• 2 nights' accommodations in a standard room at Kimpton’s Hotel Allegro, with mod-retro rooms in the theater district • 2 tickets to Buddy Guy’s Legends blues club, owned by the iconic artist himself • Admission to Chicago’s History Museum to see the “Crossroads of America” exhibit on the history behind America’s Blues Capital
Cost: $270 ($135 per night)
Book via telephone only for travel between February 1 and March 31.
For more information, please visit Kimpton’s Hotel Allegro; to book, please call (800) 643-1500 and use booking code BLUE14.
When it comes to saving money on flights, booking early is key—especially since many ski areas are accessible via mountain airports that accept only a small number of flights each day. Other smart times to look for tickets: right before Thanksgiving and just after the New Year. Kayak crunched the numbers for us, and found that the average domestic airfare to Salt Lake City was at its lowest during those periods last year.
Ski resorts are full of vacation properties, many of which are available for rent at cut-rate prices. Another bonus: having a built-in kitchen helps save money on meals. Rent-by-owner sites VRBO and HomeAway have more than 95,000 ski properties between them, including residences that are attached to major resorts. Airbnb, which has a growing number of ski listings, is particularly good when it comes to smaller or more offbeat properties. Both HomeAway and Airbnb have helpful mapping functions that allow you to see if a place you’re considering is slopeside—or a long walk (in ski boots) from the mountain. If you really want to save, though, look for properties that are outside major resort areas, such as Frisco, Colorado, which is 30 minutes from Vail.
If you do plan on booking a room at a hotel, ask what sort of lift-ticket-and-lodging offers it has available. (Most give discounts if you bundle this way.) You’ll also find hundreds of ski-and-save packages on Ski.com, which works with top lodges in more than 100 resorts worldwide.
With day-of lift passes well over the $100 mark for many resorts (they’re now as high as $130 at Colorado’s Vail and Beaver Creek), buying a ticket at the window is simply a fool’s game. The good news is that many mountains are experimenting with dynamic pricing online, enticing skiers with advance-purchase deals (to lock in an early commitment) and even last-minute sales when it looks like a slow weekend is ahead.
Begin by looking for multiday passes on a resort’s own website, which can yield up to 40 percent off window prices. To comparison-shop with specific dates in mind, try the site Liftopia, which collects and sells tens of thousands of deals from more than 250 resorts worldwide. Some things to keep in mind: Book as early as possible. Preseason sales are generally the best. And stay flexible with your dates. Lift tickets are usually lower midweek and during quieter times: before Christmas; following major holiday weekends; and before and after the Spring Break rush, which takes place the last three weeks of March. Liftopia also offers sales on traditionally slow days: Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Super Bowl Sunday.
A: Overseas, tipping is by and large not expected at every interaction. So if you don’t have the right change, you won’t break your bellman’s heart. That said, handing out a few American dollars is also acceptable; it’s a nice gesture of thanks and—in some parts of the world—U.S. dollars are as welcome as local currency. If you have no change and your bellman did a top-notch job, it’s worth seeking him or her out at the end of your stay to deliver a tip.
In the United States, where porters often make less than minimum wage, tips are expected to supplement salaries. So don’t be shy about asking a bellman to break a larger bill. “These people are working for cash, so they have cash on hand,” says one bellman at a New York City hotel. Otherwise, get your porter’s name and leave a tip with the concierge before you check out.
Traveling around Europe just got faster with the new TGV train linking France and Spain. On Sunday, the inaugural journey began at 7:15 a.m. in Paris, and concluded less than six and a half hours later in Barcelona. That’s less than half the time it used to take.
The new line—which gives the world's fastest trains a run for their money—also links Lyon, Marseille, and Toulouse, and was celebrated by both French president Francois Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as a milestone for international relations between the two countries.
At this year’s PhoCusWright Conference—an annual gathering of the world’s most influential travel innovators—all eyes were on the Innovation Summit and the presenting entrepreneurs. But not all of the talent in attendance was on stage. In a short Q+A series we will introduce you to three new companies that are also poised to change the way we travel.
First up, is Cheryl Rosner, the visionary behind Stayful.com, a website whose proprietary bidding system allows travelers to suggest their own rates at amazing independent and boutique hotels in six (soon to be 10) U.S. cities. As the former Hotels.com president and president of Expedia Corporate Travel, Rosner is a discerning traveler who prides herself on seeking out unique properties with great design and enduring character—but who also likes a bargain.
Centrally located in Yountville, this 13-room inn is within walking distance of the town’s holiday decorations, festive shops, and standout restaurants. Enjoy the inn’s complimentary wine and seasonal hors d’oeuvres each afternoon with cranberry-chocolate scones and carafes of hot cocoa. And since you’re in wine country, be sure to celebrate the holiday season by taking a tasting tour at some of the top vineyards in the country—some are in walking distance from the hotel. Doubles from $150/night.
Los Angeles: If you’re planning a stay in the L.A. area, book today at the iconic Langham Huntington, in Pasadena, and get 25% of the best available rate, with free valet parking through December 29. Rates start at $172. Book here with code CM2013. And if you’re in L.A. today, grab lunch today at Culina (pictured), the fabulous restaurant of the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, for $25, including a glass of Prosecco. Or come for dinner tonight and take 30% off the bill (mention the deal when you call for a reservation at 310-860-4000). Then massage all the holiday stress away at the hotel spa. Save 20% off all treatments booked today for appointments through December 30.
New York City: Yes, we’re biased since we live here, but we think there’s nothing so romantic as New York in winter. So book today through December 6 and you can get discounted rates at the NY Hilton (from $199/night) and the Waldorf Astoria (from $229/night) for stays in January and February (plus a few dates in December at the NY Hilton). Check it out here.
Q: Can you recommend any companies that are good for solo travelers? —Carolyn Hall, Chicago, Ill.
A: A couple of months ago, after my daughter had passed through the dependent stage of infancy, I started to get the itch to take a big trip. The problem, my husband and I realized, was that one of us was going to have to stay home to take care of our kids. (With two of them under the age of four, it’s not a job that’s easily outsourced.) I would be traveling solo.