So the Fourth of July has come and gone, and you still haven't booked your summer vacation yet? Not a problem. There are still plenty of deals on the table at destinations all over the country. For example, here are two great ways to save on a getaway to the Mid-Atlantic region this summer.
Deal or No Deal? Colonial Williamsburg Summer Package
Colonial Williamsburg (www.colonialwilliamsburg.com), the largest living history museum in the U.S., makes just about every family's must-visit list. And it's easy to see why: this reconstructed 18th-century Virginia capital brings to life one of the most important periods in American history, with a cast of thousands dressed in period garb playing the roles of colonists. The best part? Kids have so much fun they don't even notice that they're learning.
This summer, Colonial Williamsburg is offering a Summer Saver package that includes four nights' hotel, park admission, and a credit to spend a variety of ways. The package price starts at $599, based on a family of four with two kids 18 and under. To see if it's really a good deal for families, we did the math. The package includes:
- four nights in a standard double room at the Williamsburg Woodlands Hotel & Suites (worth $596 in mid-July)
- continental breakfast daily at the hotel (always free)
- length-of-visit admission passes providing unlimited access to Colonial Williamsburg's Historic Area, including all exhibit sites, street theater program Revolutionary City, indoor art museums, historic area shuttle and hotel parking (worth $30 x 2 adults + $15 x 2 kids = $90 for four-day guest passes)
- 25% discount on Colonial Evening Program tickets (saves about $15 x 2 performances = $30)
- $100 credit, good at Colonial Williamsburg shops, restaurants, spa, and recreation facilities
It's important to realize that, even without the package, families who stay at official Colonial Williamsburg hotels save a bundle on park tickets. A family of four staying at an official hotel can purchase multiple-day passes for just $90, where a family staying elsewhere would shell out $108 for a single day ($36 x 2 adults + $18 x 2 kids). Over several days, the savings can add up to hundreds of dollars, and allow you to enjoy the historic area at your leisure.
If booked without the package, four nights at the Williamsburg Woodlands Hotel & Suites plus unlimited access passes to Colonial Williamsburg for a family of four would come to $686, so this package saves another $87 right out of the gate. If the family is smart and uses the credit to purchase meals, that will cut the price of the vacation by another $100, for a total of $187 saved. While the discount for the evening performances is appreciated, it applies to an optional expense for which the more you spend, the more you save.
Deal or Do Deal? Staying at an official Colonial Williamsburg hotel saves money on admission from the get-go. In mid-July, this package can lop off another $187 on a vacation for a family of four when the $100 credit is used on essentials, such as meals.
Note that the lowest package price is good for a Sunday or Monday arrival; a Friday or Saturday check-in boosts the price by $50. There's also a range in regular lodging rates during the summer, from a low of $436 for four nights in late May to a high of $606 for that stay in mid-August. Since the package price is fixed, you save a smidge more money by visiting during peak seasons -- but that also can mean that you'd have to deal with bigger crowds.
The package is valid from May 31 to Sept. 2.
Save up to 60% at Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay
Still making summer travel plans? Good news: The greatest deals aren't all long gone. At the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort (tel. 800/633-7313; www.chesapeakebay.hyatt.com), about 40 miles from Annapolis on the banks of the Choptank River, the Summer Sizzle package is promising a 45% price cut, with rates starting as low as $159 on weeknights and $199 on weekends.
Even better news: The prices live up to their promise and then some. When we checked dates in July at the Maryland resort, we found a $249-a-night rate for a weekend stay in a resort-view room with two double beds, compared to the $459 regular rate -- a 46% discount. For weeknights we found the $159 rate for a double-double, which is a whopping 60% less than the regular rate of $399.
The 342-acre, marina-side resort features pools (including a kids' pool) and a beach, with free amenities such as tennis and volleyball courts, a mini golf course, and a blue-heron rookery. You can rent paddleboats and kayaks, play golf, hit the spa or send kids ages 4-12 to the pirate-themed kids' club ($40/half-day, $75/day). This summer, the 400-room resort is also offering a long list of family-friendly activities, from family Iron Chef Competitions and cookie decorating to dive-in movies or roasting s'mores -- most free or with a nominal fee. And taking the pirate theme one step further, it's playing host to the Pirate Adventures of the Eastern Shore, an hour-plus show aboard a pirate ship with hands-on activities for kids ($25/adult guest, $10/child, though there will be also be weekly discounts).
The package is good for travel through Sept. 30 and is based upon availability. To book online, use promotional code SUMSIZ, or ask for the Summer Sizzle package when calling tel. 800/633-7313.
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