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$1,000 per night in Africa, but do you also splurge for domestic travel?

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Sep 30th, 2005, 02:50 PM
  #1
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$1,000 per night in Africa, but do you also splurge for domestic travel?

Just wondering what my fellow American Fodorites travel habits are like when traveling domestically (within the USA) or to Canada or Mexico. Do you still splurge on the very best or do you hesitate to spend more than a couple hundred per night on a room?

I would like to start taking more short holidays and I see some great hotels/lodges in places like Big Sur and some parts of Mexico. However, I am surprised that I still balk at prices that are really half the price of what I pay in Africa.

How about the rest of you?
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Sep 30th, 2005, 03:03 PM
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My original intention when I started planning a trip next year was to go to Hawaii for two weeks (I've been around the world and I live in LA but I still haven't been to Hawaii). Anyway, when I started to plan and saw how much it was actually going to cost, I said the hell with it, I might as well really go on my dream vacation.

I can't see myself spending as much on a trip to Hawaii as I am on Africa - it is a very interesting question to pose.

Maybe because my standards of luxury are much higher when adventure is not included. We went on a rafting trip in the Grand Canyon which was definitely not luxurious, but pretty expensive. But I really struggle with the idea of paying five or six or seven hundred dollars a night just for a room (I am definitley a Four Seasons type girl).

Thanks for giving me something to chew on for a while.

carol
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Sep 30th, 2005, 03:21 PM
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Rocco,

We spend a lot on vacations and hotel rooms in general - whether it be in Asia, Africa or the states. But the important thing to note is that we save our money first, then spend it (not the other way around.)

It's really just a personal preference. There are people in this world who are really into clothes - I'm not one of 'em!
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Sep 30th, 2005, 03:22 PM
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Hi Rocco - I hope you don't mind me chiming in here. Since a lot of people here are planning their first safaris like I am, I thought I'd share my newfound perpective (or if you want, call it rationalization!) on this sticker shock thing.

First, to answer your question, I don't really splurge on US travel....it's been awhile since I've gone someplace in the US where a splurge was necessary. There are some really cool places in the states and I'd certainly consider going to them. When in Europe I go as cheap as possible - because I spend little time in the room.

Now for the safari cost issue: I think for us newbies it's sometimes hard to wrap our heads around the fact that we are not just paying for a room. We are paying for the guides, and drivers who take us out to see the animals; the cooks; the fuel and maintenance on the vehicles; the people who do our laundry; food; etc.... This made it much easier to ultimately say, its' not a bad deal. Even $500 is a lot of money to me. But considering everything it's paying for, it's not all that extravagant. Make sense?
Sorry Rocco - I think I digressed from your OP.
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Sep 30th, 2005, 03:40 PM
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I tend to splurge less on hotels for city vacations, whether it be the US, Asia or Africa, b/c most of my time is spent outside the hotel, unlike Africa or a Caribbean or Mexican resort, where the lodge is a very crucial part of the stay.

On one of our first trips to London, we stayed at Claridges, my very favorite London hotel and where I stay on business when work is paying, but I felt like for a personal trip, it was not money well spent since we basically only slept at the hotel. Now, for a city vacation, I tend to look for location, comfort and decent price.

Michael

PS -- But even for Africa, I don't necessarily opt for the priciest b/c my foremost concern is game viewing, not architectural splendor.
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Sep 30th, 2005, 03:41 PM
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In my first sentence, I meant "US, Asia or EUROPE"
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Sep 30th, 2005, 04:29 PM
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Thanks for the responses.

To date, I have hesitated at spending more than about $200 per night per room while traveling nearby. Really, it seems like if one shops around, that some really nice properties are available through sites such as Hotwire, Quikbook and the like.

However, when I see certain places in Scottsdale and Big Sur that are over $500 per night, I question my own hesitation, especially since we are talking about a stay of 2 or 3 nights.

However, there are quite a few places that I would like to visit in both the USA and Mexico and I do think that I would rather "overdress for the party" by booking into some of the best possible places rather than regretting that I showed up to the party underdressed. Although I realize that I am paying for much more than just the room while in Africa, I do think it will make it easier to swallow a $400+ per night hotel room, especially now that it is no longer such a struggle to do so (thank God for this hot real estate market and for the need to pull out some money once it surpasses the maximum allowable capital gains allowance).
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Sep 30th, 2005, 04:35 PM
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Scottsdale?
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Sep 30th, 2005, 04:55 PM
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Roccco -- I think this is actually a really good question.

The most we have ever spent, by far, was in South Africa in Sabi Sands (and even that was modest by your Africa standards). This was at Chitwa Chitwa, and it was somewhere around $230-something per person per night I think including meals & game drives, etc. - this was a couple of years ago.

The second most we ever spent was in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, at Lapa Rios, which I think was something around $180 per person per night, including all meals, etc..

Both of those were extraordinary wildlife viewing experiences and therefore worth every penny.

The third most we ever spent -- and the most we ever spent in the US -- was $225 for one night at Ventana in Big Sur (this was around 7 years ago -- total mind you, not per person). It was outstanding. We loved it. But it's not something I could do very often. I am still very, very hesitant to spend more than $200 per night on a hotel, particularly in the US and Europe, and especially when it does not include meals. Given what is available on Luxury Link, Priceline, and elsewhere, there are usually much better values to be had. (We would still go back to Ventana someday though!)

The fourth most we ever spent was at Ladera Resort in St. Lucia which, at $190 per night at the time (total, not per person, and this was well over 5 years ago), was a lot to us, but it did include breakfast, and each room is missing the "4th wall" and so completely open to the view and the elements and the sunset, with a plunge pool in the room -- aah (you can still get it on Luxury Link pretty reasonably). Would do that again in a heartbeat.

It's apples and oranges really, I suppose. In Africa the prices include not only some of the most extraordinary wildlife viewing imaginable, but also pretty much everything except tips and your bar bill. That is rarely the case here in the States.

Bottom line: Yes, I still balk at more than a couple of hundred per night here. In Africa, make that a couple of hundred per person per night.

We still think one of the best values for money we ever got was the Luxury Link package at Twelve Apostles for $545 for 4 nights!

I do think that for $200 per person per night you can find some fantastic places to stay here in the states...but you will never be awakened here by the sound of monkeys chattering, or macaws cracking almonds above your head, or hippos grunting, or lions roaring....and to me, those are the really "priceless" experiences that are worth paying more for!

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Sep 30th, 2005, 05:30 PM
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Rocco,
Not that I've spent as much as $1,000 per night on safari- the prices have gone up so much since the 90's when I made most of my trips.

However, it sounds like Lisa and I have been visiting some of the same hotels! We're off to Ladera in Novemeber and though I liked Ventana there really is no comparison to Post Ranch which remains one of my favourite places in the world.

Because other locations don't generally include activities and food I don't think you can compare them.For us it's all a question of our notions of "value" which mean we saty in everything from State Park cabins to rooms with private lunge pools etc.

Like you I've made great use of Luxury Link and have had some wonderful trips through them.
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Sep 30th, 2005, 05:31 PM
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Lisa,

Oh, don't remind me! I also got Twelve Apostles for very cheap the first time around...$570 for a one bedroom suite for a four night stay, plus all the other goodies (Buffet breakfast, dinner & a movie, bottle of champagne, etc.)

This year the room was downgraded to a Superior Sea View Room while the price was double. Even so, it was still a 50% savings over rack rates. Plus, I don't know whether you saw me mention it or not, but the Twelve Apostles was voted the #1 hotel in Southern Africa by Conde Nast Traveler in the UK...this was above Ellerman House, Cape Grace and every other hotel in Southern Africa. It placed as the #6 overall property in Africa (Ngorongoro Crater Lodge won top honors, followed by Singita).

I do think you also got a great deal on Ventana Inn, as I think the price has since tripled!


Leely...Scottsdale, Arizona. There is great golfing in the area, year-round sunshine and there are a couple major marathons there each January/February.

I was last there in December 2001. Alexsandra and I had just closed escrow on a house and she thought we were flat broke. However, I had a 30 kilometer race to do in preparation for the L.A. Marathon in March. Little did she know that there was some leftover money, and this was just a few days before Christmas. Being the sucker that I am, as well as the couch potato that I am, I had watched one too many Jaguar commercials...the one with the bows on the Jaguar. So, I snuck off, bought her a new Jaguar, stashed it at my mom's house, went and ran my race and enjoyed 3 nights in Scottsdale and we returned home on Christmas Eve. Dragged her over to my mom's house and nearly had to knock her over the head to get her to go to my mom's garage with me, and VOILA!, there was her Christmas present.

(Sorry to get side-tracked, but Scottsdale does have a fond place in our memory)

Anyway, there are some world class resorts in Scottsdale and there is one particular marathon I would like to do in February, right before I leave for India or Thailand (unless I can somehow brainwash Alexsandra into going to Tanzania, as originally planned)

http://www.lostdutchmanmarathon.org



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Sep 30th, 2005, 07:14 PM
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we went to New Zealand in March, booking all 4-5 star properties "just to splurge" (not knowing I'd be going to Africa 7 months later). 10 days self drive through the North Island, not paying much attention to how much things cost because it was in NZ dollars, and the purpose of the trip was to do all the things they did on "Amazing Race". When we got home and the credit card bill came in, it was a few thousand less than what this safari is costing, but had a great time! At the time, I thought I would never spend that much on vacation again, but then here comes Zambia! The way I figure it is, my mom left me this money to have fun with, she always had fun and traveled, that is what she would want me to do, so I'm doing it! When I go to the mainland (US) unless my company is paying, 3 stars is enough...unless its Las Vegas where 3 stars in not enough!
18 days and counting
Dennis
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Sep 30th, 2005, 09:02 PM
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Hi All,
A bit adjacent to this but relevant I think is the cost of cruising. About 2 years ago we took a Princess cruise from Bangkok to Venice, thru Suez canal, 30 days, cost was $150 per day per person. Not including airfare. This price of course included room and board and transportation - except for the shore excursions.
regards - tom
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Sep 30th, 2005, 09:03 PM
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I rely heavily on luxurylink for resorts in the Caribbean and US. That allows me to 'splurge' without really splurging. Unfortunately, they don't have much in terms of East Africa offerings.

For city hotels, I tend to redeem frequent guest points for free stays, particularly in Europe, where they often represent the best value in terms of points to cost ratio. I wouldn't say that I balk at a certain dollar amount, but because of the availability of sites such as luxurylink, I'm much more hesitant to pay list prices elsewhere.
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Oct 1st, 2005, 05:18 AM
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The Royal Malewane is costing about $2000 per night. That is the most expensive room we have stayed in. However, we spent $1000 a night for the Four Seasons in Paris and it only included a continental breakfast. We also spent $1150 a night in Mauritius at the Oberoi. This was a private villa with its own plunge pool and included breakfast.

I love a nice hotel room. Its one of my favorite things and I love to stay at hotels on the Top Lists. But I also love a deal. So I do try and fine the best for a deal.

Actually, when we are in Cape Town we are staying at the Commodore. This will probably be the worst hotel we have stayed in given we have enjoyed many Four Seasons and Ritzes. But I wanted to put the money toward a better safari and I wanted to spend only $12,000 on hotels and air combined (we will eat at extravagant restaurants when we arrive). So we are making a sacrifice. But we are also redoing our bathroom at the same time and will only pay cash for both. But as long as the safari is superluxe I am happy. That is really why we are going to S.A. Everything else is just a bonus.
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Oct 1st, 2005, 07:53 AM
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On a recent escape from the madness of LA, I drove 1.5 hours to Palm Springs in search of a getaway retreat. I found an ad in their local paper for a private villa all self-contained with a private pool, while having my morning java. Drove there and met with the property manager, took one step inside and said "I'll take it!" without even asking the price. They arranged for a massage in my villa later that day. It was heavenly, just what I needed. The cost, $495 per night. It was worth every penny. The benefits outweighed the cost. Guess it really depends on the individual and what its "worth" is to you personally.
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Oct 1st, 2005, 08:10 AM
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CarlaM,

Do tell more! What is the name of this heavenly place? If it was $495 when you showed up on their doorstep, perhaps it is even less if booked in advance.

I am leaving for a wedding in Palm Desert tonight and so far I am going to be homeless! Chances are that I will just get a room at where the wedding is being held (the Marriott resort) but knowing about this other place would be great for next time I am in the Palm Springs area.
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Oct 1st, 2005, 08:20 AM
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Dr. Andrea,

Thanks for sharing. I have heard wonderful things about the Royal Malewane and at $2,000 per night they better all be true!

Although I don't mind spending the $12,000 that you mentioned spending, I do like to stretch it out a bit further for a longer visit. Just wondering what your whole itinerary looks like, because after the Royal Malewane, it appears that only enough money for Cape Town and possibly Victoria Falls would remain.
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Oct 1st, 2005, 11:15 AM
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I can justify spending large sums only for transport to remote areas or accommodations in them that require supplies to be brought at in at great expense and for highly qualified guides that make a wilderness experience enjoyable and safe.

Whether in the US, such as Alaska, or elsewhere, only nature can coax big bucks out of me. Luxury alone does not open up my wallet or even intrigue me.

I also spend whatever it takes on comfortable shoes, but have been fortunate to find very reasonably priced footware.
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Oct 1st, 2005, 11:40 AM
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Hi Rocco,

When I'm travelling anywhere other than Africa, I don't spend nearly as much -- I don't think a US or European hotel charging $500 a night offers nearly the value for money of a night at Londoz which costs about the same amount.

Beyond a certain point, the only thing a US or European hotel can offer to justify the price tag is OTT 'luxury' (which can often verge on the tacky -- gold plated taps, anyone?) and services which border on the absurd (e.g. 'bath butlers' and 'pillow butlers.' No thanks!

Cheers,
Julian
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