Checked Out – Now Back In California

I am on a lonely road and I am traveling,

traveling, traveling, traveling,

Looking for something, what can it be?


    All I Want –  Joni Mitchell


Mt. Shasta, California view from I-5 near Dunsmuir

Mt. Shasta, California view from I-5 near Dunsmuir


I heard a blogger panelist at BlogWorld08 in Las Vegas tell bloggers never to apologize for not blogging.  I’m not apologizing – just writing.


I was on the Family and Friends plan this past week over the Thanksgiving holidays.  I have hotel reviews, stories, and photos from Las Vegas for Loyalty Traveler December blog posts.  There are still several pieces of the Vancouver, Washington, Oregon, and California trip I want to finish writing and posting to this blog. 

I drove around the western states for most of November.  It has been 12 years since I did serious road travel.  My realization this past month is writing as a road warrior is much more difficult than writing when flying the friendly skies.  Piloting and navigating a car takes a lot more physical and mental energy than being a high flyer drifting between airports penning thoughts.

Most of my November days were used seeing hotels (about 25 hotels or so), staying in hotels (11 stays), and driving between hotels (3,500 miles).  Gas dropped from $2.94 to $1.81 over a three week period of driving around California and the west.  Hotel prices also dropped by 35% in many locations from the time I started looking in mid-October/early-November to when I was booking rooms during November.  Airfares for domestic December holiday travel are some of the lowest fares I recall seeing in the past 7 years.

The new Starwood Luxury Collection hotel, the Nines Portland, Oregon has dropped rates as low as $149 for Christmas week.  This is 40% less than lowest rates were 30 days ago.  Recently opened hotels like the InterContinental Monterey are currently offering abnormally low rates like $117 per night (AAA rate) for an upscale hotel in a resort destination.

I was checking Denver hotel rates for stays around Christmas week and the Hyatt Regency and Grand Hyatt in downtown Denver are only $70 a night.  I am astonished and thankful.  Hyatt Gold Passport Faster Free Nights makes hotel rates this low essentially freebies.  A Hyatt Gold Passport member can stay upscale in downtown Denver at economy hotel room rates and redeem luxury hotel nights in a place like Scottsdale’s Hyatt Gainey Ranch Resort or a Park Hyatt for free during winter 2009.

I think we have about two to three weeks before the 2009 hotel promotions appear on the web to try and stimulate the hotel economy.  Hotels are mirroring the national economy in needing a jump-start to keep rooms occupied in 2009. 

Hotel industry news throughout November has repeatedly shown occupancy declines, luxury and upscale hotel market room rate cuts, and average room rate declines across the USA, although Texas hotel rates are rising at the moment. Forecasts offer an even bleaker 2009 hotel industry scenario.  Projects like the St. Regis Las Vegas and new Starwood hotels in Macau are postponed indefinitely.   

Much of the hotel industry occupancy projections in 2008 and into 2009 were based on increased international visitors to the USA.  The dollar was weak and the British pound and Euro were strong and made the USA a bargain destination.  Many international currencies have lost 20% to 30% of their value against the dollar since September and the likelihood of large increases in the numbers of international visitors to the USA has diminished.  The Mexican peso and Canadian dollar have plummeted against the US Dollar taking away the financial incentive and the financial resources for USA travel from our top two sources of international visitors. 

Time-Rich, Job Poor?  Go Travel!

Work interferes with seeing the world.  This is a great time to travel and see the world.

There are travel deals all around.  Last week, Holland America offered an inside cabin for $1,025 per person on a 16-day San Diego to Fort Lauderdale cruise via the Panama Canal.  A 16-day cruise for $2,050 all-in, including the fuel surcharges for sailing next week December 7.  $125 per day for a room, entertainment and recreational activities, and all the food you can eat is a great deal. 


About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

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