Think you can't afford a trip this summer? If you've got the time, these hot spots have got the deals.
In addition to the overplayed staycation, the economic downturn has spawned another travel trend: hot vacation destinations groveling for guests. "This is a banner summer for leisure travel," says Tom Botts, a partner at the Hudson Crossing travel advisory firm in New York City. "Airfares aren't going to reach the summer premiums we're used to seeing." So if you can swing a trip this season, you'll get a lot for your money. Here are a few suggestions on where to find deals.
HAPPIEST SAVINGS ON EARTH? FIVE DAYS AT DISNEYLAND
The Orange County theme park is offering unprecedented peak-season packages: In one, you can book five nights for the price of three at more than 15 area hotels and get a five-day Park Hopper Bonus Ticket for the cost of a three-day pass (see restrictions at disneyland.com). A nearby attraction, Knott's Berry Farm (knotts.com), offers rotating online specials and $36 admission for AAA members. DON'T MISS THIS DEAL Southwest and Virgin America recently added flights between San Francisco and Orange County, competing with existing service from Alaska, United, and American. The result: substantial savings on round-trip tickets.
GREAT RATES—EXCHANGE AND ROOM—IN VANCOUVER, B.C.
The recent resurgence of the U.S. dollar has made prices north of the border more palatable. A year ago, guests paid US$260 a night to stay at the Listel Hotel (thelistelhotel.com), a boutique property downtown with fabulous contemporary art. Now the same room goes for US$210. And the stylish Pacific Palisades Hotel (pacificpalisadeshotel.com) offers rooms starting at US$129 for AAA members, plus free valet parking for a two-night stay. DON'T MISS THIS DEAL Willing to dine early? You can savor oysters on the half shell for US$1 a pop from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Social (socialatlemagasin.com) and a three-course menu for US$23 featuring seasonal, locally grown ingredients at Chow (chow-restaurant.com) from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
SIZZLING DISCOUNTS IN PALM SPRINGS, CALIF.
Temperatures may climb during the desert summer, but lodging rates dive. You'll pay $100 a night to splash in three swimming pools at the Viceroy (viceroypalmsprings.com) instead of the minimum winter rate of $300. Or spend $129 for a room at the Riviera Resort & Spa (psriviera.com), where you can relax in a sleek retro lounge; in winter a room runs $249. And the new Ace Hotel & Swim Club (acehotel.com) has a summer special: Book two nights, get two free ($198 minimum). DON'T MISS THIS DEAL Tee off now at La Quinta Resort's PGA West Stadium Golf Course (laquintaresort.com) for $99. The same round costs $209 in winter.
PRICE THAWS IN PARK CITY, UTAH
Park City is best known for its ski slopes and Sundance Film Festival in January, but come July—when it's one of the most temperate spots in the state—every place in town slashes rates. This summer, prices will drop even more. Two cases in point: A studio at the Treasure Mountain Inn (treasuremountaininn.com) slides from $295 to $105, and the Silver Queen Hotel (silverqueenhotel.com) offers condos from $159 (winter's high is $799). DON'T MISS THIS DEAL At Deer Valley Resort (deervalley.com), a single-ride lift pass for as little as $8 grants access to 50 miles of biking/hiking loops as well as the Mid-Mountain Trail, which passes three resorts en route to Utah Olympic Park. And hiking or biking up the mountain earns a free ride down.
HOT DEALS IN LAS VEGAS
Room rates are down 34 percent in Vegas this year compared to last, and airfares have dropped 16 percent. At visitlasvegas.com you can always find deals, ranging from a complimentary third night at the Five Diamond Four Seasons (from $279) to dining and show discounts at the Luxor. DON'T MISS THIS DEAL The Playcation package at New York–New York (nynyhotelcasino.com) starts with $65 rooms and throws in cocktail credits and spa and dining discounts.
Photography by Michael McRae/courtesy Park City Convention and Visitors Bureau
This article was first published in July 2009. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.