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.
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.
Check Out The Hottest Penthouse Suites In The World
We put together a list of the dopest penthouse suites around the world so that when you want to feel decadent you know the best places to do it at.
When you’re staying in a hotel why stay in a normal room like a dud? Head on up to the penthouse suites and stay in style. But let’s be honest, some penthouse suites aren’t worth the money. If the suite is lame then what’s the point? When you want to stay in a penthouse suite you need to make sure it will be luxurious enough so that it is worth your time and money. That is why we put together a list of the dopest penthouse suites around the world so that when you want to feel decadent you know the best places to do it at.
The Silo, Cape Town, South Africa
The Silo Hotel is Cape Town is an amazing structure that was built to do one thing: look beautiful. This hotel actually used to be an elevator shaft in a historic grain silo complex. The rest of the giant building is an African art museum that has art that’s almost as beautiful as this suite’s views.
The windows bulge outwards so you have an amazing view that has to be seen to be believed. The penthouse rings it at around 2,012-square-feet. You have nothing above you, besides the pool and bar that sit on the rooftop. Now that’s sweet.
The Whitby, New York
The Whitby suite sits on the 16th floor of the Whitby hotel. Actually, it’s not just located on the 16th floor, it IS the 16th floor.
This penthouse unbelievably takes up the entire 16th floor of the hotel and is beyond deluxe. You have 1,845-square-feet in the middle of Midtown Manhattan to do whatever you want. The style of this suite is something that is truly remarkable and the colors are vibrant and fantastic. You don’t have to stay in your room because the suite also comes with a terrace so you can enjoy the outdoors while still having plenty of space in one of the most crowded cities in the world.
Il Sereno, Lake Como, Italy
You don’t need to go to a giant building to get a great penthouse suite and the Il Sereno penthouse suite is proof.
This hotel is actually all suites but they have two penthouses on the top floor. The hotel is only four stories tall so it’s not that long of an elevator ride when you’re trying to get your room. This suite is right on the water though so you really get to live it up and the look of the rooms is ultra modern. Plus you get delicious meals from a Michelin star chef amongst the beautiful vertical gardens. What more do you need?
The William Vale, Brooklyn, New York
This penthouse suite is unbelievable thanks to the amazing terrace that offers incredible views of Lower Manhattan.
There is also an open-air jacuzzi and luxuries you wouldn’t dream of in one of the biggest cities in the world. The furnished patio will blow you away. You can spend a lot of time here, trust me.
Plan Accordingly If You Want To Catch These Rarely Open Tourist Attractions
Check out these 5 amazing but part-time tourist attractions.
The word “tourist” has become a bit of a negative one at this point. And while most people try their best to avoid being included in the stigma, sometimes we just can’t help it! There are certain places we just have to see and we’re going to take as many pictures as we can.
But some of the biggest tourist attractions in the world aren’t always open! In fact, some of them are only open for a few days out of the year. So you better plan accordingly if you want to see any of them. Here are the top 5 part-time tourist attractions.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
Yellowstone is easily one of the most beautiful places in all of America, if not the world. The massive park spans over three states (Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho)! And while the park is technically open to the public year-round, there are certain areas that are definitely worth seeing that have limited access depending on the season.
So depending on what you want to see and experience, there are certain times of the year that are more ideal for different areas. The winters offer beautiful coach rides and snowmobiling fun. While the warmer months are great for hiking and fishing. So plan accordingly!
Everybody’s heard about Coney Island. It’s a New York staple and is engrained into the identity of the city. But one of the biggest draws of Coney Island is Luna Park and it’s Ferris wheel, roller coaster, and carnival games. And unfortunately, Luna Park is only open a few months out of the year. So if you’re willing to brave the huge crowds, save a trip to Coney Island for the warm Summer months.
We’ve all heard about Buckingham Palace. It’s definitely one of the must-see attractions London has to offer and is right there at the top of the list with Big Ben. But you might be surprised to learn that the interior of the Place, which includes 19 staterooms, is actually only open to the public from mid-July to October 1st.
And on top of that, the lines can get out of control. So be sure to get your tickets in advance and definitely don’t skip out on the tour. If you do make the mistake of missing Buckingham altogether, travel a little out of town to take in Windsor Castle, which is something to see in and of itself.
Gramercy Park is the little brother of sorts to the great New York parks of Bryant Park and Central Park. But Gramercy is still a beautiful park that is still worth exploring. Here’s the problem: it’s private! Only people that live in the nearby buildings are given keys to enter.
So if you’re in New York and want to take in this park, you better know someone that lives right next door, or you better be there on Christmas Eve. It’s the one day of the year the park is open to the public!
This is a bit of a hidden gem as many people still don’t know about it. But this place is truly incredible. It’s in a Swedish village called Jukkasjarvi and is a hotel built entirely out of ice. And because of this, it actually melts and gets rebuilt every year! It’s only open for business from December to April. And believe me, it is definitely an experience worth having. So if you love trying new things and exploring the world, this is definitely the spot for you!
Underrated Travel Destinations For The Holiday Season
If you’re looking to get out of town and take a vacation this holiday season, look no further than these amazing and beautiful destinations.
For a lot of people, Christmas means going to home be with family. But for others, the holiday season is the perfect time to take a vacation! Everyone has a least a few days off anyway, so why not get out of town for a few days and check out some place you’ve never been before. If the latter sounds like a good idea to you, then check out this list of some of the best places in America to visit during the Christmas season.
Happy Holidays, everyone!
HERSHEY PARK, PENNSYLVANIA
Hershey Park, Pennsylvania is practically the Christmas capital of America. They have one of the most elaborate light shows you’ll ever find with over 200,000 lights in all, and you can take them in in all their glory while dancing and singing along to your favorite Christmas songs.
Hershey Park also offers Christmas-themed roller-coasters, cookie workshops, and a very convincing Santa thanks to his nine live reindeer! So if you’re already on the East Coast, or if you feel like going across the country this holiday season, Hershey Park is definitely worth a visit.
GRAND WAILEA, MAUI, HAWAII
I think, for a lot of people in America, Hawaii is the last place they think of when they think about Christmas. But it really is a great option for vacation over the Christmas holiday. And Grand Wailea in Maui is the best place in Hawaii to spend Christmas.
The theme there that time of year is “Tis the Season of Aloha,” so you know they take it seriously. And when you see Santa show up in a 25-foot outrigger canoe to kick off the tree lighting ceremony, you’ll understand why Grand Wailea is such a great place to spend Christmas.
If you’re like me and prefer the “winter wonderland” elements of the holiday season, then Aspen, Colorado is an awesome Christmas vacation destination for you. I mean, Aspen (and Colorado in general) is a beautiful place regardless of the time of year, but all those snow-covered mountains in the winter just make it a truly breathtaking sight to see.
And separate from all the great skiing and hot chocolate drinking you can do, they still have the great Christmas tradition of the Little Nell Tree Lighting ceremony. Which, naturally, includes plenty of carolers and an appearance by Santa Claus and his real live reindeer.
COCOA BEACH, FLORIDA
Similar to Grand Wailea in Maui, Cocoa Beach, Florida is an awesome beach town to check out during the holiday season. Especially if you prefer warmer weather and relaxing on the beach. Everyone in Cocoa Beach is full of Christmas cheer every year, so you’ll see plenty of surfing Santas, holiday-themed stilt walkers, and the best part of all, the annual holiday boat parade.
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
Utah is right up there with Colorado for being one of the most beautiful states in the country. So, naturally, their biggest and brightest city, Salt Lake City, is a wonderful place to spend Christmas. Every year they host the Dickens Christmas Festival that features absolutely stunning light displays, Olde English shops, fortune tellers, and Father Christmas himself. Not to mention the yearly performance by the Utah Symphony, and the Hogle Zoo, which puts on its own incredible light decorations every year.
NORTH POLE, ALASKA
What better place to spend Christmas than the home of Santa Claus himself, North Pole! Well, to be fair, this isn’t that North Pole. But the too-quaint-too-handle Alaska town of North Pole is a beautiful place to be around Christmas. Their annual Winter Festival includes a bevy of fun activities and entertainment, including breathtaking ice sculptures and awe-inspiring firework shows.
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