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Luxury Traveling Without Luxury Spending

High-end vacations are pricey enough for travelers to carry the weight of paying extra for a little bit more of the lavishness. That’s where travel agents come into play and help you get that great steal.

 

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     Michelle Higgins of The New York Times is proof of this slightly overlooked hack when she visited the Grand Canyon in August with her nine-year-old daughter. She booked a two-night stay at the Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Arizona. Upon arrival, her $299-a-night double queen room reservation was upgraded to a two-bedroom, two-bath suite with a kitchenette, a fireplace, and dual balconies facing the Boynton Canyon.

      Apart from those, she was informed by the receptionist that their daily breakfast could be taken either in the room or at the hotel restaurant. Moments later, a golf cart serviced them to their spacious suite where a service attendant arrived with a fruit and cheese platter and a personalized welcome note. Such VIP treatment wasn’t due to Higgins being a famed personality but to her old-fashioned way of booking – with a travel agent.

 

 

     When most travelers have turned to independent booking as it credits flexibility, control, and cost-cutting by booking through websites, luxury travelers with a minimum spending of $300 a night could use a travel adviser/agent for better deals, specifically ones from large consortia like American Express, Signature Travel Network, or Virtuoso for their longstanding partnerships with travel companies. Senior Vice President of Preferred Partnerships for Signature Travel Network Phil Cappelli claimed, “We buy a considerable amount from the travel providers and are able to secure additional benefits for guests.” Perks referred to can include airport transfers, complimentary breakfasts, late checkouts, spa treatments, and room upgrades, among others. When using a travel agent, the aforementioned extras come at no additional cost.

 

   

       For American Express Platinum card members, long as they book through American Express Travel, they are given access to the benefits (which vary by card level) whether they talk to an agent; book online; or through the app. Same goes for Virtuoso.com and Signature Travel Network with shipboard credits and exclusive, personalized perks offered to users.

 

     The relationship these travel agents have with tourism services (e.g. hotels, cruise lines) is a two-way street; as the agents drive up sales to reap benefits for their clients, they also receive commissions. To lower the risk of encountering a travel agent who’d prioritize his/her incentives before your experience, it’s recommended to respectfully ask how he/she is compensated. 

 

     Going back to Higgins’ experience, with thorough research prior to consulting Beth Washington at McCabe World Travel, a Virtuoso member, she was able to stumble upon the cheapest, nonrefundable rate of Enchantment worth $623.38 and an option offering flexible cancellation worth $718.76 for two nights. Virtuoso’s rate was the same as the latter, incorporating daily breakfast (a $30 credit per person, per day) and $100 credit for spa or golf. Since Higgins’ daughter wasn’t eligible for spa sessions because of her age and golf wasn’t really their thing, the Virtuoso adviser offered the credit to be applied to food and beverage instead.

 

 

   In lieu of going through the hassle of planning a complex vacation by yourself, travel agents are relied on by tourism sectors like cruise lines, aware that purchasing a cruise experience involves multiple choices like room categories, restaurants, and land excursions.

 

     To get the most out of your luxury vacation whilst keeping your savings at bay, below are the three mentioned travel adviser consortia and their perks that come with booking through one of their members:

 

American Express Platinum Card Members

 

     Perks inclusive of early check-in and room upgrades when available; complimentary daily breakfast for up to two guests; $100-valued “unique amenities”; guaranteed late check out at 4pm; and five times the usual number of AmEx points or the ability to use Pay with Points on prepaid stays at Fine Hotels and Resorts Properties on AmexTravel.com could help you save about $550 at 1,100 hotels worldwide on a two-night stay.

 

Virtuoso

 

     Similar to AmEx’s benefits, Virtuoso also offers complimentary meals and Wi-Fi services and depends on the hotel’s availability for upgrades, early check-ins, and late checkouts. Additional perks may include complimentary airport transfers, spa treatments, and other meals – all with estimated savings of more than $500 per stay, available at 1,400 hotels in 100 countries.

 

Signature Travel Network

 

     With up to $500 savings on a two to five-night stay in luxury hotels, you can get complimentary full breakfasts, food and beverage credits, spa treatments, airport transfers, room upgrades, early check-ins, and late check-outs, varying by hotel.

 


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Destinations

Falling For These Seasonal Resorts

The best fall resorts are astoundingly beautiful – enjoy the harvest season surrounded by nature’s beauty.

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     Going on vacation in the midst of Fall is a mesmerizing idea. Leaves change color and the gluttony of Summer has finally tapered off. You can cool off and relax while living amongst absolute beauty. At these specific locations, you can appreciate the best reds, oranges, and yellows that this world has to offer and do it in style. The best fall escapes are astoundingly beautiful so you can enjoy the harvest season the way it was meant to be enjoyed, surrounded by nature’s beauty.

Old Edwards Inn and Spa: Highlands, North Carolina
     This Inn and Spa are located in North Carolina but you will feel like you’re across the Atlantic, deep in Europe when you enjoy your bliss-filled trip to the Old Edwards Inn and Spa. The spa is absolutely glorious in this beautiful resort. You can go to the saunas, steam rooms, and even a solarium. If you’re staying in the hotel you can roll straight from the Inn to the Spa. Now that’s what I call convenience. The Inn is also spectacular, as it has some great clay tennis courts, spectacular golf course and an unbelievable restaurant that has fantastic farm-to-table meals. When you stay here you should really experience the beauty that you are surrounded by. Go off grounds and hit one of the many hiking trails that go through the beautiful destination that is Highlands, North Carolina.

Lake Placid Lodge: Lake Placid, New York
     If you’re looking for the absolute finest in the color-changing experience, head to Lake Placid Lodge, located… on Lake Placid in New York. If you’re going to watch leaves change color then you might as well do it while also enjoying a wonderful lake. Here you will be amidst the Adirondacks which is an unbelievable protected area that is seriously big.
The best part about this lodge is it is the only hotel on the shore of Lake Placid which means it is exclusive. You can hit the lake in a boat super easily or just enjoy some brilliant hiking that surrounds the scenic body of water.

Lumière Hotel: Telluride, Colorado
     This is a fantastic option for pet lovers. Here is a spectacular resort that allows you to bring all your furry friends along as well. You can take advantage not only of the pretty sites but the hundreds of hiking trails all over the Telluride Ski Resort. Your dog will get it’s own bed, bowls and treats so you know they will enjoy their stay almost as much as you do. There are 11 rooms in this resort, but if you’re more than one family you can get one of the “residences” which can have up to 5 bedrooms inside. Now you’re not only traveling with your dogs, but you’re traveling with your dawgs as well. Nice.


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Destinations

The Spooky Haunted US Cities

Halloween is right around the corner, will you be able to make it through these haunted US cities alive?

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     Halloween is just around the corner which means it is time to start getting spooked. Maybe your local haunted houses just aren’t cutting it anymore. You know when the mummy is going to pop out, and it’s not just that, you actually know the mummy. His name is Frank and he works at the furniture store. You had a beer with him last night. When the mummy at the haunted house calls you by your name then you know that you need to go somewhere else to find your frights. It’s time to stop heading to Frank’s haunted “house” aka his bachelor apartment and time to take a vacation to someplace that’s really scary. But where is the scariest place to travel to? How about a place that is actually haunted? Head to a place where the unexplained continually happens, where questions are left unanswered, a place that is truly haunted. We talked to our travel team and put together a list of the most haunted cities in the United States.

New Orleans, Louisiana
     New Orleans is an obvious place to start when it comes to a truly spooky town. This is the home of voodoo magic which has been the fare of countless movies and has lead to some pretty mysterious things happening. There were also massive Civil War battles so that should make for ghosts-a-plenty. IF you talk to any New Orleans native you will quickly hear some pretty spooky tales about the goings-on of this city that is sure to shake you to your bones. You can hop on a ghost tour if you really want to get low-down and visit the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 where Marie Laveau is buried. Marie Laveau is known for being a priestess of voodoo.

Savannah, Georgia
     Here in Savannah, you don’t just have ghosts floating around from Civil War battles, but also from the Revolutionary War. The haunted tours are all over this city and you are sure to see some spooky stuff while you visit this place. Savannah is said to have been built on an Indian burial ground, which would make sense because this whole place seems eerie and we all know that building something on top of an Indian burial ground has always been bad news.

Charleston, South Carolina
     The Old City Jail in Charleston is well known as one of the most haunted places on Planet EArth. The jail held runaway slaves, pirates and Civil War prisoners. Their spirits may account for the people who have heard chains dragging on the floor and have seen doors slam. The prisoners most talked about are Lavinia and John Fisher who are said to still haunt the jail to this very day.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
     Philadelphia is known for a lot, but not necessarily recognized for its unbelievably high ghost population. The Eastern State Penitentiary is a super scary place that is one of the most haunted places around. This was the prison that started solitary confinement which was sure to make the living mad and lead them to haunt this place for eternity. People have been grabbed by ghosts here so watch out on a tour and hopefully, you can come out with your pants still dry.


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Destinations

Taking A Hike Into Autumn

The season of Autumn has officially begun to show its colors. We’ll show you the National Parks to admire them.

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     The kids are back in school and work is in full swing, which means you’re already planning your next vacation. Are we wrong? Therefore, why not enjoy the splendor of North America’s greatest National Parks – without all the pesky crowds and blistering heat? Autumn is nature’s gift when the leaves change while their color pallets are spectacular, especially in these glorious National Parks.


Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
     There is no better place to see the wonderful fall foliage than along Skyline Drive in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park. A short two-hour drive from our nation’s capital, Shenandoah and Skyline drive are most popular between September and November for the breathtaking views of color-changing leaves as far as the eyes can see. Skyline Drive runs along the ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains with views of waterfalls and the occasional wildlife.

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
     For people in the Pacific Northwest, you are already aware of the majesty of Mount airier. Just a short two-hour drive from Seattle, Mount Rainier looms large over the city’s skyline. This destination will be chilly but expectedly beautiful as you will have the hiking trails to yourself. There are over 250 miles of hiking trails that take you to the mountain’s impressive heights.

Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Tennessee
     Nine million people a year can’t be wrong – the Great Smokey Mountains National Park is a national treasure. Autumn here is simply divine – with an impressive array of fall foliage, you have to consider the experience a true joy when the weather is just perfect. The hiking is a pleasure with well-manicured trails and waterfalls all over the place.

Arches National Park, Utah
     Utah has some of the most diverse terrains and environments around and their National Parks are some of the best. Summers can be drainingly hot – avoid heatstroke and visit the Arches in the Fall. The arches are really incredible and the nighttime celestial display of stars and planets are like nowhere else. Horseback ride during the day and do some stargazing at night.

Acadia National Park, Maine
     If fall foliage is what you desire, there is nowhere else on Earth that offers these incredible views. It is about a three-hour drive from Portland, Maine but the drive is well worth it if you seek the leaf. You will see all the colors of the rainbow as the leaves slowly die and fall to the forest floor.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
     We all know about the geysers that erupt on a clock like a schedule but the crowds in the summer are terrible. Avoid the throngs of tourists and head to Yellowstone in the Autumn. The wildlife in Yellowstone at this time is very active, so expect to see elk, moose and even bears.


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