Protea Hotels

As most South Africans are wondering how 2013 has gone so quickly, thoughts at this time of year are turning towards that desperately needed December break and what to do when work and school let out for the summer.

We’ve been conditioned in recent years – with all the belt tightening – to hang on to the very last minute before booking anything because “that’s when all the best deals are to be found”, but that’s not necessarily the correct approach, says Nicholas Barenblatt, Group Marketing Manager of the Protea Hospitality Group.

He says depending on where you holiday and how you travel, most hospitality and airline companies will reward you generously if you book long enough in advance.

“As a matter of course people booking well in advance of their stay will get a significantly lower rate than those booking last minute at Protea Hotels and African Pride Hotels because that’s how our rate structure works, and it’s the same with plane tickets. They cost a lot less a month in advance than they do the day before you need the ticket. That very last room or plane seat will be sold at a premium.”

Barenblatt says this year has been economically challenging with fuel prices reaching record highs and food costs increasing on the back of the transport increases.

“We know that people have felt the crunch and that’s one of the reasons we decided to run a promotion this summer of a 20% saving on rooms if travellers book a month or more ahead of their stay. It makes a big difference to accommodation spend, especially if you’re travelling as a family, and puts more spending money in your pocket.”

Barenblatt says hotels in the coastal cities are already filling up in the peak December 15 to January 10 period.

“If you don’t have children of school-going age, though, it’s a good idea to holiday in the first two weeks of December and the latter part of January when popular destinations such as Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth are less crowded.

“Not everyone wants to be in the midst of a constant ‘buzz’, so taking an early or late break means more space on the beach or easily being able to find a lounger alongside the hotel pool.”

Barenblatt urged people who still haven’t planned their summer break to research destinations now and book early, because all too often the last minute breaks cost far more than good planning ahead of time