Affordable Luxury is a Real Thing….

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View from the villa porch
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Master bedroom porch
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We each had a couch to stretch out on!
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Master suite
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Morning view
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We had the first floor. Upstairs is a separate bedroom/bath.
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Every morning was this beautiful

My best friend and I turned 50.  Not on the same day.  Not even in the same calendar year.  But we decided to celebrate in style with a trip.  The only problem:  Holli is a (very educated and underpaid) teacher + I have two kids in college = limited disposable income.  I’m supremely lucky to have Holli in my life.  But in this one travel planning instance, she is lucky to have me!  We weren’t doing no stinkin’ road trip to no budget motel for this milestone birthday!

First off, I convinced her last summer to apply for the US Airways master card from Barclay’s (no longer available) so that she could easily pick up a bunch of miles to be used on American Airlines with the sign up bonus, opening up our travel area.  We wanted to go somewhere neither of us had ever been.  Holli had never left the country before, but I’ve done a good amount of traveling.  We settled on Belize:  easy three hour flight, no state department warnings, second largest barrier reef in the world, and we are both fluent in their national language (English).  She booked her ticket via AA for 30,000 miles + $62.50: I booked! the same flight via British Airways site for 20,000 Avios + $62.50.  First step, done.

Did you ever find a place with deals so good you almost hate to share them?  I mean, what if a zillion people find out (and actually jump on) this site and all my great possibilities go the way of the dodo bird?  Well, if you’ve read this far, you deserve to know about this gem:  www.luxurytraveldiary.com  This is a blog site, and on this page, there is a golden banner that says “grab a deal in our travel auctions”.  Do yourself a favor and click on that.  Then sit back, close your gaping mouth, register on the site, and BID!  The offerings change, you bid in GBP (Great Britain Pounds–check the exchange rate so you know how much you are actually bidding) and you have to be aware of availability dates, but OMG!  Let me tell you, these are the real deal.  I grabbed a Belize bargain for me and Holli, costing us $75 USD each for four nights at Hopkins Bay Resort, including daily breakfast and a cooking lesson.  All for far less than I would have paid for one night at a Super 8.

I kid you not.  Holli and I had a 2BR/2Bath LUXURY villa, facing the beach.  The resort has kayaks and bikes to borrow, free wifi (with NO resort fee for any of this–I’m looking at you, Florida hotels).  The bartender doesn’t skimp on the alcohol (tell King I said “hi” when you go!)  The restaurant is open air and authentic–and delicious!  The staff (and everyone we met in Belize) is incredibly friendly and goes out of their way to accommodate you.  Case in point:  we wanted to set up some tours–snorkeling, Mayan ruins, etc.  For snorkeling, we were asked if we minded sharing our outing with another group.  ????WHAT????  Usually I hear that X number of people are required to “make” a tour.  Not at Hopkins Bay.  We ended up with three other women that we bonded with.  And the snorkeling was fantastic (thanks Capt Jack and Mr Santos!).   Our Mayan ruins tour was me, Holli, our guide, and a guide in training.  They took us to lunch afterwards at a local restaurant, and we enjoyed truly getting to know them.  (Kudos, Greg and Paul!)  I can’t say enough positive things about our Hopkins Bay experience.  I might even pay full price to go back here.  (High praise, indeed)

So the secret is out there.  Luxurytraveldiary.com is the shizz.  I’m going to go bid on more travel–they have some African safaris right now–and maybe I’ll be victorious once again!  Let me know if you bid on something and win it.  Good luck!

 

Author: karenlenz

I was hit by wanderlust as a child, but never had the resources to travel. Went a few places prior to having children, then fewer places while raising them. So now, I’m 50. I have two kids in college and one in high school. I make bank ($90/day--be jealous) as a substitute teacher, but all that money is earmarked for the college kids. My husband is uber frugal (no lie, so am I), but we have started traveling pretty regularly. I’m not extravagant--hard to be with a family of five--so I consider my trips to be realistic and achievable for everyone.

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