Though you may be caught up in holiday madness, 'tis also the season to plan for an affordable winter or spring break. Here's a trio of money-saving deals that really deliver value for families.
35% off at Disney World in Early Spring
Disney World has an offer on the table right now that lets you shave up to 35% off your hotel bill for most dates between February 17 and April 16, 2011. The amount of savings depends on the resort category you choose. If you book a Disney Value Resort Hotel (the least expensive of the official hotels), you can save 20% on your stay. Opt for a Deluxe Villa Resort, and you can save 35% for stays during the same period. To take advantage of this offer, book by December 31.
If you're not able to commit that quickly, you've got a second chance: book between January 1 and February 13, and you can still enjoy savings of up to 30%.
Kids Play Free at Tahoe's Resort at Squaw Creek
Playing in the snow sounds simple enough, but booking a family ski trip can incur a snowdrift of costs, from lift tickets to rentals and other activities. Lake Tahoe's Resort at Squaw Creek (www.squawcreek.com), which Parents magazine recently named a Top 10 winter resort for families, streamlines your fees with its Kids Ski, Skate and Sled Free package.
Located at the base of Squaw Valley USA, site of the 1960 winter Olympics, the Resort at Squaw Creek is just minutes from California's North Lake Tahoe. The AAA Four-Diamond resort was recently named by Conde Nast Traveler as one of the 50 top ski resorts in the country, and it's not hard to see why: it has ski-in, ski-out access, an on-site cross-country ski center, an ice-skating rink and an acclaimed kids' program called Mountain Buddies. Starting this season, there will also be a mountaintop kids' terrain park with a snow fort, kid-friendly jumps, bumps and whoopty-doos, as well as a scavenger hunt activity where you can learn about the mountain's animals, history and natural habitat.
As for non-snow endeavors, there are also heated swimming pools and a spa. Rooms in the 405-room resort, all recently renovated, feature LCD-screen TVs, some fireplaces and kitchen (in the suites) and large picture windows with views of the mountains and ponderosa forests.
Prices for the package start at $279 a night on weeknights, and $349 a night on weekends. The package includes, per night:
- Deluxe guestroom accommodations
- Children's goodie bag on arrival (a $25 value, according to the hotel)
- One free children's in-room movie per stay (about a $15 value)
- Free ice skating and skate rentals at the resort ice rink (worth $12 x 2 kids = $24)
- Free sledding (worth $5 x 2 kids = $10)
- A free 12 and under child's lift ticket to Squaw Valley USA. Up to two children per room ($12/day x 2 kids = $24)
- Free hot chocolate and s'mores at the outdoor fire pits
One reality check: There is a $16 daily resort fee. The package is available from January 2 through April 9, 2011. It's based on a two-night stay, and is subject to availability and not available during holiday periods. The price covers up to two children 12 and under. You can book online (click on the package after entering dates) or by calling tel. 800/327-3353.
3rd Night Free at Tucson's JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort
If you want a snowbird-style getaway for the holiday season, Arizona presents some nice sunny options -- and one award winner that even offers the unlikely guarantee of snow.
Tucson's JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa (www.jwmarriottstarrpass.com) has been racking up the accolades lately, landing on Conde Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Top 100 resorts in the US and Travel+Leisure's World's Best Hotels Top 500 lists. Starr Pass is offering a 3-for-2 holiday package through January 8: when you book two nights at $199 a night -- the regular rate -- you'll get the third night free.
The 575-room resort has four pools, a lazy river and water slide, an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course and a spa. If you like the desert but not the blazing heat, December is a nice time to be in here, when high temperatures tend to be in the ballpark of 70 degrees. Either way, you can combine a nice dose of nature -- there's great hiking around here -- with some kid-friendly civilization: the Starr Pass does Nickelodeon character breakfasts on many weekends throughout the year. The hotel is within a short drive of the local Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum and the Pima Air and Space Museum.
If you're up for a last-minute getaway, the weekend of December 10Â?12 will feature a visit from Santa and his elves, who are bringing a giant load of real snow for some desert sledding down the resort's Starr Circle Hill, located at the resort's main entrance, as well as craft-making workshops.
The 3-for-2 holiday package is good through January 8. When booking online, use promotional code B4F, or mention the 3-for-2 when booking over the phone at tel. 888/527-8989. Some blackout dates apply.
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