Or, 'Ways to take a bite out of travel dining costs.'
A friend asked if we ever eat out on our travels as I’ve been so focused on ways we save travel dollars by eating ‘at home’ on the road.
Of course, we do eat out - just not every meal.
Recently we've discovered such a great way to enjoy haute cuisine – for as much as half off, that we just had to tell you about it.
First a disclaimer: I’m not a ‘coupon clipper’ (a popular money saving activity in the United States in which food manufacturers offer coupons for discounts of varying amounts on grocery purchases). It’s not that I don’t like the concept, it’s just that when I have clipped them, I put them somewhere so I won't forget them, then can’t find them when I head out to the store and by the time I do find them, they've expired.
But a number of social media sites have been tempting us with coupon deals that we've been unable to pass up. These types of coupons must be purchased within a designated time frame and then you print the coupon when you are ready to use it.
It was friend and fellow travel enthusiast, Tara, who suggested we start watching these sites for deals in cities that we might be visiting. So now we have coupon offers arriving in our inbox from Groupon, Living Social, Amazon, Juice in the City, and yes, even Travelzoo.
We tested the ‘coupon-dining’ close to home at Purple, a wine bar and cafe in Kirkland. We had a great meal and glasses of wine for $15 - half the usual price.
It was Travelzoo that tempted our palate with a deal at “Comme Ca” fine dining French Restaurant in the Cosmopolitan Hotel, City Center, Las Vegas: (Comme Ca is like the French phrase, Comme Ci, Comme Ca,-- kohm see, kohm sa, -- ‘like this, like that’)
We purchased for $79 a coupon for two three-course dinners (including a $30 bottle of wine) – regular value, $140. And then hoped the restaurant would recognize the coupon when we tried to use it.
We shouldn’t have worried. . .not only did they recognize it, they had so many 'coupon diners', they’d printed a special menu for Travelzoo customers. (Our waiter said 1,100 coupons were purchased in the four hours the coupon was available).
The photos I've included in the post take you from the French onion soup (a meal in itself), to the Beef Bourguignon, and of course, we couldn't resist sampling each of the desserts. All of which paired nicely with the dry French rose wine the waiter recommended.
We have joined a frequent diner club, Lettuce Entertain You, that offers discounts and points for dollars spent at a number of restaurants throughout the country – from Washington, DC to Las Vegas and cities in between. We've used it primarily when dining in Vegas and have already accumulated enough points to have a significant discount on a future meal. We've also used 'my birthday' coupon for a $15 discount last July at one of the participating restaurants.
So how about you? Have any tips to share about ways to save dining dollars?
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
I am blogging this week from Las Vegas, where we are staying with friends in their two-bedroom timeshare at the Marriott Grand Chateau, (above) next to Planet Hollywood and the Miracle Mile shopping center. We've left Kirkland's clouds and 50-degree temperatures for sun and 70-degree temperatures here, a restorative for body and soul of sun-seekers such as us.
We are told Marriott Vacation Club will begin construction on the final two wings of this project in 2012. The finished building will be shaped like an X instead of the current boomerang configuration. It currently has a rather plain, small pool area on the roof off the 38-floor with walls built up so that there is little view except from the pool bar area. We suspect the finished construction will provide a more lush setting in keeping with other establishments on The Strip.
We have a to the northwest, a straight shot of the mega-development CityCenter:
Earlier this year I described the interiors of the shopping area and Aria Hotel as 'stark and dark' and since then have heard visitors make similar comments. We did spend a couple hours revisiting the place yesterday and it still seems like a cavernous, sterile place. There seemed to be a bit more activity and maybe a new storefront or two.
I couldn't resist including a photo of the seats in the Aria Hotel lobby, I suspect they are architecturally award-winning designs but they aren't what I would call inviting.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Developers of CityCenter, (the expansive 18 million square feet of development on 67 acres between the Bellagio and Monte Carlo on Las Vegas Blvd.) have drawn such rave reviews since it opened in mid-December that we considered staying here on our recent trip instead of the tried-and-true Wynn, at the other end of the Strip.
Instead, we opted to visit the development on a scouting expedition for 'next time'. While we prefer to try new places, sometimes it pays to visit a place first before committing to a stay. Such was the case with CityCenter.
Finding the tram from the Bellagio took us to the far reaches of the hotel into its convention meeting room wing - it is not a walk for everyone. Our return, walking along Las Vegas Blvd., seemed shorter. The tram - seeming as if it had arrived from the Jetsons television series -- deposited us at the stark, white Crystals station. (For those younger readers: George and Wilma Jetson, living far off in the future's 'outer space world' were the cartoon stars of an early 60's era television series).
Crystals, while drawing rave architectural reviews, is an enormous multi-storied, angular enclave of jutting white walls, and vast open spaces and home to high-end stores. It is an area so vast and stark that glitzy storefronts seemed tucked away in its angles. We joked that at any moment, George or Wilma would emerge from behind one of the many big blank walls.
The Aria, with its 4,000 rooms and casino left us wondering again about the architectural accolaides this place is receiving. The long reservations desk put us in mind of train station counters in Europe. The lobby was certainly not a place I would lounge while waiting for a flight as the 'couches' were rock benches with wooden backs, reminding one of the benches found in Washington's forests. And it felt like sitting on a rock with a wooden back. The casino, to the side of the lobby, was dark, with low ceilings, a stark contrast to the cavernous lobby.
As we discussed adjectives to use in this post, Joel commented, "If I were designing purgatory, I would start here." Admittedly the development only opened a few weeks ago, and perhaps there are plans to soften the stark walls of Crystals and hopefully fill it with a bit more activity and sense of life. And web photos of the rooms in Aria make them appear quite comfortable - but I am not sure we will be rushing to find out at any time in the near future.