For many young travelers, luxury hotels, resorts, retreats, safaris, and cruises are out of the question. I’m sure many of us would go if we could easily afford it, but $400/night vacations just aren’t in our budgets. That is, until private online travel sale websites began popping up. They’re free to use, and they offer killer limited-time offers on high-end travel.
A few years ago, private sale websites arrived for the fashion industry. Sites such as Gilt Groupe, Rue La La, Haute Look, and ideeli sprung up, all of which are invite-only. Every day, each site features private sales with extremely deep discounts on posh clothing, shoes, and accessories from several designers (some small and up-and-coming, others huge names like Salvatore Ferragamo and Marc Jacobs). Over time, Rue La La and ideeli began offering occasional sales for furniture, kitchenware, and other-non fashion items. Then, Rue La La introduced travel sales here and there, which were usually stays at hotels or resorts, and ideeli later followed.
Gilt Groupe opened up a sister site, Jetsetter, that was the same concept but only for travel. Several new travel-only private sale sites have popped up since. All of these sites offer high-end travel experiences or lodgings at significantly discounted prices, usually 50% off or more. Some simply offer a room at a chic boutique hotel at an affordable price, while others offer deals on suites or villas at lodgings at a property where most people could normally only afford a regular room. There are sometimes sales for packaged experiences that would normally be too expensive for many travelers.
All of the sites do a great job of providing detailed photos and descriptions of the experience or lodgings, in addition to itineraries or recommended flights, if appropriate. The websites each only have a few sales each day, so they hand-pick their offerings, making sure they are high quality.
Below are the three of these invite-only, travel-only sites that I’m aware of. I actually haven’t booked anything yet on any of these travel sites, though I have made purchases on several of the fashion sites. While being a member is free, to keep all of these private sales exclusive, you can only join these sites if you are referred from a friend. I’m a member of all of the fashion and travel sites mentioned in this post, so if you want to join any of them, email me at emily [at] maiden-voyage-travel [dot] com, and I’ll hook you up.
As mentioned, Jetsetter is owned by the same folks who run Gilt Groupe. They specialize in sales for experiential travel; I have seen packages for African safaris, Balinese health retreats, New York tennis camps, Costa Rica surf schools, and more. They also have many sales for stays at high-end hotels in major U.S. and European cities. There are usually two or three sales starting each day, and each sale is open from five to seven days.
Voyage Privé calls their specials “flash sales,” and they post several new ones each day. The flash sales last for five days each unless they sell out first. I have seen them offer several luxury cruises, including ones in China, South America, and the Caribbean. They have many sales for rooms at luxurious hotels in European cities, plus beach resorts in places like Mauritius, Hawaii, and the Dominican Republic. They also feature accommodations in large U.S. cities.
I just found out about SniqueAway and joined the other day. It is owned by Smarter Travel Media—a TripAdvisor Media Group company—and all hotels featured on SniqueAway have earned a minimum four-star rating classification and four out of five review ratings on TripAdvisor. I’m not surprised that more mainstream travel brands have hopped on board with this concept, similar to how sale sites like Groupon are taking off. SniqueAway offers about three new sales a day, called “escapes,” and each sale lasts up to seven days or until it sells out. Some of the sales I have seen so far are a retreat in Trinidad & Tobago, a hotel in Portugal, a beach club in Curacao, a hotel in Providence, RI, and a beach resort in South Carolina.
Have you ever used one of these private sale sites?