As inflation continues to sting, more travelers are expected to hunt for bargains this year, and the industry is responding by offering deals across the travel landscape, from hotels to cruises and tours.
“Despite inflation and higher prices, we continue to see a strong preference for experiences with travel,” said Brett Keller, the chief executive of the online travel agency Priceline, which will hold one of its biggest sales this month, including 30 percent off select hotel stays and up to 50 percent off rental cars.
Given strong demand, travel companies can usually hold fast on prices, but by offering seasonal sales, they can hedge against changes in the future.
“There is a benefit to hoteliers in securing bookings with more lead time so they can more accurately understand demand,” said Christine Guadenzi, the director of sales and marketing for the Family Coppola Hideaways, a collection of small hotels that includes the coastal Turtle Inn in Belize, which will offer 20 percent off room rates booked Nov. 24 to Dec. 15 (discounted rates start at $335 a night, compared to the usual $419 price tag).
Some of those deals may end up under Christmas trees as vacations are increasingly positioned as gifts.
“It’s still a treat-yourself vibe, but that may change this year as we’ve seen this bigger push for experiences rather than material gifts,” said Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst with DealNews.com, a website that tracks sales. She expects more promotions highlighting friends’ getaways and family trips.
There may be more deals, but the usual caveats apply: The best bargains tend to be for off-season travel and midweek rates (unless it’s a popular business travel destination, like the Ameswell Hotel in California’s Silicon Valley where most blackout dates in its sale are Mondays through Wednesdays). If a deal is “up to 40 percent off,” that 40 percent is likely applied to low season dates and may drop to 10 percent in busier times.
Many travel businesses use Black Friday sales to fill their books in slow periods, even bargain options. For example, the Dagny Boston is offering 25 percent off rooms, which normally start at $119 a night, until Nov. 29 for winter stays through February.
Always read the terms carefully. Many deals are nonrefundable and prepaid, including suites at the 18th-century, village-turned-hotel Borgo San Vincenzo in Montepulciano, Italy, where a sale from Nov. 23 to 27 offers 20 percent off regular rates, including breakfast for two, complimentary e-bike loans and a 100-euro, or about $107, credit for food and drink (suites normally start at 300 euros).
Sometimes incentives come in calendar-related tiers. Through Nov. 30, the tour company G Adventures will offer up to 30 percent off trips departing before April 20, and 10 to 15 percent off for departures in May and June.
Be proactive. With the growth of travel sales, it’s worth checking a hotel, tour company, airline or cruise line you’re interested in from Nov. 24 to 28 to see what they’re offering.
The following sales represent the broad range of offers available this holiday shopping season.
Flash sales and bargains
In a new twist on blink-and-they’re-gone deals, Topnotch Resort in Stowe, Vt., and High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid, N.Y., are each offering one room a night through Aug. 31 at $100. Book them while they last on Nov. 27.
Between Nov. 24 and 28, the Vintages Trailer Resort in Oregon’s winegrowing Willamette Valley will offer 40 percent off stays in its retro trailers for travel through March. Discounted nightly rates start at $59 (use code CYBER23).
Ski destinations rarely go on sale, but through Dec. 17, about a dozen hotels in Aspen, Colo., will offer rooms from $150 a night, and the Aspen Snowmass ski resort will sell $88 lift tickets — normally $189 — for trips from Thanksgiving to Dec. 22.
Among airline sales, Scandinavian Airlines will price round-trip flights between the United States and Scandinavia from $375 between Nov. 21 and 28 for travel Jan. 15 through April.
Plan for any upcoming event — such as a wedding, business meeting or concert — by shopping companies that put their entire hotel portfolios on sale. The stylish Viceroy Hotels & Resorts is holding a sale through Dec. 3 with rooms up to 35 percent off. Before discounts, nightly rates tend to run between $275 at the Viceroy Chicago and $850 at Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort.
CitizenM operates 33 hotels in cities in the United States, Europe and Asia. Through Nov. 27, rooms will be discounted up to 30 percent for stays through March. Shoppers who sign up for the company’s loyalty program with a six-month free trial can take advantage of free perks such as late check out. Rates normally start between about $200 and $230 at citizenM hotels in Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle.
AutoCamp, which offers glamping-style accommodations, with lodgings in Airstream trailers in resort areas such as Cape Cod, in Massachusetts, and near national parks like Yosemite and Zion, is offering up to 40 percent off Nov. 24 to 27 for stays of two nights or more through 2024 (pre-sale rates start at $138).
Exotic and dream destinations will be on sale in the coming weeks, too. EF Go Ahead Tours is discounting a “bucket list” roster of destinations through Nov. 22 at up to $600 off per person, including a 12-day trip to Bali and Java, Indonesia, which starts at $3,039 before the sale. On Black Friday, the tour company will offer more sales, including trips to Greece, and take an extra $100 off all tours.
On the Spanish island of Mallorca, the new Zafiro Palace Andratx is offering up to 40 percent off rates (starting at $112 a night, post-discount) for stays during the 2024 season (May through September) when booked between Nov. 20 and 28 (three-night minimum stay required).
A pair of Marriott luxury hotels near Machu Picchu in Peru will be on sale Nov. 24 to Dec. 1 for three-night stays through March at more than 40 percent off. Housed in a 500-year-old mansion in Cusco, Palacio del Inka will offer rooms starting at $236 a night after the discount, including breakfast for two. In the nearby Sacred Valley, Tambo del Inka stays will start at $355 a night with the promotion, including breakfast for two.
Learn to surf for less in Costa Rica at Surf Synergy, which has a 25-percent-off sale until Dec. 15 on its seven-day surf camps, which normally start at $2,765 a person, including lodging, meals, airport transfers, surf lessons, massages and other activities.
It’s a good time to shop for cruises. Celebrity Cruises is putting most of its itineraries through April 30 on sale through Dec. 5, with 75 percent off a second guest sharing a cabin, and up to $300 in shipboard credits. An 11-night sailing in New Zealand in March starts at $683 before the sale.
It’s also one of the few times to find sales on lodgings in and around popular national parks. Explorer Cabins just outside of Yellowstone National Park will take 30 percent off rates between Black Friday and Cyber Monday (from $229 nightly before the sale).
Splurges on sale
Even some luxury companies whittle their rates during the holiday kick off. From Nov. 23 to 27, SB Winemaker’s House & Spa, a boutique property in Mendoza, Argentina, that is operated by the winemaker Susana Balbo, will take 30 percent off its $4,235 price for a five-night package in January, including a massage, wine-paired dinner, ceramics workshop and other activities.
Consider salmon fishing in Alaska at Salmon Falls Resort near Ketchikan, which is offering 30-percent-off packages booked through Dec. 1 for stays from May 1 to Sept. 30. Discounted rates start at $945 a person and include meals, airport transfers and daily activities such as guided fishing and kayaking.
Miraval Resorts & Spa, in Arizona, Massachusetts and Texas, is coming out with a $300 nightly resort credit to bookings made Nov. 27 to Dec. 5 for stays through 2024. Rates at the Miraval Berkshires start at $679 and include lodgings, meals and activities.
Graze your way through southern Italy in May on a 12-day culinary tour of Naples, Calabria and Basilicata with My Bella Vita Travel. During its sale from Nov. 23 to 27, the Taste of the South tour saves nearly $1,000 on the trip that normally costs $6,650 a person. Other tours will also be reduced 15 percent at that time.
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