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Saturday, December 3rd 2016

"I'm a travel junkie who's hooked on deals from YYZ." - Chris Myden



2012
20
March
Toronto to Aruba - $271 roundtrip after taxes... and my tips on finding reasonable accommodations

Today Thomas Cook dropped the price of their April 2 to 9 airfare from Toronto to Aruba down to $271 roundtrip after taxes.

How to find it...

1. http://www.flightcentre.ca/

2. Click on 'flights'

Leaving from: Toronto

Going to: Aruba, Aruba, Reina Beatrix, AUA

Departing: April 2

Returning: April 9

3. Hit Search, and then hit Book Online.

And here we see the verified price of $271 roundtrip after taxes...

screenshot:


Now the question I sometimes get from people is 'Great deal, but where do I stay?'. It's a good question, so I thought I'd share some tips on finding reasonably priced accommodations. These tips can apply to anywhere, but we'll use Aruba as a working example.

1. Get to the TripAdvisor page for the country you want to visit. In this case it's Aruba, so we can just google for 'TripAdvisor Aruba' and we'll end up here:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g147247-Aruba-Vacations.html

2. Now click on 'Aruba Hotels' on the left hand side of the TripAdvisor menu. That gets us to here:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g147247-Aruba-Hotels.html

3. Here's where a bit of strategy and knowing the system comes into play. A *lot* of really great accommodations aren't hooked up with the major booking engines. You'll never find them on Orbitz, Expedia, etc, or even in TripAdvisor's own internal booking system.

What you want to do is look on the left hand side under Property Type, and change this option to 'B&B and Inns'. This will help us discover highly reviewed properties that are typically smaller, cheaper, more authentic, great value, and not found in the major booking engines ('Specialty Lodging' can occasionally have some hidden gems as well).

4. After clicking on 'B&B and Inns' I'm presented with a list of hotels. I usually scan down the list, noting the 'typical price' listed below the name of each property. You'll note that some properties don't have a typical price. Don't dismiss these, sometimes they can be the best deals of all. But generally I'm looking for highly reviewed properties where the cheapest price is under $100/night.

Taking a look at the second property in the list, 'Buffam's Tropical Haven' we can see that it gets 5 circles after 79 reviews and the 'typical price' is listed as $60-$100/night. Perfect. This is an amazing score, and I know from experience that a place with a score like this will be a great place to stay.

5. Now what we want to do is Google for Buffam's Tropical Haven. The first result will usually be the personal website of the property. In this case, we're taken to http://www.buffamstropicalhaven.com/

The first place I look is generally the rates, to see what kind of price range I'm looking at. In this case it looks like a week will cost $495, or $247.50 for a couple. Added to our flight cost, it becomes $518 each, after all taxes, for flight and one week hotel stay in Aruba. Considering the lowest you generally see is 8 or 9 hundred/person after taxes for a one week flight + hotel package to Aruba, I'd say a 40% discount below that bottom price is a pretty great deal.

6. This is just one strategy of course, but it's generally the one I personally go for first. Another great site that's been making the rounds lately is AirBNB, which matches people seeking vacation rentals and other short-term accommodations with those who have rooms to rent. They are generally the home owners themselves, people that are not professional hoteliers.

Googling for 'Airbnb Aruba' brings up http://www.airbnb.com/aruba. Some of the properties have a decent number of reviews.

Anyways, I hope this helps somebody out there. Personally I find the airfare to usually be the toughest component to get a great deal on, simply because there's only so many airlines out there and very few airfares that are truly great deals.

With accommodations being so plentiful, I find there's usually *somewhere* to stay that's reasonably priced and well reviewed. So with that in mind, I seem to find myself looking for the great airfare deal first, and building around it.

If anyone out there has their own strategy for finding reasonably priced and well reviewed accommodations, feel free to share.

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7 Responses to "Toronto to Aruba - $271 roundtrip after taxes... and my tips on finding reasonable accommodations"


    Has Neil been here?
       Neil on March 20th, 2012

    Hey Chris - great deal, thanks for sharing!

    Quick question - you know on TripAdvisor how you can filter by "family", "couples" and "business." There used to be a way to filter for "solo" and "friends." Do you know if they got rid of those filters?

    Has Chris_Myden been here?
       Chris_Myden on March 20th, 2012

    Thanks Neil!

    I do remember those filters, and I think they did indeed get rid of them. Even when looking at a property for which over 3,000 reviews exist you can still only see:

    Family | Couples | Business

    So if solo or friends were available, it would surely show up here. Not sure why they removed those ones!

    Has Neil been here?
       Neil on March 20th, 2012

    OK, good, so I'm not the only one. I emailed TripAdvisor. I'll update if they get back to me.

    Hmm, now should I go to Aruba? Feels like the Caribbean in Toronto today ...

    Has Ali been here?
       Ali on March 20th, 2012

    Hi Chris! Just wanted to say that I love your site. Haven't been able to get any time off but when I do, I can't wait to try one of these deals and tips!

    Has Chris_Myden been here?
       Chris_Myden on March 20th, 2012

    Thanks Ali! I appreciate it!

    Has Michael been here?
       Michael on March 21st, 2012

    I try to stay away from hotels and focus on apartments. I find the rate is better and there is more room Also not forced to eat out three meals a day. airbnb is great except you have to email the owner through the site. I've had good success with vrbo and homeaway. Also try searching accommodation or apartments in the area. There are sometimes local rental sites and also local owners with multiple properties that are great deals.

    I agree with your statement. There is generally lots of accommodation. Flights het booked fitst.

    Has dave been here?
       dave on March 21st, 2012

    One strategy believe it or not is timeshare. Not those awful high pressure presentations but somebody who already owns one. Check out http://www.redweek.com/browse/Caribbean/Aruba-timeshares for Aruba.

    This site is used by people wanting to sell, exchange or rent their timeshare condos. As you say, airfare is the key component to cheap travel so often a cheap week at a resort means little if it costs a fortune to get there. Often there may be a little desperation on people trying to rent figuring anything they get is better than just having to eat the week and get nothing for it. Let their burden become your bargain. Quick check of Aruba and range is about $100 a night. Deals could prbably be had closer to arrival date. Believe you have to register...anyway just a suggestion.

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