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Special offers are popping up like daffodils at Southern California hotels these days, which means it could be a good time to snag a family getaway for less. Here are three promotions that caught our eye:

Third Night Free at 9 Beverly Hills Hotels

Looking for a way to rationalize staying at a high-end hotel? Get a free night. After all, the higher the regular rate, the bigger the savings, right? That's why we were drawn to a new offer called "Breakfast in Beverly Hills", available at nine area hotels, which delivers a third night free plus breakfast daily for two.

Beverly Hills, one could argue, is lots of fun for families, especially for 'tweens and teens who love swimming pools and movie stars. Beverly Hills has a fab location near beaches, Hollywood, and Universal Studios -- not to mention the bragging rights that come with window shopping on Rodeo Drive.

One of the hotels included in the offer is the famed Peninsula Beverly Hills, home of infant-size hotel bathrobes and lessons from a surfing instructor to the stars. Rates there start at $1,300 per night -- though a free night takes the nightly average to $866 per night based on a three-night stay. Still too pricey? Check out the Avalon Beverly Hills, a colorful, mod boutique hotel with a pool, where rates regularly start at $290 per night but drop to $193 per night with this offer. And then there's the Thompson Beverly Hills, which has the ultimate L.A. perk -- the rooftop pool -- and has starting rate of $192 per night, which averages out to $128 per night with the offer. Now we're talking San Fernando Valley prices!

The offer is good through June 30. You can book through the Breakfast in Beverly Hills page, or through the individual hotels' web sites (check their specials pages).

A Raft of Spring Break Perks at Two Southern Cali Loews

There's nothing more annoying than getting to a resort during your spring break, only to discover that it's not the hotel's spring break. In other words: No daily kids' program, no dive-in movies, no giant cartoon characters wandering around the breakfast buffet. We've learned the hard way to always remember to confirm seasonal activities before you book.

But this is also why we were heartened to see that two Southern California Loews (www.loews.com) properties -- the Loews Coronado Bay Resort and the Loews Santa Monica Beach -- have extended their spring break holiday span from March 25 through Easter, April 24.

At the Loews Coronado, on Corondo Island just across the bay from downtown San Diego, there are more than 25 on-site spring break activities, including marshmallow roasts, dive-in movies, gondola cruises, art classes, surfing camps, nature tours, wine tastings and "crepes for kids" cooking classes. Of those that charge a fee, many cost under $5 each.

Year-round, the 439-room Loews boasts three swimming pools, basketball and tennis courts, a private 80-slip marina, a Pottery Barn Kids Club, and direct access to the Silver Strand State Beach. The only catch? Perhaps unsurprisingly, rates are little higher during spring break than for other school-year dates. Though the resort promises starting rates of $199 a night, we found that April rates from $219 and upward, and summer rates starting at $239. In mid-May, those starting rates dip to $189.

The spring break perks last until April 24; you can book online or by calling reservations at tel. 800/235-6397.

Deal or No Deal? Family Package at San Diego's Grand Del Mar

An upside of the still-sluggish economy is that even the most luxe hotels are still willing to put a good offer on the table. Take the Grand Del Mar on the northern edge of San Diego, about 10 minutes from the city's quietest beaches. The AAA Five-Diamond property, which opened in 2007, has an Italian villa vibe as well as four pools, golf, tennis, a spa, a kids' club, and an equestrian center; it also has Addison, one of the biggest foodie-magnet restaurants south of L.A. It's about 25 minutes in any direction from Legoland, SeaWorld, and the San Diego Zoo.

But do a little digging, and you'll find that even a plush spot like this is willing to throw in extra value to get you there. We were intrigued by the new "Family Fun Package," available through December 30, that starts at $465 per night. Here's what it includes:

  • Kids eat free (worth $35/child x 2 kids x 2 days = $140 )
  • 4-hour stint at Explorers Club for two kids ages 5-12 ($50 x 2 kids = $100)
  • Connecting room at 50% off (worth $233)

When we price-checked a stay in April, regular rates started at $425, which is $40 less than the family package. Once you factor in the value-added freebies, the package pulls ahead by $200 in added value. If you need that second room, the package cuts an additional 25% off your room bill.

Deal or No Deal? If you are prepared to fork out for just one room, you can get a better deal by browsing the specials page and booking the Grand Life offer, which starts at $333 per night and includes a one-time $100 credit you can use at the restaurants, spa, or golf course. The rate delivers a 22% savings even before you factor in the credit.

Both offers are good through Dec. 31. As usual, a few blackout dates apply. You can book the deals online, or by calling tel. 888/314-2030.

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