Champagne Life, Beer Budget

Tiana Templeman shows Australian Traveller readers the secret to five star travel at three star prices.

In 2003, Tiana Templeman and her husband Trevor won a prize that took them as guests to 13 of the world’s richest and most extravagant hotels. As penniless backpackers trying to blend in with the super-rich, the couple quickly learned how to live the champagne lifestyle on a beer budget. A former secretary of the year and now author of the successful book Absolutely Faking It, Brisbane-born Tiana has attracted the gaze of Hollywood producers looking to adapt her tale to the big screen. For AT readers, she has these tips on cutting corners while planning your next holidays:

1. SPLURGE on a room with a view and call room service to ask for their best china and glassware, then buy wine from the bottle shop, pick up some takeaway and sit back and enjoy the view from your own private restaurant.

2. DROP IN FOR COFFEE or a drink at a posh restaurant. You’ll get the same gorgeous surroundings and it’s cheaper than a meal.

3. STAY AT city hotels on the weekend when business travellers have gone home and visit weekend getaway destinations during the week. The rates are far cheaper and you’re likely to have the place all to yourself.

“Travelling in the off season is a bit of a gamble but – if you’re feeling lucky – the benefits can be enormous.”

4. SKIP the expensive harbour cruise and take a public ferry instead. You’ll enjoy the same stunning views for a fraction of the price.

5. PICK UP divine goodies from the best deli in town, grab some champagne and relax on your picnic blanket near a pricey beachside restaurant where patrons pay plenty for the ambience. You’ll enjoy a casually elegant lunch in spectacular surroundings without the huge price tag.

6. IF YOUR partner travels for business, take a few days off and come along for the ride. Sightsee while they’re at work and enjoy the swanky hotel facilities together at the end of the day. Big companies often pay up to 70 percent less than the standard rack rate so if you can afford it, extend your stay and enjoy a cheap and chic weekend escape before you fly home.

7. CHECK OUT last-minute deals on the internet and check in somewhere luxurious. There are some real bargains to be had, especially if you can travel at short notice.

8. EMPLOY the “book end” theory and spend the first and last night of your holiday somewhere special. Your trip will be off to a memorable start and – even if everything else goes wrong – it’s sure to end on a high note. These two hotels will be remembered long after you’ve forgotten the cheap places you stayed at along the way to make your budget stretch.

9. “ROMANTIC ESCAPE” deals often include extras like complimentary champagne or a buffet breakfast for little more than the cost of the room. Ask about special packages when you call to make a booking.

10. TRAVEL off season and treat yourself to something you couldn’t normally afford. It’s a bit of a gamble but – if you’re feeling lucky – the benefits can be enormous.

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