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On Sale: Three Nights at the Plaza Hotel

Hankering for a few nights at the tony Plaza Hotel on New York's storied Fifth Avenue? Through September 7, the hotel is offering to add a free night to every qualifying paid stay of two or more nights. "Qualifying" is the all-important qualifier here: Eligible rates start at $595 per night. So even with the promotion, the tab for three nights will be $1,190, not including taxes.

It's like a discount on an Armani suit. Most consumers will still find the price a budget-breaker. But for those teetering on the edge, a deal might just be the difference-maker. And the fact that it's a deal that won't be around forever—unless the current recession proves to be eternal—makes it that much more compelling.

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According to Smith Travel Research, a hotel industry benchmarking and research firm, the average daily room rate in New York at the end of May was $188, down 26.4 percent from the previous year. That explains why the Plaza is effectively discounting its rates, albeit without cheapening its brand by actually lowering its published prices.

It also tells you that even with the discount, there are plenty of other deals to be had, at both the high and low ends of the price scale.

In this recession, it's not just the Armani suits that are on sale.

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