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13 Aug, Saturday
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Montreal Families

Hotwire has Red Hot Travel Deals

Last spring, I took my mom to Chicago for the weekend for her birthday. When I started searching for hotels, I was shocked to see how expensive it was — it seemed prices were pretty close to those in New York and Boston (say $300 to $400 a night for a room). Then someone told me about Hotwire — a discount travel site that offers unbelievably low prices on hotels, car rentals and more.

I went on the site and was able to book the Intercontinental Hotel on Michigan Ave., smack in the middle of downtown Chicago, for $108 US a night. When I tried to book through their website, the same room was going for $300. The catch? When you book accommodations on Hotwire, you don’t know which hotel you are booking until you’ve committed and paid. Then there is no going back.

This would make a lot of people very nervous but, in reality, you aren’t going in totally blind. Before booking, you can choose the area of the city you want to stay in as well as the star rating. So if you choose downtown and four stars, you aren’t going to end up in a Days Inn in the suburbs. In fact, Hotwire gives you some examples of hotels they partner with. For example, its four star hotels include the InterContinental, Hyatt, Omni, and other prestigious hotel brands.

Then last winter, I needed to book a minivan in Fort Lauderdale as friends were going to be joining us on a trip south. Again, I was shocked with the high cost. I called several car rental agencies and the best deal I could get was $575 for a week with Alamo. Then I went on Hotwire and booked one for $282. The catch? I didn’t know which rental company I was booking with until I paid. But really, once I knew I could pick up the minivan at Fort Lauderdale airport, I couldn’t care less whether I booked with Avis, Hertz or some other major car rental company. And guess what? It turned out that the $282 minivan I reserved through Hotwire was with Alamo!

So how do they do it? According to Hotwire: “We have special relationships with major travel providers to help them fill airline seats, hotel rooms, and rental cars that would otherwise go unsold, so our customers get them at prices lower than many other travel sites.”
I love Hotwire and have recommended it to several friends who have come back to me with stories of incredible savings. Check it out at www.hotwire.com.

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