Living the Life at Half Price

Living the Life at Half Price

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mahalo Priceline!

I had originally posted this post, as well as the following one, on the Wordpress version of Dollar Saving Diva.  However, I did promise everyone one final installment on my money-saving vacation tips, and that is coming soon.  I figured it would make sense to have all three related posts on the same blog so I've re-posted the first two for your ease if you ever do need to reference them in the future (which I would love to happen!).  So here they are!
Well, I’m back from Hawaii!  Thanks to NY for welcoming me with freezing temperatures.  It’s sooo great to be back!
My trip was fantastic–we spent 9 nights in Honolulu and Kauai, and had a wonderful time.  Of course, just because I left NY behind, doesn’t mean that I left my dollar-saving ways behind too.  In fact, I’m happy to report that while the trip was by no means cheap, I was able to score quite a few discounts, saving us a significant amount of money.
I’m going to share some of the tips and tricks I used to get the deals I found, so that you can save some dollars on your next trip!
One of the biggest savings that I got came from  Believe it or not, I had never used the “Name Your Own Price” feature on the website, but I wound up using it twice for this trip.  And I can’t wait to use it again!!!  I used Priceline for our hotel in Kauai, as well as for our rental car there.
Because we went to Hawaii during the rainy season, I was afraid of bad weather and wanted to do everything I could to ensure the best possible weather.  For that reason, I decided to stay on the South Shore of Kauai, in Poipu Beach, because it was supposed to be sunnier and drier than the island’s other major resort areas.  I wanted to stay in a 4 or 5 star resort, and there were only two in that part of Kauai–the Sheraton and Grand Hyatt.  At close to $500 per night, the Grand Hyatt was out of our budget, so I decided to stay at the Sheraton with a base rate of about $230 per night.  I monitored Sheraton’s website and found a deal for 35% off the nightly rate with the 5th night free.  This was by far the best deal I found for it, coming in with a base rate of about $175 per night.  I was very happy with this rate, but wanted to see if I could do better.  (Also, I was kind of salivating over the Hyatt).  So I decided to check out Priceline.
And I’m glad I did!  I had never used Priceline before because I was afraid to relinquish control over what hotel I’d be staying in.  But I didn’t realize that you can choose hotels by star level and by location.  I checked out the regular hotel search on Priceline, and the Sheraton and Grand Hyatt were the only 2 hotels that appeared in the location I wanted and in the “resort” category, so I knew that I’d get one of the two.  So I went for it, and wound up booking the Sheraton at $135 per night!  For a beach-front resort in Hawaii, that deal was pretty much unbeatable, and I saved about $40 per night.
What made it even better was that the hotel was supposed to undergo a renovation starting 2 days before we were supposed to arrive.  The hotel only announced this a few days prior to that date, and as a consolation, it was going to offer its guests free breakfast for the duration of their stay (the buffet was normally about $25 per person).  Luckily, the renovation was pushed back until after we were leaving the hotel, but we were still given the breakfast vouchers.  Additionally, because the hotel wasn’t at full capacity, we asked for and received an ocean-view room.  For $135 a night (plus taxes and the BS ”resort fee”).

The view from our balcony... I wish I could be there now!
The hotel itself was nice, but nothing spectacular.  I’m curious to see what it will look like after the renovation.  Overall though, it was undoubtedly worth what we paid for it, and even if we had paid the higher price, I wouldn’t have regretted it.  Thanks Priceline!
I booked a convertible through Priceline as well.  The savings were much more modest at about $15 per night, but I think we could’ve gotten a great deal if we had just wanted a normal car.
Anyway, the savings did not end with the hotel and car.  Stay tuned for some of the other discounts I found as well as my other vacation saving tips!
*If you were wondering about the title, Mahalo is “thank you” in Hawaiian.

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