4 cheap cities to ring in 2010
Take advantage of last-minute travel deals for popular New Year's destinations.
In Decembers past, a New Year’s resolution to travel more stood in conflict with a resolution to save more money. This month, consumers can resolve to do both at once -- before the new year even begins.
This year, drop-offs in regional tourism along with the usual year-end push by the travel industry to meet its financial goals are yielding more last-minute deals on trips to popular destinations for New Year’s Eve.
“Cities go all out for New Year’s, and hotels are raising the stakes to lure leisure travelers for the long weekend,” says Barbara Messing, the vice president for deal-tracking site Travel-Ticker.com. Make no mistake: New Year’s Eve is still a high-demand night in cities with notable celebrations, and hotel room rates reflect that. But slumping travel throughout 2009 has kept everyday hotel rates in major cities low.
Consider these four cities to kick off 2010 in style -- but without serious damage to your budget:
New York. Why watch the iconic Times Square ball-drop on TV when you can see it in person? Watch the lighted ball begin its annual ascent at 6 p.m. followed by concerts and entertainment until the countdown at 11:59 p.m. Landing a cheap hotel rate over the holiday won’t be easy, but it’s an opportune year to try. New York is one of the few cities where hotel rates are starting to recover from recession-inspired drops, says Glen MacDonell, director of travel programs and alliances at AAA.
Sample deal: During Travelocity’s Holiday Getaway Sale (through Dec. 31), pay with an American Express card and use code SAVE100AMEX at checkout to save $100 on select hotel bookings. At the Doubletree Hotel, which charges $305 per night for a standard room, that saves you 10%.
Las Vegas. A memorable New Year’s Eve is one of the few sure bets in a gambling city. Travelers voted Las Vegas their favorite city for celebrating New Year’s Eve in a November survey by Travel-Ticker.com. “They go full out on the entertainment, the party atmosphere,” says Messing. A-list entertainers host bashes at every casino nightclub (get tickets to see 50 Cent at Pure in Caesar’s Palace, for example, or the Black Eyed Peas at LAX in the Luxor), while the Strip itself, closed to auto traffic, becomes one big street party.
Sample deal: The Stratosphere offers a 10% discount for consumers who book a room for New Year’s weekend directly through its Web site. After the discount, a deluxe room for Dec. 31 could cost as little as $180. Weeknight room rates regularly start at $40.
Boston. An entire day of family-friendly New Year’s entertainment costs just $18, the price tag of a First Night access button, says Genevieve Shaw Brown, a spokeswoman for travel booking site Travelocity. Art, theater and musical performances kick off at 1 p.m. and don’t stop until midnight when fireworks light up the sky over Boston Harbor. Don’t miss the centerpiece Grand Procession, a Mardi Gras-style parade through town.
Sample deal: The Westin Boston Waterfront offers 25% off a two-night stay (say, Dec. 30 through Jan. 1), knocking the per-night rate for a standard room down to $153.
Orlando. Theme parks aren’t the obvious choice for ringing in 2010, which means there’s plenty of hotel availability in Orlando, says MacDonell. Visit Disney’s Magic Kingdom for the regular SpectroMagic light show parade at 7 p.m. followed by two rounds of fireworks at 10:30 and 11:50 p.m. Or pay $99 for access to Universal CityWalk’s celebration, which includes all-you-can-eat food, a midnight sparkling wine toast and access to live performances by The Temptations and The Four Tops.
Sample deal: Book during Expedia’s winter sale and save 30% on rates at the Radisson Resort Orlando. That brings the rate for a standard room from $186 down to $130 per night.
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Even those who don't like to shop are probably hitting the stores this month. Here's what to be on the lookout for and here's what to avoid.