Cabin fever had already driven me to the brink of delirium well before #SnowJam2014 slammed into my southern city, Atlanta. On that fateful night of January 28th, as my bedraggled husband collapsed into bed after opting to trudge a few miles through the snow rather than remain in his car a moment longer, I served him a hot toddy and declared, “Hun, we need a weekend away, PRONTO!”
Our February wedding anniversary was approaching, the stars aligned and the childcare gods smiled, so we began a quest for last-minute travel plans within our budget … Oh, the budget. Always the boil on Cupid’s butt. With all the scheduling logistics falling into place, I thought for certain the pesky budget would be the piece of this puzzle lost in the sofa. Recently, though, I’d received some PR info about a hotel booking site called TravelPony and decided to check it out, as the lure of prices lower than those found on any other travel site out there was too tempting to overlook (yes, lower than the big boys: Priceline, Orbitz, Hotwire, Expedia, etc).
TravelPony.com gathers the best prices for a variety of hotel rooms and uses social media sharing as its only advertising tool (which means all the costs associated with typical marketing get passed onto us as added savings). To access the discounted rates, you need to be become a member, but it’s free — TravelPony just needs you to sign up with an email and password, or join through your Facebook profile. Members are encouraged to tell friends about their travel deals via social media as a way to help TravelPony grow and, thus, provide even more travel deals. The site allows you to search for a destination city and travel date and then pulls up a list of properties partnering for a deal at that time. Hotels fall into either the “Standard” or “Upscale” category and sort out by percentage of savings.
Since our trip was totally last minute, I decided to focus on a destination within driving distance. No airline expenses adding to the tab or delayed flights ruining our weekend. While TravelPony doesn’t yet have properties in every city (the company just launched in summer of 2013), I wondered what the site had to offer in Charleston, SC. What a perfect romantic excursion — history, atmosphere, architecture, food, all in an easy, five-hour drive.
I logged onto the site and created my free account and linked to my Facebook account for sharing. Then, I selected our travel dates on the calendar and scrolled through the Charleston listings. Wait, what? Major savings at The Charleston Place hotel?* No, that can’t be right! That’s a romantic, luxury hotel … an Orient Express property right in the best part of Charleston. Let me refresh the page and check again … “Okay,” I thought, “No freakin’ way,” and I immediately called my husband. Here’s my half of the conversation that ensued:
Yes, I’m sure that price is right. I just checked it three times.
Yes, I’ve checked the prices on the other travel savings sites and this is the cheapest …
I know, Hun, I love you, too.
Look at how happy those people are in the picture. They have champagne and they’re relaxed and their children are no where near them.
Well, yes, the hotel is child-friendly, but we are not bringing ours. We can drink more than champagne if they aren’t with us.
Shut the beautifully-polished front door. This site is for real. Real savings.
I checked out the prices on some other sites and TravelPony’s was the clear winner. I had no problem blabbing all over social media about this deal: “Look at us friends, we are headed to Charleston and TravelPony made it possible for us to stay in grand style!”
Room reserved. Bags packed.*Coincidentally, I first found out about The Charleston Place on StyleBlueprint’s weekend getaway post about Charleston in 2012, before I was even writing for this publication — full circle moment.
We waltzed into that gorgeous Charleston Place lobby with its sweeping staircase and glistening chandelier and checked into an equally lovely room, as classically stylish as the city itself. Such exquisite accommodations provided the perfect backdrop for our anniversary weekend excursion. Situated ideally in the heart of downtown Charleston, the hotel location put us in walking distance of the city highlights and the concierge could put together almost any kind of itinerary desired.
We enjoyed a carriage ride through the oldest streets of the city, toured a few historic homes (including a side trip out to Middleton Place Plantation), sauntered through the Straw Market and shopped the length of King Street. Oh, and we ate … and ate, and ate … and drank, and then ate some more. If I ever moved to Charleston, I’d require an entire new wardrobe of elastic-waist pants.
Some of our our picks that weekend:
- Drinks: The Market Pavillion Rooftop Bar, The Gin Joint, The Bar at Husk, Charleston BeerWorks
- Dine: The Charleston Grill, Hominy Grill, High Cotton, The Grocery
We cannot wait to go back, and we will be checking TravelPony first for any future hotel needs. It’s a fun little treasure hunt to see what discount they’re presenting and where, and those deals can be huge.
Thanks, TravelPony, and Charleston … you’re holding a bit of my heart.
If you want to find great savings for your next trip, try www.travelpony.com.