Of all the world's favorite travel destinations, one currently stands out as an exceptional deal for value-seekers: Mexico.
The country has been battered by reports of swine flu and outbreaks of drug-related violence. As a result, it has lost much of its luster as a vacation destination. With tourists spurning both the historic avenidas of Mexico City and the sun-drenched beaches on both coasts, the airlines serving Mexico find themselves with plenty of empty seats, and Mexico hotels are stuck with entire floors of empty rooms.
In the spirit of making lemonade from lemons, a few travel suppliers have opted to make their unsold Mexico inventory more available to members of their loyalty programs.
The latest to do so is InterContinental Hotels, which is offering members of its Priority Club Rewards program a 50 percent discount on award nights at all Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites, Crowne Plaze, Hotel Indigo, and InterContinental hotels in Mexico between July 6 and December 1.
So, for example, a night at the beachside InterContinental Presidente Cancun Resort is priced at 20,000 points, rather than the 40,000 normally required. And a night at the Crowne Plaza Mazatlan, normally 25,000 points, can be booked for 12,500 points during the promotion.
Getting to Mexico is cheaper and easier, too. Alaska Airlines is offering a 10,000-mile discount on award flights between three California cities and seven Mexico destinations (Ixtapa, La Paz, Loreto, Los Cabos, Mazatlan, Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta).
Although United isn't discounting Mexico award tickets, it lists no fewer than four Mexico destinations—Cabo, Cancun, Mexico City, and Puerto Vallarta—on its latest list of recommended flights for award travel, confirming that seats are readily available for frequent flyer program members redeeming their miles.
The deals aren't limited to those with miles and points to burn—airlines and hotels are discounting their paid rates as well.
While the risk is real, it can be minimized by staying current with State Department travel advisories and monitoring media coverage, and planning accordingly.
Travelers willing to say "Si" to somewhat more risk can say "Si, si" to real bargains on Mexico trips.