Have you suddenly decided you want to go somewhere for the holidays, but you're not sure where, or how much it will run you at this late date? Fear not -- CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg spotlights some great buys in this column.
It's not too late to travel this holiday season! Here are some tips for procrastinators, with last-minute deals and ways to save this winter:
It's not too late to travel this holiday season! Peter Greenberg shares his tips and tricks for procrastinators, with last-minute deals and ways to save this winter.
Go Where it's the "Off Season"
The trick to saving big money is to travel to a hot destination...when it's not. North Carolina's Crystal Coast is a beautiful 85-mile-long coastline and a major summer vacation spot. But because of its position among the Outer Banks, the weather is quite mild, even in winter. The Sheraton Atlantic Beach is offering a last-minute deal of 40 percent off, from $79 per night, including breakfast. It's the only ocean-front hotel in the area, and offers easy access to activities like fishing and kayaking, dining on local catch fresh from the docks, and visiting Cape Lookout National Seashore to see those famous Shackleford Banks wild horses. This deal is valid through Dec. 30.
The Napa Valley is thrumming in summer and fall, but winter brings an entirely new experience in wine country. The town of Yountville is celebrating the holidays all through December, complete with twinkling lights, a brand-new ice-skating rink, weekend horse-drawn carriage rides, and of course, plenty of wine (including extended tasting hours). Save 30 percent at the Maison Fleurie bed and breakfast, where the Winter Wonderland package includes accommodations, breakfast, and ice-skating rentals from $98. The LEED-certified Bardessono hotel and restaurant has a Winter Wine Down Package is a pricier $788, but includes value-added incentives like $200 spa credit per night, $150 dining credit per night, wine tasting for two at Hill Family Estates, and free shipping of two wine bottles anywhere in the U.S.
Don't Follow the Crowds
Sure, families flock to Disney World over the winter holidays, but that doesn't mean you have to stay on property to have a great experience. At the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, a full-service resort about 10 miles from Disney World, rates start from just $87.20 a night. The Winter WonderDeal package is available now through Jan. 2 and gets you 10 percent off a one-night stay, 20 percent off two nights, and 30 percent off three nights. Of course, Mickey will beckon, but you may find yourself spending plenty of time at this resort with its 850-foot lazy river, two golf courses and 1,200 acres of surrounding natural wetlands.
New York City is a prime destination for the holidays, what with the shopping, the Macy's window displays, ice skating at Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park, and the holiday markets. But the tradeoff of all this activity is that hotels can be very, very expensive. So think creatively, like...Weehawken! The Sheraton Lincoln Harbor in Weehawken, N.J. has rates from just $112 a night, even over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and is just a 5-minute ferry ride (enclosed and heated) from midtown Manhattan. As as added bonus, it's got a great view of the New York skyline.
When in Doubt, Gamble
In Vegas, New Year's Eve is one of the priciest (and most crowded) times of the year, but rates are actually very reasonable over Christmas. The Borgata Hotel Casino, on Dec. 24 and 25, rates are from $389 per night, but the Eat, Drink & Be Merry package includes a $100 dining credit (which can be used at restaurants such as Izakaya, Wolfgang Puck American Grille, Michael Mina's SeaBlue, Bobby Flay Steak, and more) and a free spa treatment.
Even budget hotels are discounting for the holidays. At Red Roof Inn, get a 30 percent discount at participating properties nationwide on Christmas Day, when guests book 10 days in advance. Guests can also get 20 percent off from Red Roof the days prior to and after Christmas by booking 10 days in advance.
Hotels.com's Hotel Sale is offering up to 30 percent saving if you book by Dec. 28, 2010 for travel by January 3, 2010. Rates and restrictions vary by hotel, but many participating properties are offering discounted rates if you book a non-refundable rate and pay in full in advance.
Even at individual hotels, this trick can yield savings. At La Quinta Resort and Club, a luxury Waldorf-Astoria property, the best available rate for a standard casita over the holidays runs about costs $169 a night (plus a daily $27 resort fee). But if you pay in full, in advance, that rate drops to $152 a night. And if Christmas in the desert sounds like an oxymoron, think again. This is the resort where director and producer Frank Capra is believed to have written "It's a Wonderful Life," and the resort is paying homage to the classic film through the holidays.
Have a White (Sand) Christmas
When the holidays roll around, head to the beach! Wyndham Nassau Resort is offer ing a Warm Winter Nights and Bright Holiday Light package that drops its regular rates by 53 percent. Rates are from $199 per night for a three-night stay, and includes a room with private balcony and daily $25 food and beverage credit daily. This package is available through Jan. 1, 2010 and a three-night minimum stay is required.
Want to get away from the crowds? Head to Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club in St. Petersburg, Fla., is celebrating its 85th anniversary in 2011 with rates as low as $85 per night from Jan. 1 - 6, 2011. That's almost 65 percent savings compared to typical January rates. This deal must be booked seven days in advance using rate code ADP.
For word on even more great deals, go to Page 2.
Travel During "Dead Week"
Better yet, be a savvy traveler and skip the holiday travel altogether. The period between Jan. 3 and President's Day weekend is traditionally a slow period, also known as the "Dead Week," so you'll find lower airfare and great deals.
Cruises are one of the easiest places to score dead week deals. Take a look at a five-night Western Caribbean cruise on Celebrity, sailing from Miami to Jamaica and the Grand Cayman. Departing on Christmas Eve, from $759 per person. Departing Dec. 29, from $829 per person. Departing Jan. 3, a cool $229. Even the top-tier suite on that sailing costs less than an inside cabin on the others (from $549).
A three-night Bahamas cruise on Royal Caribbean is sold out on Christmas Eve and from $529 on New Year's Eve is an incredible $179 on Jan. 7.
A five-night Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean to Costa Maya and Cozumel is sold out on Dec. 24 and from $839 on Dec.r 29, but only from $399 on Jan. 3.
American Airlines and Telluride, Colorado, have brought back their popular Kids Fly Free promotion. Kids ages 2 to 12 fly free with an accompanying adult ticket on select American Airlines between Jan. 5 and Feb. 11, 2011. Tickets must be booked 21 days in advance by Jan.y 25, 2011 for a minimum of two nights. Inbound travel must take place Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday; outbound travel must be on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. This deal can be combined with Telluride's $89 Stay & Ski package, based on a five-night, three-day lift ticket stay.
The Limelight Lodge in Aspen, Colo., which has rates from $305 a night, has launched a program with the Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen/Snowmass. From Jan. 3 through April 1, 2011, the Inside Tracks program provides free guided tours around Aspen/Snowmass' four mountains led by three pro instructors. This is a $600 per day value at no cost, aimed to give intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders tips straight from the experts. The hotel is also offering a Ski Free package that includes up to two lift tickets daily for every night booked.
Looking to rack up points for a free hotel stay? Launching Jan. 3, Starwood Hotels & Resorts' SPG Great Weeks, Grand Weekends earns you double StarPoints every night of the week. As a bonus, you also collect an extra 500 Starpoints for every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night stay. Sign up at to book free hotel stays.
Last, but not least, if you need more evidence that the dead week is the time to go, check out this deal from a luxury Times Square property. The Westin New York is on sale between Jan. 2 to 6. Rates start at $233 per room during this period, compared to just seven days later when rates climb to $409 a night.
Make it a truly affordable-and educational-family getaway with this package from historic Colonial Williamsburg. Stay three nights, two days for $379 per family of (two kids under 17) and get: nightly accommodations, daily breakfast, admission to Colonial Williamsburg's Historic Area and Busch Gardens Christmas Town (valid for three consecutive days). This offer is valid through Dec. 31, 2010.