This week's smart deal is offered by Sceptre Tours (tel. 800/221-0924; www.sceptretours.com) and starts from $699 -- and that includes airfare and accommodations -- for travel to Ireland. What's the catch? You pretty much have to leave now. This special is only valid for August travel and the earlier you book, the better your price -- and availability -- will be..
There are a handful of packages, including escorted tours, associated with this special, and for the sake of making the deal smart we'll focus only on the four independent ones because they are the least expensive. The Dublin city package starts at $699 for four nights, roundtrip airfare from Boston, and daily breakfast. If you want to stay longer, each additional night will cost $50 more per person. You can explore James Joyce's territory, walk along the River Liffey's banks, and see where they make Guinness. Accommodations are at the Regency Hotel, which is a short bus ride from the city center, or you can upgrade to the Maldron Cardiff Lane.
Alternately, the Ireland Resort package starts at $799 and puts you at the Adare Manor, a lovely castle in the countryside, and includes car rental for a week. From Adare, you can easily reach Waterford, Galway, Blarney Castle, and the Cliffs of Moher.
And starting at $899, the Ireland 3-city package includes a weekly car rental, daily breakfast and six nights of accommodations -- two apiece in Clare, Killarney and Dublin. Finally, the affordable luxury package, starting from $999, puts you at the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt, which is located just south of Dublin. The hotel has a Gordon Ramsay restaurant (if you're into celebrity chef dining), and the package includes a week of car rental and a complimentary pint of Guinness.
What's nice about these packages is that you can see that price is broken in half, into accommodations and amenities versus the airfare component, which is listed separately. So, for example, the Dublin package's base price is $299, and Boston departures add $299; if you're leaving from New York-JFK, add $329; Washington, D.C., add $379, Los Angeles, add $399; and Chicago, add $429.
Talk with fellow travelers on our Ireland Message Boards.