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Cheap Suites
by Rick Doble

You've been looking forward to that winter vacation in the Caribbean for months.

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You see a great rate at a hotel on the island of your dreams. You get a room with a dazzling view of the ocean. You swim in the pool, relax in the sun and pat yourself on the back for being so clever.

Leisurely sipping a rum by the pool, you talk to other guests. It turns out that you are paying more a lot more than some guests who are enjoying the same luxuries.

So how come your deal wasn't as good as you thought?

Most likely the other guests bargained directly with the hotel. When it comes to hotels and motels, they expect you to do a little haggling.

Hotels only make money when their rooms are occupied. One day the place could be full, the next day empty. And on quiet days you should be able to strike a really good bargain.

How great a deal can you get? I was able to get a suite at an ocean resort with an indoor pool during off-season for $29 a night. I thought this was a fluke until I got low-priced suites at two different hotels.

In the U.S. we are used to fixed prices and have never learned what our grandparents knew, which was to haggle a bit. If you feel a bit shy about asking, use this simple phrase: "Would you take less?"

New cars, used cars, homes, hotels, just about anything from a private party or dealer, can be bargained for. You can even dicker with large discount stores on occasion.

The key is that you have to ask.

At a major national chain bookstore, I found one slightly worn copy of a book I wanted. At the checkout counter, I asked if I could get a discount since the book was in such bad shape. The clerk checked her inventory and found that this was the only copy in stock. "We'll let you have it for 10 percent off," she said.

Rick Doble is Editor & Publisher of

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