Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Memphis Tennessee Priceline Bid

Alright, the information everyone wants is that the winning bid for a 3 1/2 star hotel was fifty-five dollars.  We booked a week before Elvis week (middle of August) so you may be able to go a little lower on Memphis.  Two contributing factors driving up price may have been that August is prime vacation season and there were definitely a lot of Elvis impersonators staying at the hotel.

We stayed at the Memphis Hotel owned by Marriott in Southeast Memphis.  Don't worry about staying a little a way from downtown Memphis doesn't have much traffic.  The hotel was close to the Pink Palace and Leonard's BBQ (disappointing) featured on Diners Drive-ins and Dives.  It was close to the highway but it wasn't in the best neighborhood.  The problem is finding a good neighborhood is probably pretty difficult.  It seemed to vary from week to week.

While in Memphis we visited Graceland.  We payed the extra 30 or so dollars for the entourage tour.  If you don't have a bunch of kids this is the way to go.  Skipping line is a big benefit.   It was an hour wait just to get to the mansion when we were there.  We also visited Beale Street.  Our favorite place on Beale is A. Schwab's Dry Goods Store (closes at ten).    There was also a cool little dessert place near "The Daisy" but I don't remember it's name.

The best surprise was on the drive back to St. Louis.  A couple hours from Memphis in Sikeston, MO there is a restaurant called Lamberts Cafe.  They throw rolls across the place and they have pass around that come with your meal.  There was way too much to eat but it is a really enjoyable experience.  Now this isn't a quiet gourmet restaurant.  It is loud with perfectly cooked southern staples.  Yeah the green beans maybe canned/pickled but in the south they are supposed to be.  If you're on a road trip this place will wake you up after a long drive.  Great food, fun time.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Philadelphia through Priceline

We booked our vacation package to Philadelphia the day before we left.  The downside is that I did not get to choose any flight option, which would have been nice.  We got stuck on Delta and I am not a fan of the airline.  Our hotel reservation was at, Crowne Plaza Hotel Philadelphia-Bucks County.  The hotel was pretty nice (3 1/2 stars), nothing over the top though.  We also got a rental car.  The whole package was 496 per person for two coming to a total of 992.  I forgot to get the discount through e-bates like a big old dummy so it could've been 4% cheaper.

The hotel about 20 minutes from downtown Philadelphia and even with a GPS unit I had trouble getting to the hotel.   Driving around the turnpike was really confusing and the main roads have side roads making a sort of double exit system.  So if you turning left make sure your in the middle section and if you're turning right make sure you are in the right section.  You won't be getting over to the correct lane at the last minute.  The exits are also jump right on style, which are tough with the loops because a lot of people stop before getting on the highway.

The great benefit about our stay through Priceline is that it was really easy to go up to New York City for a day.  We also looked at New York as a vacation spot and the trip would have cost us more than twice as much without a rental car.  In New York we would have been fine using the subway and taxis, which would have been even more.  It did cost around forty dollars in tolls to make it to New York but I have heard I could have avoided the tolls.

Long story short is that Philly was a great trip and can easily turn into a trip to multiple cities and best of all it is very reasonably priced.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Apple Vacation My Trip to Punta Cana Dreams Resort

Alright,we stayed at Dreams in Punta Cana and got about nine nights for two for 2,400 including flight and then I added 250 for the two of us on an upgrade in room package and use of .  There was one major annoyance.  One of the fans for the A/C had a scratching noise.  I don't know why I didn't call to just have it fixed but I didn't.  That is my fault.  The other small annoyance was they dropped the ball when we first got there.  We had to remind them we had upgraded our package which included express check in and had booked the honeymoon package which included dinner on the beach and spa treatment.

The room was huge but the decor was a little out dated, but expected.  The room included a balcony with an outdoor hot tub, which was cool but not real functional.  The upgraded room came with a butler and refrigerator they restocked daily.  I didn't feel comfortable using the butler so we didn't even use that service, but he was there if we needed him.

Now for tip number 1 always go with the upgrade.  The biggest thing is the upgraded bar and club room. This room allowed you beers other than the standard Presidente offered on the rest of the resort and premium alcohols like Absolut, Johnny Walker, etc...  The rest of the staff in this area speaks perfect English as well.  The bartender also knew how to cure Montezuma's revenge.  It is some liquor from Italy and it has the most horrible taste but it works almost immediately.  It takes about a bottle and half of coke to wash it down.  The club room also was always stocked with some pretty nice snacks.  They rotated them frequently throughout the day.  The biggest thing is that this was the only place on the resort outside your room with A/C.  There is also a private beach area for club members but that is no big deal just more boring.

There were quite a few restaurants many which came with the upgrade.  The main dining place was buffet style.   There was also a seafood restaurant at night.  The other restaurants included a seaside cafe, high end Italian, gourmet Mexican and Sushi place.  Just a warning the Mexican place was awesome but not what you would expect as an American.  Then again everything is like that to an extent.

The resort also has an on site night club and casino but they are small.  Everything on the resort dies down at about 1 AM but you probably won't make it to that point most nights.  I am not sure I was ever up past the time the club and casino closed so I am not sure whether how late they stayed open.  They also have nightly shows which were very impressive.  I was surprised at the entertainment level of these shows.  It was unfortunate that during the circus night we saw one of the guys on stilts take a dive.  He was okay thankfully.  Now truthfully I planned on blowing these shows off but my wife went to one without me and couldn't stop talking about how cool it was. That is how I got sucked in.  Warning they do have shows that involve games with the guests but even those were fun.  There is always the drunk lady that tries to molest one of the locals in front of the entire resort in one of the shows, it's great.

Now for tip number 2.  If you want to hang out with people from where you came meet them on the plane and bus ride to the resort.  That reminds me our bus broke down on the way there, I thought we were going to get robbed but everything turned out okay.  We never saw the people we flew in with after getting to the resort.  It would have been nice to get a little more information about them.

The one tip I wish I could give you is related to tipping.  I know it wasn't necessary but a lot of people still tipped, and I did as well.  For the spa treatment and dinner on the beach I didn't know how much to tip.  I tipped twenty for the dinner on the beach.  Please, let me know how I did.  By the way eating near the ocean is scarier than romantic.  I was constantly thinking what is going to rise up out of there and try to eat me, and my wife agreed so don't act all mature and sophisticated in your comments.

Traveling Abroad Priceline vs Travelocity

I have some really great information to convey about this topic.  I would not have thought that there would be a major difference between travel sites, but  I definitely found out otherwise.  When I travel I am certainly want to get  good deal after all this id what this site is about, but at the same time I am willing to spend extra for a nicer experience.  I a not looking to stay in a five star hotel but I definitely want to book a four star hotel.  Now on to my experience booking trips to Hong Kong.

The first time I went to Hong Kong I booked with Travelocity at a five star hotel.  The second time I went to Hong Kong I booked a four star hotel.  The hotel I booked with Travelocity was located on Hong Kong island and when I booked with Priceline I booked a room in the New Territories close to Kowloon.  The rooms were very close in price and the trips were two years apart.  Enough background information.

When I booked with Travelocity I ended up with an extremely small room with a small bed (barely enough room for my wife and I) and small bathroom.  As for the bathroom it was so bad I literally had to squeeze into the shower (I am 6' 3" and at the time weighed 235 lbs).  The rest of the hotel was very modern but the rest of the hotel was also small.  The lobby, the bar and the hallways even, which were not decorated.  The hotel also lacked amenities like pool, exercise room, restaurants, etc...  Also, be cautious because I upgraded my room package when booking on Travelocity.  

When I booked with Priceline the room was huge it even had a king size bed, which was great.  The bathroom was also large.  There was a bathtub, shower stall and toilet stall each with plenty of room.  The hotel also included a lot of amenities.  There was a spa, outdoor pool, several restaurants and bars, a gift shop and valets.  The lobby was also impressive.  The hotel was also just an escalators ride away from the MTR.

I found out the difference between Priceline and Travelocity was the guarantee.  Priceline is very dedicated to making sure that the star ranking associated with the rooms delivers on a promise of what you will receive.  While things are a lot less certain with Travelocity.  For me it is a big deal that I know what I am getting for my money.  I originally thought that Priceline was more expensive but I found out about some hidden costs with Travelocity.  At the end of the day I don't oppose using Travelocity but be sure to call the hotel and verify what you will be getting when you book lodging overseas.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Compare and Save Using Priceline

Alright, the first thing you must understand is that hotels don't put up rooms way in advance. Bidding is not for planning a trip for two months down the road. The cheapest room rates are obtained shortly before your reservation dates. This means that if you are trying to book for Mardi Gras or another big event you most likely will not have a lot of luck. That being said I have been surprised at what deals I have gotten and when I have gotten them. Who says last minute planning doesn't pay off.

The main method to not getting ripped off is to check a website like Don't bid above the price shown on the competitor site. If your bid is not being accepted and you don't think the AREA will be booked out then bid again later. It is that easy. Priceline's inventory of empty hotel rooms does not hit the shelves until the product is almost spoiled.

I once, tried to bid on a room in Las Vegas, which are notorious for going for reduced rates. Well I was trying to plan the trip a few months in advance, and it seemed like no matter what I bid, the bids simply weren't excepted. I even tried bidding above the price. I ended up forgoing the trip, because I didn't feel like I was getting the deal I wanted. Yeah, I know I am a cheapskate. Later I took a trip to Los Angeles for a huge tradeshow, and my wife booked the rooms two hours away. I called up and after a really long discussion convinced Priceline to refund my money but interacting with the hotel. I thought for sure we wouldn't find anything in the vicinity of the tradeshow, but I was pleasantly surprised when I booked a three and a half star room for just forty five dollars. The amazing thing is that the hotel seemed to be full.

The point is if you absolutely have to plan ahead, bidding might not be the best route. Then again if you want to make some last minute plans don't let your ideas of not being able to get a room discourage an attempt.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Priceline Customer Service: Refund

Alright, many of the comments I have received regarding Priceline's customer service have been negative. The main complaint is that it is a rip off even when the price was low due to being denied a refund. This is mainly due to the fact that the purchases made through Priceline are nonrefundable. This is why they are cheap and the intention is to stop business travelers from taking advantage of the steeply discounted prices offered through the Priceline site. The fee to make your purchase refundable is five dollars on hotel rooms. If you think you might have a scheduling problem spend the money it is well worth the additional cost. That being said I have never purchased the safeguard.

Now if you did happen to forgo the safeguard of five dollars you can still get a refund. Go about this by contacting the customer service department, then having them contact the hotel. The hotel will generally coordinate with the customer service representative from Priceline to provide you a return. This does take some time and patience. You may even have to call the hotel desk yourself but Priceline's commitment is to the hotel. These are their real customers, you are the hotel's customer. Keep this in mind stay calm and things should turn out for the better. Another little trick is to keep in mind the star levels. You'll often find that the hotel your staying in fails to meet the requirements of the star level in some small way. For instance, the hotel room might not have a hairdryer in the room. Boom refund, that being said you have to show up.

Always remember you are not Priceline's customer. They do have a customer service line and it connects to the Philippines not India. Have them contact the hotel then contact the hotel yourself if that doesn't work. Be sure to tell Priceline's customer service representative to ask that the room rates be refunded. Also, the Philippino's are always polite and you won't find that they would dare hang up the phone without your acknowledgement. Use patience to your advantage. Yelling at a foreigner will only intimidate them and they will have greater difficulty delivering your request. If you speak to them clearly and calmly you'll save time and achieve your refund.

Priceline Cheap Vacations Review

I have recently traveled abroad. I decided against booking with Priceline to get a cheaper room rate. I traveled to Hong Kong and the total savings when booked at the competitor site for a four star hotel was about 400 dollars. At first you may be saying, "Wow, what a deal". Well that is what I thought because this included the room upgrade of two levels. When I got to Hong Kong I found out otherwise.

The size of the room was 140 square feet and I could barely squeeze into the shower. To give you an idea of the problem I will give a little background. The shower door opened into to the shower space. I had to suck my stomach in and do a little turn as I closed the shower door to get in. To make things worse the drain was slightly clogged. By the time I was standing in a 3 inch puddle of water. Now you might be thinking I am a big fat fatty, which is a little true. I am 6'3" and weigh 235 pounds. I still don't think that showering should be a problem for a man of my physical stature. Now the bedroom was advertised to be large enough for two. I had my wife with me and the bed barely fit the two of us. I complained but it wasn't going to get me anywhere.

I will be booking my next vacation with Priceline. The reason is their room standards. When booking with Priceline you'll know what to expect. The room would have undoubtedly been smaller than normal but a four star hotel would have offered a King size bed or two queens. I go on vacation to feel comfortable not cramped into a room. I did enjoy my trip to Hong Kong but will book with Priceline my next go around. I've got a new saying, "Go with what you know or your trip may blow".