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South American hotel discounts?


iahphx
By iahphx,
in

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OK, I need to tap the board braintrust again. We've found lots of useful discount hotel sites for Europe, and there are certainly a number of them for Asia and the Pacific. But what about Latin America -- a so far Priceline-less destination?

I'm specifically looking at Argentina right now, but I'm curious about other South American countries, too. Last year in Chile I used a local travel agency that uses the gotolatin.com URL, and I would recommend them -- although their discounts were better on internal air reservations than on hotels (they basically got me the local airline deals that aren't loaded in the big CRS systems). They seem to have an Argentine affiliate, too, but that site isn't as well developed as the Chilean one.

The last time I was going to Buenos Aires, about 4 years ago, I simply went to the websites of each hotel I was interested in (almost all had English pages) and looked for "promotions." Those rates were generally lower than through any booking service. This may still be the best way today.

Every country is a little different when it comes to travel discounts.

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Prices in Argentina have gone down A LOT since 4 years, I'm happy to report. What used to cost $100 back then can be had for around $60-70 now. Last time I was there we talked to a girl at the hotel information counter at the arrivals area at the airport and she had some REALLY good deals on last minute hotels. We stayed at a Best Western that we had purchased on Expedia.com for $73, and she was selling it for $55 + a $5 booking fee... I don't know if you're willing to chance it and wait for something like that, but it's an option if you don't have anything by the time you get there... Cabs are still expensive though! Somewhere around $30 to get into town...

DeltaPurser

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Oh. My. Gosh.

I'm stalking you AGAIN, iahphx. I've got an AANYC voucher and I'm thinking of going next March.

Maybe I should just turn myself in to the police :)

Another place you can try is www.argentina.com - I saw some deals there on the Kempenski among other places.

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Those hrs prices are pretty much "average", Will Travel. Argentina is a cheap country these days.

I still haven't found any great discount travel sites, and they simply may not exist. A lot of people seem to hook up with a well regarded local travel agent, as the weak peso down there makes it easy to pay for more personal service. I've had some communication with wowArgentina.com, and they seem to have received rave reviews from many web travellers. They recommend the Argenta Tower in Buenos Aires, which they offer to their clients for US$75. Apparently it is wise to ignore the "star system" of hotel rankings, as there are some 5 star hotels that are really 2 or 3 star, etc.

For folks making their own internal flight arrangements, it seems to pay to look at the Southern Winds website (in english), which offers foreigners good deals if they pay in pesos. It's little more than $100 roundtrip to fly from BA to Iguazu, which I would highly recommend to folks who haven't been there.

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I'll let you know in a few months. :<)

From my past experience, I would say Buenos Aires was safer than an American city but not quite as safe as a European one. Since their latest round of economic troubles began a few years ago, I have heard that crime has increased somewhat, but that things seem to be getting better now as their economy improves.

That said, BA appears to be more than safe enough to visit, and one need only exercise reasonable prudence. Like in Europe, your biggest risk seems to be non-violent crime, like pickpocketing. I have read of a few incidents of "the mustard trick" where somebody splashes some foul substance on you on the street and then rushes to clean it up while "cleaning out" your valuables.

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  • 1 month later...

I thought I'd add a letter from a friend's brother who goes to South America often, and here's what he recommended about safety, travel agents and a side trip to Iguazu Falls.

The good news is, Argentina is on the economic rebound. The safety issues in

BA have faded somewhat, so I don't see a safety issue as before. Keep in mind that this is a highly educated middle class country that sort of experienced what we did in 1929. As far as global terrorism goes, southern South America is much safer than Europe now. Not many Americans go to Argentina or Brazil!

Just like any major cosmo city (which is decidedly more European than South American) there are good sections and bad sections.  It's not a bad idea to establish the safety net of a tour, which gives you "ground support" if you go off on your own. I set it up so someone greets me at the airport, takes me to my hotel and I work with him/her to set up tours.  This way, you can work around a skeleton framework, where you have the safety of support whenever you need it, and the independence to do whatever you want, whenever you want. I can't recommend  YesTravel  enough.  They used to specialize in just Brazil, but now cover Argentina as well.  Their website has some great pics. They are out of Miami, and I use them all the time.  They cater to a very diverse crowd, are very inexpensive and very helpful.  All of the staff there is good, but Basilio Alvarez is especially good.

Don't know when your friend wants to go, but keep in mind the reversal of

seasons, and the reversal of the rule that the further south you go, the

warmer it is.  Rio in June (winter) was often rainy and 70 degrees in the day, 60 at night. Buenos Aires, being 1200 miles or so to the south of Rio, would be like Atlanta in the winter. In the 60s daytime, sweaters at night, too cool to swim except in a heated pool. If you hate the stifling humid heat though, it's perfect then!

Iguassu Falls.    YES!  See both sides, both the Argentine and Brazilian. It's one of the most beautiful sights in the world. Makes Niagara Falls look like a small sewer. It's also warmer up there in the winter.

6-7 days for a visit is fine.  Figure on 11 hours from New York to BA, but virtually no time change, especially in our summer/their winter. 3-4 days in BA, internal flight to Iguazu for 2 days.  From there, it might be more efficient to take Varig to Sao Paulo then onto Miami, NYC or LA. (Brazil requires a visa, but not for just transit (changing planes.))

For the record, I have no affiliation with the outfit he recommends and haven't yet used them myself, but I'll certainly look into them.

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I've been planning a trip with Cynthia of Wow! Argentina in BA and she seems quite knowledgable and helpful. Many folks have recommended her and, so far, I can tell why.

If you're doing any flying around Argentina, make sure you look at the Southern Winds website. It is in English. Unlike Aerolineas Argentinas, Southern Winds will sell foreigners tickets at the "locals" rate. You just need to buy them from a local travel agent, like Cynthia. I've heard good things about Southern Winds, and you can get a roundtrip ticket to pretty much anywhere in the country for little more than 100 US dollars.

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  • 1 month later...

Was in B.A. 15 months ago for 2 weeks. I felt very safe. Going back next Feb or Mar. Cops are all over and they are on the watch. There are beggers, but most do not approach you. And I walked all over the city.

It is more like a European city, albeit less affluent. But costs are about 1/2 or less than Europe. A very good, but not super deluxe hotel (not an American biggie) will cost about $50-65 per night, downtown area. A steak dinner about $5 - 7. Taxis are cheap, but distance to airport is about 15 miles or more - so a bit expensive. You can arrance a private car for about same price thru the Web sites.

I may have a good deal for flights to B.A., if interested.

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  • 4 months later...

I'm resurrecting this thread 'cause I just redeemed my AANYC voucher to go in April. Not a bad deal, I flew to California twice last winter on American - total cost about $375 and got the two flights (to SAN and SFO) 10000 butt-in-seat miles, gold status (through a challenge), 5000 bonus miles from AA (FLY04 bonus), 2500 bonus miles from e-rewards, 2000 miles online booking bonus and a ticket to Buenos Aires. And I upgraded to Business SFO-JFK for $75. That's got to be one of the best travel deals I've ever had.

In all cases, if anyone went to Argentina, how was the hotel situation? Is there any place you'd recommend staying? I'm looking at the Howard Johnson downtown, but unsure whether I should stay right downtown or Recoleta.

A perfect place for me would have free or low-cost internet access and a fitness center onsite.

If anyone woulod like to recommend guide services or other tips, please feel free. I'm really excited to go - and probably also going to Iguazu Falls as well.

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For hotels in Buenos Aires or elsewhere in Argentina I've used GoArgentina.net with good results.

I spend winters in BsAs, and I prefer to stay in Retiro or Recoleta. It's close enough to centro, but without most of the usual downtown distractions and diversions. Recoleta vs. centro is comparable to the difference between the Upper East Side vs. Times Square in NYC.

There are a myriad of hotel choices in BsAs that cost a fraction of their counterparts in similar cosmopolitan cities around the globe, esp. Europe. Depending on your budget, you could choose to stay at a grand hotel, such as the Marriott at Plaza San Martin for $108 USD (incl. taxes, s/c's and breakfast) or the more pedestrian Victory Hotel nearby for $26 USD (incl. taxes, s/c's and breakfast).

Going to Iguazu can be done using travel agents such as Asatej. They have a web presence as well as bricks and mortar outlets in BsAs. Be aware that any package involving Aerolineas Argentinas will price higher than one using Southern Winds as AA uses a 2 tier pricing system, one for porte

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The NYTimes just did an article last weekend on Buenos Aires.

http://travel2.nytimes.com/2004/12/12/trav...%2FBuenos+Aires

My own advice is to stay in Recoleta and, when travelling around Argentina, book at the Southern Winds website and avoid the gringo markup at Aerolineas.

There are many other tips available at the Buenos Aires thread on flyertalk.com (just do a search on that site to find it).

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Just wanted to thank flyme2 and LoneStar for their responses.

I'm also a member at Flyertalk and have been researching there - there's great information.

I've narrowed down to a few places, and I'm just trying to make final decisions. My one question is it looks like I can get a very good deal on the Sol Melia, or stay at the Etoile, which looks a bit more tired but in Recoleta rather than Catalinas.

Go for location or amenities?

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  • 3 months later...

I'm staying in Recoleta (technically Barrio Norte, but right on the edge of Recoleta) at present. It was the right choice.

If people are interested, I'm doing a travelogue of my stay - www.leighwitchel.com/blog . If it's no longer on the top, do a category search for Buenos Aires. This is an amazing place, but things do not usually go as planned.

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