This morning I was going through emails as usual and saw that my manager had forwarded me a press release about an air-and-hotel package to China with the note "Is this for real?" Reading it over, I wondered the same thing. Why were we both so incredulous? Because we were looking at an air-and-hotel package to China for under $600 a person.
I did some research, so here's the scoop: The base package from China Spree costs $588 per person for round-trip nonstop airfare between San Francisco and Beijing, airport transfers both ways, and five nights at what is described as a "first class hotel with central location" with daily American breakfast. Add another $375 in taxes and the package total comes to $963, which isn't quite the dazzling deal it first appears to be, but is still pretty good. There's a discounted rate from New York as well that comes to $1,271 with taxes.
For the sake of comparison, I zipped over to Go-Today and found that a comparable five-night Beijing air-and-hotel package (without airport transfers) came to $1,414 per person. That's $450 more. I also checked a-la-carte airfare prices on Expedia: the round-trip flight alone would be $1,137. Hmmm, $174 more just for airfare? So even with the added taxes, the China Spree package offers noteworthy value.
After doing these calculations, I wanted to make sure China Spree was up-to-snuff as a travel provider. A quick search on the name yielded a post on Arthur Frommer's blog in which he supports China Spree by allowing the owner to post a statement about the company's strengths. I also found a forum on our sister site TripAdvisor about China Spree with almost all positive feedback.
So good price, respected company. Then what's the catch? First, the package is only available for three sets of dates in November. Second, it's a "cash discount rate", which means you'll need to pay all but the $200 deposit (which you can pay with a credit card if you wish) by personal check or money order. And that means no putting it on the credit card and paying it off over a few months.
I'll tell you this much: I'm sorely tempted. How about you? If you do happen to book this deal, share your experience in the comments below! Let other travelers know if you were able to get the deal as advertised, and if booking was easy or difficult.
Editor's Note: SmarterTravel is a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, an operating company of Expedia, Inc. Expedia, Inc. also owns Expedia.com.