Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Happy New Year to more Adventures

As with every new year, 2011 offers so many promises, hopes and adventures!  Time to start using up my deals more instead of holding them for a special occasion.  That special occasion is NOW!

First up, a much needed massage.  Okay, so it's not so much of an adventure, but a great way to soothe the body and spirit after the holidays.  I've collected a bunch of spa deals, from mani-pedi's to massages to facials and body wraps.  Women, in general, don't pamper ourselves enough.  Guys, you deserve to be pampered too.  And who doesn't like to have people waiting on them hand and foot while servicing their hands and feet.  Don't knock it til you try it.  There's a great spa deal in Tacoma.  If you miss that one, don't worry.  There's at least one spa deal a week or so.

Chevy Chase Beach Cabins in Port Townsend

Along the lines of pampering, a getaway to a cabin with gorgeous views on the Olympic Peninsula is a nice way to pamper yourself:  a Two-Night Studio-Cottage Stay at Chevy Chase Beach Cabins in Port Townsend. Deals like this go quick, offered at 12:01am and sold out at 8:21am.  Now I have to admit, not all the Groupon hotel deals are great.  Good, but not great.  This one was a great one. And here's why and what to look for on other great deals:

#1 First and foremost, if you see a deal you find interesting, purchase it right away!  You'll have until the end of the time period to cancel without it charging your card, even if it sells out, especially if it sells out.  This way you have time to investigate the deal and decide if you want to keep it vs. missing out on something you'd really want. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say "I saw it, but waited for {insert reason here} to get it."  Hey, it's happened to me once or twice and that was enough.  ;)

#2 Investigate the deal.  Go to the hotel's website and see how it compares to the advertised rates and their own specials.  Also note that some deals will include the tax, like the Chevy Chase Cabins.  Not all do, but factor that when comparing prices.  Also some hotel deals will throw in extras they normally charge for or don't usually offer at all, like including a spa package, meal gift cards, bottle of wine/champagne, and/or chocolates. Talk about sweetening the deal.

#3 Pay attention to the expiration and blackout dates.  I came across a suite deal in Spokane which had no blackout dates, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve and Valentine's day.  How rare!!  If you have a date in mind or on a limited schedule, book right away to get your spot.  Most likely you'll have time to change it if need be.

#4 Check to see if you can use multiple vouchers to extend your stay or pay the difference to upgrade, extend your stay or use off season.  That's one of the reasons the Chevy Chase Cabins sold so quickly, it allowed for all of these options.

#5 For larger or chain hotels or hotels in areas between major cities, check other local cities other than your own to see if they deal is available there too.  If it sold out in one city, it may be available in another.  Also, I noticed for the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver it was shown in at least 3-4 different cities with different expiration dates. (This is one of the reasons I list links to deals along the west coast for you below.)  Not sure if it sold out or if it was pulled, but it didn't last long.  I still kick myself for not getting that deal, rather for not checking other cities!  Would have been a great tie with a repositioning cruise.

So enjoy pampering yourself with an adventure and between them too.  You'll be glad you did.

Check out the daily deals in the West:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Let's got to Canada, eh?

Being so close to Canada, I'm ashamed I don't get up there that often, and now needing more than my driver's license doesn't help matters.  But since I got my passport renewed (ah, Americans), I was there twice in one month with plans to go again in the spring.

A while back I missed a deal for the Olympic Fairmont in Vancouver which would have been perfect in combination with a repositioning cruise.  Recently I found a special for the Pan Pacific Vancouver.  Deals are available for a 2, 3 and 5 night stay.  Pretty nice.  When I stayed in Victoria I really could have stayed a second night so a longer stay is perfect.  Not only will it give you more time to enjoy the city, but it will give you more time to enjoy your fabulous room, the view and all the amenities, too!

Now normally when I go to Vancouver it's just for the day.  I've spent the night just twice, maybe three times, and my elementary soccer team trips up there to lose on their home turf doesn't count.  Maybe this time I'll get to see more than the Aquarium, though you gotta love the Beluga Whales.

Check out the daily deals in the West:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Adventure in Jewelry Deals

As every girl knows, shopping for jewelry is an adventure.  There is so much out there from fun costume jewelry to expensive fine jewels and you can find them in the most unlikely places like a thrift store or estate sale to the usual suspects of department stores and, of course, jewelry stores.  Let's not forget online stores.  With Groupon I've explored three adventures in jewelry and it's been fantastic.

#1 Whats-in-Store is a Nashville-based fashion company I found advertised in Bakersfield, CA of all places.  Before I purchased the deal I fell in love with so many pieces.  I'm so glad fun, playful and bold jewelry is in style and in a big way, at that.  Too bad I was limited to one voucher, but I made the most of it.  And this deal is on again (1/26 to 1/27 9pm PST) so you'll be able to enjoy it as well.  What I also liked, in addition to the selection and my purchase, was that I got it so quick!  Within a week, not bad at all.  I'd order from them again, and I think I will...soon. 

#2 came up shortly after I received my above order.  This time I could get two vouchers and I did!  Actually, it was receiving the 1st order from STL and the nightmare of venturing to the stores on Black Friday which prompted me to write today.  Though the order took a while to receive and some of the pieces I wanted had sold out (they were overwhelmed with the response from Groupon customers) the customer services was SPECTACULAR!!  Now I'm a stickler for good customer service, almost an oxymoron today, and I got to hand it to the folks at STL.  The gal I worked with went well above and beyond for me, that alone sold me on their company.  Not to mention I'm loving what I ordered. I placed another one, actually just before I got the one in the mail.  Can't wait to get it and hope it'll arrive in time to get under then tree.  Guess what? It's back today, 2/2 until 9pm PST so you can enjoy this deal, too!! 

#3  Jewelmint, I must say, was one of the most unique deals I've seen.  I've haven't redeemed it yet, but what peaked my interest was this "Take the Jewelmint Style Quiz to determine your fashion preferences...Based on your quiz score, five jewelry pieces will be displayed in a private virtual showroom."  How cool is that!  A new concept in jewelry indeed.  But then again, I'm a sucker for surveys and quizzes.  This really seems to be a site for fashionistas or girls who just like pretty sparklies like me.  Get your deal today, by midnight 11/29 Central time.
I've always been a fan of shopping online, not being the type to scour shelved and spend hours browsing.  Guess you can say I'm more of a buyer than a shopper. And with several companies offering free shipping and returns with "No Hassle" service, it makes it even easier to enjoy receiving that special package in the mail. 

Check out the daily deals in the West:

Friday, November 26, 2010

My Start with Discount Adventure Deals

In the spring of 2010, a friend turned me on to Groupon and I've been having fun from Seattle, Washington to Washington D.C., well thereabouts including Canada, since then.   Here are my stories and ways you can get in on the fun too.  Life's too short to pay a lot to enjoy it. 
Orion River Expeditions
Wenatchee River rafting excursion

My first Groupon adventure was white water rafting. Though I'd been white water rafting before, it was nothing like this trip.  The Wenatchee river was tons of fun, still freezing, yet pleasant since it was a perfect 90 degree plus day.  The tour guides for our groups were so much fun and entertained us during the infrequent smooth/quiet periods.  What a great first experience with  Groupon.   

Western Prince Whale & Wildlife Tour
Friday Harbor, San Juan Is, WA 

For my birthday in May I treated myself to a whale watching cruise in the San Juan Islands.  Though we didn't see any whales we saw seals people don't normally get to see and an island covered with bald eagles.  I think it's so funny to see birds walking instead of flying.  


Deception Pass Jet-Boat Tour
Whidbey Island, WA

Turns out the summer of 2010 was the summer of cruises for me, 
 Queen of Seattle Paddle Wheel Cruise
Lake Union, Seattle, WA
mainly thanks to Groupon, including a Jet Boat Tour of Deception Pass and a Steam Boat Paddle Wheel cruise of Lake Union.  Gotta love late summer/early fall in Western WA.  You don't know what the weather, rain to be specific, is going to do.  However for both cruises, though it rained earlier in the day, even on the way to the boat, as you can see, we had gorgeous weather and blue skies for both.  However there's one that got away - Waterways Sunset Cruise. To this day I kick myself for missing that deal.  I was just finding and sharing so many great  deals I was getting overwhelmed.  That won't happen again.  As luck would have it Waterways offered a dinner cruise which I'll be doing in the spring/summer with a group of friends.  Gotta share these with your friends and bring them along. 
DC Harbor Cruises Twilight Cruise
Potomac River, Washington DC
Capitol River Cruises
Potomac River, Washington DC
When I found I was being sent to Washington D.C. for work, I signed up for deals over there.  One of the best deals I came across was for the Gaylord Resort - was cheaper than my room at the Marriott in DC.  Alas, I wanted to get out and explore the sites and would feel guilty not spending every waking moment in that sweet.  I found two cruises along the Potomac River.   One I took during the day.  The other was a sunset cruise which turned into a firework viewing cruise at National Harbor.  The captain treated us to a longer cruise so we could watch the show.  Great to experience a fireworks show in the nation's capital even after the 4th.  They had to pause the show every now and then since the fireworks exploded right in the flight path to National Airport.  Can you imagine being a passenger and seeing fireworks going off outside your plane window?? 

Fairmont Empress Hotel, Victoria, BC

After returning from DC I decided to sign up for other cities around Seattle in the Pacific Northwest:  Spokane/Couer D'Alene, Portland, Salem, Eugene, Boise, and Vancouver/Victoria B.C.  And it paid off.  Seattle was offering a deal on the Clipper then I found a special, a rare special I believe, for the famous Fairmont Empress Hotel.   So after a day of visiting the Butchart Gardens with friends I got to treat myself to a lovely pedicure, part of the deal, before retiring to my room.  The room, by the way, was upgraded from a standard to a deluxe - completely unexpected since the room was already half off - and off summer rates at that.
That encouraged me to sign up for deals in other cities along the west coast and a bit beyond (see below).  I'm always on the look out for hotel deals - a cool or fancy place to stay.  Basically just want an excuse to take a road trip on the motorcycle.
More to come!