While traveling to the Netherlands last month to explore Inside Design Amsterdam, I had the opportunity to stay at the stunning Lloyd Hotel. The hotel's historical building dates back to the '20s, and while it oozes with inherent old world charm, it's also filled with an eclectic mix of gorgeous antiques and edgy modernism — all created by a well-curated mix of Dutch designers and artists. The hotel also embraces the innovative concept of offering a variety of rooms for every budget — from cleverly efficient one-star options to the more fantastical five-star spaces. Either way, every guest can enjoy the hotel's democratic decor, scrumptious restaurant and bar, alfresco dining space, free WiFi, and close proximity to the central station and city center.
When it comes to bargains, it pays to play it cool. High maintenance travelers can be as finicky as they want while on vacation, but that approach won't get you the cheapest trip while in planning mode. Think flexibility when organizing a vacation, and the deals will come to you.
Scouring for deals before you make your purchase is always smart, but you can save even more if you go the extra mile and get some money back after you've booked. Here are some savvy tips to get you more savings after you've forked up cash:
- Air Travel: You can save more money on air tickets if the price of the flight goes down. Get refunded the difference when you buy your ticket from airlines like JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, and Southwest. Some airlines will charge an extra fee because they will consider it to be changing reservations. AirTran and Virgin, for example, charge $75, while United charges $150. An easy way to keep track of the changing airline prices is to use online price tracker Yapta.com, which will do the work for you and send you refund alerts when your fare has gone down. Be sure to also check out Yapta's other cool feature that keeps track of the flights that you're interested in buying and sends you alerts when the price drops.
- Rental Car: Although Yapta tracks rental-car fares, there is an even better site that will do most of the work for you. It's called autoslash.com; it basically books the car for you, checks around for a cheaper price, then emails you when it finds a lower rate. If you want to go with the lower rate, it will rebook it for you.
- Hotels: Pick a hotel with a good refund policy or one that allows you to cancel without any penalties if you want to get your money back when you spot a lower rate on a hotel.Then use Yapta as a price-tracking system for hotels, which alerts you when the price of a hotel drops. If the rate does decrease, you can just cancel your reservation and make a new one. You can generally cancel your hotel booking if you don't pay up front for your reservation, but be sure to read the fine print because every hotel has different policy.
- Bonus: Alternatively, if you book through travel sites, you can get some sort of price guarantee for your flight, hotel room, and rental car. Keep in mind that every site has different requirements. For hotel stays, Orbitz will refund you the difference if you find the same room at the same hotel and dates at a cheaper price elsewhere. However, the claim has to be submitted before the hotel applies cancellation fees (which requires paying attention to hotel policies) and only works with rates that have the "Low Price Guarantee" or “Price Assurance.” Travelocity, Expedia, and Priceline all have some sort of price guarantee with some differences, so don't assume that the same policy will apply to the other sites.
Most people have a love/hate relationship with destination weddings. While they automatically sound expensive, aside from the cost of getting there and staying there, they aren't necessarily budget killers. To see what I mean, check out the advice below given to someone who isn't sure she can swing her friend's wedding in Mexico. You can also submit your wedding-related finance questions in our Ask Savvy group.
A friend from college is getting married this summer in Mexico. I was pleasantly surprised to be invited with my boyfriend and while a jaunt south of the border with him sounds lovely in spirit, I just don't know how feasible it is — money is tight right now. I'd love to see all my old friends and have the opportunity to introduce them to my boyfriend, but I'm still on the fence. What should I expect to pay for if we decide to go?
To see what a savvy bride has to say about this, keep reading after the jump.
The last time I was in Hawaii visiting family, I was invited to be a guest of the Hyatt Regency Waikiki. The idea of playing tourist in my hometown was intriguing, and once I learned about the hotel's fitness programs, I was sold. During my two nights there, I worked out at the gym, took a yoga class, and was treated to a massage at the hotel's spa.
Yoga is offered three times a week in one of the spa's airy studio spaces. The most amazing part of the room is a wall of windows that look out onto the Pacific Ocean — talk about sun salutations! I was nervous because I was the only student, but Pablo, my instructor, said that this sometimes happened. Because of it, he adjusts his classes to the individual needs of his student(s) that day. I told him that I was looking for a rigorous Vinyasa flow class, which focused on my upper body and core. By the end of it, I was sweating and had done poses that I'd never even tried before. He challenged me to try inversions (my first!), and I received the kind of attention (and adjustments) that aren't possible to get in a large group class. Even my Downward Facing Dog improved! I loved the hour-long class and thought that Pablo was an amazing teacher. He pushed me when I needed it and had a calming, laid-back nature that I think is so important for a yoga teacher to posses. I walked away from his class feeling stronger, challenged, and energized to face my day.
To hear about the hotel's other fitness offerings and my spa experience read more
Many of you have written your fair share of bad reviews online, but do you really know what kind of implications there are? A couple found out the hard way when an enraged manager of a hotel in the UK kicked them out after accusing them of writing a bad review on TripAdvisor. The manager even called the cops on the recovering cancer patient and his wife and refused to pay the couple back.
Personally, I think bad reviews, as long as they are constructive and not defamatory, can be quite beneficial to businesses that are working on improving their services and customer satisfaction.
My friends and I have been contacted by business owners on Yelp looking to somehow "improve" those negative reviews we've written by offering free samples and services. I've never experienced anything close to the ordeal the couple went through, but I'm wondering if something similar has happened to you. Has a bad online review ever backfired on you?
The Kobo ereader is the perfect gadget for book fans on a budget, but it will soon be used as a luxurious offering from one of the top hotels in the world. Fairmont hotels has partnered up with the Kobo to offer free ereading to its President's Club members who stay in its exclusive Fairmont Gold rooms. Fairmont Gold is like a hotel within a hotel consisting of plush rooms and world-class amenities. Adding to the already long list of extras is a loaner Kobo reader that's packed with fiction and nonfiction titles, which guests can use during their stay. Michael Serbinis, CEO of Kobo, says that travelers are "a great fit for the Kobo offering" because they "do not want to carry heavy books in their luggage, and vacations provide the perfect time to relax and catch up on reading." True that!
However, if you're a traveler who happens to be staying at a Fairmont that isn't offering Gold status rooms, you can still request to use a Kobo through the hotel's Royal Service. Royal, indeed.
Barbie is making her mark on the tech world! Not only does she come with a built-in camera and LCD screen, but she's bringing home the bacon with her new career as a computer engineer. And since she's a working gal, she should start planning her first vacay at one of these French Barbie-inspired hotel suites that are fully wired for her computing pleasure . . . or are they?
I can't tell whether this iMac on the desk is real, or made from plastic like our friend Barbie. The model itself would be a few years old (since iMacs now come with a recycled aluminum body), but it's the large Apple logo and chunky keyboard that really throws me off. Maybe you're only supposed to pretend to be working online. The rooms are designed for princesses aged three and over, after all. Tell me if you think this iMac is real or fake from the close-up image, along with details on how you can stay in one of these brightly colored suites after the jump.
My friend PetSugar was lucky enough to stay at the Klapsons Boutique Hotel in Singapore recently. Currently on Condé Nast's Hot List, it was a designer's dream — filled with sleek and modern furnishings where no two rooms are the same — but friendly to tech-toting geeks, offering free in-room WiFi, LCD TVs, DVD players and PlayStations upon request. Besides the fun tech amenities, each room is equipped with a smart power hub, like the one pictured here. This hub requires the entry of your room key in order to control lighting, heat, air conditioning. even the shower, to help reduce power and stop waste.
Let's face it — vacations are where we pamper ourselves with treats we wouldn't normally get at home. But this tiny addition in a luxury boutique hotel proves that you shouldn't toss all of your green efforts out the window just because you're on holiday. Keeping your water and power usage top of mind while at a hotel can really help the business keep costs down (which translates to lower rates for you), while easing the pressure off mother earth as well.
I've got a few geeky tips of my own to eco-fy your vacation travels. Find out what they are when you read more.