May 15 2007 Budget Travel Newsletter
Speaking to the Hotel Directly May Save You Money
A recent experience with the Westin hotel chain led to a phone call and a substantially cheaper room rate than what was obvious on the hotel's website.
Just last week I was in Ottawa, Canada's capital city. We stayed at the Westin in downtown Ottawa, and enjoyed every minute of it. The Westin chain is certainly not "budget" but we felt we got luxury and value at the same time. The price was right, thanks to a deal we lucked into over the phone, as described in the article.
If you are planning a quick getaway in Canada, remember that in many places the Monday before May 25th is a statutory holiday. (It's not so in the Atlantic provinces). It's still called Victoria Day - the day when Queen Victoria's birthday was officially celebrated during her lifetime. Now that Queen Victoria is no longer with us, Victoria Day is when we celebrate the birthday of the present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. When I was a child we called this day "Firecracker Day". It was our equivalent of what the Americans have on July 4th, though not quite such a big blowout.
Mainly what we Canadians will be celebrating on the upcoming long weekend (May 21st is the Monday holiday this year) is the end of winter. We think it might be safe to plant our gardens now and keep our tomato plants out overnight.
This is the weekend when many seasonal tourist attractions begin their summer operating hours. Places which closed for the winter should be open again. In some cases, especially the smaller attractions, they may be open on weekends only during May and June, as Canadian children are still in school until late June. July and August are the big tourist months when most attractions try to open seven days a week. Of course, it varies from place to place, but these are the general rules of thumb for a Canadian summer.
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