xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' World Toddler: How to be a 5-Star Cheapskate at a 5-Star Hotel



Friday, May 6, 2016

How to be a 5-Star Cheapskate at a 5-Star Hotel

Even budget travelers sometimes splurge on lodging to have a unique experience. We recently enjoyed such a splurge at Tugu Resort in Lombok, Indonesia. To get there, we took a 30 minute flight from Denpasar, Bali, and then drove 1.5 hours north through rice paddies, past mosques, and over a monkey-forested mountain.

We savored much of what Lombok has to offer tourists right from the hotel beach: incredible sunrises, kayaking from shore, and vibrant coral for snorkeling.

We also visited the nearby Gili Islands, a paradise for honeymooners and backpackers alike, where automobiles and motorbikes are prohibited.

Day Trip to the Gilis

In addition to its incredible setting, the hotel itself was designed and decorated by the owner of the largest Indonesian antiques collection in the world with artifacts from his own collection, giving the hotel the feel of an interactive museum.

Private Villa at Tugu

And did I mention we had a private pool?

Reaching into your travel budget is, in my opinion, worth it for a unique experience that can’t be had more cheaply. The challenge when staying at a high-end hotel, however, especially one as isolated as Tugu, is that the hotel’s other services-- restaurant, laundry, activities-- are usually priced to match the room rates. But just because you splurge on lodging doesn’t mean you want to splurge on everything else. 

What if you want the luxurious, hide-a-way resort experience but don’t want to waste your entire travel budget? Here are 5 tips for  being a 5-star cheapskate at a 5-star hotel:

Breakfast is the most financially important meal of the day. Many resorts offer free breakfast, including coffee, fruit, bread baskets, and a protein-based main course. Few people actually eat such a big spread in the morning. So sip your coffee or tea and fill up on the main course. But ask to bring the bread and fruit (or anything else left over) back to your room. Nibble on your bread and fruit all day, pairing it with a fresh pot of free coffee you can make in your room. Voila! You just ate both breakfast and lunch for free!

Chances are you are not the only cheapskate on the island. Look to your left, look to your right, at least one of the people sitting next to you also hates being charged an arm and a leg to go snorkeling. So make friends with other guests so you can share costs. 
Sydney's New Buddies: Reagan and Riley Ann

At Tugu we made fast friends with a family from North Carolina who are living for four years in Singapore. The family has two sweet little girls who took Sydney under their wings, pushing her on the swing and covering her in sand on the beach, while Nolan and I reveled in the company of other English-speaking adults. One day we split the cost of renting a boat to visit the outer reefs to snorkel and to visit the nearby Gili islands. While cost-cutting wasn’t the reason we made our new friends, it was certainly an added bonus.

Oh the money we have wasted on hotel laundry services! Those clean, white bags folded under your bathroom sink are just so tempting. Put your dirties in and they’ll be returned to you the next day stink-free. In a tropical climate, such as Lombok, where you can sweat through four shirts in an hour, this is a valuable service. But an expensive one, too. So do your own laundry. 

My technique: put the clothes in your bathtub. Fill the tub with hot water and laundry detergent, and then put the clothes through a manual “spin cycle." Be creative here with the tools you use-- umbrellas, wooden spoons-- anything that won’t conduct heat from your wash to you. Now let it sit for a while. Drain the tub and then do a “rinse cycle” with cold water. Now your clothes smells like fresh lilies. 

But how do you dry them? In cold, dry southern Chile, this was easy: just hang everything by the fireplace. In hot, humid Lombok, we ran into some problems. Indeed, at 70% humidity, two day “drying” left our clothes as wet as when I started. I ended up blow drying every article of clothing immediately before wearing it.

Some (such as my husband) might say this is an extreme cost-saving measure; laundry is not a good corner to cut.  But I think there are other extreme cheapskates out there who will understand why it is worth spending hours swishing your clothes around a bathtub with an umbrella and then days trying to dry them for the chance to save a few bucks.

4.  BYOBB (Bring Your Own Boxed Booze)

The biggest up charge at a resort is on alcohol. In a Muslim region like Lombok, it is particularly difficult to find booze, which hotel prices reflect. At the same time, when stranded in a remote Indonesian village, there’s not much to do after you tuck in your toddler other than have a couple glasses of wine. So bring your own. We prefer the boxed varietal, because it is less likely to open up in your suitcase, is cheap, and lasts the longest.

In Asia, Cup ‘O Noodles are not just limited to soups. There is everything from shrimp-flavored noodle cups to chicken-flavored rice cups. A Cup O’ Noodles-rich diet may lead to high blood pressure and heart disease, but is surprisingly delicious and easy to make. To cook, just add hot water, which you can make in your handy hotel-provided hot pot. For less than $1 USD, you can feed the whole family. 
Luxurious Bed. Cheap Dinner.

Follow these simple tips and you, too, can be a 5-star cheapskate at a 5-star hotel.

1 comment:

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