According to a study by priceline.com, Americans are going domestic this year. The website tracks the amount of booking requests for different destinations: Last year, 11 international destinations like London, Rome, Barcelona, Berlin, and Paris made the top 50 list. This year, only five international cities are on the list, and all are Canadian and within driving distance of the U.S. border: St. Catherine’s (Niagara Falls); Montreal; Vancouver; Toronto; and Victoria, British Columbia. Though exchange rates are favorable, many travelers seem turned off by the sky-high international flight costs.
A FAMILY THEME PARK GETAWAY
Orlando, From $83 a Night (Omni Hotels, omnihotels.com)
The Real Deal Save up to 30% with the Endless Summer Rate at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, a luxury resort with 36 holes of golf, an 850-foot lazy river, private poolside cabanas, and a European-style spa. Family resort activities include poolside movies, scavenger hunts, and sidewalk chalk contests. If you’re doing Disney, the resort provides a free shuttle. And the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando is a quick drive away—you can go inside Hogwarts Castle, ride a hippogriff, buy your own magic wand, and meet your favorite characters!
Gateways A recent search on Kayak.com showed great flight deals: $199 from LaGuardia on Delta, $179 from Chicago O’Hare on United, $179 from Boston on JetBlue, $198 from Houston on Continental, $299 from Los Angeles on Delta.
Why It’s a Deal The longer you stay, the more you save with this package: A one-night stay receives 10% off regular hotel rates, a two-night stay receives 20% off, and a three-night stay receives 30% off regular hotel rates.
A CRUISE ADVENTURE
Alaska Cruise, 7 Nights, From $599 (American Discount Cruises, americadiscountcruises.com)
The Real Deal A round-trip cruise from Seattle with stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, and Prince Rupert, B.C.; seven nights in an interior stateroom aboard the Norwegian Star; meals in the main dining room and buffet areas. Optional activities include a rain forest canopy and zip-line expedition ($179 per person) or a helicopter ride ($268 per person) in Juneau; a Mendenhall Glacier and whale-watching excursion ($151 per person); or a Yukon horseback adventure ($179 per person). Interesting amenities on the Norwegian Star include an open-air biergarten, the Star Club Casino, and performances by the famous Second City comedy troupe.
Why It’s a Deal The cost of this seven-night Sawyer Glacier Cruise package breaks down to only $113 a night including accommodations, meals, beverages, a shipboard credit of at least $50 per cabin, and all taxes and fees (about $193).
A SWANKY CITY STAY
San Francisco, From $136 a Night
(Expedia special Labor Day rate, expedia.com
The Real Deal The Sir Francis Drake, a historic 1928 property by Kimpton Hotels, is a half-block from San Francisco’s Union Square and three blocks from the theater district. The experience at this hotel feels particularly luxurious: the doorstaff wears traditional Beefeater regalia (a bright red uniform worn by British royal guards), the trendy Scala’s Bistro boasts a former Top Chef contestant (Jennifer Biesty from Season 4) as its executive chef, and the famous Starlight Room club offers great views of the city. Guestrooms at Sir Francis Drake Hotel have striped walls, modern art prints, framed mirrors, and antique-style armoires. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available.
Gateways A recent search on Kayak.com showed great flight deals: $129 from LAX on American, $269 from Fort Lauderdale on Virgin America, $294 from Milwaukee on Delta, $347 from Atlanta on Delta, $396 from Newark on American
Why It’s a Deal Expedia’s special Labor Day rate offers savings of over 20%. San Francisco’s Union Square neighborhood was one of the top 10 most searched destinations for Labor Day, according to Priceline.com.
A MEXICAN BEACH HIDEAWAY
Cozumel, Air/4 Nights, From $569 (Caradonna Dive Adventures, caradonna.com)
The Real Deal Round-trip airfare on Continental, four nights’ accommodations at Casa del Mar Cozumel, round-trip airport transfers, fuel surcharges, and hotel taxes and service charges. The hotel is located on an island off Mexico’s Caribbean coast near some terrific spots for scuba diving, where you can see lobsters, crabs, and many species of multicolored tropical fish. The nearby Paradise Reef is particularly well known for night diving. The hotel has 98 rooms decorated with Mexican artwork and 8 bi-level cabanas, in addition to a well-stocked in-house dive shop. The beach across the street from hotel offers shaded hammocks, a sundeck with lounge chairs, and steps moving leading directly into the water.
Gateways Chicago, Houston; add $100 for L.A., Seattle.
Why It’s a Deal In a recent Kayak search, we found a round-trip fare between Houston and Cozumel for $537, including all taxes, for travel in early September (multiple airlines). This package costs $569, including all taxes—just $32 more—for the airfare, plus four nights’ accommodations and airport transfers.
AN OUTDOORS MOUNTAIN TREK
New Hampshire, 5 Nights, From $341 (Appalachian Mountain Club, outdoors.org)
The Real Deal Appalachian Mountain Club is offering a fifth-night-free special at all 10 of its New Hampshire huts and lodges in the White Mountains—about a three-hour drive north of Boston. Packages include shared lodge and hut accommodations, complimentary breakfast, home-cooked dinners, guided nature walks, and natural history lectures. Hike from hut to hut, explore a 56-mile-long stretch of the Appalachian Trail, and swim in lakes and under waterfalls. Huts are rustic, but that’s half the fun—shared bunkrooms, cold running water, no electrical outlets. The lodges are significantly more luxurious, with private rooms, towels and linens included, wi-fi service, a library, and a comfortable living room with fireplace.
Why It’s a Deal When booking with this deal, you’ll save about $88 on a five-night stay. Plus, you’ll get complimentary breakfast, dinner, and guided tours of the surrounding area.
Note: This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
– J & H