For kids, 'tis the season of endless days, sprinklers, and ice-cream trucks. For parents, it can be a time of mild panic when it comes to planning a summer getaway. The good news: It's still possible to find the right destination at the right price. These three deals in Arizona, California, and Florida deliver hefty savings for that much-deserved getaway.
Deal or No Deal? All-Inclusive Packages at Arizona Biltmore
If you can stand the heat, there are super summer deals in the desert. At Phoenix's Arizona Biltmore -- a grand dame which first opened in 1929, and was designed by a Frank Lloyd Wright protégé -- a pair of packages look good enough to make you forget that summer highs average about 103 degrees. (To be fair, the cliché is true: it really is a dry heat.)
There's a lot for families to do here in the summer, beyond just finding a shady spot next to one of eight swimming pools. There's a 92-foot waterslide, golf, tennis, basketball, spa treatments, and -- a nice desert touch -- a canopy-covered playground. There are marshmallow roasts, cowboy balladeer sing-alongs, dive-in movies, and a Kids Korral program that offers supervised sports, games, and arts and crafts for children 4 to 12 years old.
For grown-ups, there are wine tastings, cigar-rolling lessons, and live concerts.
From May 23 through September 10, the 740-room hotel is offering two packages that include three meals per day: the All-Inclusive Package with Classic Room accommodations in the main hotel or the Exclusive All-Inclusive Package at the hotel's Ocatilla concierge-level area, which has its own private pool and a VIP lounge with unlimited snacks and drinks. Guest privileges even include wines by the glass and chair massages. We priced out a three-day stay in June.
What's Included in the Basic All-Inclusive Package:
- classic accommodations (standard room with two queen beds, regularly $249 per night, or $747 for three nights)
- breakfast, lunch and dinner for two (worth $193 per day per couple x 3 days= $579 for three days)
- 50% off spa à la carte services (at least a $70 value; 50-minute massages start at $135)
- free self-parking (usually $12 per day x 3 days = $36)
- resort charge ($28 per day, but factored into regular rates, too)
For the June dates we tested, the all-inclusive package is priced at $359 a night, bringing the cost of a three-night stay to $1,077. Meanwhile, the regular rate for a classic room with two queen beds is $249 a night, including resort fee. By opting for the regular room rate and paying à la carte for adult meals and parking, the total for a three-night stay would come to $1,362.
The Bottom Line: The special offer delivers a 20% savings -- but keep in mind that you'd still have to pay for kids' meals.
Though more expensive, the "exclusive" package -- which includes everything above plus additional concierge-level perks -- gives you better value. The regular rate for an Ocatilla room on the VIP floor is $329 a night, so if you opted for the VIP floor and paid à la carte for adult meals and parking, your total for a three-day stay would come to $1,602. In comparison, the package rate starts at $409 per night, or $1,227 for the same three-night stay in June.
The Bottom Line: The exclusive package translates into a 23% discount plus -- and here's the kicker -- you and the kids get unlimited access to free snacks and beverages, which could conceivably keep the cost of kids' meals down to a bare minimum.
Deal or No deal? Both packages offer very good value, but we recommend upgrading to the exclusive package and taking full advantage of the free snacks and beverages.
Deal or No Deal? Get a $250 Credit at Florida's TradeWinds Island Resorts
The packages are available for stays through September 10. To book online, enter your travel dates then look for the all-inclusive deals in the list of rates. Alternatively, mention the All-Inclusive Package or Exclusive All-Inclusive Package when calling 800/950-0086.
Florida's TradeWinds Island Resorts, two sister hotels set on 20 lushly landscaped acres in St. Pete Beach, has plenty to offer families looking for a toes-in-the-sand vacation. A 7-mile stretch of white sand beach? Check. Accommodations ranging from standard guest rooms to family-friendly suites with kitchenettes? Double check. A line-up of family fun that includes a supervised kids' club, three-story-high water slide, five pools, tennis courts, mini-golf, paddleboats, bungee trampolines, dive-in movies, and more? Roger that.
Add an average 360 days of sunshine a year, warm Gulf breezes, and you're virtually guaranteed smiling faces and sun-kissed shoulders.
The resort's latest offer delivers all that for less. Book a minimum three-night stay in a parlor room (think oversize hotel room) or suite at TradeWinds before December 28 and you'll receive a $250 resort credit that can be used for meals, beverages, resort shopping, spa charges, and resort activities (excluding water sports).
Nightly rates at the family-oriented Island Grand property range from $146 for a parlor room to $230 for a one-bedroom suite in summer, but jump up to $226 and $287, respectively, for the same rooms in the fall. Smart shoppers will use the credit for essentials such as meals and beverages. If you opt instead for a standard hotel room --priced at $146 in the summer and $195 in the fall -- the amount of your resort credit will drop to $100.
To take advantage of this offer, book online or call tel. 888/266-1241 and follow instructions for obtaining the credit. As always, there are some blackout dates and other restrictions.
Deal or No Deal? Summer Road Trip Package at California's Joie de Vivre HotelsCalifornia dreaming? Joie de Vivre Hotels, a line of boutique hotels that dot the coastline from the Bay Area to Orange County, is offering a new Road Trippin' California package that promises up to 50% off normal rates, as well perks such as dining and gas credits or vouchers for attractions.
Right off the bat, we noticed a huge disparity in package value from property to property. Some participating hotels are offering hefty add-ons, while others are coughing up very little comparatively. We saw no evidence of a 50% discount, but we occasionally found some substantial enticements.
At Santa Cruz's 165-room Dream Inn, for instance -- one of the few beachside Joie De Vivre hotels -- the package rate and the regular rate are identical at $325 a night. But if you stay four nights, you'll also get a $350 dining credit and a $50 gas card. That means a four-night stay would still come to $1,300, but you'd get $400 in credit to spend on things you'd definitely pay for otherwise. More good news: The hotel, a quick walk from the boardwalk, is the only beachfront hotel in Santa Cruz, and every room has a view of Monterey Bay.
We also price-checked the Hotel Tomo, a partnership with Best Western in San Francisco's Japantown. Again, the package rate and regular rate were the same -- $139 for a room with two queen beds and a balcony. The package also includes two tickets to the Shanghai Exhibition at the Asian Art Museum (worth $17 each) plus free breakfast at the hotel's cafe. While those perks won't blow most families' socks off, this property is a cool option for tech lovers, with a décor themed on Japanese animé, featuring murals, a lobby wall of TV screens, and glow-in-the-dark desk blotters in rooms. "Gaming suites" come equipped with PlayStation3, Wii, beanbag chairs, and a six-foot LCD projection screen.
The Road Trippin' package is good for travel through September 15. As usual, a few blackout dates apply. When booking online, start on the specials page, or click on the "Select a Room Inclusive Package" tab after you've entered dates on the reservations page. If you book by phone, mention the California Road Trippin' package when calling tel. 831/426-4330.
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