Usually, the stereotypical winter holiday season jaunt is propelled by a desire to escape brisk temps and bask in warmer weather. With that in mind, we've rounded up some packages that are designed to either cajole you into jettisoning your usual family plans and head somewhere warm and exotic, or get you overseas during the holiday season for some shopping-oriented trips. Or in the case of one company's packages, send you far, far away where it's possible you may not even see a Christmas tree, or hear a single note of "Jingle Bell Rock."
Care for a Cabo Christmas, sin familia? The "Ditch the In-laws" package (who can really get away with this?) offered by the Casa del Mar Beach Golf Spa and Resort (tel. 888/227-9621; www.casadelmarmexico.com) includes five nights/six days of accommodations, continental breakfast, margaritas on arrival, greens fee discount, Christmas dinner on the 25 and a bottle of domestic wine, two $50 gift certificates at the SueÂ¿os del Mar Spa, complimentary access to spa including sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi, and all taxes and gratuities. It ought to include that much: at $619 per night based on double occupancy for the deluxe room, you may decide to make this your Christmas gift to each other. Airfare, however, is not included.
The Isle of Spice, Grenada, has another luxury travel special at Laluna Spa (tel. 866/452-5862; www.laluna.com). "Taste of Laluna" cooking package give guests the chance to learn from the resort's Sicilian chef who also specializes in Caribbean fare. The seven-night package includes accommodations in a deluxe cottage with a private pool, daily American breakfast for two, daily dinner for two, three private one-hour sessions with Chef Benedetto La Fiura, a cocktail session, recipes and other information and a special gift. The rate is $5,345 between now and December 19 and $6,780 from December 20 through April 13, 2006.
Leave your holiday shopping for the last minute and head to London, Rome, or Paris for the week before Christmas for some imported gifts. Go-Today (tel. 800/227-3235; www.go-today.com) is offering a "Christmas in Rome Special" from $729 for six nights, in the Catholic city, including airfare based on New York departures. The trip starts December 16 and runs through December 23 -- so you're not exactly in Rome on Christmas but near it. Continental breakfast daily, hotel taxes and services charges are all accounted for in the price, and upgrades are possible; bumping all the way up to Rose Garden Palace Hotel, a superior modern hotel, will set you back $1,259. Tours and other optional add-ons are possible. Go-today is also offering "Paris Christmas Special", for travel December 16-20 from $599. The deal's lowest rate is based on the Holiday Inn Express Porte D'Italie, a fifteen-minute metro ride to the city centre, and six nights accommodations. Or head to England for their "London Christmas Special" from $599 from December 16-23, for six nights at the Holiday Villa hotel, located in the Bayswater area, within walking distance to Portobello Road and Hyde Park. Continental breakfast, hotel taxes and charges and round-trip airfare from New York-JFK are all included in these deals. Other departure cities are available for additional fee. For these Go-Today tours, the booking deadline is October 20.
For more shopping and sightseeing opportunities, Gate 1 Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com) has put forth a handful of specials to the Christmas markets (www.gate1travel.com/christmas-travel/default.htm). The "Christmas Markets in Munich" is a six-day trip that departs from New York City and includes round-trip airfare to and from Munich. Daily breakfast is included. There are a handful of dates in December available (1, 7, 8, 14), and pricing starts from $559. The "Christmas Markets in Vienna" trip starts at $549 for December 10 trip. For the December 17 departure, the price jumps to $789; for November 12, 19, and 26, and December 3, the price is $569. (These are all cash discount prices). If time is no object, the smorgasbord approach hits the markets in both Germany and Austria. The "Eight-Day Christmas Markets of Germany and Austria" trip is an escorted affair that includes seven meals, two nights apiece in Vienna, Salzburg and Munich, and sightseeing stops at the famed markets. The December 16 trip is sold out, but spaces are available for November 25, December 2 and December 9 and the price quoted is for cash discount.
Finally, Djoserusa (tel. 877/356-7376; www.djoserusa.com) has a handful of far flung adventures that will take you away from the holiday madness. Their "18-Day Vietnam" costs $1,925 from Los Angeles and $1,975 from New York As is customary with this company, the trip features an English speaking guide, and you'll spend time in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and have the option for side trips to the Mekong Delta or, add on five days to see Cambodia, too. Because, however, this is considered high season, add $250 to December 15th's price tag. There are however, trips scheduled for 2006, including January 12 and February 9 -- a good idea for a gift, perhaps? Hotels, flights and transportation are included; meals, entrance fees, and taxes are not. The "11-day Egypt tour" is priced from New York at $1,350 and includes time in Cairo, a night train to Aswan, and Luxor; add on an additional $250 for high season (December 22) departures. There's also the potential to make the trip a 15 or 20 day affair and visit the Red Sea. Meals, entrance fees, airport taxes and tips are not included.
Djoser has room on additional tours, such as the "20-day India and Nepal", departing from Los Angeles on December 15 and priced at $2,515; a "12-Day Thailand tour" that departs November 16 and December 12 from Los Angeles ($1295); and a "24-day Kenya and Tanzania" camping trip that departs December 15 (and 22, though at a higher price) from Los Angeles and costs $3,395 (New York departures knock it down to $3,195). Be aware though, that tours leaving right smack dab in the middle of December will cost at least $200 more.