Value Luxury: It’s How Smart People Travel
Walking out of my room at the Four Seasons at Manele Bay in Lana’i, I took in the classic Hawaiian view. A whale surfaced in the water below; spinner dolphins would enter the marine sanctuary later. I picked up my resort-provided beach bag – it was all I needed, as the pool concierge offered towels, sunscreen, pineapple lemonade, even an Evian spritz. I felt relaxed and pampered. The location and extras made this five-star hotel’s $375-per-night cost worthwhile.
But then I went to breakfast. The buffet’s $30 price tag took me aback, and there was little on the menu under $16. Suddenly my perception of value for the money diminished. Satisfaction turned to irritation, as there’s only so much I’ll pay for eggs, no matter where I’m staying. I took the shuttle up to Lana’i City to start my day in a reasonably priced local restaurant for the rest of my trip.
Such are the trade offs that a “value luxury” traveler is willing to make. Well beyond our hostel years, we seek unique, chic and boutique vacation experiences that are worth the splurge. And when we’re stuck with paying more for something that doesn’t deliver, we aren’t shy about voicing our anger.
Value luxury travelers are easy to spot, once you know what we find important. We’ll pay extra for a hotel room with a killer view, but we’ll avoid the costly mini-bar and pricey room service. We’ll shell out for dinner at a top resort restaurant, but we’ll stay at the charming B & B down the beach. We scour TripAdvisor and Frommer’s forums, book through Hotwire and LuxuryLink and tell our friends on Facebook when we’ve found a great deal.
The past few years have been good times for travelers like us. The recession forced even the poshest properties to lower their rates and offer extra amenities. Chain hotels turned hipper, celebrity chefs opened lesser-priced versions of their signature restaurants. Getting value for your dollar became a selling point.
At least in hotels and restaurants. The airlines are another story. Baggage fees and ticket change fees and fees just for picking out your seat – the list goes on and on. Value luxury travelers hate these extra charges, and we do what we can to avoid them, whether it’s gaming our frequent flier accounts, shipping our bags to our destination or tweeting our outrage directly to the airlines.
But value luxury isn’t just about money. It’s about figuring out what’s most valuable to you on vacation, and paying for your passions instead of passively accepting the default options.
When you plan trips with your values in mind, amazing things can happen. You stay in an apartment in Barcelona with a view of Sagrada Familia, drinking cava bought at the grocery store neraby. You bypass anonymous all-inclusive resorts on the Riviera Maya for a small hotel where the owner guides you to the region’s best cenote. Your hum-drum holiday turns into a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
And that’s where I come in. I’ll use my experiences as a veteran travel writer to give you practical tips and advice on how to get the most from your money while on vacation. My style isn’t cheap – I’m willing to splurge if I feel the experience is worth it – but I’m always looking for value. “Spend here, save there” is my motto, and I welcome your suggestions and conversation.
Let’s travel the world, together.