Travel Smart: Luxury for Less

Your dream vacation may be more affordable than you think 

Venice in November. Fog floated over the canals. A change in plans meant we had to find a room at the last minute. We asked the clerk at the Westin Europa & Regina for their least expensive room. When she saw we were members of Starwood’s Preferred Guest program, she said, “For the same price, I can give you a better accommodation.”

What a difference an upgrade made. Our high-ceilinged room overlooked the Grand Canal. French doors opened onto balustrades, where we waved to people in gondolas, feeling as decadent as a doge.

Your dream vacation might be more affordable than you think. Here are ways to indulge in luxury for less.

Compare fairly. When pricing vacation options, remember that many higher-priced offerings tend to be all-inclusive. While almost all cruises include dining room meals and most onboard activities in the fare, luxury lines, such as Seabourn, also include meals in specialty restaurants, alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks, and even tips. Some tour companies include all meals, some just breakfast and dinner.

Splurge on a quality experience rather than always choosing the cheapest option. In Barcelona, instead of our usual frugal lunch, we opted for the more expensive Petit Comitè, a sleekly modern showcase for traditional Catalan cooking. We still remember those warm puffs of deep-fried pastry filled with chocolate.

Think opposite. Head to ski resorts in summer, when many offer mountain biking or cultural festivals; go to Greece in winter, when fares are typically lower.

Stay loyal. If you belong to a hotel loyalty program, you can often get upgrades and other perks, such as free use of the fitness center or late checkout.

Watch for promotions. During New York City’s annual Hotel Week NYC in January, participating hotels offer discounts off their regular rates.

Work with a pro. Let your travel agent know your dream destinations and your budget. He or she will keep an eye out for deals that can give you a vacation you never thought you could afford.

Photo (top): Connor Yap

Some information contained in this article is time-sensitive. Prices, event particulars, contact information, and other details are subject to change without notice.