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During the summer in New York City, the streets are less crowded and the wait is a little less at your favorite restaurants -- everyone's gone, off to the country, the beach, or the mountains to escape the heat, which on a humid day seems to roll off the streets in steamy sheets. Perhaps I'm not doing the best sell job of New York in the summer, but it's an experience you should have, and there is more than enough to keep you busy while you're here. Central Park? Art museums? Bronx Zoo? Baseball games? Mister Softee trucks on every other corner? If that doesn't do it, these package and promotions should sweeten the deal.

Since 2001, the official visitors site to New York City (tel. 212/484-1222; www.nycvisit.com) has run a special third-night promotion with its "Signature Collection" of hotels, and it's on again this summer, from July 4 through September 3. Simply put, if you book two nights at one of sixteen luxury properties using an American Express card you get the third night free. Choose among the Carlyle, the St. Regis, the New York Palace, Mandarin Oriental, Loews Regency. A new add this year, The London NYC (formerly the Rihga Royal Hotel) was recently redesigned and boasts a restaurant by British chef Gordon Ramsay. Overall, the properties on this list represent some of the most indulgent experiences you can have in a New York City hotel -- for a special occasion, it might just fit the bill. On June 1 you'll be able to view all the details of the promotion right on the visitor's site; in the meantime, contact the hotels directly if you have any questions.

Other packages include The Mansfield Hotel's (tel. 800/255-5167; www.mansfieldhotel.com) "Summer in the City." Located right on 44th street, the Mansfield is a quiet, Beaux Arts boutique hotel in midtown; it also happens to be where I got engaged, so it has a special place in my heart (but that's another story). Nevertheless, the summer package starts at $299 per night and includes deluxe accommodations, complimentary breakfast, a picnic basket for two with a freshly prepared meal, a map of New York City and a disposable camera. It's available May 24-December 31.

It can sometimes be difficult to nab a reservation at the relatively new Hotel Gansevoort (tel. 212/206-6700; www.hotelgansevoort.com), thanks to its chic contemporary design, rooftop pool and lounge, luxury accommodations, and location in the city's current hotspot, the meatpacking district. The hotel's "Who needs the Hamptons" package recreates summertime right on its rooftop, with a deluxe room or suite accommodations, bottle of Moët & Chandon upon arrival, Hotel Gansevoort pool bag with Evian and misting spray, hat, towel, can of Red Bull, suntan lotion. Two reserved lounge chairs at the hotel's rooftop pool (weekdays only), two complimentary cocktails and lunch for two at Plunge, the rooftop lounge, full continental breakfast buffet daily at Ono. For a deluxe room, the package is priced at $565; for a suite, it's $895, and the promotion is valid through September 2, based on availability.

Apple Core Hotels (tel. 800/567-7720; www.applecorehotels.com), is a group of five properties located just where you might expect: in midtown at the heart of the Big Apple. The group is offering a promotion called "Row a Boat" package, available July 1-31, for $179 per night -- which is a steal even without all the amenities. The price includes one-hour boat rental for up to four guests in Central Park -- yes, you can row a boat in the park -- complimentary breakfast and in-room coffee during your stay, and a classic New York summertime lunch at Express Café at the park's Boathouse restaurant -- hot dogs, French fries, and soda for two. The hotels include Comfort Inn, Super 8, La Quinta, Red roof Inn and Ramada, and they all have free wireless Internet, 24-hour business centers, fitness centers, in-room coffee makers and complimentary continental breakfast as part of the stay.

Expedia (tel. 800-EXPEDIA; www.expedia.com) has a few promotions for stays in New York that aren't packages per se but reduced rates. The Radisson Lexington Avenue, a classy, well-appointed hotel close to many of the most popular midtown attractions, has special rates priced from $179 per night for stays May 17-July 31. The Pod Hotel, formerly the Pickwick Arms, just got a sleek contemporary makeover and is now a budget hotel with rates from $149 for stays through June 1.

It, too, is located in midtown East. If you need airfare as part of your stay here, Expedia is advertising hotel and three nights from $574 at the Pod, based on travel from Atlanta June 14-17. Continuing the "pod" theme, the rooms have iPod docking stations, complimentary wireless, and compact, pod-like rooms. But in New York City, unless you're Eloise or an aging celebrity with an entourage, who needs suite-size rooms? You're not in them for very long.

Finally, Hotels.com (tel. 800/573-7251; www.hotels.com) is running a promotion for room in big cities in the US, and New York is part of it. The site is advertising rates at the Affinia Manhattan, across from Penn Station, from $279 and the Affinia 50 from $249. Additionally, if you stay two nights, you save ten percent, three nights and take fifteen percent off, and so on. Other properties, such as the Omni Berkshire Place, show rates from $160 through July 11, and the W New York, from $229 -- both are relative steals. If you're looking to other boroughs, the Comfort Inn Long Island City is priced from $160 and the Best Western at JFK Airport starts from $116. All of these special rates are good through July 11.

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