travel trends

Travel Trends :: Curated Lists

curated hotel lists[trip style = luxury]

Recently I've noticed a slight obsession in the luxury travel market for websites that bring together curated, hand-picked hotels and resorts worldwide and promote them to haute holiday-hoppers who think W Hotels aren't that stylish and Sofitel properties are for sissies. These people are in search of unique properties in both commonplace and abstract destinations. Here are some curated hotel collections that will narrow your luxe boutique search when a vacation comes knocking at your door.

Boutique Hotel Collectives Tablet Hotels Tablet is a group of hand-picked, tightly edited hotels in destinations all over the world. The list is created and maintained by anonymous visits from travel experts, reviews by a team with “a low tolerance for boredom" and reviews by guests. There's no room for error either. If a hotel's rating falls below a 15 out of 20, the hotel is no longer part of Tablet.

Kiwi Collection Kiwi Collection hotels is a curated list of properties aimed at 'people who care where they stay' with options that veer more towards luxe than boutique hotels, with properties like Shanghai's recently redone Fairmont Peace Hotel or the Viceroy Anguilla Resort. Similar to Tablet, if a hotel's rating falls below a pre-determined threshold, the hotel is out, a perk I appreciate given a terrible hotel stay I just had in Sydney {not part of the collection}. With 2,200 hotels in 128 countries, I'm sure you'll find something to suit your fancy and trip style!

Mr and Mrs Smith For this selection, I need to give credit where credit it due: while I was in Australia, my third stop took me to Wilson {my review here}, an island at the base of the Great Barrier Reef with only 6 tents, gourmet food, secluded beaches, baby turtles and friendly reef sharks {more on this May 20th}. While there, I had the pleasure of meeting two couples from the UK who both mentioned a boutique hotel finder they'd used to find the stylish shipwrecked island.

Mr and Mrs Smith is a boutique and luxury hotel finder with a particular focus on Australia and Euro properties. They say it was created for romantic and swanky couples escapes, but I think anyone can be inspired by its hundreds of listings worldwide. For those of you who are most interested in the North American options, there are 85 with well known indi-popular properties like the Ace Palm Springs and Portland, Clift San Francisco, Chateau Marmont LA, Calistoga Ranch Napa Valley, Delano South Beach, and so on.

Join one of their three membership tiers to take full advantage of what a relationship with Mr and Mrs Smith has to offer!

An App For That StayHip is a boutique hotel finder that mixes budget conscious and luxe boutique options in 400 destinations worldwide. Perfect for when you're lying in bed staring at your iPhone or you're on the go.

{Note that I've put this trip style as 'luxury' because unless you're staying at the reasonably priced Ace in Palm Springs, boutique properties are usually on the more expensive side of travel.}

Related Content Shh It's {Semi} Private :: Private Travel Sale Sites Big or Boutique Hotels? Get a Room :: The World's First Hotel Room Search

[photo by @tripstyler taken of Qualia at sunset. Qualia is part of Mr and Mrs Smith's listings for Austraila.]

Travel Trends :: Your Extended Backyard

travel trend :: backyard travel[trip style = weekend getaway]

During the economic slowdown, every travel publication was touting closer to home travel as a way to still enjoy getting away, without spending epic dollars for an epic trip. More recently, the go local trend has influenced everyone from foodies to travelers to embrace treasures within 100km {or so}, versus seek them out in the rest of the world first. As always, there's a time and place for local weekend getaways and international globetrotting, but this week's travel trend comes from close to home: it's a call to explore your own backyard, literally.

Recently a new site launched by a BC resident for BC residents, encouraging local travelers by way of discounts and inspiration to travel near versus far. backyardbc is its name and local travel is its game. Aside from Hotwire's go local search, I'm glad someone has brought this type of program specifically to BC. With hotel options spanning across the province and catering to different trip styles and budgets, it's fun to browse what's available and see what grabs you---just don't start with the website's "Vancouver, Coast & Mountains" region, the results are a little leaner than other areas.

As the site brings on new hotels, the offers will get more diverse, but for the time being I encourage you to start your backyard search with Vancouver Island, one of the site's 6 searchable regions. With just over 20 hotels spanning from Tofino to Victoria, the options are discerning. Here are a few gems I found:

Trip Styler Tip :: with all this talk of locals rates, don't be shy to ask hotels in BC or Washington if they have preferred rates for BC residents. Many do, but just down publicize it.

PS - Local blogger Miss604 and backyardbc are running a joint promotion giving away one hotel stay every Tuesday for the next 10 weeks. Don't miss it.

{Travel Trends are posted 3 times monthly on Thursdays. For other trends including low season travel deals and unique reward programs, subscribe by RSS or email, like us on facebook or follow us on twitter.}

[photo via backyardbc of April Point Resort & Spa]

Travel Trends :: Rewards Programs

expedia loyalty program[trip style = any]

This week, launched a loyalty program, not surprisingly called Expedia Rewards, to award people who book travel {multiple times} via their website. The program's claim to fame: earn free travel in as few as 3 trips with no blackout dates, and no loyalty limitations to a single hotel brand or airline. No word yet on an program. With Expedia leading this time-tested travel trend, I wonder if Travelocity will follow suit?

Two, No Three Times Up until recently, if you booked with a travel service like this, you may have received rewards at your hotel if you had pre-joined their program, but now you conceivably get rewarded twice---actually 3 times if you use your travel credit card to pay for the transaction.

Canada's Go-To Travel Site For many people, Expedia is the go-to online travel booking service they use. Why? It's been around since the early days of web-enabled travel booking, it's dependable, and comes with a user-friendly layout and transaction experience. People in Canada like it so much that commands 13% of all Canadian Online Travel Agency visits---combine this with's visits and their share is 17%. To put this into perspective, is the next closest competitor at 4.85% of visits.

Trip Styler Tip Although I'm a huge evangelist for being loyal to 1-2 airline alliances and 1-2 hotel programs for collection and accumulation of points for free flights and stays, there is value in joining other travel loyalty programs along the way. Yes you'll have a bunch of logins to remember, but the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Why? The added perks. For hotel stays it might be a one-off benefit like free wifi, a 'welcome' amenity or special check-in desk, but isn't that worth it for the 3-minutes it takes to create a profile and future earning potential towards free travel? For example, though my hotel loyalty is with Fairmont, my second choice is the Starwood Preferred Guest program because of the number and variety {W Hotels, Westin, Sheraton, St. Regis, Le Meridien, etc...} of properties worldwide. To put this into perspective, if you stay at a Fairmont once, and join their loyalty program before you get there, you get free wifi and a host of other benefits. Stay 10 nights or 5 stays and you also get free workout gear, use of golf clubs, dining and spa vouchers, etc...

Related Loyalty Pays The Wild Web of Airline Affiliations The Wild Web of Hotel Affiliations

[photo of Expedia Rewards graphic]

Travel Trends :: April + May Lowdown

travel trends :: april savings[trip style = sun + beach]

Depending on what area you're in, Spring Breakers are sizzling in the sun or shredding on the slopes right now. Yet, starting in April---only a few days away---these same hot {and cool} places will be posting off-season prices at significant savings. Mark your calendar, this low season lowdown is sure-fire travel trend happening every year at this time, and in the fall.

Planning Ahead Sometimes vacation time is not flexible, combine this with high season travel and you're handing out $$$ like an ATM. Been there, done that and feel your pain. But, if you have any hint of flexibility, consider planning ahead to take advantage of low season fares in April and May. Whether you vacation avec or sans kiddles, an extended weekend, Easter break or May Long could work in your favor both financially and time wise.

Sample Deals & Where to Find Them Right now I'm drooling over the travel savings I see. Since I'm headed to Oz in less than a month, I can't act on impulse and book any travel between now and then, but maybe you can? With this in mind, here are a few low season travel treats.... Trip Styler Tip :: Mark your calendar. I have. Each year in mid- to late- March, hotels, airlines and online travel agencies heavily discount sunny and ski trip styles for April and May travel.

Overall Deals - save up to 44% off. Book by Apr 20, travel by May 15. - save up to 50% off. Book by Mar 31 for escapes Apr - June.

Hawaii - save up to 40% off. Book by Apr 6, travel by Apr 30.

Vegas - 3 nts/4days, flight, hotel and show tickets from $350. Book by Mar 27, travel May 1 - Aug 31.

London - 4nts/5days, flight, hotel, breakfast, transfers, airport lounge access from $1500. Book by Mar 31, depart May 5, 11 or 12.

[photo by @tripstyler, taken in Laguna Beach, California]

Travel Trends :: True Beachfronts

website for finding true beachfront [trip style = beach]

Have you ever been dazzled by a resort's beachfront pictures only to get there and find out 'the beach' is either not what it looked like in pictures, or in a completely different location than it appeared? I have, on a few occasions, but more on this another time...

Actually on the Beach A travel trend that's been brewing for awhile, and is now out in the open is true beachfronts, or website descriptions and pictures that accurately disclose the hotel or resort's beach situation. Now, there's even a website dedicated to this cause. The recently launched Beachfront Club is on a mission to tell the world about hotels and resorts that are actually on the beach, versus across the street, 20-mins up the hill, etc... The reason for this aggressive but impressive mission? One of site's founders is trying to make amends for times he photographed hotels in misleading ways to make them appear seaside through camera angles and editing.

The Beachfront Club the beachfront club Although the site is still in beta, according to this CNN article, it has mapped 7000 of the 10,000 hotels worldwide, it qualifies as on the beach. To give the site a little test run, I looked up a destination I know pretty well: Maui. Focusing on Wailea {Maui's manicured belle of the ball}, I was impressed with the major oceanfront hotels it accurately placed and the initial info associated with each. Its only error showed The Renaissance on the map, only problem is, it has been sitting eerily empty {with fencing surrounding the property} since 2007.

Being Up-front I love the idea of this website, and will likely use it in the future as a cross-checking resource when I'm researching a hotel and/or beachfront destination. Hotel description and picture accuracy is a big deal---even major reputable brands are guilty of mileading photos, etc... Met pet peeve is when they show pictures of white curtain-clad, cabana-like, bamboo beach beds dotting an empty, perfectly flat beach only to find these cabanas don't exist, the beach is overcrowded and it's not that flat, but that's a whole other topic for another time...

In the meantime, check out The Beachfront Club for a true beachy keen experience.

[photos from The Beachfront Club]