Showing posts with label Expedia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Expedia. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A First Class Start to 2014

We quite literally had a first class start to the New Year when Alaska Airlines upgraded us from coach to those big cushy seats in the front of the 737 on our Jan. 1st flight to Las Vegas from Seattle.

It’s the section of the plane where the real cups of coffee are constantly refilled  and real food is served on real plates.

PicMonkey Collage

A real surprise.
A real treat.
A real reminder of why airline loyalty programs are still worth joining. (If you missed our article on other benefits a few weeks ago, click here.)

[Travel Tip:  The Scout had booked this trip an air/accommodation package on  The airfare was less than $200 per person round-trip, including taxes and fees.]

Vegas2014 046Our return from Vegas brought us back to reality – paper cups, one serving of coffee, and a package of nuts – ahh, but the memory remains of that New Year's Day  flight.

The unexpected upgrade was one of those ‘little things’ that are long remembered after a trip ends.

Sometimes those ‘little things’ fall into the ‘sad-but-true’ category, like this memory of Vdara, the hotel where we stayed as part of the package.

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Vdara, is a condo/hotel, a part of the recently completed City Center development. To get your bearings, that small tower in the photo above is a side view of Bellagio, home of The Strip’s famous fountains.

PicMonkey Collage

Our room was a Vdara Suite, one of the smaller ones but at 810 sq. ft. plenty spacious for us and we had a killer view of the fountains next door.

[Travel Tip: We saved a tremendous amount eating breakfast and lunch ‘at home’ in the room. Had we needed them, it also was equipped with a washer and dryer.]

The kitchen (similar to the tale I wrote about The Cosmopolitan Hotel) was empty except here there was a coffee pot. (A make- or break-a-place item in my mind.)  However, with a single call housekeeping arrived bearing plates, bowls, flatware, cookware and utensils.  When I had called in advance to inquire about the kitchen I was told that in the beginning the kitchens were fully stocked but because so many items had ‘walked away’ with guests, they had to institute an inventory control system. 

[Travel Tip: The cost of our suite was just under $150 including taxes and booking fees; the resort levied a $28 additional resort fee per day for internet, telephone, use of the exercise facility and daily newspaper.]

We had daily maid service that couldn’t be faulted. . .and then on the third morning I thought the maid had forgotten to leave the wash (face) cloths in the bathroom.  We’d had had three – shower, sink and tub – each day.   I stopped her in the hallway and asked for one.  “Oh, they have to be ordered from housekeeping,” she explained apologetically.

Really?! I mean, really?! Without kitchen supplies for souvenirs could the guests now be taking wash cloths? I am struck with guilt when I forget to leave a plastic key that could be reused, the thought of taking property. . .hmmm. . .

As I said, it is those little things we remember when we come to travel. . .

That’s it for this Travel Tip Tuesday.  We’ll be back again this week and hope you’ll be traveling along with us.  You can follow TravelnWrite on Bloglovin and Networked Blogs or have posts delivered to your inbox. 

We’ve  just figured out Instagram and are posting travel photos there as well. Click the link to follow us there. 

Until next time, happy travels. . .
Jackie, The Scribe, and Joel, The Scout

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Travel Tuesday: Waikiki (Sticker) Shock Waves

The good news for Hawaii is that tourism is on an upswing.

The bad news for travelers planning to go there is that tourism is on an upswing. 


As hotel occupancy rates spiral upwards they are taking prices with them. For example, last January (2012), we got a ‘steal’ of  a stay in Waikiki by booking a deal with the online company, Jetsetter. 

VegasHawaii2012 113

Four nights in a premium ocean view room at the Aqua Lotus Honolulu near Diamond Head and total cost: $530. 

Following our stay on O’ahu’s western coast at our KoOlina timeshare, we returned and paid $169 per night (plus taxes) and stayed a couple more nights at the hotel.

VegasHawaii2012 062Still a reasonable rate, we thought, for a property that sits in the shadow of Diamond Head across from Kapiolani Park and not on the beach.

Our $169 got us this ‘ocean view’ room:

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We’d loved the place and planned to return this year. . . but after being struck by Waikiki (Sticker) Shock Waves, we’ve come up with a different -- affordable -- plan.

A quick check of this hotel’s web site (last Thursday), -- using the equivalent days and dates of last year’s stay for comparison purposes -- found that ocean view room available at $351.50 and premium ocean view at $371.50 for the January dates. It costs more in February.

We turned to our trusty Expedia, the on-line booking company where we've often found great discounts, only to be hit with a sticker after shock: the January dates for the hotel were listed at $527 for ocean view and $556 premium ocean view. February dates: $599 and $627, respectively.  (Expedia users rate the hotel as 3.5 out of 5 and TripAdvisor rates it #3 of 81 hotels in Waikiki.)


We are thinking our decision to buy a timeshare at Marriott’s Ko Olina (pictured above) and avoid Honolulu hotels was probably a good one.  In fact, we’ll likely skip Honolulu and Waikiki in 2014 and head directly to Ko Olina.

But since we’d booked flights this year to allow three days in Waikiki, we pulled out the stops on the hotel search and landed at Costco. . .yes, you read that correctly.  (For those not familiar, it is a customer membership warehouse chain that got its start in the Seattle area). So, now in addition to purchasing large quantities of paper goods and food, we also can lay claim to booking our travel there:

VegasHawaii2012 053

We’ll be across the street from Waikiki Beach at the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel (one of those on the right in the photo above) on a three-night package that provides a partial ocean view room, lei airport greeting, round-trip transfers, daily continental breakfast on the beach and a variety of half-off coupons.  Package price: $614.  

This hotel has the same Expedia rating as the Aqua Lotus but doesn’t fare quite as well on TripAdvisor.  Will we find our ‘deal’ wasn’t as good as we thought?  Stay tuned. We’ll let you know soon!

Have you experienced sticker shock in Hawaii? Or have you found some good hotel deals? If so, where?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Is it time for "Travelers' Fees"?

A few posts ago we focused on the frustrating 'hotel fees' that had appeared on Expedia when we were booking hotels for our stay in Las Vegas. We paid fees ranging from $5 a day at Suncoast in Summerlin to $15 a day at the Palazzo on The Strip for items ranging from in-room instant coffee and paper cups (at the Suncoast) to fitness center and in-room wi-fi access at the Palazzo (which almost seemed reasonable). The fees were on top of $100+ per night room rates.
What at the time seemed to be a Vegas fluke, is instead, the new world of travel. Hotels have hopped on the airlines' nickel-and-dime-you-to-death bandwagon!
A recent article appearing in the Los Angeles Times business section, warns travelers to be aware of even more hotel fees (restocking fees, baggage holding fees among them) -- many of which may be hidden away until the final bill appears. This eye-opening article should be a must read for all travelers:

The article prompted my fantasy about a travelers' revolt of sorts; should we start charging similar fees? For example: I charge a $5 fee to an airline for sitting in a cramped middle seat that no one else wants? I stay at your hotel vs. your competitor for $5 a night (stay fee). For $5 a night I won't call and complain when something in the room doesn't work, another $5 for bringing my own Starbuck's VIA instant coffee. . . you get the idea. The fees potential is endless. . .and can you imagine the reactions when at checkout or boarding you present your fee list?

Admittedly, the travel industry has taken a hit in the recent economic downturn but fees --hidden or up-front -- are not the way to entice customers nor develop customer loyalty.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hidden fees. . .does the buck stop here?

While booking a Hertz rental car for an upcoming road trip from Santa Barbara, California to Las Vegas, Nevada we were pleased to see that we would earn Alaska Airlines frequent flier miles.

As we read further we learned they do award points . . .for a price. Persons renting cars in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico are subject to a frequent flyer surcharge of 75-cents a day up to $5.25 per rental in order to be awarded those points. Now admittedly the amount it isn't astronomical. . .but let's see, don't they call those programs 'award' or 'loyalty' programs? Maybe they should be called Pay-for-Points programs?

With auto reserved (likely without those points), the research turned to accommodations. We are considering a stay near the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area some 20 minutes outside Las Vegas. So, using our favorite site, Expedia, we found several possibilities including what seemed to be a good deal at the high-end Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa. Rooms rates were listed at $130 a night; admittedly, that's for a view toward The Strip, not of those nearby striking red rocks, but still, an okay price for this glitzy hotel. Reading through the rules we found it's $130 plus hotel fees of $24.99 a night, bringing the real price to $155 a night. Had they just said so, we may have booked it. Their additional 'fee' killed the deal.


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