Online auction buffs can scoop up ultra luxurious accommodations for pennies on the regular price.
TRAVEL ADVISORY | Ever dream of staying at a luxury hotel on a backpacker’s budget? Then Off and Away could be for you. This new hotel room bidding site features only the very best properties with all the luxuries and amenities you could ever dream of. What the site doesn’t have is a price tag.
The concept is simple. Each OffandAway.com bid costs $1 and is purchased in packages of 10 to 500. Auctions start at $0 with no minimum bid. When a bid is placed, the auction price increases by 10 cents, and while auctions run for 18 hours, the real excitement starts when there are only two minutes left, when each bid adds up to 15 seconds on the timer to allow other bidders to respond to your bid. Eventually no one will bid during this 15-second window—bidders will quit or run out of bids—and if you’re the last bidder, the room is yours for the cost of the bids you made plus the auction price, which is always just a fraction of the regular rack rate.
Take a recent auction for two nights at the stunning Salish Lodge near Seattle. The room, which features views of the Snoqualmie River, a two-person oversized jetted tub and crackling wood-burning fireplace, would normally cost $850. A lucky Off and Away user bid just six times before the bidding stopped at $47.80, meaning she won the room for a total of $53.80, or 93.7 percent off.
Not all is lost for those who placed bids but didn’t win the room. They have 30 days to put their used bid credits towards booking a room through Off and Away’s booking service. Prices and room selection here are comparable to other online travel sites.
The bottom line: If you lack time or prefer to know more or less what things cost, OffandAway.com is not for you. But if you’re a determined frugal traveller with a gambling streak, you can save big dollars and might also enjoy playing the odds. —Natasha Muslih
For more on Off and Away visit OffandAway.com
Photo: Salish Lodge, courtesy OffandAway.com