Winning a bid for a great rate at a fancy hotel is always rewarding, but the real challenge can keeping costs down when you get there.
My husband and I are at the Hapuna Beach Prince on the Big Island of Hawaii, where the quality of the rooms and service are exceptional (especially at Priceline prices) and the opportunites abound to spend more on fancy meals and extras. (Get thee behind me, $27 room service breakfast.)
Here are some things we do to keep that temptation at bay:
Food: Our first stop after picking up the rental car was at the local supermarket for supplies: fruit, cereal, cold cuts, bread, etc. We didn’t forget to sign up for the store’s discount card, which was quick and easy. It saved us $15
We also brought packets of salt, pepper and sugar from home, along with plastic utensils. The goal is to minimize the need to eat in restaurants and to stay away from the mini-bar at all costs.
Internet: This time we caved and paid a weekly rate for Internet, but usually we rely on Starbucks, McDonalds and other sources of free Wi-Fi.
Recreational gear: Many resort areas have businesses that rent gear for less than you’ll pay at the hotel or the beach. All over Hawaii, for example, Snorkel Bob’s rents high-quality snorkeling eqipment, boogie boards, beach chairs, etc., at very reasonable rates.
Laundry: Upscale hotels don’t tend to have coin-operated washing machines and dryers. Our solution: the bathroom sink or bathtub. (Here’s more on my laundry techniques.)
One area where we don’t cheap out is tips. Housekeepers, bell men, valets and concierges work hard. When we use their services, we tip them well.