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Top Secret Hotel Tips

Five tips travel industry insiders use to save big on hotel rooms

1. Book your hotel as part of a package. Many hotels are reluctant to lower their stand-alone hotel rates, but will do so if the hotel is bundled with a flight. Why? During the last downturn in travel (after 9/11), hotels slashed room rates to spark demand. The problem, however, was that it was difficult to then raise rates when things normalized because travelers had come to expect such discounted rates. Now, hotels are struggling again but don’t want to lower stand-alone rates, but will do so in a package where the customer can’t see what the hotel rates is vs. what the flight costs – they just see one total price.

Example: Travelocity conducted a study and found the average savings on booking a package vs. booking the same elements of the same trip separately was $315.

Inauguration hotel deals

When Barack Obama won the election in November, eager travelers from coast to coast attempted to book trips to the inaugural events, but online searches were unfruitful. A little known fact is that “hotels withdrew their rooms from online travel services in order to exert tighter control over their bookings,” reported The Washington Post.

Now, only days before the inauguration, the story has changed. The Washington Post reported that 15,000 hotel rooms are available in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and the District. A search on Travelocity confirms availability, yielding hundreds of options for travelers who still want to get in on the inauguration action.

Here are a few inauguration hotel deals for travel Jan. 18-21:

Booking It: A House in Fez

I don’t know about you, but I morph into the procrastinator of the century when it comes to home improvements. I’ve gone down in too many battles with curtain rods, caked too much Spackle to my head, and turned too many light fixtures into glass-shard showers to take any pleasure in repairing anything. I’ll stick to fixing up trips, thank you.

So I need to profess some deep admiration for Australia-based journalist Suzanna Clarke after reading A House in Fez, her rip-roaring but thoughtful account of purchasing and restoring a centuries-old riad in the Fez medina. She and her husband, Sandy McCutcheon, persevere through layers and layers of red tape, language barriers, plumbing disasters, deceptive contractors, structural scares, 26-hour flights, and a donkey-napping to lovingly rebuild their new home in methods true to Fassi architectural heritage.

Photo courtesy of Suzanna Clarke

Viva the New Las Vegas: Luxury Abounds at The Palazzo

They say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and I’m sure that’s true in more ways than I’d ever dare to imagine. But with the Strip’s increasingly luxurious resort hotels, intoxicating nightlife, and fanfare-worthy entertainment, Las Vegas is becoming the vacation destination that you can’t help but tell everyone about. Why have the time of your life in one of the most daydreamed-about places on earth, and not boast about it to your buddies?

Case in point: Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of staying at The Palazzo, a brand-new, all-suite resort hotel and casino nestled between The Venetian and Wynn Las Vegas. Now, I’m not the most ardent Vegas vacationer out there–I generally just tag along for the odd bridal shower or birthday. But I soaked up every second of this trip, and left yearning to return as soon as possible.