By Elizabeth Thorp
When you dream of travel, do you think of Disney or immediately imagine yourself on Jay Z’s yacht in St. Tropez? If you’re a “champagne dreams and caviar wishes” kind of traveler and daydream about your private overwater bungalow in the Maldives, we has some tips that might make that happen. Here’s how you can travel like J. Lo on a soccer mom budget:
1. Be flexible on dates. Try the Caribbean in the off-season. It can save you up to 60%! If you’re a risk taker, go to the Caribbean at the height of hurricane season for even greater price breaks. Yes, you can go to St. Barth’s. Families can rent a terrace suite with pullout couch for kids, open air kitchen, two bathrooms, and an outdoor dining area at Hotel St. Jean for $600 a night, half of what it costs in the winter. A two bedroom garden villa is available at the boutique beachfront hotel Les Ilets de la Plage for $395 a night.
2. Avoid sticker shock and the crowds during peak periods. For example, do not go to Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, or The Hamptons in July and August. Instead, consider visiting Nantucket in September or October when it is still warm but crowds and sky high prices have retreated but lobster and beach walks are still viable.
3. The best deals available often depend on the time of week. Mid-week, or Sunday through Thursday, resorts are typically discounted. However, in major cities like NYC, LA, or Chicago where they cater to business travelers during the week, you’re most likely to score a deal on weekends.
4. Hold the eye rolling, but all-inclusive resorts are a great deal for couples or families. They allow you to have an upscale experience, without sweating every time you sign for your dinner/bar tab. We recently visited Blue Diamond Maya Riviera, a Small Luxury Hotel that is all-inclusive and it was fabulous. Luxury accommodations? It’s included. Top shelf margarita? It’s included. Filet mignon at night, sushi on the beach at lunch? It’s included. A few of the top luxury all -inclusive brands include Grand Velas, Zoetry, Azul, Secrets, Sandals, Paradisus, and Riu. Our favorite is Round Hill, Jamaica, a small, family-friendly luxury resort that has a fabulous kids program offers oceanfront rooms for $259 a night in the summer (not including meal plans).
5. Keep your eyes (and mind!) open for last-minute specials. Last minute travel can offer the ultimate opportunity for major savings since resorts and hotels with vacancies or cancelations are often just trying to fill their empty rooms.
Rent a villa or home. Especially with families or multi-generational getaways, home or villa rental is a wonderful way to live the luxe life with more space and a lower price point than a hotel. Plus you can cook at home and save money on meals out.
The following are nearby resorts that are easy on the wallet yet offer luxurious accommodations and amenities.
Omni Bedford Springs, Bedford PA
The Omni Bedford Springs Resort is a Historic Hotel of America and a four-diamond property located in Southern Pennsylvania. Omni Bedford Springs was completely overhauled in 2007 when the owners spent over $120 million to restore the property to its historic grandeur. The resort now reflects a sophisticated and modern twist on traditional period décor. The resort has natural hot springs, a huge spa, historic buildings, indoor and outdoor pools, award-winning restaurants, cooking classes, historic tours, kids’ club, miles of hiking trails, lawn games, and more. The resort is surprisingly affordable from $199 a night.
The Tides Inn, Irvington, VA
The Tides Inn is a serene Chesapeake Bay resort that includes a marina, the 18-hole Golden Eagle golf course, and a luxurious spa, creating the perfect luxury retreat for relaxation on the Chesapeake Bay. Guests will enjoy sailing, riding bikes, crabbing, a marina tour, board games, evening s’mores, movie nights, and lawn games. There is also the CrabNet Kids program for guests ages 4 to 12, allowing mom and dad to hit the spa or have some alone time. The Inn offers a Family Vacation Package that includes deluxe accommodations with two queen beds, full breakfast daily for up to four people at the inn’s restaurant or from room service, a one-hour water cruise, and tickets to the Steamboat Museum. Prices start at $379 per night, based on two adults and two children.
Four Seasons Baltimore
The Four Seasons hotel brand is an iconic luxury brand that caters to the champagne wishes and caviar dream set. With its advanced technology, beautiful contemporary interiors, stunning views, and unparalleled service, Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore is Baltimore’s first 5-star luxury hotel. The Hotel also offers the city’s first and only resort oasis, with a bi-level terrace overlooking the harbor and offering an infinity pool, whirlpool, reflection pool, lounges and cabanas, and a Pool Bar and Grill.
Destination spa and dining add to the urban resort-like experience, and spacious rooms and suites with floor-to-ceiling views offer guests their own private retreat in the heart of downtown Baltimore’s hip Harbor East neighborhood. The hotel is super family-friendly and just steps away from the National Aquarium, Inner Harbor, and Port Discovery Children’s Museum. Summer room rates start at $429 a night for a double room that accommodates family of four. The hotel also offers a second connecting room for children under the age of 18 at 50% off if you’d like a bit more space.
The Williamsburg Lodge was opened by Colonial Williamsburg in 1939 to provide comfortable accommodations for travelers to the Historic Area. The Williamsburg Lodge offers something for every member of your family. Enjoy storytelling and other activities in the lobby with your kids.
The Lodge provides 323 guest rooms and suites with modern amenities, including free WiFi, and is a family-friendly property that borders the center of the 300+ acre Colonial Williamsburg, so it’s a quick walk to all the fun. The Lodge also has two outdoor pools, an indoor pool; tennis courts a fitness center and the state of the art spa. With the Kids Stay & Eat Free package, children12 and under, accompanied by a paying adult, stay free at an official Colonial Williamsburg hotel, play free golf at the Golden Horseshoe Club and tennis at the Williamsburg Inn Tennis Club, enjoy free length-of-stay Colonial Williamsburg admission, free breakfast at the hotel, and free dinner at Traditions, Huzzah! or a Colonial Williamsburg Tavern on the kids’ menu. Rates for this package start at $199 a night.
The Star Inn, Cape May, New Jersey
The Star is an inn/motel extraordinaire with 10 modern efficiencies, 2 spacious condos, and a 9 room inns. All of the accommodations at The Star feature a modern decor with a cool, seaside feel, making the bedrooms a wonderful, private place for families to stretch out after summer sun. The family efficiencies even have petite back yards.
The Star has it’s own Coffee Shop featuring Starbucks’ products and an array of pastries and breakfast items. Guests of the Star have access to the pool and a private beach area with lounges, umbrellas and beachside restaurant service at their posh sister property, Congress Hall, across the street.
Through September 15, 2013, The Star Inn is offering a “Playcation” family package. The package includes accommodations at the Inn, two sets of beach toys ,and for every adult meal purchased at their restaurant, The Blue Pig Tavern, a kid 12 or under eats free from the kids menu.
Keep the kids busy with your souvenir beach toy sets while you soak up some sun. Let the beach servers deliver lunch right to your chair while your kids eat free! Motel suites with a king bed, separate living room with pull out sofa and kitchenette, parking, and complimentary WI-FI starts at $279 a night.
Elizabeth Thorp is a family travel expert, writer, and founder of Poshbrood.com, a curated catalog of mom-tested, upscale family-friendly properties. Poshbrood/SmartFlyer is a full service travel agency. Elizabeth lives in Bethesda with her husband, Almus, and three young daughters Isabelle, Lucy & Penelope.