$7 Bottles of Water: Refreshing Or In Bad Taste?

Have you ever been desperate enough to pay $7 for a bottle of water in a hotel room? I drink tap water in any country where it’s safe and stockpile store-bought water in countries like Mexico, where it isn’t, so I never really get caught needing to pay extortionate prices for bottled water or anything else from hotel minibars.

Last week, I stayed at the Marriott Fallsview Hotel in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and, although I enjoyed my stay, I couldn’t help but wonder – who pays the $6.95 they charge for the bottles of Aquafina water they place in the room?

It wouldn’t be priced as such if no one were buying it, right?
Someone at Marriott who sits in a nice office with plush furniture must have decided that $6.95 – not $4.95 or $5.95 – was the optimal price for this item at this location.

Clearly people on expense accounts or the ultra rich might not balk at the price. And I’m not a “skip lunch because there are children starving in Africa” kind of guy, but with 40% of the world’s population living on less than $2 per day, I don’t think I could bring myself to engage in this sort of little extravagance – definitely not in a city where millions of gallons of water are literally gushing over Niagara Falls.

Where (Not) To Go To Save Money This Summer

I unintentionally chose one of most expensive weekends of the year (Memorial Day) to visit the country’s most expensive destination. Whoops.

According to a new survey from Cheap Hotels, Newport, Rhode Island, is the United States’ most expensive destination in terms of hotel costs (one of the famed mansions is shown at right).

The survey compared hotel rates for all destinations in the U.S. for the period of June through August 2012. The rankings were determined based on the cost of each location’s cheapest available double room (only hotels above two-star ratings were considered). As such, it reflects the minimum amount travelers will have to spend to stay at a certain destination.

I learned this the hard way – even tiny bed and breakfasts that looked, in my mind, decent, were $300 or more per night. In fact, the exact average is $319 and the high-end hotels were running closer to $1,000 per night.

At this price tag, the Rhode Island resort scene is living up to its nickname, “Queen of the Summer Resorts,” coming in significantly higher than the runners up: coastal California’s Santa Monica and Napa Valley’s Calistoga. In comparison, visitors to these second- and third-place finishers will have to pay at least $287 and $285 respectively for a double room this summer.
Martha’s Vineyard, the affluent Massachusetts island located south of Cape Cod, ranks as the fourth most expensive U.S. destination, with an average overnight price of $275. The Massachusetts cities of Cambridge, Boston and Provincetown also landed prominently in the Top 10.

On the bright side, we had fun? If you’re visiting one of these destinations this summer, here are five money saving tips you might not have considered:

1. Pick a place with at least one meal included. Our hotel in Newport had a rather hefty breakfast spread each morning.
2. Opt for somewhere central. Sure, it’s less expensive to stay a bit outside of town, but if you’re constantly schlepping back and forth and looking for a place to park, your cab fees or parking costs may negate your thrifty hotel purchase.
3. Book early. Yes, hotels are sometimes known to drop rates at the last minute or place discounted rooms on sites like Hotel Tonight, but just as many offer early-purchase promotions of 15 to 30 percent off the average daily rate.
4. Consider a suite. You’ll not only have more living space, but many offer pull-out beds, which can save those traveling with kids or a group from buying an extra room.
5. Know where to splurge. This may sound counter intuitive, but planning out where you want to spend your money pre-trip can actually save you. Want to visit the aquarium or that fancy steak place? Great – now you know not to blow $15 on coffee and muffins each morning. Factor that in times two, for four days and you have your steak dinner.