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Shopping getaways for thrifty holidays

SmarterTravel

For many, the holidays are a perfect reason to visit a big city. Whether you want to see department store windows decked out in lights, attend a seasonal concert, or stroll by a spectacularly decorated Christmas tree, cities provide a wealth of attractions for those in the holiday spirit. Holiday shopping is often part of the experience too, and many hotels create shopping packages to meet this need.

Such packages typically offer retail discounts and coupons, reduced rates on rooms, or certificates for free or discounted stays at other times during the year. If you’re considering such offers, be sure to compare promotional prices against standard room rates to determine whether the package is a true bargain for your trip.

Here are some sample offerings for holiday-shopping getaways this season.

New York City

  • The Regency Inn and Suites is offering a “Shopper’s Special” from $149 to $279 per night for stays through the end of the year. All guests booking this package receive a coupon for 25 percent off any purchase at Macy’s.
  • The Affinia Hotel Group has posted discounted rates at its eight city hotels for stays November 20 through 24, 2005, and December 18, 2005, through January 8, 2006. Per-night prices range from $179 to $239. When we compared this rate to non-promotional prices earlier in December, we found more than $300 in per-night savings.
  • If you’re planning on seeing the Radio City Christmas Spectacular or Cathy Rigby’s Peter Pan, you’ll qualify for a free night at several city hotels. NYC & Company is offering its third annual “Holiday Gift & Get,” which offers discounts at a variety of hotels, attractions, restaurants, and more throughout the city, provided you show your ticket stub. Stay at the Regency Inn, New York’s Hotel Pennsylvania, or The Time Hotel and get a free night with one night’s stay. Blackout dates include Thanksgiving and Christmas; free-night dates will vary by hotel.

Boston

  • The Hotel Marlowe’s “Shop Till You Drop” package is available from $159 per night. Rates include accommodations, a welcome bag on arrival, and shopping coupons for use at the nearby CambridgeSide Galleria mall. All guests receive a complimentary evening wine hour, morning coffee and tea service, in-room high-speed Internet access, use of the hotel fitness center, and morning newspaper delivery. This package can be requested for stays through December 30.
  • The Hilton Boston Back Bay’s “Shopping Package” includes accommodations, transportation to and from the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets, and an outlet coupon book worth hundreds of dollars in additional savings. Rates start at $205 per night for stays through the end of December.
  • The “Holiday Package” at the Millennium Bostonian Hotel is available from $209 per night for weekend stays through January 16. Packages include accommodations, a 50-minute foot massage at the hotel spa, and a savings pass at Macy’s.

For more holiday offers in and around Boston, see the listings on the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau website.

Chicago

  • The Hotel Monaco Chicago has slashed rates this season. Its “Ho-Ho-Ho-liday Rate” starts at $98 per night for stays through December 30. Rates without the holiday special start at $199 in December, so this is a particularly good discount.
  • The Four Points Chicago Downtown/Magnificent Mile is offering an “Achieve Shopping Nirvana in Chicago!” package through February 28. Packages include accommodations, breakfast for two, a savings booklet, and a gift card. Rates start at $199 for stays in early December. Get more information on the Four Points website.
  • The “Westfield North Bridge Escape! Holiday Shopping Package” at the Chicago Marriott Downtown offers accommodations, breakfast for two, a scarf, coupon book, and gift card from $219 per night for weekend stays through December 31. To book this package, call 800-228-9290 and request rate code P50 or reserve online by entering P50 in the “promotional code” box.

For a listing of other hotels in the Chicago area, see the options on 877Chicago.com, the official visitors’ website.

Washington, D.C.

  • Many hotels throughout D.C. are on sale this season with the city’s “Holiday Homecoming” promotion. Per-night rates start at $99, and many hotels are bundling in dining discounts or gift cards with accommodations. This offer is valid through February 28.
  • Fairfax County, Virginia, a half-hour drive from the District, is offering hotel discounts, free-night stays, shopping coupons, and more to celebrate the holidays. Home to Tysons Corner shopping center, Fairfax has more than 500 stores, many with special promotions for the holidays.

San Francisco

  • With the “Holiday Fest San Francisco,” travelers booking two or more consecutive nights at a participating city hotel will receive a free holiday VIP kit with many shopping discounts, a guide book, public transportation tickets, and more. Offers are valid through December 31.
  • The “Survivor Shopper’s Package” at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel is available from $189 per night single occupancy or $229 double, and includes Macy’s discount coupons, a pedicure voucher, and breakfast.
  • Travelers with a Visa card can get additional discounts on hotels, attractions, and shopping. Browse the listings on the San Francisco CVB website to see what’s available for the holiday season.

Around the country

If you’re not heading to one of the above destinations, there are plenty of other options to consider. Travelocity, Hotels.com, and [% 256471 | | Omni Hotels %] are all offering discounts and perks for the holiday season. Additionally, BedandBreakfast.com lists specials at member inns nationwide, including holiday and shopping promotions.

Determining benefit

Before purchasing a package, make sure its components offer value to you. Are the shopping coupons for stores you were planning to visit? Are you adding on an extra night just to get the free or discounted night? Are the rates comparable or lesser than the package components’ respective prices, or is the package rate higher than purchasing each element individually?

The holidays usually have the highest prices and lowest availability of the year, so if you find a good deal for what you want, snag it. Then, you can use your extra savings toward finishing up your holiday shopping.

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