So we’ve booked our accomodation. The next thing I usually do is start investigating what we can do once we get there.
And so I looked up Melbourne and Sydney on lastminute.com and tripadvisor, and drew up a list of potential activities for us and the kids – Phillip Island penguins, Great Ocean Road, Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne Zoo, Collins Street, Lygon Street, St Kilda Beach in Melbourne, the Opera House, Powerhouse Museum, Manly, etc in Sydney… But then I thought – we pack so much into our lives at home, we live and work by deadlines and checking off things in our Todo list or Inbox. Do we want our holiday to be the same?
So, I’ll jot down some numbers and addresses of places just in case, but we’re looking to the freedom of walking around aimlessly without ANY commitments!!
Great… so we’re leaving very soon, and yesterday, I’ve come down with a mini flu (cold shivers, headache, nausea) and our 7yo has come down with something bad last night (hot fever, phlegmy cough, lethargy). Aaargghhhh.. have we been cramming in so much work and life in anticipation of our holiday? I’m realllly looking forward to that red eye flight…. NOT
Just browsing the event calendar for the Melbourne International Arts Festival and I saw that Interpreti Venezia have travelled from Venice to perform! We saw this ensemble in Venice and I’m excited that Australians have the chance to see (and hear) them perform. Unfortunately it seems many of their shows have already sold out. More info here: http://www.melbournefestival.com.au/program/production?id=3384
It’s been a little while in the making, but we’re planning a trip to the eastern states with the kids! So far, we’ve organised the flights (using Frequent Flyer points) and some shows to see. We know our itinerary of Sydney then Melbourne, but we haven’t booked any accomodation yet.
So, I started up my favourite sites Tripadvisor and Wotif.
Tripadvisor is an internet community site dedicated to travel reviews. There are literally thousands of reviews of holidays, locations, hotels, attractions, etc on there by fellow travellers. You still need to do a bit of research and different people have different experiences, but it’s better than nothing. I find it a great resource to see what the general feel of the hotel is like. A few bad reviews doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad – it could be that the traveller expected a much more classy standard when it catered for a cheaper market. But a large number of negative reviews usually means it’s a place to be careful of.
Wotif is a last minute accomodation booking site. I think more and more people are hearing about these types of sites. I’m not exactly sure how their business model works, but it provides an avenue for hotels to sell off unoccupied rooms at a discounted price. But I’ve also had an experience where a hotel has said that Wotif actually bought a set number of rooms from the hotel at “warehouse prices” and sells these on, often undercutting the hotel’s cheapest consumer rate itself. I’d love someone with an insight into this to explain more!
The most frustrating thing I’ve found when looking for rooms is that many hotels and apartments only allow 2 adults and a maximum of 1 child in a single room. Hello? We have a family of four – and I’m sure we’re not alone – where are the hotels that allow more? I know there are some, but how do you find them easily?
It seems that knowing how different sites let you search may help.
Check-in.com.au doesn’t even have a search by number of guests, but it does give detailed information about children/extra guests for the selected hotel. Wotif.com at least lets you search by type of room, but still not by number of guests.
Tripadvisor.com is not really a discount hotel search engine, but it lets you search for hotels by number of adults. It’s a start, but you then need to go into each hotel to read the fine print about children.
Lastminute.com.au is one engine that does let you search by number of adults and children and provides good clear information on the bedding configuration. Expedia also lets you search by adults and kids’ ages too which is good. Hotels.com unfortunately doesn’t seem to provide detailed information on the bedding configuration.
Another tip is to compare the prices on the discount sites with the actual hotel websites themselves. For example, it seems that the cheapest rate on the Marriott site is $209 for a room for up to 4 guests (for 7 day advance bookings), but this rate doesn’t seem to show up on any of the discount sites.
Oh well, we’ve now booked the Sydney accomodation, but Melbourne is still to be decided. Should we stay a bit further out like in St Kilda, and perhaps hire a car, or stay in the CBD?