Yesterday, I featured a deal for St. Lucia from TravelZoo.  It was an extremely good value, and I have no trouble recommending deals from TravelZoo.   To be sure, I recommend calling the hotel to verify that they would accept the travel voucher before purchasing it from TravelZoo.  You may be able to obtain a price match directly from the hotel during the call.

There are other “Groupon“-style travel sites other than TravelZoo.  One of my favorites is SniqueAway (click here for an invitation to sign up for the service).  It’s a beautiful site with some amazing deals for hotel getaways all over the globe.  If nothing else, it gives you travel eye-candy.   Most of the time, the deals on SniqueAway are better than you can get through online booking engines.  I have note checked them against package rates, however.  Also, most of the deals are for fairly high-end properties.

I also subscribe to Yuupon.  Today, Yuupon featured a deal for 2  nights at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas for $225, with a complimentary bottle of Ciroq Vodka and 2 tickets to the Las Vegas Mob Experience.  Now, the Tropicana is an older hotel on the South end of the Las Vegas strip.  Having stayed all over Las Vegas, I’ve determined that my best vacations have been on the south end, although it’s hard to have a bad time in Las Vegas, if you take it easy on the gambling and alcohol.

For years, Las Vegas cabbies would tell me that the Tropicana was slated for demolition along with the Sands,  Desert Inn, and most recently, the Sahara.  However, somehow, it has survived the cut.  While the hotel does not have quite the same age as the Flamingo or the swank of the Bellagio, the hotel has generally offered value.  I probably wouldn’t have taken advantage of the value pricing a few years ago, as the TripAdvisor reviews suggested that the rooms were a little aged and the property somewhat shabby.  However, the hotel has now undergone a renovation, and the reviews have been really good.  The rooms certainly look to be on a par with those at the MGM Grand next door.

However, I wouldn’t snap up that Yuupon deal right away.  First, a quick check on the Tropicana’s main site, shows a deal for $99 a night with two free show tickets per night.  Thus, you are giving up two show tickets for a bottle of vodka, AND paying $27 more for the vouchers than you would have to pay by booking through the hotel.  Second, there are a significant number of blackout dates in September, most of them on the weekends when most of us are available for a quickie trip to Vegas.   Third, it looks like you can probably get a better deal by booking a package with airfare on one of the major booking engines, depending on how you value your extras.  For example, Travelocity offers a four night trip to Las Vegas from Minneapolis from September 24-28, 2011 for $443 per person double occupancy.  The hotel alone would cost you $450 for four nights using the Yuupon voucher, so your airfare would have to be less than $219 per ticket to break even as compared to Travelocity.  A Kayak search shows the least expensive airfare for those dates as $256.  Your mileage may vary given the market conditions for your airport.

Finally, most of these vouchers exclude taxes and mandatory fees, meaning you will have to pay hotel taxes and resort fees on top of the cost of the voucher.  Yes, you have to pay those taxes and fees if you book directly with the hotel, but if you book a package through a booking engine, the taxes would be included (although sadly, usually the resort fee is extra).

There’s gotta be a better way, right?  Which brings me back to my promise of yesterday.  At the end of yesterday’s post, I stated that despite my endorsement of Travel Zoo’s Anse Chastanet deal, I’d probably choose to stay elsewhere.  The reason for that is two-fold.  First, I think I might get better value staying at Ti Kaye Village or maybe even the Fond Doux Holiday Plantation.  Tom and I downsize well, and our interest in culture, nature and history suggest that we don’t need to be on the beach to enjoy an island.

But more importantly, I just don’t feel comfortable at high end hotels.  I once stayed at the Copley Square Hotel in Boston.  It was a fine hotel.  But I felt like Pretty Woman walking through the lobby.  Honestly?   Less marble and more free breakfast, if you please.

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