Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Spoil Me

Consumer demand for travel remains weak in the recession, and that means the cascade of travel deals for airlines, hotels, resorts and worldwide destinations that began last winter continues apace, with packages and discounts reaching into this coming winter.

Here is a sampler of current travel deals. (Note: I am a journalist, not a travel vendor. I don't have shares or a stake in any travel company. As always, conduct due diligence.)

Onward, then:

* American Airlines has a big fare sale good for travel within the United States with one-way fares starting at $49. The sale is good for travel from Sept. 9 to Jan. 7, 2010 and must be purchased by 11:59 p.m. Central Daylight Time, Thursday, Sept. 3. Tickets must be purchased 14 days in advance on the American Airlines Web site (www.aa.com). There are blackout dates near major holidays. Sample one-way fares based on round-trip purchase: $49 Minneapolis-Chicago; $59 Los Angeles-Las Vegas; $79 Orlando-Miami.

* Ritz-Carlton Hotels has a worldwide "Peace of Mind'' sale on at 30 of its resorts and 40 of its city hotels through Dec. 31. Details vary from property to property but typically include at least one free night with a minimum stay of four consecutive nights, resulting in a fine de facto discount. Other amenities include $100 resort fees, daily breakfast for two, free parking and local telephone calls and more - a good deal at this 5-star, luxury chain. (www.ritz-carlton.com or telephone 1.800.542.8680 in the U.S. and Canada).

* The landmark Kahala Hotel and Resort, Honolulu, has just finished a $52 million renovation. Additionally, the hotel is celebrating its 45th anniversary with 30 percent off Kahala suites, plus a fifth free night with a five-night stay and daily buffet breakfast for two at the resort's beachfront Plumeria Beach House(www.kahalaresort.com or telephone 1.800.367.2525.) Hawaiian officials report that tourist arrivals dropped 15 percent in the first half of this year from the first half of 2008, so this is, broadly speaking, a good time to find deals in Hawaii. The 50th state is busy marking its 50th year as a member of the Union.

* The Upper House, a designer-driven, high-style boutique property from Swire Hotels, opens Oct. 2 in Hong Kong. The new arrival has 117 rooms, including 21 suites, and is located in the highrise Pacific Place complex on Hong Kong island. Advance press materials say the Upper house will boast bathrooms over 300 square feet. This is a sister property to the Opposite House, in Beijing. The Hong Kong opening is being marked with a two nights for the price of one offer from Oct. 2 through Dec. 31. (www.upperhouse.com, info@upperhouse.com.

* Lufthansa, Germany's major airline, is offering double-mile status for Lufthansa's best customers: its frequent flyers. The airline calls its program Miles and More (www.milesandmore.com). The double-miles offer is good throughout September and October for flights beginning and ending in Europe and includes travel on affiliated airlines such as Austrian Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines and Swiss. (www.lufthansa.com).

* Dive St. Vincent and Mariners Hotel in St. Vincent, located in the southeast Caribbean, is offering savings through Nov. 30 of $106 U.S. per diver in its 7 nights/10 dives package. The deal includes an eighth night free and two free extra dives and costs $999 per person. (E-mail bill2s@DiveStVincent.com or telephone 1.784.457.4928).

* Six Fairmont Hotels and Resorts properties in California are asking guests at check-in if they want to contribute $1 to help make up a desperate funding shortfall at California's beseiged state parks. The properties, which include the Fairmont Hotel Nob Hill, in San Francisco; Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa, in northern California wine country; and Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows, in Santa Monica, say funds collected "will be earmarked for Tourism Cares and the California Save Our Parks Campaign.'' Hopefully, the state, currently ablaze with wildwires, won't burn down first. Contact the non-profit Tourism Cares, a volunteer-based and educational-oriented organization, at www.tourismcares.org. You can reach Fairmont Hotels at www.fairmont.com or telephone 1.800.441.1414.

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