By Terry Gardner, Special to the Times
June 10, 2012
Although airfare and hotel rates are up this summer, deals are out there — if you know where to look.
When L.A. heats up, the City by the Bay usually keeps its cool, and experts at all four websites recommend San Francisco for a summer getaway. "With its mild temperature and gearing up for the America's Cup in 2013, there will be lots of races all summer," said L. Jasmine Kim, general manager of Travel-Ticker.com. The historic Sir Francis Drake hotel has rates up to 25% off. It's ranked No. 100 out of 239 San Francisco hotels on Trip Advisor. Info: http://www.travel-ticker.com/SFO.
Priceline, Orbitz and Travel-Ticker.com think you'll find some good savings in the nation's capital this summer if you can stand the heat and humidity. (Temps through Wednesday will be in the upper 80s and low 90s, with a 60% chance of rain Wednesday.) Although airfares to the East Coast are up about 2%, "fares to [Ronald] ReaganWashington National Airport are down 1%," said Brian Ek, Priceline spokesperson. Because Washington can be a business destination, you'll sometimes find better hotel rates on the weekends, said Kim of Travel-Ticker.com — some as low as $69 a night. Here's the best bargain in Wash-ington: The Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are free. Info: http://www.si.edu.
Remember, it's a dry heat; temps are expected to be in the upper 90s to low 100s the first few days of this week. Mercifully, Vegas is awash in fabulous swimming pools, and airfares are down 3.3% this year, said Priceline's Ek. "If you're willing to stay at Excalibur, mid-August, midweek, you can get a room for $38 a night," Ek said. Rental car prices are as low as $12 a day for a "name-your-own-price" economy car, he said. Don't like the insanity of the casinos? Maybe you need a vacation rental: FlipKey has 100 homes in Las Vegas, from condos in major resort hotels, such as MGM and Jet, to single-family homes. Info: http://www.tinyurl.com/85pvxnu
Airfares to Chicago average $339, down 4.4%, and $305 to Midway, Ek said. Again, look for deals in the business district for weekend stays or in an outlying neighborhood, where rates can be as much as 40% less than in the city center, said Jeanenne Tornatore, senior editor of Orbitz.
For a last-minute destination, consider a seasonal destination such as Tahoe, where occupancy is lower in summer. "Rates drop up to 50% or more," said T.J. Mahony, chief executive of FlipKey, which has a "deals available" filter. When I checked for the week of July 12-19, nine deals were available, including a sleeps-nine condo at $125 a night that also had "stay four nights, get one night free" offer. (This deal may no longer be available.) Info: http://www.tinyurl.com/7wknopb.
Consider a cruise
"Carnival is offering summer Caribbean cruises, departing from Miami, priced at $62 a night per person, and that includes stateroom, meals and entertainment," said Ek. (But keep in mind this is hurricane season.) Royal Caribbean and Norwegian are offering cruise and air pricing to Europe and such perks as prepaid gratuities, free onboard spending credits and spa offers, he added. Priceline Cruises also is sweetening the deal with free hotel stays of up to five nights, depending on length of cruise and stateroom. Info: http://www.cruises.priceline.com and http://www.travel-ticker.com/cruises.
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