These days, competition is heating up in the hotel industry. The big chains are not only competing against each other, but they’re also competing against online travel agencies and startups like Rocketmiles and Hotelied for your business. When you book through the hotel directly, it’ll give you points, whereas reserving through online travel agencies generally disqualifies your stay from earning valuable hotel points and possibly even getting your elite status. So if you want those points, book directly with the hotel—especially during the busy fall travel season when many brands offer lucrative promotions.
Here are the major hotel chains and their promotion details. You should always double check and make sure that the hotel you want to book isn’t listed as an exclusion—a lot of hotels opt out of these promotions because they get charges for the extra points. You may also want to plan your stays around the days where you’ll earn the most points.
Travel + Leisure’s Sarah Spagnolo shares four destinations with affordable prices after Labor Day. Check out the video here.
1. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Portsmouth is a charming town with an artisanal feel and an independent spirit—plus delicious seafood! The historic Wentworth By The Sea is a top choice for its recently renovated restaurant Salt, grand interior spaces, and incredible landscaping, plus an outdoor pool with marina views.
The best time to head to “the End,” as locals call it, is in the fall, when the weather still sparkles and the crowds have cleared out. Montauk Yacht Club, right on the water, has a classic sense of style, with blue-and-white rooms, tennis courts, and a spa.
It’s not ski season yet, which means that prices at the alpine-chic Washington School House are still affordable. Fall is a great time to visit Utah: there’s the bright fall foliage, crisp weather, and lots of outdoor activities from rock climbing to hiking.
Late summer and early fall in San Diego promises warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine. Make the Lakehouse Hotel & Resort your home base for access to water sports (kayaks, pontoons, stand-up paddle boards) and an outdoor fire pit.
With the school year winding down, kids of all ages are counting the days until summer vacation. But when the last bell rings, no one’s more deserving of a little rest and relaxation than the teachers.
For the second year in a row, Austin-based website bedandbreakfast.com is honoring these educators’ hard work by offering them a host of discounted summer getaways.
If you don’t mind putting your hotel plans on the auction block, check out the innovative new booking platform, Bidroom.
Less than two months ago, London-based startup Bidroom created a service that could both save customers money on a hotel room, as well as spare hoteliers the enormous commissions they’ve been coughing up to OTAs.
Instead of traditional booking websites, which ask customers to input their dates and destinations in order to generate a database of fixed-rate rooms, Bidroom asks hotels to bid on guests.
Move over penguins, there’s a new bird in Steel Town.
Currently floating down the Allegheny River is a 40-foot-tall (and 30-foot-wide) inflatable yellow duck. An art installation that simply goes by “The Rubber Duck,” created by Dutch artist, Florentijn Hofman.
The international sensation has debuted stateside as part of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts. The festival is a four-week long series of dance, music, theater, performance and visual arts, presented by international artists making their U.S. debuts.
We’ve gathered five great summer getaways for every kind of family—and all are under $200 a night.
Camp for All Ages: Maine Camp Experience A growing number of camps provide overnight camp sessions for the whole family—a great chance to have fun all together. Family Camp at Maine Camp Experience offers a range of camp options around the state. There’s plenty to enjoy: waterskiing, fishing, rock climbing, zip lining, archery, tennis lessons, arts and crafts, as well as sunset campfires and games organized by camp staff. Experiences range from specific two-night weekend sessions to lengthier, more flexible stays. Rates from $65/night per person ($55 for ages 6-11 and under 6 is free), includes accommodations, meals and activities. mainecampexperience.com
As a Los Angeles native, I’m ashamed to admit that I had never been to Big Sur—only one of the most photographed and picturesque areas in California—until last July, when my fiancé and I embarked on a road trip up Highway 1 from L.A. to Napa. I had never seen the huge elephant seals lazing the day away (just south in Piedra Blancas), never gotten so close to a deer (at Point Lobos State Reserve); never stayed on a campground enclosed by towering redwood trees.
Ours was a high-low vacation: we saved money one night to splurge the next. But the budget-friendly stay in one of Fernwood Resort’s new adventure tents—complete with lamps, fluffy queen beds, and wood-burning stoves—turned out to be the highlight of the trip. (Although, as I blindly stumbled my way to the campground’s outhouse for the third time that night, I can’t say I didn’t fantasize about the luxe Post Ranch Inndown the road.)
Inter Ikea, the parent company of the Swedish budget furniture store, is planning to enter the boutique hotel market. The group is currently scouting out locations in Europe and plans to open 100 budget design hotels over the next few years, starting with two in Germany in 2014. While the hotels won't carry the brand's furniture or name, they will maintain the brand's populist appeal, selling high-concept design at a low cost. Read more about the venture here.
Marguerite A. Suozzi is an assistant research editor at Travel + Leisure.
I just got an email from Virgin Atlantic's P.R. rep announcing a three-day fare sale starting this morning and going through Thursday on airfare between Los Angeles and London. Travel dates are January 10 - March 26. The email said the fares were as low as $296 each way based on a round-trip purchase plus up to $250 in government taxes and fees. That would be a total of $842. But on the Virgin Atlantic website I found a total round-trip airfare of $711 for a departure on February 20 and a return on February 27. That same fare was also available on other travel dates. That's a very good airfare from L.A. The best competitive price on those same travel dates I found using Kayak was $827 on Delta, which is a decent fare in itself.
I'm sure we've all had the same experience at one time or the other: a spur-of-the-moment road trip cooked up with the intention of letting loose and seeing a bit of the gorgeous country we call home, the thrill of it largely contained in the fact that none of it was planned. And then the inevitable happens. Your eyes start to droop, signs start to blur in and out of focus, and your car starts weaving in its lane slightly. You need to find a place to stay for the night. Problem is, you don't know of any around.