then this is definitely worth your time.
Wednesday gives us some nice discounts on Hertz! In this case you are buying loyalty points at a deeply discounted rate so these offers will likely sell out fast as well. You can buy up to 3 sets of points across all offers available.
Thursday we’re back to the theme parks again… the Busch Gardens deal is a good bargain (a little better than 50% off) if that’s your thing… and as for Sea World, well I’m not even going to comment on that.
Friday rounds out the week with a pretty good deal as well if you stay at Marriott properties often, or have a trip planned. You can pick up a $100, $500, or $1000 Marriott gift card for 20% off. You can purchase up to 5 $100 cards, 2 $500 cards, and 1 $1000 card. The cards do not expire and are transferable. I would recommend picking the one you want most and target that offer since these will likely sell out in a flash.
- Leonardo DiCaprio announced his plans to build an eco-resort in Belize.
- TSA will be making the PreCheck program more selective… essentially giving the boot to anyone who hasn’t paid for the privilege through one of the trusted traveler programs.
- Uber launches on demand Tuk Tuk’s in India.
- Cruise line companies hit with half million dollar fine for sketchy telemarketing practices.
- Airbnb has added listings for Cuba…
- Alternative parking options for my DC locals when flying out of Dulles!
- And of course your video for the week…. Watch Virgin America’s first 787 get put together in 2 minutes and 55 seconds!
This week’s daily getaways have a few gems scattered about starting with today’s Avis offer. The Chairman’s club membership is a littlesteep for my taste considering I don’t rent cars often enough for it to make sense, and I would wager the same is true for most other folks as well. However, the one day car rental certificates for $30 (limit 7) could be a great deal. The certificates will get you any car up to the premium class (think Chrysler 300 M or equivalent) and you can use all seven of them together, which could save you quite a bit of coin. However there are some restrictions on the certificates that you should check before purchasing. Most notably there are some blackout dates and certain locations like the NYC metro area and Puerto Rico that are excluded. I also noticed a rather ambiguous statement that says, “A limited number of cars are made available for use in conjunction with this offer and the number varies depending on season and location.” I don’t think that it is a major concern, (probably just boiler plate language) but I would call ahead to check availability when booking just to make sure you are covered.
Tuesday and Wednesday bring Omni and Loews hotel deals respectively. Both of these deals come in the form of certificates that can be redeemed for 1 or two night at various properties. The two night Omni certificates look like a good deal for a weekend getaway given the average rack rates for Omni. The Lowes deals aren’t quite as good unless you’re in the $500 a night hotel bracket already. The exception being the two cheaper deals that could be a good weekend getaway.
Thursday brings us back to Vegas with a smattering of hotel deals, none of which really catch my eye unless you are within driving distance. Most of the deals are for 2 or 3 night stays which is fine for a weekend junket, but if you’re coming from any distance you would probably need to supplement with a few nights out of pocket. That being said if you were already planning on traveling to Sin City or were making it part of a larger trip, this could be a good deal. As always, consider all these deals in the context of your own travel plan.
The Hyatt deal on Friday is also an intriguing offer since you are buying points that will be deposition into your Hyatt Gold Passport account as opposed to free night certificates. This fact along with the 20% point back promotion that Hyatt is running changes the math in your favor quite a bit. The offer is essentially letting you buy Hyatt points for about 1.8 cents apiece which is roughly what you can expect your average redemption value to be. However, if you have the cobranded Hyatt visa issued by Chase, and you registered for the promotion that gives a 20% refund on points redeemed for stays by July 31st you’re getting an excellent deal! That is of course if you will redeem the points before the end of July and you have already registered for the promotion since the registration period is now closed.
- Wyndham Rewards changes their loyalty redemption structure. Now any room, anywhere in their network of hotels can be yours for just 15,000 points.
- American Express launches a new loyalty program. The program, named Plenti, will roll out with just a handful partners to start and will allow you to earn points in a variety of ways. Million Mile secrets has a good post on it here!
- Appalachia is digging for tourism dollars.
- Carrentalexpress.com might just save you some cash on your next trip. The site is an aggregator of independent rental agencies that don’t show up on more mainstream search sites.
Success…. sort of… So last week I wrote about a new web service that would help reduce your hotel costs automatically while retaining your loyalty points and stay credits with the hotel chains. I had a standing reservation at the Sheraton Greensboro at Four Seasons for a trip over the weekend. I forwarded the reservation information as instructed to Hotel@dreamcheaper.com and got a confirmation email back shortly thereafter. I was also sent a link to set-up my profile on the site so the service could officially start searching for a lower rate.
When setting up my profile, I noticed that you could select the commission on savings that you were willing to offer (ranging from 0% to 50%) for the service so it isn’t just a straight 20% that it first appeared to be. They also hold any billing for commission until you have accumulated 25€ (about $27 as of posting time) Dreamcheaper is based out of Berlin so a lot of the language on the website and in the emails is in German and the way currency is listed varies between Euro and Dollars depending on where you look. The numbers are accurate but hopefully the service will clean up the language and formatting to give a more professional appearance as the service matures.
A few days after setting up the profile I got an email saying they had canceled and rebooked my reservation at a lower rate and saved me about $25.00 a night. I also got a separate email from Sheraton confirming the reservation had indeed been canceled. I also called the hotel to confirm the reservation and was informed that it had been booked through Expedia and would not earn any points. There was the redeeming fact that I still got stay credit that counted towards elite status and since I used my SPG Amex I earned some points on the stay but not as much as I would have normally. As a side note, the service automatically cancels and rebooks your room and notifies you after the fact. I would much prefer if they sent an email giving you to option to rebook or not before it happens.
Overall a qualified success, but I would pick and choose the reservations that I sent on to this service depending on your point earning versus cost saving goals.
The US Travel Association is running its Daily Getaways sale for the next few weeks and has some good offerings, although I think the offers from last year were slightly better. All the deals go on sale starting at 1PM EST. Some of these deals sell out within minutes so being online right at the start time is a must for the more popular deals. This week has a few good offerings depending on what your travel plans may be…
Monday’s deal is 10,000 Best Western rewards points for $55 with a limit of 5 packages (50,000 points per person) As with any opportunity to buy points at a discount, you should look at the hotel(s) you want to book and see what regular rate is versus the cost of the points to see which one puts you out on top. That being said, if you already have a hotel in mind and just need a little top off on your points account to afford it, then this might be a great deal!
The rest of this week’s deals don’t look too interesting to me, but if you routinely stay at Choice Hotel Brands Friday’s deal might be worth looking into since they are selling point packages at 40% to 50% off.
Tuesday and Wednesday feature some deals for Las Vegas hotel rooms and suites that might be interesting to some. I already have plans to be there alter this year, but my hotel is already set. That being said, the deal for the Piazza Suite at the Venetian Looks pretty good.
Finally Thursday brings us to the Universal Studios Hollywood park ticket package. I’m not a big Amusement park guy, but for a family of four this is a nice little discount on a ticket package.
There are a lot of Las Vegas deals this year and I will update you on those and other deals in the coming weeks.
There is a new tool on the web that can help you save money on hotel bookings that is cleverly named DreamCheaper. You simply forward your reservation confirmation email to email@example.com and they being looking for a better price on your room. Much like Autoslash , DreamCheaper supposedly monitors prices, cancels your original reservation, and then rebooks you at the cheaper rate if the price of your same room goes down.
Holland America Line (HAL) Partners with Billboard for Live Music Venue, Billboard Onboard and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts to Present Live Music in New Onboard Venue: Lincoln Center Stage. These are exciting… new developments for HAL and I am particularly excited about the Lincoln center stage! Check out the (promo video below) Now, I just need to schedule a cruse once the Koningsdam is finished!