Shermans Travel » Blog » Smart Luxury
If you’re looking for an excuse to book a vacation to Spain, we have a good one for you this week: This 6-night trip to Madrid and Barcelona for $1009, including flights from New York City. (Other departure cities are available, too. Check the web site for pricing.)
Madrid in particular has caught our fancy lately. Once considered a dirtier, more hectic cousin to refined, seaside Barcelona, we’ve learned to appreciate this city’s bustle, and its incredibly varied offerings for visitors, from stately museums to sleek dance clubs. And with amazing tapas and wine to be had for just a few Euros, it’s a city that can be easy on your wallet. Here are just a couple of Madrid’s charms we’ve learned about recently:
Famed as the location of the annual World Cup ski races, including the downhill run on the famed (and scarily steep) Streif slope, Kitzbühel has a reputation for being one of the fanciest ski resorts in all of Austria. We’ve discovered it is possible, however, to have your strudel and eat it – on a budget. Here are just a few highlights and dollar-saving ideas for this tony resort…
Despite a volatile economy and steep inflation, Argentina has been a well-liked budget destination for the past decade, which is fortunate as flights from most North American cities go for around $1,000. When visiting its capital, Buenos Aires, you won’t have to skimp on luxury experiences to save some dollars. Here are a few tips for stretching your budget while enjoying the best of the Paris of the South.
Located in the center of Buenos Aires, the Hotel Pulitzer (a member of the Design Hotels collection) boasts hip modern design and reasonable rates – around $120 a night. Some rooms have balconies and hotel amenities include a 13th-floor open-air sky bar and an eighth-floor pool deck. Read more
The approach of Thanksgiving usually means readying yourself for the shopping frenzy that comes immediately after. Luckily, with these Cyber Monday hotel deals, you don’t have to brave the cold and the lines and can snap up a bargain, and mentally transport yourself to a sunny beachfront hotel (or the snowy ski slopes, if you prefer), from the comfort of your own home.
For all offers, conditions and blackout dates may apply; read the fine print. Read more
As Boston braces for colder weather – and revels in the World Series success of its beloved Red Sox – this small city with a big cultural pedigree offers plenty to see, and plenty of bargains. While a sunny stroll through the picturesque Public Garden might be out of the question, or at least an endeavor to be approached with caution and a really thick scarf, Boston’s indoor delights shine bright in winter. Here’s a sampling of winter activities in Boston, many of which cost twice as much in warmer months.
From small mechanical issues to ill-timed blizzards, few of us have traveled in the past few years without running into some sort of mishap at the airport. Granted, running an airline is no easy chore, but the frustration felt when flights don’t take off as planned can seem all too real. During such moments, a sleek airport lounge can provide an oasis of luxury and calm in which to bide your time. But what about when things don’t go awry? How often do you need to visit an airport lounge to justify the cost of membership? And what tricks are there – if any – to gaining access without paying? Read more
There’s no denying that Santa Barbara, one of the most beautiful towns on California’s central coast (and perhaps the entire United States), comes at a cost. But while you might not be able to stay in Montecito, or dine at San Ysidro Ranch, it’s still possible to experience the charm of this Pacific Ocean coastal town without depleting your travel budget in a single day. Of course, beaches are always a good option to while away an afternoon, but here are five other cheap activities to help you stay in motion: Read more
Too often when we travel, we feel like an outsider getting only the briefest glimpse of how a city truly feels. We feel that we will never get an inside peek, because to enjoy the city’s true riches would require a lot of money and impossible connections. It does not have to be that way: here’s how to enjoy luxe London for less.
Unless you are friends with a member, you might as well forget about ever getting in to legendarily exclusive Groucho Club. A smart way to get access to the strictly members-only Soho House or Shoreditch House, however, is by reserving a room there. As long as you agree to abide by club rules – no photos, no cell phones, no suits – you get to make use of the club during your stay. We see January rates for a transparently named “Tiny Room” at Shoreditch House going for as low as £105, and a “Broom Cupboard” at Dean Street Townhouse (the Soho House hotel) for £81.
In Uptown New York City, over the two blocks that run from 55th to 57th, bounded by 6th and 7th Avenues, there’s currently a flurry of exciting new hotel openings.
When it comes to great hotels, the Upper West Side has long played second fiddle to downtown New York – being home to far more luxury condominiums than chic hotels. Why hotels have not moved in earlier is a mystery as this area has plenty to keep visitors busy: Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center, and Central Park, for starters.
While none of these new hotels are in the affordable bracket, a few of them are offering some good value early opening deals.
Here’s a quick run-down on the new hotel openings.
The most recent arrival on 57th Street (it just opened on October 9th) is the first Viceroy branded property in New York City. The striking black glass fluted exterior is designed by architecture and design duo Roman and Williams (who worked on the Ace Hotel New York and the Standard NYC), who also handled all of the interiors.
Ah, those pesky resort fees. We’ve all encountered them in our travels, lurking on our hotel bills.
They’ve been around since the 1990s when they were generally utilized to pay for the upkeep of high-end facilities at upscale resorts; the beach clubs and tennis courts, for example. However, in the last five years or so, more and more hotels have been tacking on these annoying – and often spendy – extra charges for considerably lower-end facilities. For example, almost every explanation of these fees we’ve encountered includes such uninspiring “perks” as a newspaper and local phone calls.
According to research by Bjorn Hanson, divisional dean of the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management at New York University, the U.S. hotel industry collected approximately $1.55 billion in fees and surcharges in 2009. Not all of which were resort fees, but you can see how fees and extras add up. Here’s a breakdown of these fees, how they work, when they’re charged, and how you can avoid them. Read more
The words “good food” have never been synonymous with airlines. In fact, most are know to have inedible, unidentifiable not-quite-warm meals, often served in flimsy, cardboard boxes. Anthony Bourdain, travel connoisseur, skips airline meals altogether.
But like hotels, airlines are vying to set themselves apart with better amenities – food being one of them. From coach to the first class cabin, airline brands across the world are working to provide passengers with unique dining experiences. Here are a few types of cuisine in which specific airlines actually… gasp… excel… Read more
Fall in New York City is one of the best times of year. The weather is incredible, fall foliage is at its best in Central Park, and there’s plenty to celebrate. If you’re planning a trip to the city in November, consider coming for the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Watch as floats, bands, and dancers pass by; after, stroll through the park for some leaf peeping.
While normally you’d have to fight your way through the crowds to get a good spot to watch, you can stop stressing this year. Four-star Affinia Manhattan is offering a special “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” package with lots of great add-ons including four sought-after Grandstand tickets. The coveted VIP-only seats (usually only offered to Macy’s employees, charities, and other organizations, though we found them being auctioned online for $700 each) provide guests with the best view in town. Here’s what you’ll get with the Affinia deal:
There is generally one main factor at play when it comes to cruise prices during the holiday season: the strength of the cruise industry. If it’s been a gangbuster year, don’t expect the cruise lines to wave you aboard for a pittance. Conversely, if sales have been lagging over the past ten months, they’re more likely to roll out holiday deals in a bid to shore up fourth quarter revenues. Value offers will vary by line, so consumers will benefit from some comparison shopping.
Though 2013 brought some challenges to the cruise market – remember the Carnival Triumph power loss in February? – deals seem to be on the scarce side this season. Nevertheless, we found a few decent ones floating around: Read more
Palm Springs has long been on southern Californians’ radar as a quick, hassle-free getaway, with well-documented visits from Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, and Audrey Hepburn in the 50s and 60s lending the place a splashy, old Hollywood allure. Even now, its appeal remains intact, with a recent outcrop of new hotels catering to fun-loving crowds from LA, New York, and other party capitals.
What we most love about Palm Springs, however, isn’t its scenery or its cool-kid status, but the way it manages to appeal to such a wide range of travelers. Whether you’re showing up to play golf, go to a pool party, browse contemporary art, tour mid-century modernist houses, ride the aerial tram, or just sit by the pool and doze, Palm Springs is ready to receive you with open arms. Read more
Hard to believe, but the movie Lost in Translation was released exactly 10 years ago today. For many, it was the first in-depth look at filmmaker Sofia Coppola’s work – and at the city where it’s set: Tokyo. If you have a trip to Japan on your wish list – or the movie in your Netflix queue – here’s a quick look at some of the film’s famous locations.
Park Hyatt Tokyo, Shinjuku
In the movie: This is the hotel where Charlotte and Bob stay, and much of the movie takes place.
What you can do there: Even if you don’t choose to stay in this luxury hotel (October rates start at $430 a night), make sure you hit up the 52nd-floor New York Bar for panoramic city views from the floor-to-ceiling windows ($23 cover charge after 8pm), or the New York Grill for Sunday morning jazz brunch ($70). Read more
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