Wes Moss: Relax and save with a staycation

Last week, CNBC reported that summer rentals in the Hamptons are going for $1 million. That’s $1 million just for the summer. For a rental. That’s almost $10,000 a day. And, no, utilities are not included. Imagine the A/C bills in August for these 14,000 to 18,000 square foot houses!!

Not many of us can afford a million dollar vacation. Heck, a week at the beach can be a stretch in these still-tenuous times. But that doesn’t mean we have to endure the indignities of an at- home “stay-cation .” Ugh! What if you split the difference by taking a vacation right here in town? Make a trip to Midtown, Buckhead or downtown, and be a tourist in your own city.

Think of it: No cabs or MARTA to the airport. No airfare to Miami or Nantucket. No five- to six-hour drive to the Gulf Coast or Sea Island. No cottage rentals on the lake in Michigan, like I have done nearly every summer for a week.

You’re just going to stay here … in Atlanta. In the city, in a hotel. Not a staycation in your house – that doesn’t count. You won’t actually feel rested or feel like you’ve gotten away. In order to qualify as a vacationer, you need to get away from your usual surroundings. You have to escape the phone, your cable box, your internet connection, your yard, dirty dishes and chores. So don’t try this at home; it won’t work.

This weekend, the producer of Money Matters opted to stay right here in town and forgo a trip to Miami. He loved it, and loved the cost, as well. Here’s what to do and how you’ll save:

Where to Stay: One place to start – The W Atlanta Midtown. Our producer, Ryan, stayed for $137 per night. He had a fantastic room, access to a pool, maid service and movies on demand. And he got away – completely – from his normal routine. Savings? A lot. Most high-end hotel rooms go for $300 and up a night during the week when they are full of business travelers and conference goers. [Bargain Hunter note: The W Atlanta Downtown offers GA residents a “lucky local” deal of 20 percent off the lowest room rates. Give code SETGAR when booking online or by phone and have a state driver’s license or ID at check-in.]

Transportation: Guess what? You’re in Midtown, and there are dozens of awesome restaurants and activities within walking distance. That means no cabs, no gas and no MARTA. Cost: Free. (Except for your daily parking at the hotel.) But the big deal here is the money you save on plane tickets and parking at the airport. This can be anywhere from $200 to $800 per person.

Where to eat? Totally up to you. Looking for a burger at a bargain? Try the Nook; it’s a stone’s throw from the W. Want to get trendy? Try the filet at STK. A good place for drinks? Try TAP on the corner of Peachtree and 14th. A pescaterian? One of my favorites – Lure. Total cost per meal: From $25 to $75 per couple. Of course, you would spend a similar amount on any vacation, but because you’ve already saved hundreds on travel and accommodations, you can get dessert.

This all adds up to an easy and relaxing vacation. And, compared to a summer in the Hamptons, you’ve just saved yourself a million bucks.

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