7 Underrated Places in the US the Whole Family Will Love

Family Vacation Summer 2019

Family Vacation Summer 2019

While classic summer vacations like Disney, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Wisconsin Dells, and Cedar Point might all be fun, the options below take a path less traveled. Your family will make memories they won’t soon forget and you’ll find something for everyone.

San Diego

This pretty city has perfect weather year-round. The whole family will enjoy manageable summer heat with zero humidity.

The award-winning San Diego Zoo is one of the largest and most reputable in the world, and is a must-stop for families. You’ll delight in seeing the giant pandas, but the fun doesn’t stop there. The northern frontier area boasts polar bears and arctic foxes while the African exhibit includes leopards, rare baboons, and lemurs.

Families can enjoy some of the nicest beaches in the country with activities like seal tours, snorkeling with sharks, and surf lessons. You can also do San Diego sand-free at the incredible Children’s Museum, Belmont Amusement Park, LEGOLand, Balboa Park, and countless other small attractions where your child can explore his or her interests.

Miami Beach

Florida beaches like Destin and Saint Petersburg are a hit with families. So are North Florida family hubs like Disney World and Cape Canaveral. But South Florida has something different to offer. Boasting the most tropical stateside beaches, the snorkeling in Miami Beach can’t be beat, as you’ll easily spot tons of colorful fish and aquatic life.

When the heat becomes too much at midday, head indoors for more fun. There’s an exceptional children’s museum between Miami and Miami Beach not far from Jungle Island – a great indoor spot to enjoy orangutans, lemurs, sloths, and other jungle creatures. They also feature indoor sky-diving simulation, escape rooms, and more. The Ritz-Carlton at Bal Harbor also has a well-loved children’s beach club experience, but there are many other family-friendly resorts and hotels to explore, too.

New Orleans

New Orleans =swathed in beads and feathers for Mardi Gras is not the only draw to this warm and diverse city. While your family will undoubtedly enjoy the delicious seafood, Creole cuisine and French pastries, the Big Easy boasts much more than great dining.

NOLA is loaded with historical museums, beautiful outdoor experiences, and family-friendly music experiences. Gator tours will thrill kids and adults of all ages, the enchanting train garden makes for a fun adventure inside the botanical gardens. No family vacation to New Orleans would be complete without a romp through Storyland Park, which brings your family’s favorite characters and fairytales to life. New Orleans also caters to families with kid-friendly book stores, kid-focused restaurants, and parks on every corner. Your crew might be begging to stay forever.

Anchorage

Alaska gets a bad rap as a freezing cold arctic experience featuring moose encounters. While the potential for moose encounters holds true all year round, Alaska can be downright springlike. It’s a solid choice for escaping the hight temps of July and August. Stay in Anchorage, and plan trips from there to Alaska’s many outdoor destinations.

At wildlife hubs like the Sea Life Center, the Wildlife Conservatory, and Denali National Park, your family will get the chance to see – and even interact with – tons of native wildlife. Sled dogs, sea otters and puffins are among the protected creatures you might meet and interact with on tours, while luckier travelers will see bison, moose, reindeer, and even bears. Tours of all kinds allow you to paddle, hike, or cruise through the various ecosystems that make up Alaska’s unique lands.

In Anchorage itself, your family will love exploring The Imaginarium Science Discovery Center at the Anchorage Museum or the Nancy Lake State Recreational Park. Grab a Discovery Duffel at the botanical gardens, stuffed with challenges and activities for kids, and relax at a cafe or poolside at your hotel.  

Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg is an eastern Tennessee town you may or may not have ever heard of. For those in the know, the Smoky Mountains bring all of the enchantment and mystery of the western US mountains to the eastern hills.

If you’ve never been, one trip on the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tram will blow your mind. This tram will give you a bird’s eye view of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park which is as incredible as it sounds. Even better, the end of the tram will drop you and your troops at a mountain-town amusement park. In nearby Anakeesta, you’ll enjoy mining for gems and traversing the treehouse park. By the way, mom and dad, the views are insane.

Other attractions in the area include Dollywood, exploring the Ripley’s Believe-it-or-not Museum and playing with penguins at Ripley’s Aquarium, entering a dessert dreamland at Crave Golf Club and more.   

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Lake Michigan is an attraction unto itself, with the usability and accessibility of a freshwater lake and the size and waves of a coastal beach vacation.

While America’s largest lake offers plenty of spots to stay and play, Sleeping Bear Dunes is among the most unique. This area boasts forests and dunes that invite adventurers to hike, bike, ride, tube, or buggy. The lake also offers constant entertainment from wading, swimming, and sandcastle building for little kiddos to jet skiing, hang-gliding, and learning to surf for older kids.

For the whole family, this area is spotted with old-town shops, ice cream parlors, and at night, the Lanphier Observatory is perfect for stargazing and forgetting to check your phone.

Olympic National Park

For an all-in-one outdoor excursion your family won’t soon forget, head to Washington state and the Olympic National Park. This national park is one of the most ecologically diverse as it includes mountains, lakes, ocean beaches, and temperate rainforests. Choose to camp in one of many pristine and remote campgrounds, opt for a lakeside resort like the Quinault lodge, or grab a hotel in a nearby staple city like Olympia, Shelton, or Port Angeles.

On the west side of the park, your crew can experience tidepools, whale watching, and sea otter spotting at the Kalaloch beaches. To the south, dip a kayak or canoe into Quinault lake, then hike out to see the world’s largest Sitka spruce tree. On the north side, from Port A, take a casual hike through the Hoh rainforest, where spots like the Hall of Mosses, bear-sightings along the salmon-filled Hoh River, or one of many gorgeous waterfalls will enchant you. From Port Angeles, you can also take a short drive to Hurricane Ridge to see acres and acres of wildflowers peppered with deer, foxes, and elk with a stunning mountain backdrop. (This is a great place to snowshoe, sled, and ski in the winter, too!)

If your family loves the water, take a dip in Lake Crescent – this lake is free of algae and is one of the deepest and cleanest in the country. You can also visit Sol Duc Hot Springs for an any-season soak. The Puget Sound, to the east, could round out your trip and, for families with time, nearby Olympia and Seattle offer tons of indoor excitement, too.

Where will you be traveling this summer?

It’s FESTIVAL Season: Get Ready with Our Top Festival-goer Tips

Festival Season

Festival season is in full swing! You may have already learned the hard way that having an unforgettable experience at these amazing events requires a decent amount of planning. You can try to go with the flow and hope for the best, or you can take our advice and become an instant festival traveling pro.

#1 Book your lodging ASAP

There are only so many hotels near these venues. In order to ensure that you are getting a good deal, the right number of rooms and/or the best proximity, you have to book your lodging as soon as you get your festival tickets. Look into any hotels that are partnering with your festival for a special discount.

#2 Never act solo

Traveling is always a lot to handle. Having a friend or group of friends to help coordinate your trip, navigate your travels and execute your festival plans can make all the difference. Not only will you be safer with a co-pilot to talk to and manage the Waze or Google Maps, but festivals are a whole lot more fun when you get to share the amazing experience with your friends.

If you’re going to trade off driving, try to always have at least one person awake to accompany the driver.

#3 Pack early and double-check your list

Festivals can either be one long party filled with amazing entertainment, food, drinks, and fun OR they can be exhausting and overwhelming if you feel unprepared. Someone spill their drink on you and you didn’t pack extra clothes? Forget the one thing you can’t forget (the all-mighty phone charger)? By creating your own personal checklist and starting the packing process early, you make sure that among the excitement of the travel and the festival events that you are prepared for whatever comes up. Here’s a quick festival checklist to start with:

  • Tickets/wristbands
  • A physical map for traveling through dead zones
  • More than enough clothes in case of accidents/emergencies
  • Cash – whether it’s for the trip or during the festival, it’s always important to have multiple payment methods at your disposal
  • Sunscreen
  • Hand sanitizer/wet wipes to keep you feeling fresh
  • Bug spray
  • Backpack or similarly easy to carry bag for extended time away from your hotel/tent
  • Tent and sleeping bag (if applicable)
  • Refillable water bottle – likely holds more than 16 ounces so you don’t get dehydrated while you’re busting a move (bonus for cutting down on waste!)
  • Phone charger
  • Chairs for downtimes
  • Blankets or mats to lay down on
  • Cards or other travel-friendly games in between sets or for in your hotel/tent
#4 Get to know the details of your festival

How is your festival laid out? What times are your favorite artists performing? How easy is it to get back to your lodging accommodations? Be certain to answer these questions ahead of time to ensure that you feel prepared to make the most of your festival weekend.

Here’s a list of some of the biggest, baddest festivals

  1. Boston Calling – May 24-26, Harvard Athletic Complex, Allston, MA
  2. Bottlerock – May 24-26; Napa Valley, CA
  3. Bayou Country Super Fest – May 25-26, 2019; LSU Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA
  4. Primavera Sound – May 30-June 1; Barcelona, Spain
  5. Governors Ball – May 31-June 2; Randall’s Island, New York City, NY
  6. Roots Picnic – June 1, The Mann at Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, PA
  7. CMA Music Festival /Austin City Limits – June 6–9, 2019; Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN
  8. Bonnaroo – June 13-18; Manchester, TN
  9. Firefly – June 21-23; The Woodlands, Dover, DE
  10. Glastonbury – June 26-30; Worthy Farm, Pilton, Somerset, England
  11. Longitude – July 5-7; Marlay Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin, Ireland
  12. Pitchfork Music Festival – July 19-21, Union Park, Chicago, IL
  13. Lollapalooza Paris – July 20-21; Hippodrome Paris Longchamp, Paris, France
  14. Cincinnati Music Festival – July 25-27, 2019; Paul Brown Stadium – Cincinnati, OH
  15. Mo Pop – July 27-28; West Riverfront Park, Detroit, MI
  16. Lollapalooza – August 1-4; Grant Park, Chicago, IL
  17. Outside Lands – August 9-11; Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA
  18. Woodstock 50 – August 16-18; Watkins Glen, NY
  19. Burning Man – Aug 25-Sep 2, 2019; Black Rock City, Gerlach, NV
#5 Map out your set-list

Which acts can you absolutely not miss? If these acts are headliners, odds are you’re going to have to stake your claim around a half hour before the set starts.

Don’t leave an amazing festival with a sour taste in your mouth because you missed your favorite band or had to wear the same pair of underwear the entire weekend. Start your planning early so that your weekend can be a breeze.

Looking for a great deal on your festival hotel so you can increase your food budget (Chi’lantro is calling…)? Do a quick search with Bonwi.com to review our best offers.

Destination Wedding I-Do’s

Destination Weddings
Destination Weddings

You get the invitation and you’re instantly hit with a mix of excitement and uncertainty. While a wedding in Italy, or Tokyo, or even Key West seems fun and exciting and you’ve been looking for a good chance for you to get out of town for a while, it’s also daunting. Can I take off this much work? How much will this cost? Who all is going?

We’ve put together the most important questions for you to ask yourself before you commit to a destination wedding.

Where am I headed?

A destination wedding that takes place on a remote island is a completely different experience than one that takes place in a major city or a small town two states over. Will you need to be ready for a rugged, adventurous week away, or a posh and metropolitan excursion? Do you need to dress for deep humidity, arid sunshine, or mountain snow? Are non-wedding meals and activities close by and walkable, taking place on an intimate resort, or spread out all over a busy city? How will you keep in touch with the other members of your party?

Know where you’re headed and what that location will imply.

Where will I be staying?

Whether you’re staying in a chain hotel in a block of rooms side-by-side with your fam, nestled into cabins or rooms on a cruise ship, estate, or grounds, or doing something more unique, you’ll want to know what’s included and how to prepare. Are guests sharing accommodations? Is there free breakfast, Wi-Fi, an onsite gym, a pool? Will entertainment be onsite or will you need to keep yourself busy elsewhere?

Prepare in advance.

What’s paid for? (And what isn’t?)

Some destination weddings are an all-expenses adventure for a few key family members or friends. Other destination weddings are a big party with a “come if you can” invitation to every acquaintance. If travel or accommodations are covered, know what else you will need to pay for. If all expenses are paid by you, the guest, make sure you know what those costs look like and whether or not the itinerary includes other expensive events, too.

Plan to tip for room cleaning, transportation and other services, even if it’s an all-expenses paid trip.

What’s the WHOLE itinerary?

Speaking of the itinerary, make sure you know what it includes. If you’re going to Bali for the week, you may want to know if that week includes planned group adventures or tours, multiple dinners out, after-wedding breakfasts, etc. or if you’re just attending a one-night event and spending a week on the sand, or left to your own devices. If the latter is true, make sure you sync up with other guests you know and see what everyone wants to do.

PRO TIP: The best way to optimize and make the most of this expense is to do more than attend a wedding – make sure you take some photos, see some sights, and take in the beauty of whatever area you’re in.

How will I get around?

It’s smart to know where you’re headed and how people normally get from place to place. If you’re headed to an all-inclusive resort or a cruise line, this may be a non-issue. However, if you and the other guests are stationed all over and events are spread throughout the city, you may want to rent a car, arrange for group transit, or know the public systems.

How will I pack your formal attire?

A beachy wedding where everyone is wearing linen and rattan may not require formal attire. Additionally, you may be able to fold everything and press at the hotel. A cosmopolitan black-tie event, however, might require special arrangements. You may need to send your tuxes and dresses to the destination ahead of time, or bring a garment bag as your personal item on the flight. Be ready.

Am I traveling internationally?

If your destination is overseas, you will need to make special arrangements including getting that passport up to date, securing immunizations as necessary, and being ready to exchange currency. We have more international travel tips here.

Am I taking the kids?

Not all weddings are kid-friendly, but many are. If your event is a family-friendly fete and you’re bringing children under 10, you’ll need to entertain them. Address what entertainment options are onsite for families or where else you can go to keep your family happy. Team up with other parents in your group so the kids can team up, too.

How long will I be gone?

This may be the most important question to ask before you RSVP. If you’re just going a couple states away for a long weekend, you may only need to take off 1-2 days of work and get your neighbor to water your plants. If this trip extends past a week, you’ll need to account for your vacation hours at work, make arrangements for your pets and plants, and consider the kids’ absence from school.

Ultimately, couples who plan destination weddings understand that not every guest can swing the trip – especially the further from home they will be. If you can’t sweat the expense or time away, don’t feel guilty. But if you can make it, and it makes sense, this wedding could be an excuse for you to take some much-needed vacation time and rack up (or cash in) all those Bonwi rewards points!

Places To Escape The Heat

Bonwi-21-Places-To-Escape-The-Heat

Bonwi-21-Places-To-Escape-The-Heat

Summer is coming and and it’s time to start planning. Below is a list of lakes, mountains, and beaches to help keep you cool in the warmer months.

Denali-Alaska

Denali National Park, Alaska
Denali National Park offers beautiful views of land and water. It’s home to amazing wildlife and offers the perfect escape from the summer heat. Temperatures during July tend to hover in the mid 60s during the day, and dip down into the low 40s at night.
MEXICO-CITY-MEXICO
Mexico City, Mexico 
Mexico City is full of interesting neighborhoods and museums, amazing archaeological treasures, and an incredible public square. Best of all, at an altitude of 7,411 feet the climate is moderate all year.
Michigan
Upper Peninsula, Michigan 
Get outside and enjoy the Great Lakes, refreshing woods, and beautiful landscapes found in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The daytime highs hover around the mid to low 70s, and evening temperatures are in the low 50s.
San-francisco
San Francisco, California 
San Francisco is a great city for walkable neighborhoods, famous attractions, and every type of ethnic food imaginable. July brings daytime temperatures in the high 60s, often with a cool, gentle breeze off the ocean throughout the day.
nova_scotia
Nova Scotia, Canada 
Nova Scotia is surrounded by rolling green fields, high sea-cliffs, and wooden architecture that is perfectly picturesque. The residents of Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, barely break a sweat in the summer on account of the fresh salty ocean air.
Let us help ensure that your next getaway is the best one yet. Get up to 40% back in travel points on every booking with Bonwi.com.

“Traveling for Business or Pleasure?” Why Not Both?

Combining business travel with leisure pursuits is the latest trend in travel.
Combining business travel with leisure pursuits is the latest trend in travel.

‘Bleisure’ is Movin on Up

In the age of the fifteen-second attention spans (it may be closer to ten now) millennials are making use of the work phenomenon ‘bleisure’, a blending of leisure activities and work on business trips. While baby boomers and Generation X’ers are also in on the trend millennials are leading the pack with this double-think strategy.

Killing two birds with one stone has allowed many youngins to cut down heavily on vacation costs. Frank Thurman, Vice president of marketing for National has expressed that all generations believe this mix of work and play has led to a healthier work/life balance overall.

Despite the consensus, millennials believe they should be keeping their leisure activities on the down low compared to Generation Xers and the boomers. This may change as this notorious age group begins to take over managerial positions. Bosses who partake themselves are 25 percent more likely to encourage workers to “bleis” as well.

Travel companies are adapting to this new trend, as millennials and past generations seek out accommodations over the interwebs, obscure and well known alike. HotelTonight is cornering this market with its curtailed app for business travel and varied time slots spanning from last minute to three months in advance. You never know when the boss will need you to jet off to Seattle.

Bleisure is also going global, with the most visited cities including hot spots like Singapore, Shanghai, London, Paris, Tokyo and (of course) the ever-relevant New York City. The most common bleisure trip months are September and October. General tips for planning these multifaceted getaways include scheduling meetings for Monday or Friday, booking through your company travel portal and using the company’s lodging rate, and being fully aware of your company’s travel policy.


The bleisure trend has extended past pure travel and delved into the fashion industry as well. Par en Par is a clothing line designed to allow the wearer to slip from business casual to “lets-muck-up-the-town” with ease.

More and more young folks are gravitating towards jobs with the perks of flexible business-travel. And businesses are using it to their advantage, putting these benefits front and center as they compete for talented, up-to-date employees.

An article in Travel Weekly explained how employers are working to grasp how important being able to combine business and leisure is to Millenials.

“Understanding the needs of a client’s employer can go a long way toward helping that employer formulate an effective policy about bleisure travel, according to Leah Kirgis, manager of leisure travel at Cadence, a Virtuoso agency in La Jolla, California. “One of the things we’re often asking—and something that we find directly related to bleisure travel—is how can we help our clients create a more ‘human’ travel policy, rather than one strictly focused on cost savings?” she says.

As they say, “Build it and they will come.” Not exactly a baseball stadium, but you get the point.  Find the perfect hotel room and bank your Bonwi points to earn future stays!

Ferris Wheels!

Ferris-Wheels

Ferris-Wheels

This list ranks the best Ferris wheels that are currently in operation; based not only on height, but also beauty, uniqueness and other historical noteworthiness.

High Roller – Las Vegas, Nevada

Located in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip, the High Roller is the world’s largest observation wheel with 28 transparent pods holding 40 passengers each.

Singapore Flyer – Singapore

Standing at a stunning 541 feet from the ground, the Singapore Flyer offers you breathtaking, panoramic views of the Marina Bay and beyond.

Star Of Nanchang – Nanchang, China

The Star Of Nanchang looks like a huge dazzling clock at night since it is adorned with 7,000 LED lights.

Orlando Eye – Orlando, Florida

Each capsule contains Apple iPads allowing you to learn about the landmarks and surroundings in several languages and see beyond what the eye can see.

Melbourne Star – Docklands, Australia

Whether you know and love Melbourne, or are a first-time visitor to the cultural capital, the Melbourne Star is a spectacular way to get your bearings.

Tianjin Eye – Tianjin, China

The Tianjin Eye is a 394 foot tall Ferris wheel built on the Yongle Bridge over the Hai River in Tianjin, China. It is the only such wheel to have been constructed over a bridge.

Mickey’s Fun Wheel – Anaheim, California

Mickey’s Fun Wheel offers two different ride experiences: swinging or stationary gondola.

Ready to explore destinations? Try a search with Bonwi.

Reward Points Battle: World of Hyatt vs. Bonwi

Hyatt Clearwater Beach

World of Hyatt versus Bonwi Rewards payoffs

How many points will you rack up if you always stay with Hyatt and are loyal to that brand, as opposed to staying wherever you want and earning Bonwi points?

Let’s take a look at points earnings and payoffs with the two programs: World of Hyatt and Bonwi Rewards.

How World of Hyatt Works

Like most major brand hotel programs, the World of Hyatt one is purposely complicated. It’s not as bad as some on the earnings side since it’s dollar-based with few exceptions, but that amount varies depending on your elite status (or lack of). Then how many points you have to spend to get a free night also depends on the class of hotel, the city it’s in, and whether it’s busy that week.

On the earnings side, as a regular member you receive 5 points per dollar spent on your room and regular services in the hotel, such as dining or drinking. This also applies to partner hotels from Small Luxury Hotels of the World when you want something with more character. If you stay enough to move up the elite tiers, you earn more points per dollar. But as a regular member, $300 spent on your tab at checkout gets you 1,500 points. See the details here.

So if we pull up hotels in New York City, we find that you could earn points from Grand Hyatt, Andaz, Hyatt Place, Hyatt Centric, The Beekman, and more. With rates on our random dates ranging from $231 to $895, you could earn between 1,155 to 4,160 points per night on the room charge.

Now let’s say you’ve racked up 50,000 points over many,  many stays and want to spend them. What will that get you?

If we pull up a warm-weather vacation destination like Cancun, you can get… not much.  It’s 25,000 per night to stay at either Andaz Mayakoba or Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen. If you head to Miami instead, it’s a little better: from 12,000 to 20,000 per night depending on the property level. So you could manage two or three nights there with your points.

World of Hyatt point redemptions

How Bonwi Rewards Works

With Bonwi.com, there’s no set formula by brand on the earnings side and the points you earn are variable. You will often earn far more than 5 points per dollar. You could earn enough for a free stay after just two or three nights. See how it works here.

If we pull up New York City again for the same dates, you’ll see that you’d receive 6,231 per night for booking Hyatt’s Andaz Wall Street. So the same stay that would get you 311 X 5 from Hyatt’s program—1,555—gets you more than four times as many points from Bonwi.

Bonwi rewards points for Hyatt Andaz stay

This isn’t always the case. The super-expensive Park Hyatt New York is an exception because it would earn you 5 points for every dollar. But as we’ve shown with Marriott Bonvoy and IHG Rewards in the past, you usually have the opportunity to earn more points by picking the hotel of your choice than by being loyal to a certain brand. If you stayed at The Plaza in New York instead of the Park Hyatt, you’d pay about $100 less per night and would earn a whopping 13,673 points per night you could apply to any hotel stay or airline flight.

There’s also upside on the redemption part since you will often find redemption levels that are far more generous than with traditional branded loyalty programs. So it takes fewer stays to earn points, then fewer points for a free night.

If we pull up Cancun, for instance, where your only Hyatt choices were the two at 25,000 points per night before meals and drinks, here’s a taste of what you could get, it’s a different story for those same 50,000 points at Bonwi Rewards.  You could choose from:

  • 9 all-inclusive resorts for 22,500 points or less
  • 6 beachfront all-inclusive hotels for 18,000 points or less
  • 14 Playa del Carmen boutique hotels for 9,000 points or less

In Miami, it’s even better. For the same 12,000 to 20,000 points per night, you would have hundreds of hotels to choose from.

Hyatt Clearwater Beach

Other Redemption Options for World of Hyatt

What if you don’t need free hotel nights from Hyatt or they just plain don’t have any properties in your chosen vacation spot?  Well you could exchange them for airline points, but at a huge loss. Here’s the best-case scenario from the World of Hyatt website:

Planning your next trip? You can turn your points into airline miles. Transfer as few as 5,000 points for 2,000 miles

“As few as?” Ouch. That’s quite a haircut.

You can also exchange them for dining or spa credit, but again at a terrible redemption rate.  If you exchange 10,000 points you only get $50, which means Hyatt points are only worth half a cent each. It gets better with huge transfers, but still never gets up to a penny per point.

You cannot exchange them for gift cards, even at a bad rate. That option is not available.

Other Redemption Options for Bonwi Rewards

At Bonwi, your points are yours to do what you want with and if you don’t want to use them for a hotel stay, you have lots of other options, all at a level of a penny per point.

So if you have 10,000 points, that’s worth a $500 flight. No blackout dates, no specific airlines you have to use, no transfer formulas.

Exchange Bonwi points for gift cards

If you want to get a gift card instead for Best Buy or a restaurant chain, 10,000 points gets you $100. Simple and valuable.

Book your next hotel stay here and start earning more.

Story by Tim S. Leffel, editor of Hotel Scoop and Luxury Latin America, author of Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune.

 

Popular Themed Hotels Across The United States

Bonwi-Themed-Hotels

Bonwi-Themed-Hotels

Mix things up during your next hotel stay. This week’s Travel Tip Tuesday explores off-beat accommodations around the country with features that you’re not soon to forget.

MadonnaInn

Madonna Inn – San Luis Obispo, California
Located in California between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the Madonna Inn is a cultural landmark that features 110 guest rooms and suites, each uniquely designed and themed. Most are colored in various gradients of pink with gilded mirrors, lush floral arrangements and plenty of velvet. The Vous room is a royal-blue luxury hideout with vaulted ceilings, an ornate chandelier, and a round bed. A stay in the Safari Suite is accented by animal skins, prints, a shower with an overhead waterfall, and two California King beds. The Madonna Inn’s Gold Rush Steak House is bursting with color, and is best known for its circular pink booths.

Out’n’About Treehouse Treesort – Cave Junction, Oregon
Childhood dreams come to life with the ultimate treehouse forts at Out’n’About Treehouse Treesort. Twelve treehouses, all custom built for the resort, are scattered around a 36-acre private property. A pulley system is in place for luggage, and a variety of spiral staircases, ladders, and rope bridges help get you to your room. Horseback riding is a popular activity, along with a comprehensive zip-line course of 15 lines. Note that it’s best to book early for a chance to stay here, as the treehouses are in high demand with bookings starting a year in advance.

Jailer

Jailer’s Inn – Bardstown, Kentucky
About an hour south of Louisville in Bardstown, KY, Jailer’s Inn was an operational prison from 1797 through 1987. Having been restored and redesigned as a hotel, the building’s original purpose is clearly shone through its iron bars, 30-inch thick stonewalls, and heavy steel doors. Six guest rooms are all uniquely decorated, honoring its past and staying true to form. The Jailer’s Inn offers a fun Jail Cell room painted black and white to pay homage to past inmates such as Elvis Presley and James Dean.

DogHouse

Red Carpet Inn & Fanta Suites Hotel – Greenwood, Indiana
Located 15 minutes south of downtown Indianapolis, this eclectic hotel looks pretty unassuming from the outside, but step into one of their 20 themed suites, and you’ll see that this hotel has some pretty stellar accommodations. Notable themed suites include the “Space Odyssey,” “Alien Invasion,” “Cinderella,” and “Casino Royale.” Each elaborately-decorated room is outfitted to look like a movie set, for a stay that you’re likely to always remember. The suites are well equipped with luxury amenities to keep you comfortable in an otherworldly setting.

DogHouse

Dog Bark Park Inn – Cottonwood, Idaho
This giant beagle-shaped hotel has become recognized as one of America’s best roadside attractions and a cultural landmark for the state of Idaho. This “mom and pop” hotel is actually owned by a husband and wife who opened the inn in 1997. The Dog Bark Park offers guests a nostalgic experience, designed to help you enjoy the simpler things in life. Instead of televisions, computers, or other such electronics, the inn is stocked with a variety of cards and board games for your entertainment (although WIFI is available). Naturally, this inn is pet-friendly for a small additional fee.

Use the suggestions from this week’s Travel Tip Tuesday to inspire you to visit new places, live new experiences, and create new life-long memories that truly stand out in your mind.

Ready to explore destinations? Bonwi offers over one million properties around the world – click here.

The Best USA Food Festivals

Bonwi-Best-US-Food_Festivals

Bonwi-Best-US-Food_Festivals

Attending a star-studded, multi-day culinary bonanza is the stuff of foodie fantasies. We have put together a list of our favorite food festivals in the USA to help inspire a mouth-watering trip.

camp-bacon-hero-builderCamp Bacon – Ann Arbor, MI 
Forget summer camps, Camp Bacon exists and offers participants plenty of opportunities to experience tasty smoked bacon. The event draws in bacon fans, bacon makers, journalists, chefs, and culinary historians. Some events are open to the public, like the Camp Bacon Street Fair which includes vendors selling bacon-related products.
The Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival
Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival – Miami, FL 
A five-day affair of dinners, presentations, and classes with celebrity chefs such as Rachael Ray, Andrew Zimmern, Guy Fieri, and Giada De Laurentiis. This event draws thousands of people each year due to impressive wine, craft beer, and spirit makers, as well as exquisite farm-to-table style cuisine.
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Great American Foodie Fest – Las Vegas, NV 
The Great American Foodie Fest is a compilation of some of the best specialty food vendors, restaurants and gourmet food trucks from all around the country that have been featured on the Food Network, Cooking Channel, and Travel Channel.
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New York City Wine & Food Festival – New York City, NY 
The Big Apple hosts a weekend-long eating and drinking extravaganza, complete with sit-down dinners, walk-around tastings, and plenty of opportunities to meet and greet your favorite Food Network stars. The NYCWFF donates 100% of the net proceeds to the Food Bank For New York and No Kid Hungry charities.
Hawaii Food and Wine Festival
Hawaii Food & Wine Festival – Maui/Hawaii/Oahu, HI 

Set in the lush island paradise of Hawaii, the festival will take place over three weekends on multiple islands, featuring a roster of over 100 internationally-renowned master chefs, culinary personalities, and wine makers.

Let us help ensure that your next getaway is the best one yet. Find your happy place with Bonwi.

Save Money on Transportation While Traveling!

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For travelers looking to stretch their vacation dollars, cutting back on transportation costs may be the easiest way to do just that.

Carpool

In major cities, many taxi services like UberPOOL offer ridesharing or carpooling services; take advantage of these! By sharing a ride with other passengers, you can save around 20-40% on your ride fare. Chatting with locals or other travelers is just a bonus!

Bike

Contrary to popular belief, Amsterdam and Copenhagen are not the only cities where cycling is a popular mode of transportation. Save yourself some money, get around like the locals, and rent a bike! Not only is this much cheaper than other alternatives, but getting to experience your surroundings on two wheels is probably the most personal way to see a new city.

Forget “Recommendations”

When in doubt, you may think to ask the friendly hotel concierge for their recommendation on how to get to your destination. Think twice before doing this; they may be getting a kickback from the cab company they’re recommending, ultimately costing you more out of pocket. Airports have similar agreements as well, so cut out the commissioned middle-man and do your own research.

Rent A Car

If you plan on staying in any location longer than a week, it may be wise to spend a little more upfront on a rental car rather than racking up costs from many taxi rides. Rental cars are particularly useful in more rural settings where public transportation may not be readily available, but be aware of how and where you rent.

By using these tips as a guideline, you can better organize and prepare for your trip. Stay tuned to Travel Tip Tuesdays for more in-depth information about the best way to travel.

Ready to explore destinations? Bonwi has the best travel deals so you can travel more often, everywhere your heart desires! Try a search today.

Rewards Points Battle: Bonvoy vs. Bonwi

Marriott Starwood hotel brands

Bonvoy Rewards Marriott Starwood

If you were part of the Marriott Hotels loyalty program or the Starwood Preferred Guest points program, you’re now a part of “Bonvoy.” After a merger between Starwood and Marriott, this behemoth of a company now has either 29 or 30 different brands (apparently even they can’t keep track of these different hotel names). You can now earn points at a staggering 6,800 hotels in 127 countries as a Bonvoy Rewards member.

The first three letters are the same as “Bonwi,” but with Bonwi Rewards you can earn points at any hotel brand and redeem them for any hotel. But where can you get to a free night faster? Let’s take a look at which rewards program will reward you more quickly.

How the Marriott/Starwood Bonvoy Program Works

As with most of these big brand programs, the earning part of the equation in is relatively straightforward. You’ll earn 10 points per US$1 spent on the hotel charge itself at most properties (minus taxes), plus the same for eligible hotel charges like your bar tabs or restaurant bills. You earn 5 points per dollar at lower-priced brands Element, Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites hotels.

With this system, if you pay $250 per night for your JW Marriott hotel for two nights and charge $200 of other services, you would earn 7,000 points total for that two-night stay. Or 3,500 points at what they consider a lesser brand in the portfolio. That’s rather underwhelming, probably on purpose: they want you to stay at least 10 nights to get the bottom elite status, where you earn an extra 10%. If you stay 25 nights in a year you bump up to 2.5 extra points per dollar spent as a Gold member. The sales reps on the road who never see their family are the main targets of this program: to get to the highest “Ambassador Elite” level, you need to spend nearly 1/3 of your year in a Marriott property and spend at least $20,000. Do that and you get a 75% points bonus and some extra perks, like room upgrades, breakfast, and late checkout.

JW Marriott Hotel Cusco
JW Marriott El Convento in Cusco, Peru

Earning Free Nights With Bonvoy Rewards

Where it gets tricky is on the redemption side. There are now 8 tiers of redemption at Marriott/Starwood’s new Bonvoy Rewards. In theory these start at 7,500 (or occasionally less during an off-season promotion for an empty hotel), though in my experience, spotting a hotel available at that level is like spotting a rare species of bird in the wild. Plus it will be the bottom of their barrel, usually their version of a roadside motel. The rest range from 12,500 to 100,000 per night, roughly based on brand and price. So at the bottom level you’ll probably get a Residence Inn, at the top level you have a shot at a Luxury Collection or Ritz Carlton property.

In that two-night JW Marriott Cusco example before, the 7,500 points you earned won’t get you very far. You probably need about 5 stays like that to get a free night at this JW Marriott or an equivalently priced ($237) property.

Marriott Rewards redemption level

The combined Marriott and Starwood Bonvoy Rewards program is mostly an improvement, especially considering the wider breadth of properties available now, but how does being loyal there stack up to no loyalty at Bonwi? It might if you sign up for one of their premium credit cards, spend $5,000 within three months, and also pay an annual fee of $100+. But otherwise…

How the Bonwi Program Works

With Bonwi.com, it’s less straightforward on the earnings side, but that’s because the points you earn are variable. You will often earn far more than 10 points per dollar. You could earn enough for a free stay after just two or three nights. See how it works here.

There’s also upside on the redemption part since you will often find redemption levels that are far more generous than with traditional branded loyalty programs. So it takes fewer stays to earn points, then fewer points for a free night. Let’s say you regularly have to go to Houston on business, but you’re thinking about going to Peru on vacation. How would that play out with Bonwi?

Earning Bonwi Reward Points for Your City Hotel Stays

Pulling up a random week in Houston, Texas, we find that some of the highest-earning hotels are actually Marriott ones, so we can do an apples to apples comparison. In the screenshot example below, a two-night stay would earn you from 16,171 to 20,311 points.

earning more hotel reward points with Bonwi in Houston

Based on the price of those stays, if you booked them direct with Marriott, you would only earn 4,820 to 7,840 points in their rewards program (not counting food and drink charges that could bump it up).

What if our budget is lower? Other options are the Houston Marriott North, earning 8,371 points for a mere $135 rate (that would get you 2,700 points with Marriott) or a SpringHill Suites by Marriott at the airport. That would earn you 7,789 Bonwi points for a $131 rate (that would get you 2,620 at Marriott). Check your own business travel city here.

Redeeming Points With Bonwi

On the redemption side, you’re also far better off with the non-loyalty Bonwi Rewards points. When we head down to Cusco for our Peru vacation, here’s a sampling of what’s available to us.:

JW Marriott El Convento – 24,200 per night
Sonesta Hotel Cusco – 10,430 per night
Casa Andina San Blas – 7,875 per night
WakaPunku Boutique Hotel – 6,184 per night

So first of all, you need 11,000 fewer points to book that JW Marriott than you would with Marriott, even though we earned far more by booking our Marriott property through Bonwi in Houston. Next, with Marriott you only have two choices in Cusco, whereas with Bonwi you have more than 100 choices. Some of the smaller B&B type places go for 5,000 points or less. So if you had the kind of points Marriot requires of you just to get a one-night stay, you could get a whole week’s vacation in Cusco and the Sacred Valley via Bonwi.

vacation in Cusco Peru with reward points

In this example, just one two-night business trip to Houston would earn you enough points for a two-night stay at many hotels in Cusco. Earn from a few other business trips and you could upgrade to that JW Marriott easily. In this example, six domestic business travel trips in the USA could probably pay for six nights in Peru between Lima, Cusco, and the Sacred Valley. Do this a few more times or stay more than two nights on your biz trips and you’ve got enough points to pay for airline tickets too—at the simple redemption level of one point = US 1 cent.

Airline Transfer Options Bonvoy vs. Bonwi

You can transfer your Marriott Bonvoy points to airlines, which does make them more valuable than your typical hotel loyalty program points. That doesn’t mean it’s a great deal, however. I’ll leave the math to this post on the Boarding Area because, as with most things in the Bonvoy program, it’s kind of complicated.

Marriott Bonvoy points are transferable to a huge selection of airline partners. In most cases the transfer ratio is 3 Marriott points to 1 airline mile. However, if you transfer 60,000 points, you’ll get 25,000 miles instead of 20,000. That makes the transfer ratio 3 to 1.25. Additionally, when you transfer to United Airlines miles, you get a 10% bonus. 60,000 rewards points converts into 27,500 United miles (a 3 to 1.375 transfer ratio).

What’s the ratio for Bonwi points? The math is much simpler. If you have 60,000 Bonwi points, that will get you a $600 flight. Any airline, any time, no transfers necessary. No downgrades, no blackout dates, no time on the phone with the oh-so-helpful reps at United.

Oh, and those 60,000 points will also get you a $600 gift certificate to a retailer if you prefer. Again, no complicated formulas. Just move the decimal.

Once again, it’s no contest. Bonwi Rewards is going to earn you freebies far faster than Marriott Rewards.

Book your next hotel stay here and start earning more.

The Cardinal Rules Of Carry-Ons

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Bonwi-Carry-On-Rules-and-Tips

This week’s Travel Tip Tuesday offers a few tips to keep in mind to help you pack light and pack right.

There are numerous advantages to flying with only a carry-on, and the benefits span from departure to arrival and back again. You’re able to save money by not checking bags, avoid the possibility of losing your luggage, and you can breeze past baggage claim to start your vacation before the first bag has even touched the conveyor belt.

  • Focus on packing only the essentials.
  • Limit yourself to two pairs of shoes, two pairs of pants, and wear your heaviest items on the plane.
  • Bring no more than one week’s worth of clothes.
  • For longer trips, plan to do laundry along the way.
  • Be efficient with your selections. Ensure that each garment you bring can color-coordinate with everything else in your travel wardrobe.
  • Bring only items that work with multiple outfits, otherwise leave it at home.
  • Clean your wallet/purse of old receipts and any junk you don’t need, swap your paperbacks for a Kindle, and forget about those “just in case” items that you can easily buy where you’re headed.
  • Consider using compression bags to save extra space.
  • Check in advance if your airline enforces weight limits for carry-ons.
  • Maximize your “personal item” by swapping a purse or laptop bag for a small backpack that can fit easily under the seat in front of you.
  • Roll your clothes instead of folding them; it will both save space and minimize wrinkles.

Embrace the simplicity and freedom of carry-on travel and you’ll never go back.

Ready to explore destinations? Try a search on Bonwi.

The Best Airports For A Layover

Bonwi-Best-Airports-For-A-Layover

Bonwi-Best-Airports-For-A-LayoverLayovers are seldom fun, as most seasoned travelers would agree. Moreover, layovers are growing significantly longer as airlines fly increasingly larger planes while reducing their number of flights. Fortunately, a handful of well-managed airports around the world are kicking their services and amenities up a notch in response to this trend. This week’s Travel Tip Tuesday showcases a few of our favorites.

Seoul Incheon International Airport (ICN)

Incheon offers free Wi-Fi and computers for travelers to use, but that’s not all. Here you’ll find an 18-hole putting course, casino, two movie theaters, an ice rink, a spa, and a sauna.

Munich International Airport (MUC)

Munich International comes complete with its own beer garden, live music, and on-site brewery, where you can watch brewmasters in action while waiting for your departing flight. The Visitors Park offers free showings of aviation movies, mini-golf, ultra-modern nap pods complete with iPhone and USB ports, as well as free coffee, tea and hot chocolate.

Zurich Airport (ZRH)

Free showers are available along with plenty of communal rest areas with reclining chairs. If you are looking for a little more privacy, furnished rooms are available to rent that come complete with beds, a television, and private bath. Plenty of duty-free shops and restaurants line this airport, including ones with the famous Swiss chocolate.

Dubai International Airport, Dubai (DXB)

Here you’ll find the world’s largest duty-free shop (58,000 square feet!). As if that’s not opulent enough, kiosks are scattered throughout the airport where travelers can buy actual gold bars before their flight. Walk through open-air gardens with mist machines, or stop in for a workout at their 24/7 gym, complete with a pool and showers. Reasonably-priced Snoozecubes are available, which are soundproof rooms that feature a bed, touch screen TV, and music.

Singapore Changi International Airport (SIN)

Changi International has it all. Explore a hikeable nature trail, butterfly gardens with more than 1,000 butterflies,  a full arcade, and a free movie theater. If you’d rather relax, experience the airport’s massage chairs, fish spa pedicures, multiple gardens, napping rooms, a rooftop swimming pool, and showers.

Ready to explore destinations? Try a search on Bonwi.

Best Ways To Exchange Currency!

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Travel-Tip-Tuesday-Best-Ways-To-Exchange-Currency

By using these tips as a guideline, you can better organize and prepare for your trip.

ATMs Are The Best Choice for Day-To-Day Funds

Best exchange rates usually come from your bank or credit union. Your bank typically charges 0% – 3% in fees when using international branches and machines, or partnered institutions. Check if your bank has international transaction fees. If they do, make fewer trips to the ATM by withdrawing larger amounts.

Ordering Foreign Currency Before Traveling

Check if your local bank or credit union sells foreign currency. Ordering cash through your bank is a good option because the banks themselves receive preferred exchange rates, and in turn, so do you.

Avoid Exchanging Cash at Airports, Hotels or Travelex Counters

While these are the most convenient, the exchange rates offered are poor and the fees are high. These should only be used for emergencies.

Use a Credit Card for Large Purchases

Paying with a credit card is a good option for favorable exchange rates. Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, and American Express give wholesale exchange rates on purchases and charge 1% – 2% conversion fee. Check if your bank tacks on their own fee for international charges.

Bonwi finds you the best travel deals so you can travel more often, everywhere your heart desires! TRY A SEARCH HERE.

The World’s Most Exotic Swimming Pools

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Bonwi-swimming-pools-of-the-world

Dive into the world’s most exotic pools.

From Miami to the Maldives, we’ve circled the globe to find the most incredible places to take a dip.

Grace-Santorini

1.) The Grace Santorini – Greek Island of Santorini
Known to have one of the most beautiful views from a pool.
Bondi-Icebergs-Club
2.) Bondi Icebergs Club – Bondi Beaches of Australia
Some might question the sanity of anyone willing to swim outdoors on a cold winter’s day, but for the Bondi Icebergs, winter swimming is a time-honored tradition.
Four-Seasons-Pool-Guangzhou
3.) Four Seasons Pool – Guangzhou International Finance Center, 69th floor
Ranked as one of the highest infinity pools in the world.
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4.) Marina Bay Sands Infinity Pool – Singapore
The 500 ft long infinity pool is the largest in the world. To put that in perspective, the pool is longer than the Eiffel Tower itself.
The St. Regis Gold Energy Pool
5.) St. Regis Gold Energy Pool – Lhasa, China
This pool is suitable for those who like to swim with the riches that has views of the lake and the Himalaya Palace.
San-Alfonso
6.) San Alfonso Seawater Pool – Algarrobo, Chile
Named the largest pool on the planet. It is more than 1,000 yards long, covers 20 acres, has a 115-ft deep end and holds 66 million gallons of water.
The Oberoi Udaivilas pool
7.) The Oberoi Udaivilas pool – Lake Pichola in Udaipur, India
With lush green lawns framed by geometric patterns of sandstone and white marble tiles, the sapphire pool is a majestic centerpiece.
Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North
8.) Four Seasons at Troon North – Scottsdale, Arizona
This pool is found in an outdoor oasis of relaxation with picturesque mountain and desert views.
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9.) Ubud Hanging Gardens – Rainforest of Bali
Named “The World’s Best Swimming Pool” by TripAdvisor. This pool is high on the Verdant Cliffs, overlooking the rainforest and facing an ancient temple.
By using these tips as a guideline, you can better organize and prepare for your trip to the most amazing swimming pools in the world. Ready to search? Click here.

Travel Resolutions For The New Year Ahead

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 “Travel more” is a popular New Year’s resolution, since travel has the capacity to make you happier, healthier, more creative, and inspired. It’s now February – have you booked your trips for the comng year yet?  We know, it can be a challenge.

Not to worry. To help kick off 2019 on the right foot, this week’s Travel Tip Tuesday brings you five specific resolutions for a fantastic year of travel ahead.

weekend-getaway

Embrace The Weekends
Weekend getaways are the perfect opportunity for travelers who are limited on time, pinching pennies, or simply in need of some adventure in the time between their last big trip and the next. Find a new city that’s a quick flight or drive away, and grab your spouse, a couple friends, or even just go solo to discover it. Check out new restaurants and bars, meet new people, and experience new things. Exploring the unknown is an excellent way to gain confidence by extending our boundaries further. By the end of the weekend, you’ll feel invigorated and encouraged to continue exploring new places.

shortening-bucket-list.

Shorten Your Bucket List
We all have a bucket list. Even if you’ve never written it down, there are things that each of us hope to accomplish during our lives. You probably have at least one far-flung destination in mind that you want to see. No matter the “what” or “where” on your list, whether it be watching a sunrise over the ocean in Bali, or learning to cook Paella in Valencia, start planning now to make it happen. Strive to cross off at least one such experience, or to at least start working toward taking that trip. It will feel incredible transforming your dreams to reality.

travel-to-connect

Use Travel To Connect
Travel isn’t just about the places you see, it’s about the people with whom you spend time. If there are people you’ve been vowing to visit forever, but it just never seems to work out, make this the year it happens. You’ll get quality time to bond with friends or family while creating memories that will last a lifetime. Meeting new people while exploring the world is also one of the best reasons to travel. Nothing opens your eyes to the world quite like conversations with strangers, and it’s the new friends who always stick in our mind after the trip has ended.

travel-to-disconnect

Use Travel To Disconnect
This year, use travel as an opportunity to disconnect a bit from the online world. Give yourself, and your vacation, the attention they deserve. We can’t suggest that you go completely offline, because you’ll need the Internet for information and communication, but making yourself scarce on social media while on vacation lets you focus more on what and who is around you. Why not savour that fabulous meal instead of Instagramming it first? And your Facebook friends can certainly wait for your vacation pictures.

traveler-not-tourist_resized

Be A Traveler, Not A Tourist
Live in the moment and embrace each new place that you visit to the fullest, and keep top of mind that travel is not a competition. When we get caught up in the numbers game of who’s been to the most places, we lose sight of what traveling is really all about. Slow down and take the extra time to absorb all that a new destination has to offer. Focus on having an experience rather than merely sightseeing. Attend events, festivals, or other activities. Try your hand at creating your own wine in France, fly fishing in New Zealand, or learning to surf in Hawaii. Get lost exploring off the beaten path, and never be afraid to stray from the guide books.

This New Year’s travel resolution list aims to inspire you to start dreaming about where and how you want to wander in the coming year. Expand your horizons to new experiences, sights, and cultures. Resist allowing fear to get in the way of exploring the unknown. Open yourself up to the invaluable life lessons that can only be learned through travel.

Ready to explore destinations? Try a search here.

Is It the “Best Hotel Price” for You? Or for Them?

best price on hotel bookings every time

Every hotel booking site claims in some way to give you “the best rates” or “the best price,” but are they really showing you the best deal for you?

Why do some properties get placed at the top of the search results instead of others? Can you believe Booking.com when they say there are only “2 rooms left at this price”?

Can you believe it when Expedia tells you a displayed price is slashed from the normal one–and that there’s only one room left?

misleading hotel booking information

As you’ve probably guessed, the answer is “not exactly. ” Booking.com is constantly testing ways to get you to commit and one of them is by creating artificial scarcity. Often if they are telling the truth when they say they only have four rooms at that price, other sites may have plenty. It just means the Booking.com allotment is almost sold out.

That price you see above from the Expedia page is not special to Expedia. I saw the same rate on other sites, including Wyndham’s own and Bonwi’s, but without any scare language about that price being about to disappear.

The Games Hotel Booking Sites Play

These practices are nothing new, but it gets worse. You would assume that by using a site that presents multiple prices from multiple sites, you would get the best possible deal, right? If Trivago or HotelsCombined shows you the lowest rate across every online travel agent they track, you should be able to trust that you’re seeing the best rate, right? That’s what the Trivago guy or gal (depending on your nationality) keeps telling you in the TV ads.

Alas, it’s all a game. According to this article in Travel Pulse, “Trivago admits to misleading its customers” and could face more than $10 million in fines from the the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Trivago essentially led customers to believe that the results page had the lowest prices, but the ACCC discovered cheaper deals in the “more deals’ section which customers were not made aware of.

It came out that one of Trivago’s favorite tricks was to compare a standard room on one site with an upgraded room at another site and then show the difference as a big discount. They also “prioritized advertisers who were willing to pay the highest cost per click fee,” said the ACCC in a statement.

Here’ s the most telling admission:

Trivago has since updated their website to tell customers that hotels are ranked by ‘compensation paid by the booking site.’

In other words, if Hotels.com is paying them a higher click-through rate that Agoda, they are going to show you that the Hotels.com rate is lower, even when it’s not. Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of using a site comparison tool like this?

best price on hotel bookings every time

How to Be Sure It’s a Great Hotel Deal

If you book through Bonwi, you’re guaranteed to get the best price available. We’ve even compared their rates (and points paybacks) to the ones you find from the hotel chain itself, like with IHG, Marriott, or Hilton. We’ve also compared the rates between Bonwi and Hotels.com.

There is one huge difference though in how the properties are displayed or ranked. The automatic sort in Bonwi is to show you the highest payback in points. In other words, the prime filter above all others is to show you which is the best deal for you. Which booking will result in the biggest points payback–the biggest rebate?

If you search Orlando on Expedia for dates in February, it’s hard to know how you’d find the best hotel price for you. The first result has “Sponsored” in tiny type, the second is a random medical center Hampton Inn, the third is $730 a night, and the fourth is a downtown Aloft hotel. How do these end up at the top? Well one is a paid ad, first of all, and placement of the others is a mystery. They’re not showing you the biggest discounts or the cheapest prices.

Let’s compare that to what you see on Bonwi if you pull up the same dates. You will always see the hotels with the biggest point paybacks at the top, regardless of price. I didn’t show the first few results because those are expensive Disney resort properties with huge points payoffs. But scroll down a bit and you still get a big rebate for that booking—enough to get you another hotel room somewhere or around $200 in flight credit.

best hotel price and payback at Bonwi

You’ll notice that I clicked the “Compare Public Prices” for that second listing. It shows what the other major booking prices are charging. That way you can be sure you’re always getting the best hotel price—without any fake discounts or sorting tricks.

To get the best rate for you every time instead of what is best for the booking site, head to Bonwi.com. You’ll get the best hotel price and the biggest payback you can use for more travel.

Benefits Of A Travel Journal

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Benefits Of A Travel Journal

Travel is an incredibly fulfilling pursuit that exposes us to new cultures, different perspectives, and unique experiences. A travel journal is an especially useful tool to record our adventures and share our memories with others. Below are a few of the major benefits of carrying a travel journal with you during your travels.

Use Your Journal To Plan
Your trip journal can begin before your trip has even started. Use your journal to start planning the things you want to do. It can be anything from a cool restaurant you want to eat at, a hike you want to go on, or different sights you want to see.

Write About Your Expectations
Sometimes your destination is wildly different than what you expected. It’s interesting to compare your predictions with actual experiences by writing down your expectations prior to arrival.

Gather Your Thoughts Each Day
It’s always easier to remember things when they are fresh in our brain, so try and write as much as you can while traveling; every day if you can. Before going to bed, simply jot down a few of the day’s most important or exciting events.

Supplement Your Writing
Combining mementos such as pamphlets, pictures, currency, menus, drawings, maps, or ticket stubs with first-hand written accounts of what they represent will make for an even more comprehensive narrative of your travels.

Reflect On Your Travels
Recounting your personal experiences is a great way to learn about yourself and the world around you. Take time to step back from all the things you did during your trip, and the impact that it made in your life.

Travel Journal Inspiration

  • Write about the people.
  • Why are you going?
  • What are you going to do?
  • Write about the food.
  • The ups and the downs.
  • Write about yourself.
  • Write about your expectations.
  • Write a travel guide.
  • What would you have changed?
  • Where do you want to go next?

Ready to explore destinations? Try a search on Bonwi.com.

Fun Ways To Bring Travel Memories Home

Fun Ways To Bring Travel Memories Home

Making memories and looking back on the times that you went on adventures around the world is one of the best perks of traveling. For this reason, having a few tangible ways to remember your travels will come in handy during the years to come. In this week’s Travel Tip Tuesday, we’re sharing our favorite ways for you to capture your journey.

Start A Collection  Sometimes, the cheap, obvious souvenirs are the best option, but add even more meaning to them by getting one of the same thing every place you visit. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Currency
  • Maps
  • Mugs or shot glasses
  • Matchbooks or coasters

collection

Write Letters/Postcards To Yourself  Take time to write a quick summary of the day on a postcard and mail it home. You’ll get to re-live your mental state and where you were at in life during different parts of your journey.

 

recipes

Collect New Recipes  Capture all of the different kinds of food and flavors you experience on your trip by bringing back a new recipe with you every time you visit a new place. Just take a quick snapshot of your favorite food and drink menus that inspire you. That way you can enjoy these new flavors at home and share them with others.

Capturing your trip in these tangible ways allows you to quickly recall the finer details that may otherwise fade away. They forever capture where you were, how you were feeling, who you were with, and all that you experienced during your adventures.

Ready to explore destinations? Try a search on Bonwi.com.

Home 2.0 for the Holidays

There’s no better time to embrace adulting than when deciding where to stay for the holidays.

Home vs. hotel 

Mom and dad are so excited. You’ve finally taken time away from your busy, impressive adult job to join them for the holidays. Normally, you might be more of a “call on Christmas, forget about Easter” kind of go-getter, but your parents are so proud of you. They just wish they could see you more. P.S. Make sure you’re eating enough. 

The thing is….

Though you might have hoped that, after busting your backside to accrue all of those vacay hours (or preparing that assessment for your boss of all the ways you earned your “unlimited” vacation), you would be going on an actual… vacation… Not so. You’re definitely booking a flight back to Akron, Sacramento, Des Moines, St. Paul, Lubbock or another hometown. It’s happening.

Now, where to stay? You could stay with your parents where their siblings, your siblings, and someone’s lonely neighbor will roost, OR you could stay at home 2.0.

What is home 2.0?

Home 2.0 is a hotel, proximal to your parents’ house – 15 miles or less. It’s outside of town enough that you won’t endure run-ins with high school crushes or former teachers, but close enough to make sense. You can park your bags, maintain your privacy, sleep like an angel and soak in the Jacuzzi while everyone else fights over the two outlets in your parents’ never-renovated split level. So, let’s compare going home for the holidays with going to home 2.0:

Home: Your brother’s kids scream-fight over toys
Home 2.0: A slice of quiet
Peace is important. You’ve learned this while adulting and you earned these days off. While you will cherish dinner, presents, caroling, crafting, movie night, and whatever else your parents have over-planned, your ambivert self is going to require a recharge. Your phone is, too. Welcome to your sanctuary.

Home: Politically gregarious
Home 2.0: Neutral territory
You and your parents may not see eye to eye on those hot button issues like the 2020 election, religion, or why you still haven’t had babies. Or maybe it’s Cousin Sam, who always goes eggnog overboard and alienates everyone before sundown. We all have someone. Tagging a secondary home base will allow you to casually slip out the back door, book it to your quiet, sensible rental car, and avoid catastrophe.

Home: That Christmas movie you hate, on repeat
Home 2.0: Your remote, your rules  
We don’t judge. Some people like the familiarity of those five holiday movies that are always on TV. If you’re someone who would like to take a hard left turn away from the usual suspects OR if you just want to watch something that isn’t animated for like, a whole entire hour, head back to Home 2.0. Blame it on a last minute work thing or a call from the (fake) significant other and catch up on a few hours of whatever else is on.

Home: Shoddy WiFi
Home 2.0: Connected
Your mom and dad are probably still using Wi-Fi provided by their cable company, who also provides their home phone line, and who also is not a national franchise. Your local cable outfit might be fine to make sure mom and dad can watch America’s Got Talent, but you need to be able to scroll Instagram, keep up with the scandalous group chat with your equally-displaced friends, and play Candy Crush, unabated. At Home 2.0 the WiFi password is a single word, and not the 14-digit code that came with the router (also on a sticker on the bottom of the router).

Home: A morning run with Uncle Greg
Home 2.0: A (basically) private gym
Uncle Greg. Good guy. Going through something you can’t relate to. Talks about something you can’t relate to. You’re going on a run. Now Greg is going, too. P.S. He’s wearing spandex. At home 2.0, you work out on your schedule, alone, or do a few laps in the pool. Without Uncle Greg.

Home: Sharing your childhood room with three other people
Home 2.0: Spreading out on the Cali King
Don’t be fooled, friend. Your childhood room might still be preserved the way you left it, right down to the race car wallpaper trim and the little league pennant – but it’s not your territory anymore. When you arrive, there will be air mattresses. There will be toiletry bags. There will be lost socks that aren’t yours, plus the bare feet that match them. Stay at home 2.0 and the only person putting their feet on your sheets is you.

Home: Someone else’s toothpaste, cap off
Home 2.0: Your oasis, and all the hot water you could ask for
Your parents’ one-and-a-half baths weren’t designed to accommodate 12 people, let alone three teenagers and a few kids who take hour-long baths. Your mid-range needs are last on the list, and when you DO get your turn, that place will be a warzone. Bathroom 2.0 is yours to linger and languish, alone.

Home: Eggo waffles by the plug-in fireplace
Home 2.0: Breakfast luxuries & the morning paper

Maybe your mom and dad make the most incredible pancakes on planet Earth. If they do, you have the flexibility to get up early and slide in right on time for the warmest short stack. If your parents aren’t exactly chef-inspired, you can enjoy a deluxe breakfast in the peace and quiet of your room or the dining space in your home 2.0 – and no one will take the part of the newspaper that you like best.

Where to find home 2.0

At the end of the day, you DO want to see your family. You love them, and that’s why you’re making this trek instead of heading to Cabo. But just because you miss your mom and dad doesn’t mean you want to sleep on their couch, end-to-end with a cousin you barely know anymore. This holiday season – and all year long – book yourself a backup plan that keeps everybody happy.

To book home 2.0 for the holidays, sign up for Bonwi today and instantly earn your first 1,500 points.  You’ll get the best hotel and car rental deals on the web, and earn massive amounts of points when you book…up to 40% back! Points can be redeemed for flights, hotel stay, car rentals and gift cards.

Happy Holidays and Safe Travels from the Bonwi team!