The economy is the bad news. The good news is that the bad news is causing hotels and airlines to drop prices for the holidays, so there are plenty of travel bargains -- if you know where to look and move quickly, before the deals disappear.
For the entire month of January through February 16, 2009, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is offering 20 percent off the best available rate for all hotel suites at more than 30 participating Kimpton hotels, most of which are downtown in cities like Boston, Salt Lake City, Denver, and Chicago. Often, Kimpton hotels go under the name Hotel Monaco, so it's best to check the website to find a participating hotel in the city you want to visit. Additionally, Kimpton, is offering breakfast for $1 for guests who book a best-available-rate stay at participating hotels between now and March 1, 2009. Suite deal!
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide also has a discount offer, from now until March 31, 2009. For every night you stay with Starwood, the next night can be 50 percent off. The promotion is valid at the company's nearly 500 hotels in the U. S., Canada and the Caribbean, including the W brand, Westin, Le Meridien, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, AloftSM, ElementSM. The promotion is called Better Tomorrows -- and don't we all hope things will be better tomorrow than they are today.
Under the Starwood discount program, a two-day NYC weekend escape at the W New York averages $598 instead of $798, and a four-day fall family getaway to the Westin San Francisco will average $507 instead of $676. If you book a six-night winter vacation at the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort and Spa in Hawaii could save $308, more than enough for a hula lesson.
Alaska Airlines Vacations is giving away three nights and tickets to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Just book a four-night package by Dec. 20, 2008, for travel Jan. 4 through June 27, 2009, and get three additional nights free including theme park tickets. If you book a seven-night package and travel by March 29th, the deal includes a $200 gift card. There are some restrictions -- seats are limited and there are blackout dates -- so don't delay.
The US dollar has gained 15% against the Euro and 20% against the British pound in recent weeks, so the combination of the stronger dollar, lack of crowds and deals and discounts just increases the appeal for a winter escape. American Airlines is offering a free companion ticket for future travel to Britain if you book a round-trip ticket between now and December 31, 2008. Remember to use the promotion code UKCMP.