About Me

An avid traveler I have had the good fortune to have spent my career in the travel and vacation industry. From Bali to Copenhagen and all points between is where I have been or intend to go. This blog however is specific to the Western half of the United States as I explore this part of the world.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Exploring the West just got a lot less expensive with the Dream Vacation Network

About 2 months ago I became a member of the Dream Vacation Network, a private access technology platform that offers all sorts of travel options for travelers that enjoy a high level of quality in their travels while seeking the very best deals available. There are a lot of tools for timeshare owners as well but as a non-owner I use it like I would Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia or before DVN, Kayak had become my search engine of choice for travel.

That being said, the savings and availability I have experienced with Dream Vacation Network are unbeatable. As a qualifier I have only booked 4 trips so far but the money I saved essentially made one of the trips free. The first booking was to Anaheim at a boutique hotel next to Disney Land for my wife and my birthday weekend. It was pet friendly though we left our Cockers with friends for this trip. When I first looked up the hotels in the area I did a lot of comparisons between DVN pricing and availability and Kayak, Orbitz, etc. I saved about $15/night over the best rates I could find anywhere else on the web. The Hotel Menage was quite nice and we had a view of the pool and of the Disney fireworks that went off at night. Though I must say, other than the trip up to Solvang, one of the highlights of the trip was a restaurant we discovered called La Vie En Rose. What a spectacular atmosphere, food and service. We were greeted upon arrival by the owner Louis Laulhere who was snappily dressed and greeted us at the foyer with a broad smile and warm welcome. The restaurant felt like it should be in a small village in the french countryside. The food selection, presentation and taste were excellent. We will definitely visit again!

The next trip I booked was for a family friends graduation from Marine Boot Camp at MCRD in San Diego. We stayed at a Doubletree Club Hotel that was very nice and conveniently located near the base. Again I saved roughly 20% on the accommodations and since I drove from Las Vegas did not need a rental car. Since I seem to be on a savings and eating theme, I would have to say that the most enjoyable meal we had while in San Diego was actually in Bonita California at a little hole in the wall seafood spot called TJ's Oyster Bar. Thank God we got there early. There was probably only seating for 20-30 people including tables outside and shortly after our arrival there was a line out the front door and down the sidewalk. I ordered a clam ceviche and a diablo shrimp plate while my wife ordered a garlic shrimp plate. Both were excellent with generous portions and just the right amount of spice. We found this restaurant through trip advisor and the recommendations where spot on.

I booked a trip to Orlando to visit family which since it is in the east I wont spend much time on other than to say DVN really seem to be member focused. While I can book hotels, resorts, car rentals, cruises (haven't tried yet) etc. to book flights you are redirected to a public access website Kayak that searches all the others for the best pricing. The concierge at DVN explained to me that there isn't much margin to discount airlines so it isn't offered directly on the site. However, she explained that I could book the flights on Orbitz for instance and e-mail or fax the itinerary back to DVN and receive one credit for every dollar I spent. I already receive one credit for every dollar I spend on the site itself, but to receive credits for money I didn't spend on the site is a good deal... especially now that I have:

Total Reward Credits: 744

Total Reward Credits Including Pending: 6,795

Including my pending credits I have enough for a weekend car rental. Timeshare owners can deposit their timeshare weeks for credits that can be used to book anything on the site. Having been in the industry for over 15 years you would think that I would own a timeshare but one of the benefits of being in the industry is that I can stay in timeshares as a perk of my occupation.
The last trip I booked was for Scottsdale for which I saved several hundred dollars at a resort that provides free cook to order breakfast and free happy hour. I look forward to heading out there this weekend with my wife though I dread what the temperature will be like. After all it is hot in Vegas but Phoenix will probably be much warmer.
I have to say though that the DVN site really makes me want to do some more traveling, even for weekend getaways. It seems like every week they have multiple super specials like groupon for travel that based on the few comparisons I have done save upwards of $400-$600 for 5-10 day stays which is pretty substantial. Priceline has their negotiator but you have to bid first and hope you get what you want. With DVN all the negotiations have been done ahead of time and I just pick and choose what I want.
Since I just got my Asus transformer tablet from Amazon I can download the app for their MUVE application and manage my account from there!