Youngest Stepson is coming to town next month. He is flying to Raleigh from Minneapolis via Southwest Airlines. I watched airfares for awhile and they were looking painfully high...then Southwest put out one of their sales. (always always always make sure you're on all the email lists so you get notified of sales right away!) I managed to lock him in to a good rate when they put out one of their sales.
It really pays to get on all the travel email lists, and to have friends who know you like a bargain, who will forward you ones that you hadn't noticed.
Recently, my oh-so-astute co-worker Allison forwarded me one such bargain. It was for air between Raleigh and Las Vegas. Not planning on going to Vegas any time soon, I hadn't bothered to click on it. Oh my, good thing I did, because this was the bargain of all bargains...we ended up with round-trip air for BOTH of us (me and Husband, not me and Allison), for just....
(drum roll please)
...$287.30! For BOTH of us. Seriously, how could we not go? And, in case you're wondering, that's on Continental through Houston in early November.
Another co-worker who jumped on the deal quickly got the same fare for different dates. The trick is to act quickly when you see something like this. I literally lost the 11am flight time I was originally trying to get at that price WHILE I was booking it. Unfortunately we'll have to fly out at 6am, but hey, we'll get there earlier!
Almost forgot I had a blog! Life certainly took an interesting turn, with my husband moving to Washington, DC for a job, then yet another job. Travel has become for us, pretty much just between Raleigh and DC, and primarily for the purpose of seeing each other, and not vacation. Not to say that seeing each other isn't like a vacation, because it is. Anyway, most of my travel bargains in the past year have been for other people. Here is the first of my two most recent deals. It is for my son. Three nights in DC shortly after Christmas. This is as posted at my favorite website: www.betterbidding.com:
Tried 4-star in several zones up to $70 first. Previous bid was $60 for 3 1/2 star in this zone plus White House & Dupont Circle.
Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel 3½ Star Convention Ctr - Capitol Hill Area 999 9th Street Nw Washington, District Of Columbia 20001 202-898-9000 See Hotel Website View Map and Directions Check-In Date: Thu, Jan 6, 2011 / After 03:00 PM
Check-Out Date: Sun, Jan 9, 2011 / 12:00 PM Amenities: Remote control TV w/ premium channels Radio Alarm Clock Business services Telephone w/ voicemail Iron and ironing board Hairdryer 24 hour front desk Full Service Restaurant Room service
Your Offer Price Per Room, Per Night: $65.00 Subtotal: $195.00 Taxes & Fees: $36.21 Total Charges*: $231.21
The second deal was for a friend who is going to Chicago in February. Again, as posted on Better Bidding:
Helped a friend get this. Was only bidding in this zone (with free re-bid zones, of course)...started at $50. Previous bid was $56.
Hotel Felix Chicago 4 Star North Michigan Ave - River North Area 111 West Huron Street Chicago, Illinois 60654 312-447-3440 See Hotel Website View Map and Directions Check-In Date: Fri, Feb 11, 2011 / After 03:00 PM
Check-Out Date: Mon, Feb 14, 2011 / 12:00 PM Amenities: Remote control TV w/ premium channels Telephone w/ voicemail Radio Alarm Clock Iron and ironing board Hairdryer Business services 24 hour front desk Full Service Restaurant Room service Bellman Concierge Fitness center access
Reservation and Billing Information
Your Offer Price Per Room, Per Night: $60.00 Subtotal: $180.00 Taxes & Fees: $36.48 Total Charges*: $216.48
That same friend I helped get the airfare about a month before. This was during an airline sale...no bidding involved...just being quick to jump on great airfares and her being a bit flexible with dates. As a result...for TWO...this was the total cost Roundtrip Raleigh-Durham to Chicago for this coming Valentine's weekend, 2011.
Many bargains have been found and had...just been busy and haven't reported them. Maybe because I'm the only one who comes here anyway? LOL. I'm a travel bargain island. Lovely. However I'm still helping many friends and relatives. Glad to help if I can.
The day we got home from our Embassy Suites/birthday celebration (the day we came home to the blown water heater), my brother-in-law called from Omaha saying they were at a party and wanted to spend that night. Could I get them a deal on a room? Heck yeah! How about this? (as posted on better bidding.com:
Just helped a relative get a last minute room for tomorrow night in Omaha. Even though there were 4 re-bid zones available, I suggested we start the bidding process at $45, since regular rates were looking pretty high, and there would be no re-bidding in 24 hours.
First bid was accepted for: Courtyard By Marriott Omaha Downtown 4/19.
$45 Taxes & fees: $15.32
Lowest rate on Courtyard's website was $169
(Found out later that the hotel was very nice...they were very pleased!)
Right before our trip to Omaha/Sioux Falls, our water heater went out. So we did this: (as posted on Trip Advisor).
We "won" this hotel on Priceline at 8:00 at night, for that same night. (thanks to our water heater busting), for just $31. (The lowest price on the hotel's website for the same night was $129). Since we live in this area, we knew the Brownstone is old. Very old. So our expectations were for an old Holiday Inn 3-star. And that's exactly what we got. We also knew we would have free parking, which is always a plus, and LOOK free internet...grab the laptops and let's go!
The lobby of this hotel really needs a major overhaul, as it looks ancient. Feels ancient. Is ancient. I have heard through local gossip that the whole hotel is due for an overhaul in a year or so. It really does need updating.
Check-in was cordial. I asked if a King might be available. Type type type. Would the first floor be okay? Sure.
The room was exactly what one would expect from a 3-star Holiday Inn that's very old. Very okay. Clean. Is there hot water? Yes. We're happy. We both pull out laptops to utilize the free internet. To make a long story short...it never worked. For either of us. Not at night. Not in the morning. If we were staying there on business, this would not have made us happy.
Okay, I'll read then. Tried to turn on the light on my side of the bed. It won't turn on. Bulb perhaps? No. That's not the problem. Come to find out, it wasn't plugged in, because there isn't an outlet for it to plug into! Moral of this story? If you're by yourself, or on the left side of the bed, no problem. Right side? Bring a flashlight.
The bed was okay. Bathroom clean. Two bars of soap and one bottle of "Clean" shampoo/conditioner (that was the name of it)...NOT conditioner, however. It's shampoo. Just like most hotels, if you want real conditioner, bring your own. Shower pressure is okay and water was nice and hot. Just what we wanted!
In the morning, there was a USA Today at our door which is a nice touch. We did not eat breakfast at the hotel, but I will tell you that if you are staying at the hotel for lunch or dinner, and you like pizza, Ledo's is GREAT. This is not just a local hotel hole-in-the-wall restaurant. Ledo's is a chain. Perhaps you remember Oprah's show a few years ago, where her friend Gayle searched the country for the best pizza? Well, Ledo's was on her top list, and for good reason. It's different in that it is square, not round, but very tasty! We crave it sometimes, and go there when we do.
Now for some local tips...Besides being right by NCSU, if you go right out of the parking lot on Hillsborough Street, and stay to the right when the road bears off onto Morgan, you will find (on the right), Irregardless Cafe, which is a one-of-a-kind restaurant that is very good, and if you're a vegetarian, there are always vegetarian and vegan specialties as well as items for meat-lovers. Right past Irregardless is Goodnight's Comedy Club. They bring top talent to town. It can be a very fun place, depending on who is playing! There's a very casual restaurant in the basement called "Old Bar", and the top floor, called "The Grille" is fancier and more expensive.
If that doesn't sound good, go past Goodnight's, and turn left onto Glenwood Avenue. This brings you to a part of town called "Glenwood South". There are lots of restaurants, shops, and some art galleries here. Want Thai? Try Thaiphoon Bistro. Casual sports bar with a good happy hour and good food? Try Tobacco Road. Or High Five (where everything on the menu is $5). There are coffee shops, a Dunkin Donuts. Bogart's is a very good restaurant. So is Red Room for tapas. 518 West, if you want some homemade pasta. The list goes on and on.
Want to shop? At the Brownstone you are very close to Cameron Village. An outdoor shopping center, with a variety of shops, plus some interesting restaurants including "Flying Biscuit Cafe", "Carolina Cafe & Bakery", "Noodles & Company", "Cameron Bar & Grille", and others. From the hotel, Cameron Village is a couple blocks in front of it.
Now, if you go left out of the hotel, you'll be on the main part of Hillsborough Street. Best restaurant choices, imo are Porter's and Fraziers. Porter's being the more casual and less expensive of the two. Both are very good. Player's Retreat is an old Raleigh standard that is known for doing its' part to be Green. (also known for good food and good prices). Parking on Hillsborough Street is usually a problem, and if you park in the wrong placed you are very likely to get towed. Better off walking, if you're going left out of the Brownstone. To the right, you might want to drive.
You are also very close to Downtown Raleigh, which is full of great restaurants & entertainment. Raleigh isn't the sleepy Southern town it used to be. It is wide awake now. Enjoy!