TripAdvisor recently announced its 2015 list of the best hotels in the world, and #1 is Gili Lankanfushi, the Maldives resort with the “No News No Shoes” philosophy. A tiny coral island with 45 overwater villas, it’s apparently the ultimate barefoot paradise. I’d love to go. So I reached out to Lindsey Wallace, my Trusted Travel Expert for the Maldives, who—like other Trusted Travel Experts on The WOW List—negotiates special pricing and perks. Lindsey’s rates at Gili Lankanfushi save travelers up to 38% off the best rates on the hotel’s website. Say you went to the hotel’s website and booked an 8-night stay from May 16-24. A Villa Suite would cost you $8,528. Lindsey’s rate is $6,000 and includes round-trip speedboat transfers from the airport and daily breakfast and dinner. Lindsey has blocked off villas in the best locations for his guests, of course. And you get even more VIP perks ($100 dining credit, free spa treatment, free upgrade on arrival, and early check-in/late check-out) if Lindsey knows you’re a WendyPerrin.com traveler (which he’ll know if you use my trip-request form).
The best way to book a five-star or four-star hotel depends on the type of trip you’re taking. If what you want above all is the lowest rate, book it online. You can now even book hotels on TripAdvisor, which compares prices across hundreds of sites to find you the lowest rate. But if you’re staying three nights or more and what you care most about is the best overall experience, from room selection to VIP amenities to enhancements such as private car transportation and an introduction to the location’s hidden gems via an English-speaking local insider, that’s when it makes sense to reach out to a Trusted Travel Expert. I’ll give you an example:
Say you’re headed to Budapest. The Four Seasons Gresham Palace is #4 on TripAdvisor’s list of the world’s top hotels. If all you need is a room, book it online. But say you’re planning to stay three nights. My Trusted Travel Expert for Hungary, Gwen Kozlowski of Exeter International, can get you three nights (including the hotel’s 22% tax), gourmet hotel breakfast daily, roundtrip private car transfers from/to the airport, and—if you use my trip-request form so she knows you’re a WendyPerrin.com traveler—an expert private guide for a three-hour overview walking tour of Budapest, starting at $516 per night (the price depends on your month of travel). If you were to book those components separately through separate sources, the quality would be inconsistent and probably inferior. (I say that because I have personally road-tested Gwen and her Budapest arrangements twice within the past year, and they are superlative.)
Here’s another example: Say you’re headed to Peru. The Belmond Palacio Nazarenas in Cusco is #5 on TripAdvisor’s list of the world’s top hotels. My Trusted Travel Expert for Peru, Tom Damon of Southwind Adventures, has negotiated a 10% discount for his travelers who stay there two nights and a 15% discount for those who stay three nights. If all you want is the hotel, book it on your own. If you want the hotel combined with additional arrangements that will add up to a transformative experience of Machu Picchu, reach out to Tom. (To indicate to Tom that you’re a WendyPerrin.com traveler, contact him here.)
If you’ve got a trip in mind that uses five- or four-star hotels and you’re not sure the best way of booking them, just ask. And I’d love to ask you: What’s your favorite way to book hotels online, and why?