Susan Michelle's Compass
Latest Travel Deals You Can't Afford To Pass Up
By Susan Michelle
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.

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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.


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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.



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