How To Do A Staycation

How To Do a Stayvation

Your state may not be one that is aggrandized on the silver screen, but it’s likely filled with amazing places to see, food to eat and cities/towns to explore on your next staycation.

Whether you’re a nomad or a home-body, it’s awesome to get out, experience something new and recharge from time to time. But not everybody has the time or budget to hop on a plane and take a week or month-long vacation. Luckily, there are beautiful and inspiring things happening nearby. Here’s what you can do to get out of the house and start making staycation memories.

Do some online research

A smart way to connect or reconnect with your local area is to view your local region through the eyes of a tourist. What are travel bloggers saying about camping, outdoor activities, site-seeing, food and shopping in your area?Which hotels offer jaw-dropping amenities?

  • Set up a starter checklist of must-sees and must-stays in your hometown, county or region.
  • Dive deeper into city websites, forums and even social media accounts.
  • Sites like Instagram allow for location tagging so you can see exactly where some of the most iconic scenes are located.

Don’t be afraid to just hop in the car without a plan and just see where the day takes you.

Get out and drive

If you’re ever going to take the road less traveled, you may have to find it yourself. There are a ton of digital resources out there to find all kinds of amazing drives, hikes and eats. However, some of the best areas in your state aren’t going to come up on Trip Advisor, Yelp, travel blogs or even Google Maps! Don’t be afraid to just hop in the car without a plan and just see where the day takes you. Get wild and upgrade your ride by renting a convertible for a day or two.

Ask a local

If you’ve lived in multiple regions of the country, you likely know that the best way to get to know an area is by living there. Want to know the ins and outs of a new city? The quickest way to find out is to ask a local. Stopping for gas? See what the attendant has to say about the area’s food scene. Checking into your staycation hotel for a night or two? The front desk staff should have a great idea of some of the best activities nearby for your specific interests.

Get wild and upgrade your ride by renting a convertible for a day or two.

Trips from a hat

Just like the well-known skit from “Who’s Line is it Anyway”, placing different trips into a hat or bowl to randomly select keeps you and your partner, friends or family spontaneous. Whether it’s a state park, view, road, city or restaurant that you would like to see, failure to launch is a common struggle that keeps us tied to our normal routines. This hat trick will help.

In your research of local areas of interest, print out the names of each location and place them somewhere accessible. Set a regular time each week or month to select an adventure “from the hat” and say goodbye to the endless vortex that is:

“What do you want to do?”

“Oh, I don’t know. What do you want to do?”

Trust your instincts

Looking for a great bite to eat while out on the road? Searching for a change of scenery? The best thing to do may just be to follow your nose, eyes or gut. Some of the best local favorites an area has to offer may be so well known that they don’t focus on marketing their business. If this is the case, you could easily overlook an area classic for something a little more typical.

When you’re looking for a great escape, it’s okay to just slow down and feel out a given area. Use your senses to truly experience a given destination. If you smell something you like, go taste it! If you see something you like, go check it out! If something seems exciting, go explore it! If a place feels good to you, settle in and let it be your home for however long you’re there.

Failure to launch is a common struggle that keeps us tied to our normal routines.

Taking these little staycations can help you reset after a busy or stressful week, connect with your local area, inspire your sense of adventure and recharge your creativity. In other words, wander more and worry less! With Bonwi’s rewards system, you can accrue points with up to 40% back on hotel stays and car rentals. Where to?

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.

The ‘Bleisure’ Trend: Mixing Leisure Trips with Business Travel

Times Square, New York City is a great place to combine business with leisure!
Times Square, New York City is a great place to combine business with leisure!
Times Square, New York City is a great place to combine business with leisure!

The concept of blending business travel trips with leisure vacation is growing at a rapid rate. An SAP Concur study shows a 20% uptick in bleisure travel.

For this study, a “bleisure trip” included a Saturday night stay, but it’s not uncommon for these trips to extend at least two or three days. Overall, 2.2 million bleisure trips took place in 2017. That’s about 10% of all business trips. While most business travelers still have to sightsee on their travel days, 1 in 10 travelers is able to stay an extra day.

According to Forbes, the nine most common bleisure destinations include New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Tel Aviv, London, Paris, Tokyo, Singapore, and Shanghai.

Here are a few of the top bleisure hotels in popular destinations.

Sheraton New York City - a good bleisure trip hotel
Sheraton New York City

Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel

Right in the heart of Times Square, it’s easy to understand how the Sheraton Hotel puts business and leisure travelers in the perfect spot. The Sheraton offers easy access to countless midtown offices and businesses, while onsite you can make good use of the 60,000 square feet of meeting space, including an Executive Conference Center that’s ideal for small groups.

It’s almost too easy to find entertainment near Times Square. Spend some time in the bars, museums, or see a Broadway show! When you’re in Times Square, check out one of the newest and most amazing exhibits, Gulliver’s Gate. A world in miniature that’s astounding. You may even have a view of the skyscrapers going up at Hudson Yards.

The Peninsula Chicago

This luxurious Chicago building is perfectly designed for leisure while taking care of business. Meet with associates in one of the eleven meeting spaces, then head upstairs to the Peninsula Spa for an Asian-inspired treatment. After the long days of business, relax on the sun terrace near the indoor pool.

westdrift Manhattan Beach – Los Angeles

Right in the heart of the popular Manhattan Beach community, westdrift is only a mile to the beach, and a quick trip to The Point, the city’s shopping, entertainment and dining hub.

Guests can also enjoy on-demand movies from their in-room Smart TV or outdoor lawn games such as shuffleboard, croquet, corn hole and more.

westdrift Manhattan Beach features 393 luxury guest rooms combining iconic designs, amenities and culinary offerings that speak to both coasts. Take some time to enjoy the nine-hole golf course, indoor and outdoor restaurants, a cross-fit inspired fitness center, a pool surrounded by cabanas, 18 meeting rooms, a traditional ballroom, and three large industrial-chic venues.

Tips for taking a bleisure trip

Book your meetings on Monday or Friday that way you will have Saturday and Sunday to travel.

When you travel for a business, there’s a chance you have to stay at a particular hotel.  Asking if you can use your company’s prenegotiated rate can also save you lots of money. Many bleisure-friendly companies are open to extending this benefit to employees.

Try booking your reservation with the company travel portal to access possible discount rates

Make sure you understand your company’s travel policy and what they will and will not pay for

Next time you consider traveling for business, consider adding a few personal days to explore the area. More than likely the company will already cover transportation costs, so enjoy the long weekend! Find something exciting in every new city and save on hotels using Bonwi points!

The Hotel Zones of Mexico City

Zocolo of Mexico City has hotels nearby

When you’re trying to figure out where to stay in Mexico City, it makes a lot of sense to start with the location. What are you planning to do while you’re there? Are you going to have business meetings or do you want to stroll around the historic center? Do you want to be in a nightlife area? In a leafy park zone? Near the best restaurants?

hotel zones of Mexico City neighborhoods

For such a large metropolis, Mexico City is actually quite easy to navigate from a tourist standpoint. Most of the hotel zones of Mexico City are within a mile of two main streets that meander from downtown out through Polanco. Here are the areas to consider when you’re planning your trip to this capital of food and culture.

Historic District Hotels of Mexico City

The most atmospheric part of Mexico’s capital city is the oldest part. The historic centro is grounded by the huge Zocolo public square, with the off-kilter cathedral on one side and the municipal buildings on the other. You can take the subway straight here and it’s not very far from the airport.

There are a few chain hotels, like a Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn, but most of the properties are independent or small-chain ones with lots of personality. Hotel Downtown Mexico is part of Grupo Habita and has sections for both high-end travelers and budget backpackers, both mingling on the roof desk with pool. You may have seen Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico in several movies and one episode of The Romanoffs on Amazon streaming. It has an amazing view from the roof, where there’s a restaurant.

Zocolo of Mexico City has hotels nearby

There are also some hostels and budget hotels in this area that are a good value and you can take the metro from here to anywhere it goes.

Paseo de La Reforma, Zona Rosa, and Condesa

I’m lumping these three together because if you’re someone who doesn’t mind walking for a half hour, you can get from one of these areas to the other on foot.

Many of the embassies and bank headquarters are along the Paseo de la Reforma boulevard leading from Alameda Park to Chapultapec Park. So you’ve got familiar chains like Marriott, Sheraton, Four Seasons, St. Regis, and Hilton along this corridor, along with a few Mexican chains. The eventual Ritz-Carlton will be along here too.

Paseo de la Reforma hotel zone has Four Seasons

The Zona Rosa is a big nightlife area a few blocks from the main drag and some of the best mid-range bargains in the city are in this area. It’s convenient and fun for going out, though it can be noisy on the low floors.

Condesa and Roma transform from business district to leafy residential areas with lots of restaurants and nightlife. Most of the hotels in this area are independent ones and some are a great value.

Polanco and Chapultapec Park

Polanco is the richest neighborhood near the city and it will dispel any notions you may have about Mexicans not having a lot of money. You’ll find shops from Prada and Louis Vuitton, Mercedes and BMW showrooms, and restaurants that can top $100 per person without many drinks.

Las Alcobas Hotel stairwell Mexico City

One street on the edge of Chapultapec Park has a string of chain hotels like Hyatt, JW Marriott, Intercontinental, and W.  Habita’s original hotel is in this area, as is the upscale Las Alcobas with the staircase pictured above.

Neighborhood Hotels of Mexico City

There area distinct hotel zones where you can stay in Mexico City, plus a few scattered around neighborhoods like San AngelIf you want to be in an area where you won’t see many other tourists at night, a place where Mexicans live and work, there are a few nice sections of town besides Condesa and Roma where you can stay in a real neighborhood.

Coyoacan is where Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera spent most of their time, so you can visit both houses they lived in together here. Plus there are some nice restaurants on the main place you can enjoy after the day visitors have all left.

The local Stara group has hotels in neighborhoods without a whole lot else. Stara San Angel Inn is in the area where there’s a big weekend art market and they also have a property in Colonia Juarez.

There are hotels at the airport of course, including a Camino Real right outside of Terminal 1 and a Hilton inside the terminal itself.

For reviews of the top choices, see detailed reviews here of the best luxury hotels in Mexico City.

When you’re ready to book, be sure you get a good points payback wherever you stay by checking out Mexico City Hotels at Bonwi. You may get enough points from this stay to pay for a flight to a Mexican beach area like Los Cabos the next time around.

 

Travel writer Tim Leffel has written about Mexico City for more than a decade and has a home base a few hours north in Guanajuato.

The World’s Most Exotic Swimming Pools

Bonwi-swimming-pools-of-the-world

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.
Marina-Bay-Sands-Infinity-Pool
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.
Unud-Hanging-Pools
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.

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.

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!

 

 

5 Stocking Stuffers for Your Business Travel Road Warrior

power strip gift for business traveler

stocking stuffers business travelers

“Oh I don’t know, I don’t really need anything in particular right now.”

Have you heard this one before when asking for holiday gift suggestions? I know I’ve said it plenty of times myself. The older we get, especially if our clothing sizes don’t change much, the less we have  running wish list of more stuff we want to accumulate.

This is especially true for road warrior business travelers, who are often traveling with just a carry-on. They want nothing to do with those bulky and of-the-moment travel gear gift ideas you see in the glossy magazine round-ups. They’re constantly paring back, not adding on. Tell them they can have anything they want from the Brookstone store and they’ll probably use the shopping spree to pick up gifts for their kids instead.

Here are some small things you can think about as stocking stuffers for your favorite business traveler if you follow that tradition. They’re small enough to fit inside and inexpensive enough that you’re not taking a big gamble.

A Comfy Eye Mask

Business travelers, especially international ones, need to catch some sleep on the plane. The eye masks they get for free in the amenity pouches though, even in most business class cabins, are scratchy and not all that comfortable. They’ll do in a pinch, but a soft and comfortable eye mask will be appreciated and doesn’t take up much room.

Earplugs

a gift business travelers really needSoft and squishy disposable earplugs don’t take up much space, but they can come in really handy when there’s a screaming baby on the plane, a hotel room facing a busy street, or a hotel where there’s a wedding going on in the courtyard until the wee hours. Plus you can find them at any drugstore or Target.

Get a small travel pack for a stocking stuffer, or if you know they go through a lot, a jar of 50 for less than 10 bucks.

Melatonin Tablets

Giving drugs for Christmas? Well, it’s a natural drug at least and it won’t get you high. What melatonin will do is help rejigger your body clock when you fly across multiple time zones. Your recipient will thank you later when they find they’re recovering from jet lag faster and getting a better night’s sleep after popping the recommended dosage at bedtime in their destination.

Travel Power Strip

This is a larger item than the others on this list, but a portable travel power strip can be a godsend for travelers who need to keep multiple gadgets charged. It’s not unusual these days to be traveling with three or four different items that keep running low on power–with Apple adding another to the list when they forced the use of Bluetooth earbuds–so it’s handy to carry a small strip that turns one outlet into three or four.

power strip gift for business traveler

Travel Sized Toiletries

This is more of a “saving you a trip honey” gift than a long-term keepsake one, but anyone who travels with a carry-on is constantly replenishing key toiletry items. It may not be very sexy to give travel-sized toothpaste, quality disposable razors, or travel-sized shaving cream to your special someone, but those are items they will be sure to use!

Bonus item: compression socks. Nothing says “I love you” as much as an item that could keep your significant other from getting blood clots on a cramped plane.

Now if you are the road warrior yourself, we know a gift that won’t cost you much but will really be appreciated. Cash in your Bonwi Rewards points for a weekend getaway together. You can use your points for a hotel room, a rental car, or even a couple flights if you’ve banked enough.

What about you? What travel stocking stuffers have you received over the years that really got used?

Article by Tim Leffel, travel writer and editor of Hotel Scoop.

McMenamin’s Has Cornered the Weird and Wonderful Hotel Category

McMenamin's Grand Lodge, Forest Grove, Oregon
McMenamin’s Grand Lodge, Forest Grove, Oregon

Ask anyone who lives in Portland, or Seattle, and they’ll probably know what the name McMenamin stands for.  It’s two brothers, Mike and Brian McMenamin, who have cultivated a big following for their eclectic one-of-a-kind hotels and breweries which are all in Washington and Oregon, with 54 in all.

We recently stayed at McMenamin’s Grand Lodge, in Forest Grove, Oregon, where the building was once a home for aged Masons.  The brothers are big fans of the Grateful Dead so you could call the theme of many of the hotels “a hippy-influenced free spirit.”  Dark colored walls and ceilings, lots of customized art, glitter, and posters from the dozens of years that concerts have been played in their venues or in nearby theaters.

 

The hotel's kitchen garden provides a whole lot of the restaurant's needs.
The hotel’s kitchen garden provides a whole lot of the restaurant’s needs.

 

They name the rooms at the Grand Lodge after famous books, and inside, each room is painted by hand, lots of darks and not many overhead lights. More the dim mood type.

The Grand Lodge has a feature that’s popular in these hotels, a Japanese soaking pool. It’s a very hot tub, about the size of a regular swimming pool, outdoors.  It is better than 90 percent of the hotel pools I’ve ever dipped into.

It’s a different experience than just a pool, it has a rustic feel.

The McMenamin brothers also really like movies. That’s why so many of the converted schools, homes for the aged, and former municipal buildings they convert into hotels include a movie theater.  So you can often catch a first-run movie at many of their hotels, which are considered resorts that many people enjoy for a long weekend.

As Grateful Dead Fans, the McMenamin Brothers adopt that theme in many of their hotels.
As Grateful Dead Fans, the McMenamin Brothers adopt that theme in many of their hotels.

The Japanese soaking pool is just a little hotter than most hot tubs and plenty spacious.

The Japanese soaking pool is just a little hotter than most hot tubs, and plenty spacious.
The Japanese soaking pool is just a little hotter than most hot tubs and plenty spacious

 

If you’re traveling to Oregon or Washington, find a McMenamin property on Bonwi, and when you book you’ll earn points to use…on rental cars or perhaps even a stay in a different McMenamin hotel another time.

Bristol, England, Makes a Great City Break

The Bristol Hotel, right near the river and in the heart of the city, is perfect for a City Break.
The SS Great Britain was built in Bristol and is the top attraction in the city. You can tour even the very bottom of the outside of the ship!
The SS Great Britain was built in Bristol and is the top attraction in the city. You can tour even the very bottom of the outside of the ship!

Sometimes, frequent travelers like to avoid the most popular cities, hoping instead to discover an out of the way place that won’t be overrun with tourists.

Yet there are times when it’s fun to visit the most popular tourist cities because they’re set up to provide visitors with fun experiences,  restaurants of all stripes, and more hotels.  Bristol, England falls into this category, it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Britain.

Visitors come to Bristol for what people on the Continent like to refer to as ‘City Breaks.’  The advent of City Breaks came mostly after inexpensive flights became widely available from Ryanair and EasyJet made flights to places like London, or Prague, or Faro, Portugal very very affordable.  So today you’ll see many Brits and other Europeans planning their own 3-night city breaks, and Bristol is a perfect place for this.

Either take a cheap flight from Paris, or Rome or just take the train two hours from London.

The Bristol Hotel, right near the river and in the heart of the city, is perfect for a City Break.
The Bristol Hotel, right near the river and in the heart of the city, is perfect for a City Break.

Bristol’s fine Bristol Hotel would be a great choice for anyone visiting the city, with prices from around $135-150 US.  You can find a deal using Bonwi and have around 6000 points to use on a future trip.

What else do visitors enjoy in Bristol?   One new attraction is called Cargo, at Wapping Wharf. This is a collection of shipping containers that have been put together and strapped into two stories where cafes, small shops, a bakery, high-end restaurants and other businesses have opened up.  Building using containers means that you can put two or three together to make it larger, and the rent is low. So all manner of experimental businesses can give it a go.

Cargo is a shopping and dining area built out of shipping containers.
Cargo is a shopping and dining area built out of shipping containers.

Bristol is just one of thousands of cities where you can enjoy a city break, and with Bonwi, you’ll get points you can use for the NEXT one too!