This is the first in a series of posts on affordable Hawaii, 2009.
1. Consider package deals.
Having said that, always price it yourself separately to be sure it is truly a good value. Online travel agencies, including Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia are anxious for you to book their air plus hotel or car deals. We featured a good air/car package just this week. Often the best value hotel packages use the higher end hotels where there is more room to maneuver. The packages aren’t always as good if you’re on a tight budget. Be sure to do your homework, including pricing the components separately and don’t forget to “carefully” check reviews on hotels you’re considering. Often the hotels included at the bottom price (at least here in Hawaii) aren’t ones I’d care to spend even one night sleeping at.
2. Sign up for hotel frequent visitor programs.
This is often useful, even if you aren’t a frequent visitor. The programs tend to get you the possibility of upgrades, late checkouts, free coffee, and more, even when you’re only at the entry level.
At Hilton hotels for example, all Hilton Honors members receive:
- Expedited check-in and check-out
- Free late check-out upon request and availability
- Hilton Honors guest manager to help with any issues that arise
- Free daily newspaper
At Hyatt Hotels, Gold Passport membership offers:
- Free use of the fitness center
- Free daily paper and coffee or tea each morning
- $250 check-cashing privileges
Signing up for each of the hotel chains emails, won’t hurt either.
3. If you’re a first time visitor, consider a one-way or round-trip cruise.
As an example, you can spend 5 nights in Hawaii aboard Royal Carribean’s Rhapsody of the Seas, and then cross the ocean ending in Vancouver, starting at just $799 this April. Add a couple of inexpensive hotel nights in Honolulu and a sale-priced flight from Vancouver, and this makes for an exceptional value.
Or for $1,299, you can have an all-inclusive two-week vacation in Hawaii, starting and ending in Los Angeles. It includes 4 nights in Hawaii and one night in Ensenada. Travel on the Golden Princess.
I expect to see even better Hawaii cruise bargains to be announced soon.
4. Find an accommodations deal.
Generally the deals tend to be better at both the high and low ends of the market, rather than in the middle. At the high end, there are great discounts and I expect to see more coming soon. The hotel industry is unfortunately in a bad way at the moment.
At the low end, you might even want to reconsider the concept of house-swapping, which we talked about last year. Some new sites that may be useful in your home swap research include:
5. Use your frequent flier miles.
These are only going down in value the longer you hold them. Unless you’re elite, the best chances of using them to Hawaii are to either book as far out as the airline permits (usually 330 days) or at the last minute, when availability usually opens up once again.