Vacation Like a VIP

March 23, 2011 5:20:27 AM PDT
Jaymes Duke of Creative Concierge 101 offers tips on how to get luxury perks on the road and at home.

Vacation like a VIP
-How to travel like a VIP without spending money like one.

Talking points and tips: Budgets are a reality for many these days, but being mindful of your expenses doesn't always mean passing up fun.

Below are a few of my top tips for having a blast without breaking your budget.

Staycation in Chicago - If an Aspen ski vacation isn't in the cards for you and the family this year - fear not. Try treating the family to a mile high skate at the John Hancock Observatory skating rink on the 94th floor. Tickets $5.00 and $1.00 for skates.

Nix Napa - Can't get too Napa Valley for a wine tasting or cooking lessons? No problem! The always friendly and fun staff at the Chopping Block leads countless cooking classes each month. They will teach you how to be your own semi gourmet chef. Classes start at $45 dollars and you even get to eat what you make!

Romance at Home - Why not pamper your loved one with a romantic date night in. Hire a private chef and pretend there your favorite chef on TV. Private Chef's start at $ 225 in addition to the cost of food and supplies. Most chefs are happy to have input in the menu or can even surprise you if you are feeling adventurous. This is ideal for a date night or a girls/guys night in! I recommend "My Private Chef", ran by Chef Tong.

Traveling on a Budget
- Hire a travel agent - Spending an extra $35-$45 on an expert who will plan the whole trip is definitely worth it. I suggest looking at websites for reviews and making a list of questions and request before meeting with an agent.

- Discount Card - Be sure to check the Visitors or Concierge desk for discount cards. These cards (when available) can help you get discounts at local restaurants, stores and many other places.

- Social Networks - Go on your social networks like Twitter and Facebook to check out where friends and even friends of friends are going and staying. Making plans will commit you to the break and also give you something to look forward to as you deposit your monthly fee in the trip pool.

- Upgrades - Getting an upgrade often only requires a simple request. If that doesn't work, Duke says if your staying at a hotel for more than three days and the hotel is not full they will normally upgrade you. Also, book in the middle of the week so you will not have to pay more on weekends and don't forget your Triple A Card - which can allow for saving 10 percent a day for four days.

-VIP Treatment - One week before you check in call the hotel and have the Concierge make a list of their recommendations and a map of the must see attractions. Also, be sure to tell the concierge if your celebrating a birthday or anniversary - you might get a welcome bottle of champagne and strawberries or a small cake complimentary.

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