Travel Steals & Deals


Christmas in the cities
There's plenty of Christmas cheer--and special nightly room rates--at big-city hotels during the holiday season. At the Westin St. Francis (800-228-3000) in San Francisco, for example, prices for the "Holiday Shopper's Package" are as low as $119 per room through January 10. In New Orleans, the "Papa Noel" rate at the Hotel de la Poste (800-448-4927) is $79 per room through December 29. "Holiday Lights" rates at the nine all-suite properties in New York operated by Manhattan East Suite Hotels (800-637-8483) begin at $125 per night and are valid between December 19 and January 8. And in London, the "Summit St. James Christmas Rate" at the St. James Court (800-457-4000) costs about $138 per room from December 15 through January 5.

A holiday at sea
If you'd rather be cruising for Christmas and New Year's, consider booking the Stella Solaris for its Caribbean itinerary from December 23 through January 2. The Sun Line vessel (800-368-3888) departs from Fort Lauderdale, and will call at Nassau, San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Antigua, and St. Thomas. On-board activities include a midnight Christmas mass and caroling; a seven-course Christmas dinner; a "New Year's Eve at Sea" party; a traditional Greek celebration of New Year's; and entertainment featuring Mr. Blackwell, the fashion arbiter. Fares for the cruise start at $2,350 per person based on double occupancy.

A bit of Beijing
Orient Flexi-Pax Tours (800-545-5540) is now selling a whirlwind 7-day package visit to Beijing, the capital of China. The package, priced at $999 per person for departures in December, January, and February, includes roundtrip transportation on United Airlines from San Francisco or Los Angeles; five nights accommodations at the Novotel Beijing; daily American buffet breakfast; and roundtrip airport transfers in China. Two optional full-day sightseeing tours--one to the Great Wall, the other to the main sights of Beijing--are each priced at $59 per person.

European hotel sale
The "Winter Sale" at 48 Hotel Sofitel (800-763-4835) properties in Europe has reduced rates to $110 or $130 per room until February 26. The sale prices are available at Sofitel hotels in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain, and Switzerland. The nightly rates include an American buffet breakfast, service charges, and most taxes.

A weekend in Guatemala
A unique 5-day/4-night weekend package tour of Guatemala is available from Ladatco Tours (800-327-6162). For $766 per person (double occupancy), the package offers roundtrip airfare from Miami or Houston; three night accommodations at the Camino Real hotel in Guatemala City and a half-day tour of the Guatemalan capital; a night's accommodations at the Hotel Camino Real Tikal; and a guided tour of the ancient Mayan city of Tikal. The package price also covers hotel taxes and service charges, and airport and hotel transfers.

This column originally appeared in Travel Holiday magazine.

Copyright 1993-2008 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.