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Money-Saving Hotel Booking Sites

Money-Saving Hotel Booking Sites

Priceline’s Name Your Own Price bidding system was once the most novel way to find a discounted hotel room online, but a slew of innovative new booking websites and apps make it easier than ever to prevent buyer’s remorse. The seven-month-old website BackBid turns the Name Your Own Price approach on its head: instead of guests bidding on hotel rooms, hotels bid on guests. After you submit your existing hotel reservation and travel preferences to BackBid, the site invites hotels in the same area to make you offers for less expensive rooms or upgraded ones at the same price. (A five-star hotel was recently offered in place of a three-star property in Washington, D.C.) As long as you have a refundable reservation, you can cancel and book the new room.

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Editor Find: Secret Foodie Getaway in Italy

201206-b-italy-2jpgSome of us go to Italy to spend a day (or three, or more) swooning over Caravaggios and Berninis, but all of us, deep down, go to Italy to eat. How better to get swept up in la dolce vita if not via the country’s legendary cuisine? And if food is your calling, follow my example and book a night (or three, or more) at Antica Corte Pallavicina.

Think of it like Italy’s Blue Hill Stone Barns: Michelin starred, a half hour away from the city (Parma), and an idyllic country retreat where there’s nothing better to do than indulge. Housed in a lovingly restored 800-year-old palazzo formerly owned by a noble family of salt traders, there are six rooms with original frescoed ceilings and names that hark to the original residents (Stanza del Duchi, for instance, is named for Count Sforza and his wife Bianca, who visited in 1447).

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: A World’s Best Awards winner, Caribbean, Sonoma + More!

Book now on Vacationist, and you can stay in some of your favorite hotels and resorts for up to 40% off.

Sale ends in 3 days!
screen_shot_2012-07-13_at_21927_pmpngRed Mountain Resort
Saint George, Utah
This just in! The Red Mountain Resort is No. 1 Destination Spa in the T+L 2012 World’s Best Awards readers’ survey! Book now and save on this 130-room resort and health spa in Utah's Grand Circle, near Zion and Bryce Canyon.


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Lighthouse Bay - up to 25% off
Barbuda, West Indies
This nine-suite waterfront gem offers total serenity on Barbuda, a quiet Caribbean island beloved by solitude seekers.

Sale ends in 5 days!
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Hotel Les Mars - up to 35% off
Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California
Looking for an elegant home base while touring Sonoma’s wine country? Try this downtown Healdsburg mainstay.

Sale ends in 6 days!
Hotel Chimayo de Santa Fe - up to 29% off
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Authentic New Mexican touches are on display at this 56-room Santa Fe hotel, which takes its inspiration from a tiny town 30 minutes north.

Vacationist.com is brought to you by Travel + Leisure and LuxuryLink.com.

From top: Photos courtesy of Lighthouse Bay; Hotel Les Mars.

Berkshires Buzz: Tanglewood and Stonover Farm

Berkshires: Stonover Farm

For Tanglewood...
Our favorite summer music festival—held at the country home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra—celebrates its 75th anniversary this season. Highlights include performances by Yo-Yo Ma and Diana Krall, plus a Fourth of July extravaganza with unofficial Tanglewood bard James Taylor. Nothing beats hearing Sweet Baby James sing about the “dreamlike” Berkshires in the actual Berkshires. Through Sept. 2.

Stay at... Stonover Farm (pictured)
A 15-minute walk from Tanglewood’s front gate is what appears to be your archetypal New England farmhouse inn, complete with the requisite duck pond and willow trees. But the suite interiors are more Giorgio Armani than Norman Rockwell, with elegant fabrics and warm neutral tones. On cool evenings, owner Tom Werman—a former L.A. record producer—lights the flagstone fireplaces, cues up some Bill Evans, and pours wine for guests. $$$

Photo by Kevin Sprague

Tips from Housekeeping: How to Make a Bed

How to make a bed
Ana Lissa Sison, director of housekeeping at the Peninsula New York, can make a king-size bed in five minutes flat. Her method:

1. Pillows: Karate-chop down the middle to fluff feathers. Fold in half lengthwise and insert into case. From the outside, pinch a corner of pillow; pull case down. Set aside.

2. Bottom Sheet: Use a flat sheet (more durable than fitted). Tuck in top and bottom. At each corner, lift overhang to form a triangle. Pull and tuck sheet under.

3. Top Sheet: Tuck in bottom, leaving sides hanging. Fold top of sheet back six to eight inches.

4. Duvet, Part I: Fold duvet cover in half, with opening facing headboard. Fold duvet as mirror image, and place at foot of bed.

5. Duvet, Part II: Grab duvet at bottom right; pull into right corner of cover. Repeat on left. Holding cover in place, pull it completely over duvet.

6. Finish: Leave duvet untucked, smoothing out wrinkles and crisping corners. Place pillows on top and align patterns. Add accents to taste.

Illustration by L-DOPA

Vacationist Hotel Deals: Riviera Maya, Florida, California + a Utah Spa

Book now on Vacationist, and you can stay in some of your favorite hotels and resorts for up to 40% off.

Sale ends in 1 day!
201207-b-vacationist-blue-diamondjpgBlue Diamond Riviera Maya - up to 36% off
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
The former Mandarin Oriental, now the adults-only Blue Diamond, is one of most secluded of properties on Mexico's Maya Riviera, with 128 rooms in one- and two-story airy villas.

Sale ends in 2 days!
PGA National - up to 40% off
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
This sprawling Palm Beach, Florida resort offers more than 90 holes of championship golf, plus a European spa and nine on-site restaurants.

Sale ends in 7 days!
201207-b-vacationist-terranea-lobbyjpgTerranea Resort - up to 35% off
Rancho Palos Verdes, California
The newest resort in Rancho Palos Verdes combines Spanish-inspired accents with covetable amenities (an oceanfront spa, eight restaurants), all on 102 acres.


Sale starts tomorrow!
201207-b-vacationist-red-mountain-spajpgRed Mountain Resort
Saint George, Utah
Framed by southwestern Utah's red-rock cliffs, just 15 minutes north of St. George, this 130-room resort and holistic health spa provides access to one of the Southwest's most memorable landscape.

Vacationist.com is brought to you by Travel + Leisure and LuxuryLink.com.

From top: Photos courtesy of Blue Diamond Maya Riviera; Terranea Resort; Red Mountain Resort.

Opening: Marcel Wanders’s Andaz Hotel in Amsterdam

Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht

Renowned for his fantastical interiors, Netherlands-born designer Marcel Wanders will do his hometown proud with the 122-room Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht hotel, opening this summer. Delft blues, nautical motifs, video installations, and custom furniture redefine a 1960’s library as both an ode to Holland’s 17th-century charms and a hub for today’s creative class. “I want people to bathe in the universe of Amsterdam,” Wanders says, “to soak up all its beauty and potential.” 587 Prinsengracht. $$$

Photo by James Merrell

The Waldorf-Astoria Wants Its Stuff Back!

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Thou shalt not steal from your hotel—no matter how big or small the item might be. Take New York's iconic palace of luxury, the Waldorf-Astoria. Over the years, larcenous lodgers have walked off with ornate art deco grillwork from the heating and air conditioning units. They've filched guestroom doorbells. They've absconded with brass-plated mail slots from the corridors. "Some guests will take pretty much anything," says Matt Zolbe, the hotel's director of marketing, "even if it's bolted down." The famed hostelry has embarked on an Amnesty Program to retrieve some of that long-lost plunder, specifically historic, pre-1960s swag. The question is, will the program be enough to compel high-rent kleptos to return their purloined property?

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Beat the Heat: NYC's Hotel Roof-Top Pools

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Summer in New York City can be notoriously grueling—the cement holds the heat through the night and denizens get to feeling like they are slow-baking with nary a respite. Bathtubs filled with cold water and ice cubes and day-long movie-theater marathons are formidable weapons, but there’s a more elegant strategy to beating the heat: hotel roof-top pools. Of course, this costs the price of a night’s stay, but checking in and taking a dip gives perfect staycation relief. Here are three in downtown Manhattan (consider booking back-to-back stays!) where you can find a cool, aquatic oasis.

Trump Soho
On the seventh-floor terrace of Trump Soho, service is top-of-the-line at this waterfall-lined plunge pool (ask for a Kindle to use poolside!), and a fresh menu is on offer at Bar D’Eau for 2012, featuring treats such as a Spicy Tuna Tartare with Won Ton Crisps and a Kiwi Krush Caipirinhia.

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Ritz-Carlton and Jean-Michel Cousteau Launch Environmental Program for Travelers in Puerto Rico

 201206-b-ritz-carlton-dorada-beach-2jpg Skip guidebooks and Google searches, and grab your snorkeling gear and hiking boots—there are new ways to learn about, and explore, Puerto Rico.

Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Oceans Future Society, an organization dedicated to preserving the environment, is opening a Puerto Rican branch of their award-winning environmental education and adventure program, Ambassadors of the Environment. 

Located on the Ritz-Carlton Dorado Beach Reserve, the program will weave knowledge with experience.  Participants will learn about Puerto Rico’s coral reefs, wildlife, wetlands, and Taino culture via snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, archaeological exploration, and other activities.

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