Steals & Deals



Holiday Rates for the Asking
Planning to travel between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve? Be sure to ask your hotel or resort for a special holiday deal. Business plummets at most places during the holidays and hoteliers are eager to promote booking by offering huge discounts, special shopping packages and other unique perks. At New York's Doral Park Avenue (877-99-DORAL), for example, the room rate drops about 50 percent, to $165 a night, from November 19 to 25. In Florida, at the waterfront Palm Coast Resort [](800-654-6538), the Thanksgiving Package (November 24 to 28) includes accommodations, breakfast, 18 holes of golf on any of five nearby courses and unlimited tennis at Player's Racquet Club. The price: $139 a night. And gigantic Marriott [] (800-472-2427) is offering "Great Holiday Rates" at more than 1,500 of its Marriott, Renaissance, Residence Inn, TownePlace, Courtyard, SpringHill and Fairfield properties. Rates range from $44-$85 a night and the promotion is running now. Rates and restrictions vary by hotel and some prices will be available until February 20.

What Are They Charging for New Year's?
What are they charging for New Year's Eve accommodations around the country? Depends on who you ask. Some experts claim lavish, pricey Millennium packages have been a bust and hotels are discounting heavily. Others say business is booming and rooms are filling up. Whatever the truth might be, be sure to bargain hard before booking any room. At the Grand Hyatt Washington (202-582-1234), it's $325 for a New Year's Eve room, a magnum of champagne, two crystal flutes, and a New Year's Day brunch. In San Antonio, at the new Westin La Cantera Resort (800-WESTIN-1), a $999 package includes three nights of accommodations, souvenirs, a New Year's Eve dinner and champagne brunch on New Year's Day. In New York, at the Regal U.N. Plaza (800-222-8888), room rates start at $399 a night; dinner is $99 a person until 9 p.m.; a party from 9:30 p.m. to dawn is $249 a person. In Chicago, at the Palmer House Hilton (312-726-7500), the Millennium room rate is $349 a night. At the Hyatt Regency San Diego (800-633-7313), the "Regency Package" includes deluxe accommodations for two nights, parking, New Year's Eve dinner buffet and party, and champagne brunch on New Year's Day. The price is $1.499 including taxes and gratuities. In San Francisco, at the Hotel Vintage Court (800-654-1100), room rates start at $250 and include wine and coffee.

Last Call for Long-Haul Bargains
Act quick if you want to score great winter airfares from El Al and Austrian Airlines. From El Al [] (800-223-6700 or 212-768-9200), the offer is "Early Bird" roundtrip fares to Tel Aviv for $499 (from New York), $549 (Baltimore/Washington), $569 (Miami and Chicago) or $629 (Los Angeles). Fares are valid for travel from January 10 through March 17, but must be purchased by December 8. That's also the last day to purchase "Super Value" fares from Austrian [] (800-843-0002) for flights between New York or Atlanta to Austria and other Eastern European destinations. Prices range from $358 roundtrip (New York to Vienna midweek) to $608 (Atlanta to Moscow on weekends). Similarly priced deals are also available to Athens, Budapest and Istanbul. Travel must be complete by April 8.

Quick Deals and Special Offers
Starwood Vacations [] (800-555-4540) is offering price breaks up to $300 per couple or 10,000 bonus points in the Preferred Guest [] frequent-stay program for vacations packages booked by December 31. Packages are available to 70 destinations and include accommodations at Starwood hotels such as Sheraton, Westin, St. Regis and CIGA. The "Ski Freedom Rate" from Hertz [] (800-654-3131) includes a one-week rental of a Ford Explorer, a one-day ski lift ticket, a ski/snow board rack and unlimited mileage. The price is US$299 at participating U.S. locations and C$339 at participating rental stations in Canada. The rates are valid until February 15; renters must pay with an American Express card and ask for promotion code AXSKI. French Country Waterways (800-22-1236) has knocked $300 a person off the price of its April barge cruises through Burgundy, Champagne and the Upper Loire Valley. Rates for the luxury cruises in April begin at $2,695 a person and include six nights in a stateroom; meals and wines; land tours; and transfers between Paris and the barges' boarding points.

This column originally appeared at

Copyright 1999-2010 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.