In your bargain hunting efforts this week, you may have already come across Orbitz's new promotion promising up to 40 percent off participating hotels worldwide, including properties in London, Paris, St. Lucia, Beijing, and Auckland, for travel through December 15 when booked by October 1. Good deal? It may look like it at first glance, but my investigation shows that the savings aren't so cut and dry.
My research found that the best deals seem to be for Caribbean and Mexico properties, but there are some important caveats. Many of the featured hotels require you to meet certain conditions, such as a minimum stay, to qualify for the discount. In other cases, determining whether you're getting an actual deal can be mystifying. You might find a 20 percent discount, but the question is, 20 percent off what? Other online travel agencies are offering similar prices on some featured properties.
Before you book, remember the golden rule: compare, compare, compare. While this deal does offer savings, you'll have to work for them.
Question of the Week:
Karen writes, "We are a Boston family of four with two teenagers looking for a Christmas getaway, preferably warm. All the airfares and all-inclusive deals don't include the holiday week when the kids are off school. Any suggestions?"
I can relate to your desire to escape Boston's bitterly cold winter for a more tropical climate. I'm sure many of my readers from cold-weather cities share your interest in heading south, actually, and therein lies the challenge: With thousands of other travelers having the exact same idea, will there be any deals left? There are if you look in the right places.
Since I don't know the exact dates of your kids' school break, I made a guess and chose December 22 through 27 as a starting point. I priced vacations to Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and Bermuda on CheapCaribbean.com and was pleasantly surprised by my findings. (All prices are for Boston departures and include taxes; non-Boston readers will find excellent deals from CheapCaribbean as well.)
Let's start with Puerto Rico, since it happens to be the cheapest and warmest destination of the three. Also, you don't need a passport to fly there. For two adults and two teenagers—sharing a single room, mind you—the total cost was $2,921, which includes airfare, five nights at the Four Points Sheraton Resort and Casino, and all taxes. This equals about $730 per person without factoring in the price of meals and activities. You can save an extra $100 by using promotional code PR100.
Next up is Bermuda, where the December weather may hover in the 70s, but it's only about a two-hour flight from Beantown. The total cost to stay at the Fairmont Southampton for five nights, plus round-trip airfare, is $3,830. Use the promo code 4THNIGHTFREE to get a free night when you stay longer than three nights. You'll end up paying $958 per person, not including the extra cost of meals and excursions.
Finally, the four of you can fly and stay at the all-inclusive Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach resort on the Grand Bahama Island for $4,669, including taxes. This comes to about $1,167 each, but you don't have to worry about adding in the cost of food or drink.
If you don't mind doing some leg work yourself, and you're okay with staying inland, you can find even more good deals. I priced hotel and airfare individually to Orlando for the same dates and found round-trip tickets on AirTran for a total of $1,400. Rooms start as little as $35 per night on Hotels.com, but this is for a chain hotel and you may want to stay somewhere a bit nicer for the holidays. For the sake of argument, though, let's note that you can plan a five-day vacation to Florida for less than $1,600 for four people during Christmas. Not bad at all.
These are only a few examples of what you may be able to find with a little research. I recommend you keep an open mind when choosing where to go during this extremely busy travel time. I do hope you find someplace warm and bright to spend your holidays.
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