Extract every ounce of value from your holiday, says Imogen Lepere.
She has discovered six clever ways to make your money travel further!
THREE SUPER BREAKS
The peso plummeted recently, which means that you can get more for your money than you could previously.
TRY Hotel Pulitzer
907 Maipú Street
Tel: (0054) 11 4316 0800
Now’s the time to make your lira last longer. The value of Turkey’s currency has depreciated in recent months.
TRY Elite World Marmaris Hotel
İstiklal Cad. No. 6
Tel: (0090) 252 441 0606
Currency analysis by FairFX shows that 2016 was the cheapest time for an African safari in the past three years.
TRY Tau Game Lodge in South Africa’s Madikwe Game Reserve
Tau Game Lodge Reservations
Tel: (0027) 11 466 8715
- Block B
- 53 Kyalami Boulevard
- Kyalami Business Park
- Website: taugamelodge.co.za
MAKE THE JOURNEY COUNT
The phrase ‘It’s not the destination but the journey’ has become something of a cliché, particularly when you find yourself folded into an economy seat for hours. Though when it comes to getting more for your money, there’s a lot you can do to make the journey work for you. Clever travellers save a packet by doing careful research and being flexible about where and when they fly.
Bob Atkinson, travel expert at Travel Supermarket, says: “Our research shows that holidays to Thailand are actually working out cheaper than Ibiza or Menorca as these are proving so popular with families.” If you can’t do without your European fix, Atkinson suggests going to the country you want to visit but choosing an alternative city: “You can save a lot of money by swapping obvious tourist choices for slightly lesser-known destinations. For example, choosing Valencia over Barcelona saves you 21 percent.”
Three Ways to Save
While short-haul options such as the Mediterranean may seem like an obvious choice throughout August and September, long-haul destinations are proving to be better value.
The ‘explore’ feature on kayak.com allows you to see the price of different flight routes on a world map for a month of your choice.
If your time is less valuable than your money, consider flying an indirect route to your chosen destination.
You can search specifically for indirect flights with one or more stops on skyscanner.com. Fancy delving into the infamous Temple Street Market in Hong Kong? Emirates offers flights to Hong Kong (visit emirates.com). Live the American dream in San Francisco with WOW Air (wowair.co.uk) perhaps with a stopover in Iceland.
Why not go out on a whim? If you’re happy to discover somewhere new or you’re looking to be inspired, you will find value in taking the route less travelled.
The ‘anywhere’ search tool on adioso.com allows you to pick a time frame and a country, and throws up the cheapest flights possible. If architecture and beautiful skylines are your thing, head to Basel in Switzerland. For a classic French seaside experience, try Biarritz rather than touristy Nice.
GIVE HIGH SEASON THE COLD SHOULDER
Have a long chat with the sommelier, soak up gentle rays around an empty pool and take your pick from a replete breakfast buffet – there are plenty of reasons to visit hotels in the months when business is traditionally slow and most of them offer special rates to encourage you to do just that.
Charlie Taylor, Director of External Communications of Jumeirah Hotels says: “In shoulder season, rates can be 30-40 percent lower and guests might be offered additional value such as free half-board or an upgrade. There is also a higher staff-to-guest ratio.”
Familiarise yourself with a particular region’s shoulder season and call the hotel directly to check what deals it can offer. No matter when you’re planning to travel, it will always be shoulder season somewhere. June to September is the best value time to visit the Maldives, while Mallorca (in the Mediterranean) and Bodrum (in Turkey) come into their own in October. Enjoy the South African spring during August with temperatures in places such as Durban in the 20s, or try southern Italy in late September when there is a harvest festival in every village.
When it comes to taking British holidays, you’ll find you get a much better deal if you go early in the year. “January and February are the best times to do UK city breaks,” says the owner and director of Brooks Hotels Cara Brooks, adding: “Numerous hotels in Edinburgh offer similar packages of bed, breakfast and afternoon tea for two people.”
Three Shoulder Seasons
Low rainfall and temperatures of up to 29°C make September the perfect month to enjoy this island paradise. Room rates and airfares drop after Labour Day in early September, the school holidays have passed and Christmas season hasn’t begun. In September, a double room at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, Lahaina costs around UK£ 70 less per night than in December.
(Tel: (001) 808 661 1234 or visit maui.regency.hyatt.com)
The families that descend on the Algarve have melted away and in the Douro Valley the wine harvest is in full swing. Six Senses Douro Valley is ideally positioned to watch the action.
(Tel: (00351) 254 660600 or visit sixsenses.com)
Southern Caribbean: September-November
Caribbean hotels are up to 30 percent less expensive in this period because it’s hurricane season but in the southern islands (Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia and Aruba) the rainfall is infrequent. Visit Boardwalk Hotel in Aruba in October when it’s UK£ 96 less per night than in March.
(Tel: (00297) 586 6654 or visit boardwalkaruba.com)
CLOCKWISE (FROM TOP LEFT) Six Senses luxury in Portugal; explore the Douro Valley; laze on a beach in Trinidad and Tobago; Jade Mountain in St. Lucia; azure waters from Cap Maison, St. Lucia.
BE THE FIRST TO TRY NEW HOTELS
Lounge on untouched sheets in a fresh-from-the-wrapper robe, be the first to slip into an infinity pool and sample menus that no one else has experienced. Not only is the decor at its sparkling best and the staff straining at the leash to show off their skills, new hotels offer huge discounts during their soft-launch period.
Claire Griffin has launched numerous hotels. “Owners of new hotels tend to be generous with rates, often discounting by 20-25 percent. This is the case in both short and long-haul destinations but, in my experience, it’s the larger five-star hotels that offer the best discounts,” she notes.
It’s an excellent opportunity to venture off the tourist trail and explore destinations on which you wouldn’t be prepared to gamble full price. According to Griffin, you don’t even have to go in the off-season to make the most of the discounts.
“Owners may aim to tie in the launch with low season but like any building project, they’re often subject to delays, so you’ll find plenty of offers during high season too. Typically, a soft-launch period will last between two and six months after opening.”
Being one of a hotel’s first guests means you’re in with a good chance of being upgraded to the best rooms in the house as they’re unlikely to be sold out. Cara Brooks gives us the inside track: “The best thing to do is to call the hotel rather than going through an agent or website. Ask whether there’s any chance of being upgraded when you make the booking. They may not be able to provide it on the day but if they haven’t sold the better room when you arrive, they’ll be pleased to offer a positive experience for free in the hope you might come back.”
Find a Home Away from Home
First it was Airbnb with homeowners renting out their spare rooms; now, swapping is de rigueur. It’s nothing racy, we assure you. Although if you’re anything like us, the prospect of free accommodation is bound to set your pulse racing. Trading your home with someone else can provide a unique insight into life in a different country. All you have to pay for are the airfares.
There are also plenty of hidden costs that swapping eliminates. Founder of Home Exchange Ed Kushins says: “You can have great experiences shopping in local markets, then come home to cook in your own kitchen rather than having to eat out. You can also often use your exchange partner’s car so don’t even have rental costs to think about.”
We grilled the founder of GuestToGuest and regular house-swapper Emmanuel Arnaud on the practicalities. “People worry about the logistics but it’s very simple,” he says. “I normally just leave keys with a neighbour or post them, and put fresh sheets on the beds. If I have enough clean towels I’ll leave them out; but if not, I just ask guests to bring their own with them. If people are staying for a week I’ll clear out a shelf in the wardrobe; but if it’s just a few days then I don’t bother. You pay a deposit based on the size of the house and the facilities it offers but 99.7 percent of deposits are returned in full,” Arnaud explains.
Four Top House Swaps
HOME EXCHANGE has fabulous properties in 150 countries. Pick papayas in your own orchard on Koh Samui, in Thailand; stride around a 400-hectare estate before taking tea in the rose garden at a half-timbered manor in Worcester; or try a futuristic pad overlooking Manly Beach in Sydney.
LOVE HOME SWAP is good for a first-timer because it offers a protection package that covers damage up to UK£ 5,000 and trip cancellation assistance up to 2,500 pounds. A luxury pad in Guatemala with private golf course and views of the Pacific Ocean caught our eye.
GUESTTOGUEST allows users to swap their houses non-reciprocally using ‘guest points,’ offering you far more flexibility. You earn 750 points when you sign up, and homes are evaluated based on the number of people they sleep, their location and the facilities they offer. You don’t need any points for a standard exchange, and there are properties in more than 180 countries including Canada, France, Italy, Morocco, the US and Australia.
HOME BASE HOLIDAYS has been around for more than 30 years and has a small number of well-curated properties on its books. Its urban offering is particularly strong. Choose from a stylish townhouse in Oslo, a bohemian maisonette on Brighton’s waterfront or a loft apartment in Manhattan.
TRY CHALLENGING DESTINATIONS
In the past 20 years, there’s been a huge surge in the number of people looking to be challenged and stimulated by their break.
Political turmoil may have put the hordes off swathes of the Middle East and Northern Africa but if you keep an open mind, and travel with care and respect for your destination, there are serious bargains to be had.
Prices in countries such as Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey have plummeted as fewer tourists visit these countries now. Turkey has seen tourist numbers fall steadily. Recently, the country recorded the largest drop in foreign visitor numbers in 17 years.
Michael Pullman, Marketing Manager of travel company Wild Frontiers says: “In terms of visiting stunning locations and having rewarding experiences, it is hard to beat challenging destinations. You can enjoy incredible sights in isolation. Now would be a great time to visit the Nile or there are fascinating ancient sites that you can explore in Sudan. You will also enjoy unique interactions with locals.”
There’s no doubt there are some areas that are a no-go. However, if you follow government advice you will find safe zones. For example, the Western Sahara of Morocco is off limits but the glorious orange beaches along the entire coast and intriguing Moorish cities such as Larache are currently deemed to be trouble-free (visit gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice).
Three Countries Worth Visiting
Visit the Nile valley, Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada.
With vast deserts, coral reefs and countless historical legends, it’s easy to see why Egypt has captured travellers’ imaginations. Visitors to Luxor have fallen by 70 percent in the last decade.
Jewel of the Nile tour: 10 days’ accommodation and most meals.
On The Go Tours
Tel: (0044) 207 3711113
Avoid three kilometres of the border with Syria.
Its deserts are fascinating moonscapes populated by Bedouin tribes, its cities are ancient metropolises and the Red Sea is so salty you feel like you’re suspended in air. Visitors to Petra, a World Heritage Site, have halved since 2010.
Tel: (0044) 203 1315501
Avoid 10 kilometres of the Syrian and Iraqi border, and Diyarbakir.
Head south for some of the best sand in the Mediterranean. Çirali Beach in the Antalya region stretches from the ruins of the ancient port of Olympus to the foothills of Mount Chimaera.
Off the Beaten Track tour: seven nights’ half-board accommodation including flights and a boat trip around local islets.
The Discovery Collection
- Tel: (0044) 371 859733
- Website: www.discovery-collection.com
- MARTIN HARTLEY/EGYPTIAN TOURISM AUTHORITY
- STEVE ORINO/TURKISH TOURISM BOARD/MARK PARREN TAYLOR/ANGELA DUKES
- CARL PENDLE/SIX SENSES DOURO VALLEY/SARAH COGHILL/GARY LATHAM/KOEN SMILDE/DUBAI TOURISM
- VISIT BRITAIN/LOVE HOME SWAP/HOME EXCHANGE