Haven't booked your family's summer vacation yet? That could turn out to be a very smart move. As temperatures rise, prices continue to fall on kid-friendly getaways of all kinds. Here are some of the best money-saving travel deals we've seen lately:
Save $1,234 at Four Seasons Punta Mita, Mexico: Less than an hour from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, the Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita is located in a 26-acre private peninsula community surrounded by dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean and gentle bay waters of Bahia de Banderas. Authentic Mexican-style casitas are perched along the Pacific, while the rolling, tropical terrain is dotted with three pool areas (including a lazy river), four restaurants, two golf courses, a spa, and a complimentary full-day kids' program that infuses a terrific sense of place (think pi?ata-making and Mexican art lessons).
All this swish comes at a price, of course, but now through December 21 you can get it for a lot less (and we really do mean a lot less), thanks to the resort's One, Two, Three, Four deal. For every four nights you stay, you'll receive a whopping $1,234 resort credit that can be used toward any charge you incur. Unusually for a deal like this, you can even apply the credit to your room.
Nightly rates for a garden-view casita start at $415 for stays between July 1 and September 30. (The rate increases to $545 from October 1 to December 21.) So while a four-night stay in July would normally start at $1660, you can apply the resort credit and chop your price tag down to just $426. Wow! It's like getting three nights free and it brings the per-night rate down to just $107 a night! Looking for a longer vacation? Stay four more nights and get another resort credit. The deal is valid every day of the week, but, as usual, there are some blackout dates.
Disney Cruises: Meet stars, get up to $700 in credit: Dreaming of sailing with Mickey and the gang? This summer is a fabulous time to take the plunge. For starters, Disney is chipping in a nice bonus for folks who opt for a summer sailing. Book a verandah stateroom on most three-, four-, or seven-night Disney cruises sailing between June 25 and August 9, and you can get $100 per night in credit to spend on shore excursions, spa treatments, gifts, and more. And how's this for some extra star power: On sailings in July and August, your kids can meet Disney Channel stars onboard the ship as part of Disney Channel Summer at Sea. Stars from Disney Channel shows and original movies like Sonny with a Chance, Hannah Montana, JONAS, Wizards of Waverly Place, The Suite Life on Deck, Hatching Pete, and Camp Rock will be setting sail and interacting with passengers with autograph signings and photo sessions.
Need more convincing? Disney Cruise Line is one of only six family vacations to earn an A+ grade from WeJustGotBack.com reviewers.
To take advantage of this deal, book by July 10 either online or by calling tel. 800/449-3380. Be sure to use booking code RAMA.
Club Med's $99 Wow Sale: Known for their stunning beach locations, award-winning kids' programs, and huge roster of active land and water diversions, Club Med resorts are a popular choice for families. Parents love the brand's all-inclusive pricing, which bundles virtually all costs -- lodging, meals, snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, plus most activities -- into a tidy rate with no surprises. Of course, there's even more to love when that rate gets slashed. During the "Wow Sale," each person pays just $99 per night. Depending on the Club Med property and your travel dates, this can amount to a savings of 60% or more.
The sale ends August 31. To take advantage of these rates, you must book a stay of at least three nights and travel before April 21, 2010.
Save 50% at Hammock Beach Resort, Florida: Set just south of St. Augustine, FL, Hammock Beach Resort boasts a setting overlooking two miles of pristine Atlantic shoreline and a range of accommodations from boutique hotel-style rooms to multiple-bedroom villas and condos. It's also got plenty to keep everyone in the family happy, with kayak nature tours, a spa, tennis courts, two golf courses, and a six-acre waterpark complete with a lazy river, twisting waterslide, and a fabulous zero-entry sand-bottom pool that's super-safe for little ones.
Now through September 30, Hammock Beach Resort is running a "Buy One, Get One" promotion, offering one night free for every night you pay at the resort's rack room rate. The offer is valid for ocean view lodge rooms and suites. With nightly rack rates of $299 for the lodge room and one-bedroom suite and $349 for the three-bedroom suite, getting the second night free brings your average nightly spend to just under $150 and $175, respectively. This offer beats the resort's "best available" rate by about $100 a night and includes all service fees and taxes. The fine print: Some blackout dates apply.
Lush Life: Free night at Conrad and Waldorf Astoria hotels : An ironic benefit of a slumped economy: Sometimes it can actually be easy to live like a Rockefeller. For instance: The Conrad Hotels and Waldorf Astoria Collection are offering a Summer Escape package (www.hiltonluxury.com/Escape/) that gives you one free night when booking a two-to-four night stay (the number of required nights varies by property). The list of 20 participating properties includes two new hotels, the Dakota Mountain Lodge in Park City, Utah, and the Roosevelt New Orleans.
But it gets even better. Depending on the hotel, you might get breaks on dining, golf, spa and kids' clubs. When we priced a trip at Florida's plushly pink Boca Raton Resort & Club -- which offers beach, pool, tennis, golf and lawn games -- we found that the deal includes a free half-day at its new kids' club. A night here in July or August can run for a very reasonable $99 per night, and the Camp Boca kids' club for ages 3 to 12 normally costs $35 for a half day or $65 for a full day. As a bonus, if you book before July 15, you get a voucher for a free night on a future three-night stay.
The package is good for travel through August 30. You can book online by using promo code PRES1 (the savings will show up at check-out) or call tel. 888/214-1592. If you book in time for the future extra night, be sure to mention code EFN to any booking agent.
Wine country package at the Sonoma Fairmont: Ah, the wine-country trip, that long-lost travel option of Life Before Kids -- right? Not so, according to the Fairmont Sonoma Mission & Spa (www.fairmont.com/sonoma) in northen California's Sonoma wine region, which is upping its kid-friendly perks this July. With the catchy slogan of "No Whining in Wine Country," its July "Wine Country Family Package" starts at $289 per night -- a good deal from the get-go, at almost 20% below the best room-only rate we found for July. Plus, if you stay on a non-weekend night (Monday through Thursday), kids under 17 get free breakfasts off the kid's menu at Big 3, the decades-old, on-site restaurant famous for its lemon pancakes.
Located 40 miles north of the San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, this 226-room, AAA-Four-Diamond resort also has a spa, complimentary hiking and biking excursions and -- remember where you are -- daily wine tastings in the lobby. There's a new poolside arcade (complete with Wii), yoga classes for all ages, family movies, "princess" mani-pedis by the pool (by appointment), and s'mores over a fire pit. The hotel can also provide complimentary rollaway beds, cribs and -- cue the squealing -- in-room pop-up tents.
The package is good through July 31. Book online (no promo code necessary) or call tel. 800/441-1414 or 707/938-9000 and ask for the Family Wine Country package.
Summer Deals at Family-Friendly Hotel Chains
Luxury resorts aren't the only ones chopping prices this summer. Some good-value hotel chains are offering some nice savings, too. Here's what's on the table this summer at these five road trip standbys:
Country Inns & Suites: Save 15% off each night of a stay of at least two consecutive nights, plus take advantage of a "buy one entree, get one free" offer at TGIFriday's. Through September 13. (www.countryinns.com/summer2009)
Hilton Garden Inn: Book a Friday and/or Saturday night and slice 15% off the Bed 'n Breakfast rate when you enter promo code REPEAT. The deal includes a cooked-to-order breakfast for up to four adults in the same room and all kids 12 and under. Through December 27. (www.hgi.com/summerspecial)
Homewood Suites: Save 10% off the nightly rate when you book a three-night weekend stay. Through September 7. (homewoodsuites.hilton.com/en/hw/promotions)
Doubletree Hotels: Get free breakfast for the family plus free kids' meals (one with each adult meal purchased). Through September 7. (doubletree.hilton.com/en/dt/promotions/)
Red Roof Inn: Get your third night free at 14 beach locations in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, and Texas. Use discount code #545474 when booking. Through September 7. (www.redroof.com/about-us/hit-the-beach-with-red-roof)
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