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Susan Michelle's Compass

Latest Travel Deals You Can't Afford To Pass Up
Posted by Susan Michelle on Jan 31, 2009 - 10:26:03 PM

Four weeks ago, I predicted that travel providers would drop prices big-time this year due to a worsening economy. A bad economy means less money for “luxury items,” which translates to businesses scaling back employees’ travel expenses and families axing travel all together. All that adds up to a hemorrhaging travel industry.


So, now, as predicted, travel providers are offering deals and incentives galore to keep your dollars flowing toward them. If you have even a modicum of spare cash, the travel world’s a buyer’s market at the moment.  What are some of the best deals lately? Here’s what I’m seeing:

VEGAS, BABY: Unlike any other U.S. city, Vegas’s economy is built entirely on visitor dollars: conventioneers, gamblers, vacationing partiers... When those folks stop showing up, the whole city’s affected.  To keep people coming, Sin City prices have dropped, big-time: Try $50/weekend night to stay on the Strip and $130/weekend night for a deluxe room at the Mandalay Bay. Add some seating upgrades for live shows, and meal coupons for top restaurants, and your next Vegas trip can be aces, baby!

HAWAII: Hawaii also saw a big drop in tourism (10%!) in 2008. So, this year, I’m seeing lots of package deals to lure folks back--like roundtrip airfare from LA plus 3 nights’ lodging in Waikiki, all for just $300 per person.  Alooooo-ha!

NEW HOTELS: If you’re into trendy, a newly-opened hotel might be the best lodging bet for you.  Brand-spanking new hotels like the Philippe Stark-designed SLS and Hyatt’s new Andaz in L.A. have been operating at weekend occupancies as low as 20%!  (Even the jet set’s cutting back, it appears.) So, take advantage. Call hotels directly and negotiate a good rate for yourself--these places are worth the extra effort!

CRUISING THE OPEN SEAS: As bad as it is in the hotel world, it’s worse in cruise land. Ships are setting sail with record-low occupancies (try 30 percent). Unlike hotels, cruise lines can’t just tell their staff to take a few days off or make significant, last-minute cutbacks for low occupancy--they still require a crapload of fuel and food when they sail, and all staff’s contracted to stay onboard for months at a time. To encourage more bookings, Regent Seven Seas is offering free shore excursions and airfare to select European cruises. Other cruise lines are offering discounts up to 75 percent: Norwegian’s offering a 7-day Alaskan cruise from LA for $400--plus 15 percent shore excursion discounts and $500 onboard spending (drink up!); Celebrity’s offering $329 for 5 nights in the Caribbean; and Carnival’s charging just $209 for 4 nights down to Baja, Mexico.  

Tempted to buy tomorrow? Note this: Many cruise passengers book their cruises six months in advance; that means a large percentage of the few who are sailing now booked their trips pre-recession.  So, before blowing all your travel dollars for the year on a great deal tomorrow, think ahead about what might be going on six months from now”¦ My guess is never-before-seen deals for cruises and everything else travel.


About the Author:
A former Hollywood producer and now 2nd-generation travel professional, Susan Michelle travels the planet as the “face” of the fashion-forward Compass travel lifestyle brand.


Cliffside Malibu




Serving Bel Air, Benedict Canyon, Beverly Hills. Brentwood, Laurel Canyon, Los Feliz, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Melrose, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Topanga, Canyon, Westwood & Hollywood Hills.