If you’re up for an adventure then skip the hotel, forget Airbnb and look up Hovelstay. The founders of this site aren’t pulling any punches; they intend to find college students the cheapest and most adventurous places to rest their head.
“We really are setting out to be the anti-luxury market. The more realistic and true to life is what we want,” said CEO Michael Bolger.
Too often hotels oversell what they are offering. “Next to the word love, the most abused word in the dictionary is luxury,” said Bolger. “We undersell it for the sake of reality.”
Simple and rugged accommodations are part of Hovelstay’s appeal. So called ‘Hovels’ on the company’s website are categorized as “Clean and Comfortable,” “Good Enough,” and “Survivor Hovels.” Fittingly, a hovel is defined as “a small, wretched, and often dirty house” by Merriam-Webster dictionary. Currently the site lists accommodations such as a ‘Half Completed Tree House’ in Los Angeles, a ‘Bamboo Bungalow’ in Hawaii, and an 18 foot yurt in Slab City, California.
Bolger’s favorite lodging sums up the site’s offerings quite well. “There’s a hammock within walking distanced of the beach in Costa Rica,” said Bolger. “Bathroom and kitchen privileges are included.”
By embracing rough and ragged accommodations Hovel is asking its customers to embrace a sense of adventure. In fact, that is part of what Bolger believes is driving the company’s success. “We really did start this out as sort of a joke and we knew college students would be in on the joke,” said Bolger.
Apparently more than college students love the idea. Hovelstay has been fielding lots of phone calls and emails from people beyond college, including a large number of baby boomers who want to get in on the fun.
If mountaineering, white river rafting, and cliff jumping are more your type of fun then Adventure Link is a great place to start. Founder Kelly Tompkins was inspired to create the company while on a bike ride in the West Indies. Inspired by the country roads and gospel music wafting out of the local churches, Tompkins realized he had found something that no guide book would lead him too. From that moment, Adventure Link was born.
“We want to make it as easy to book an adventure trip as it is to reserve a flight or hotel room today,” said Tompkins in a statement. The adventures offered by Adventure Link typically involve a fair amount of exercise, but not always. Adventure categories include “physical activities, cultural exchanges, volunteering, health and wellbeing, spirituality, and nature trips.”
To date, over 10,000 trips to 160 countries have been taken via Adventure Link. And while sites like Expedia, Hotels.com and Travelocity may have killed the travel agency as we know it, Adventure Link shows how technology combined with travel agency know-how can create a unique experience. The sort of experiential, handcrafted, not-for-the-masses adventures that Adventure Link specializes in is very much the future of the travel industry.
Luxury Link is an online site that curates luxury, boutique hotels and vacation experiences like river cruises and spa retreats and offers consumers packages for purchase at significant value,” said CEO Scott Morrow. Think of the site like Expedia, except the locations are more plush and exotic.
Several notable vacation packages include a private one-cabin luxury yacht cruise in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia, a stay in an abandoned ancient stone village carved into a cliff in Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita, Matera, Italy, and an Arabian-inspired resort called Selman Marrakech in Marrakech, Morocco.
What the site is really good at is offering up “luxury accommodations at steep discounts,” said Morrow. To that point, there are even a handful of packages under $100 per night, including resorts on the beach in India and a hotel in Casablanca, Morocco.
Already a clean and easy website layout, the company plans to refashion the website to a responsive design soon. Additionally, Luxury Link is working on a “service-oriented architecture based on APIs, which will allow us to syndicate our partner inventory to third-party publishers and increasing exposure and transactions for our hotel clients,” said Morrow. The API should help the company add additional travel services like car rentals and travel insurance. Luxury Link is also expanding their geographical footprint, so expect to find more luxurious experiences extending to the far reaches of the earth.
This app tracks what you like locally, so it can find what you’d likely enjoy while you travel. Yeti is a new app from the team behind At The Pool. Originally, Yeti was intended to be an updated feature for At The Pool, but then the team realized the feature they were updating was popular enough to be a stand-alone app. Yeti works a lot like Tinder, except it is for places rather than people. By swiping right for approval and left for disapproval on places, like restaurants, site seeing hotspots, or coffee shops, Yeti learns what you love and serves up more of it.
“Yeti is a local recommendation engine,” said CEO Alex Capecelatro to us in an earlier interview. According to Capecelatro that is needed because “Text based search engines are a hassle and take a lot of time, and Google brings too many results.”
“It is a really smart recommendation platform that can learn about the user and tell them about things around you,” said Capecelatro. “If we learned you hate sushi we are going to show less of that and if you love coffee shops we will show you more of that.”
Yeti does a good job of connecting the dots between what you already love and what you’re likely to love. For a traveler looking to quickly find a good coffee shop or site seeing destination, Yeti is ready to match.
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