Almost everyone I talk to seems to agree: This summer was especially short, and it's leaving us too quickly. Labor Day signals the end of lazy days, leisure activities and the propriety (according to some) of wearing white. We're looking at some last-minute options and have broken them down by deal type -- accommodations, airfare, and packages, airfares and hotel deals -- leading up to, including, and in some cases, just past Labor Day weekend.
In Austin, the Barton Creek Resort and Spa (tel. 800/366-6158; www.bartoncreek.com) has a special Labor Day Offer, good for September 1-4. The package includes daily breakfast buffet, poolside lunch cookout, recreational activities for the whole family, and rates starting at $162 per person, based on double occupancy. The resort has a full-service spa, 300 rooms and 72 holes of golf.
Also in Texas, the San Antonio Westin (tel. 888/625-5144) is offering $100 off through September 6, including weekends, bringing the rate to $139 with a free upgrade to a deluxe room. If interested, act quickly because the booking deadline is August 25). The offer is good for all dates, including Labor Day weekend, except August 30-31.
In New York City, it's almost impossible to find a hotel room under $200 that isn't in a hostel or isn't part of a three-star chain. The Millennium Broadway Hotel (tel. 800/622-5569; www.millenniumhotels.com) is offering $179 rate for dates August 17-September 5. The deal includes an upgrade to a renovated superior room. You must move quickly and book this deal by August 25, and mention the promotion code ZOO -- the deal was listed with Travelzoo (www.travelzoo.com).
If you're headed to Reno, Nevada, or the Lake Tahoe area for Labor Day weekend, the Eldorado Hotel and Casino (tel. 800/879-8879; www.eldoradoreno.com) is offering an incentive for you to extend your stay September 4-7, with rates starting from $29.99. You must, however, book by August 21 and mention code LBRSPEC.
The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (tel. 800/537-7676; www.gophila.com) has extended its "Philly Overnight Package" through September 16. You get two nights' accommodations for one rate, free parking at the hotel for both nights and welcome gifts. The Courtyard By Marriot, for example, is available Friday and Saturday of Labor Day weekend for $299 for both nights, not including taxes. The Hyatt Regency at Penn's Landing is available for $298, but the Best Western in Center City is a mere $188 for two nights.
In Miami, there are a couple of deals for last-minute getaways. The waterfront property Miami Beach Resort and Spa (tel. 866/767-6060; www.miamibeachresortandspa.com) is offering a special rate of $99, with a two-night minimum, now through September 7. Make sure you mention the Miami Beach Resort & Spa Labor Day Special when phoning or making your reservation through this link. For something funky, the Pelican Hotel and Restaurant (tel. 800/773-5422; www.pelicanhotel.com), known for its impressive décor (brought to you by Diesel) and wine list (ranked by Wine Spectator) is offering a "Wino" package for Labor Day weekend. If you book three nights you receive a rate of $175 per night for any of their special design superior rooms, and a rate of $165 with any five night or more booking. Plus, you'll get 50 percent off wines for one dinner.
Finally, if you're a family or large group, you might be interested in Home Away (www.homeaway.com), which offers vacation rental homes across the country in choice urban, resort, or otherwise desirable locations, has a number of properties available through the Labor Day holiday. Your best bet is to book with the property owners directly; their contact information, with descriptions and photographs, is located right on the listing. At press time, they're all showing availability. Choose from the likes of Ocean Isle Beach in North Carolina, located 41 miles south of Wilmington. It's an oceanfront condo with a private pool and Tiki bar that sleeps 15 and is priced at $2990 per week. The special offer right now is for $700 off. If you live up north, the Nauset House Guesthouse on Cape Cod is available for $980 per week and sleeps eight people. Travel 76 miles northeast of Chicago and you'll end up in Union Pier, Michigan, where a contemporary country home is situated near beaches and shopping, sleeps 11 and costs $2,975 per week; it is available starting August 25 through Labor Day weekend. If you're out west, in Silverthorne, Colorado within striking distance of Denver, a luxury log cabin on a golf course is available for $4,000/week and sleeps up to 17.
American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300; www.aa.com) is running a confusingly named "Continental U.S Autumn Fare Sale" good for travel through December 10, with flights advertised as low as $49 one-way from Kansas City-Dallas and Chicago-Detroit; Ft. Lauderdale-Chicago $69, Austin-Las Vegas $109, and that's just a few. Florida fares are valid, though through October 1.
Alaska Air (tel. 800/252-7522; www.alaskaair.com) is running a promotion for one-way fares from $49 to 20 cities mostly on the West Coast, including Portland, Los Angeles, and Seattle. You can travel through December 10 but you must book by August 31 and a 14-day advance ticket purchase is required. Sample fares include Los Angeles-Seattle $99, Boise-Spokane $49, and Reno-Seattle $79. It is valid for daily departures, so there are no restrictions that require you to travel on off-peak days.
Southwest Airlines is offering a similar special (tel. 800/435-9792; www.southwest.com) for $49 to $159, for one-way fares to and from specific destinations, as long as you book by August 31 for travel August 22 through December 10, 2006. Its name is somewhat of a misnomer, as it flies to Florida, Long Island, New York, and the Midwest. Sample fares that start at $49 one-way include Oakland-San Diego, San Jose-Ontario, Chicago-Detroit, St. Louis-Little Rock, Seattle-Boise, and Portland-Sacramento.
The company 11th Hour Vacations (tel. 800/291-8968; www.11thhour.com) offers last-minute vacations, organized by destination and with prices listed from different airports. The company is running a last-minute Labor Day special to warm, sunny spots. You can fly to Cancun from Chicago on Saturday, September 2 and return Tuesday, September 5; get three nights of accommodations and airfare inclusive from $474 per person. Or the Bahamas is a possibility, priced from $299 from Ft. Lauderdale, for three nights, round-trip airfare. Or head to Montego Bay in Jamaica from Newark starting from $699. Other cities, too numerous to detail here, are listed with each destination.
Expedia (tel. 800/397-3342; www.expedia.com) is offering an amazingly cheap deal to Las Vegas, Hawaii, Orlando, Bahamas, New York and more. The Las Vegas deals start at $134 for a flight and two nights at Palace Station or flight and two nights from $293 at the Wynn. The deal to Palace, for example, is based on mid-week travel now through September 9, with flights from Los Angeles. Or the four-star Westin Times Square, which is available from $571 for flights from Atlanta to New York and two-nights accommodations based on travel now through August 31. However, a search for travel August 31 through Saturday September 2 revealed a cost of $505 per person. Or fly from Chicago to Boston and spend three nights at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge, and get your flight covered for only $557 per person.
If you want to head somewhere warmer, there are deals available through Expedia for Cancun/Riviera Maya, a short flight from most east coast departure cities. The Royal Solaris Cancun is available for three nights (plus your flights, and meals) from $569 per person. It's a beachfront all-inclusive resort at the southern end of Cancun and the price reflects travel from Chicago through August 31. You can extend the deal: there's currently a chance to save 30 percent off if you stay four nights or more.
Site 59 (tel. 800/845-0192; www.site59.com), with the motto "get up and go at the 59th minute" allows you to book up to three hours before your departure and still get a chance to save some money. You can search by interest -- sun and beach, luxury, romance, all-inclusive, and food and wine -- or just peruse what seems like hundreds of last-minute specials. Boston is available for two nights from $276, departing Friday September 1, three nights from $345 and four nights from $429, based on travel from New York City. Or choose New Orleans from $242 if you depart Thursday, August 31 from New York and return Sunday: the price includes flight, three nights' hotel, taxes and fees. What's great about this site is that you can see many different hotel options clearly, and then decide if it's worth splurging for a slightly more cushy stay, for example.
Using Atlanta as a starting point, a Chicago deal called "More Than Ferris Bueller" (their destination deals often have quippy names) is priced from $225 per person for flight, hotel, taxes and fees for a Friday, September 1 departure and Sunday, September 3 return; three nights are priced from $246 and four from $277.
Atlanta to San Francisco is priced from $360 if you can leave Wednesday August 30 and return Sunday, September 3; otherwise, opt for a Friday departure from $396 and Sunday return.