Tag Archives: travel deals

Closeup of passports and white airplane background the sea

Flight Deals Abound For Fall and Winter Travel, But Is It Smart to Buy Now?

It seems like airfare deals are everywhere these days, but so are the uncertainties about air travel. Refund and cancellation policies are changing all the time, routes and services are being cut left and right, and some airlines may not even exist when we finally make it through the pandemic and economic crisis. And on top of all that, there are big questions about how and when airplane travel will even be safe again.

Still, the good news is that (a) airlines are indeed offering some lower pricing, and (b) there are experts who follow this complicated industry closely and can help the rest of us navigate the mess. One of them is Brett Snyder, whom Wendy often recommends to her WOW List travelers for help booking and monitoring their flights. As founder of Cranky Concierge, Brett specializes in finding the smartest routes and fares and in solving flight delays and cancellations. We called Brett at home in California to talk about current airfare deals and what travelers need to know before taking advantage. If you’re even considering purchasing airline tickets for the future, read this first.

There seem to be airfare deals for travel at the end of this year and going into next year. Should I be buying tickets now?

There are deals to be had if you’re comparing to previous years. For travel around the holidays, you might not find the cheapest of the deals, but fares are still much cheaper than they would be in another year. But the big question is whether you’ll be able to get there.

Are the deals better for economy or business class?

It seems much easier to find cheaper fares in coach. Some airlines have cut business-class prices a little bit, but the deals are not as widespread across the board.

So is this a good time to splurge on premium-class fares?

It can be. In regular times, premium fares can be really low if you book far enough in advance, and in many European/Asian markets fares look to be pretty consistent with what we’ve seen in the past.  The one place we’ve seen great deals is South America.  There are fares under $1,000 in a premium cabin to some spots right now, and that’s amazing.  So you just need to look around and see what’s out there.

Are mileage-award flights discounted too?

They are not discounted, but there is more availability than you would normally expect to see, especially in coach. And for international flights, there are more seats available at the lower-point options. For airlines where the awards are tied to the dollar amount of fares, like with JetBlue or Southwest, then if the fares are cheaper, the point equivalent is also lower.

Is it better to buy a ticket for a domestic flight than international?

You have a safer chance of a flight happening if it’s within the U.S. The issue with international flights is that you don’t know what other countries—or what our country, for that matter—will allow in terms of quarantine and rules. So I would be hesitant to buy an international ticket right now. For domestic flights, airlines pretty much across the board are allowing you to change any ticket you buy without a fee.

Is it better to buy tickets for far in the future?

With most airlines you can’t buy tickets more than 330 days to a year in advance, so for the most part, you can’t buy any tickets beyond February or March 2021 at this point. There are always schedule changes when you book any flight far ahead, and the volatility is higher at this point because nobody has any clue what the landscape will look like in two months, let alone a year. So find out the refund or credit rules when you buy.

If I see a good deal should I jump on it or wait?

Once things stabilize, I expect we’ll see good deals to coax people out into the world again. So I don’t really see a reason to buy a ticket now, unless you find a particularly good deal.

But there’s nothing wrong with looking around right now. My wife’s parents always fly to us in California for Christmas, and I found some airfares that were pretty cheap, so we’ve been thinking about buying them.  Worst case, we can use the credit for flights to somewhere else. But a trip like that has a little more certainty to it in that you’re not relying on a destination or resort to be open. You’re really just relying on the ability to leave your house. So, visiting friends and family—that’s probably the best type of trip to plan right now because there are fewer variables.

In the meantime, if someone does want to book a flight, what are the most important things they need to be aware of?

There are a few things I would point out:

For the most part, if your flight is not canceled, you can’t get your money back, if you have a non-refundable ticket. A lot of people just assume, Oh, there’s a virus I should be able to get my money back. That’s not how it works. There are some exceptions, but for the most part it’s not.

What they are doing is allowing you to make changes and waiving the change fee. Obviously, if you had a ticket to Florida and now you want to go to Europe, you have to pay the fare difference—but at least you can make the change.

They’ve also extended how long those credits are valid for. You might be able to travel into next year or the following year, depending on the airline. That’s a nice perk for people who don’t want to travel, even if their flights are still going.

If your flight is canceled or the schedule changes, you really need to check with the airline because the rules vary greatly. For example, Delta will give you your money back if the schedule changed more than 90 minutes; United requires six hours. Worst case, you’ll be able to use the credit in the future, so it’s not like you’re going to lose the money entirely.

Finally, if you bought through a third party, do your own research on what you’re entitled to. Things are changing quickly, and some places we’ve dealt with have had no real interest in doing what they’re required to do. They may say you can’t get a refund, when in reality you can. So if you’re not getting the answer that you like, you can do your own research. Or you can sign up for the Cranky Concierge Refund Hunter and we’ll figure out and track your options, no matter where you bought the ticket.

The London Eye Ferris Wheel

The August Vacation Value You’ve Been Looking For

Summer has a way of sneaking up on you. Suddenly it’s the end of June.  If you haven’t made your summer vacation plans yet, we can suggest a world-class trip that won’t require traveling too far or spending too much. August is an ideal time of year to visit one of our favorite cities: London.  It’s a short flight (relatively speaking), it’s not too hot or crowded in August, you’ll find reduced prices for airfare and hotels (and many museums are free), and of course there’s so much to see and do, not only in the city itself but in the plethora of historic villages and sights in the countryside that you can make easy day trips to (which we recommend doing either independently by train or with a private driver-guide). London in August is such a smart move that that’s when Wendy took her own family there—and you can read what each of her young sons had to say about it in Do’s and Don’ts For Your Trip To London and How and Where to  Spot Supercars in London (late summer is the optimal time for that).  Here’s more from Jonathan Epstein, Trusted Travel Expert for Britain, as to why London in August makes so much sense:

The Marylebone hotel London bedroom

Business travel to London dries up in August, which means more room and better deals in hotels, like The Marylebone. (Photo: The Marylebone)

Hotels are less expensive.

That’s because business travel to London dries up in August. “Corporate travel is the bedrock of higher rates in major cities,” says Jonathan. “In late summer, these bookings vanish in London.” What does this mean for you?  Deals.  Jonathan negotiates exclusive August offers for his travelers at top four- and five-star hotels.  Depending on the location, he might secure discounts on stays over three or four nights, upgrades, complimentary meals, or free cocktails. Ask him about his connections at prime hotels such as One Aldwych, Rosewood London, the Corinthia, the Marylebone, the Milestone and the Egerton. An apartment rental is another way to maximize value, especially if you’re a family or large group; learn more about that option in our London Vacation Rentals: Insider’s Guide.

The weather is better.

Unlike in many cities in Europe, August temperatures are mild in London.  Highs are between 68 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit—and who doesn’t want weather like that for sightseeing?

Everything is open, but the crowds are much smaller.

“In many cities like Paris and Rome, attractions and restaurants close in August,” Jonathan says, “but in London everything is still open!”  Because August is one of the slowest months of the year in London—with fewer tourists and fewer locals—you’re less likely to have to wait in lines or battle big crowds as you explore.

Buckingham Palace with guards London

Buckingham Palace opens to visitors only a few months each year—during the late summer. Photo: Pawel Libera/London and Partners

Late summer brings special events.

Buckingham Palace is only open to visitors for a short time each year. Guess when? During the late summer. This year, admission includes entry to “Royal Gifts,” an exhibition of official gifts presented to the Queen over the past 65 years.

Old Vic theatre exterior at night London

The Old Vic is one of London’s most famous theaters. Photo: Pawel Libera/London and Partners

It is easier to get great seats to London’s plays and musicals.

When tourists numbers go down—as they do in late summer—opportunities to see some of the West End’s famous theater productions open up. (You can see what’s playing at LondonTheatre.co.uk and find last-minute deals at TKTS.co.uk.)

This article has been updated; it was originally published in 2016.

Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

Two Travel Sales I Recommend for Cyber Monday

In 25 years as a travel journalist, I’ve found two best ways to make a trip safe and stress-free:  (1) Maximize every moment by using the right local fixers.  (2) Minimize every risk by using the right emergency assistance program.  So I thought you’d want to know that Medjet, which protects travelers from a range of risks—including terrorism, natural disasters, and questionable foreign hospitals—is having a Cyber Monday sale, Monday November 27 only, with discounts of $50 to $100 off memberships.

Years ago, shortly after I had children, a Condé Nast Traveler colleague gave me the gift of a Medjet membership. She said that, now that I was a parent, I couldn’t risk something happening to me overseas and not being able to get home to the kids. That Medjet membership brought me peace of mind all over the globe—and today I’ve upgraded to a family MedjetHorizon membership, so when the kids travel with me, they’re protected too. If you’re looking for the right gift for the traveler in your life, consider keeping them safe this way.

While you’re cyber shopping, also check out this extraordinary business-class and premium-economy airfare sale offering 60% off flights to Asia.

As for maximizing every moment of your next trip, read the trip reviews below to see what I mean, then peruse more traveler reviews to get even more trip ideas for 2018.

Day of the Dead celebrations in Oaxaca, Mexico

A Mexico Trip That Will Help Earthquake Victims

The destruction caused by the earthquakes in Mexico was devastating. If you want to support relief and rebuilding efforts, we have a list of relief organizations accepting donations. But if you’re looking for additional ways to make a difference, we just heard of one from Zachary Rabinor, Wendy’s Trusted Travel Expert for Mexico. Originally from New York City, Zach has lived in Puerto Vallarta for years, raising his family there and running his company Journey Mexico (which he started in 2003). He not only knows the lay of the land, but he’s part of the community there, which means that in times of crisis like this, he is very tuned in to where help is needed now and how to deliver it.

He emailed us this morning with some information and an interesting travel opportunity that will support aid workers: One of the areas hardest hit by the first earthquake and the latest aftershock was the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in the state of Oaxaca. Zach and his company have a special connection to that area, especially the village of Juchitan, because it is the family home of one of their staff members, Alejandro Gómez. Zach told us that the village suffered great damage from the quakes and that Alejandro’s own grandmother is unable to return to her home. As many travel companies and hotels have been doing, Journey Mexico jumped in to help their own, raising funds to rebuild Juchitan’s homes (so far, they have about US $2,600—and matched every dollar donated 2:1—and are hoping to raise more). “We send the funds to one of our most trusted guides in the region, who is organizing supplies and driving them from Huatulco to Juchitan,” Zach explained.

In addition, Zach told us that Journey Mexico has come up with a creative way to direct funds into the relief effort while simultaneously promoting Mexican tourism (which needs the help). They are running a small group tour in Oaxaca, which has 2 (out of 14) spaces open. Journey Mexico will donate 50% of the trip fee ($4,377/person) to relief efforts.

The trip is pegged to the Day of the Dead, an important Mexican festival in which the spirits of loved ones are welcomed back to earth. The colorful, vibrant celebration is often misunderstood by outsiders, but this tour aims to change that and open visitors’ eyes to other riches of the area: the UNESCO World Heritage city of Oaxaca, the sacred sites of Monte Alban and Mitla, lots of markets, and of course plenty of traditional food and beverages (including mezcal). “It’s an opportunity to experience one of Mexico’s most remarkable celebrations while helping the relief efforts in the Isthmus,” Zach said.

For those interested in making donations to the relief efforts, Journey Mexico has put together a list of options (and we have an additional list of aid organizations related to all the recent natural disasters). He also noted Journey Mexico is glad to receive donations toward its own work, “however, as we’re not a registered 501C3 non-profit institution, we are unable to provide documentation that will allow tax deductions for charitable giving.”

Lisbon, Portugal. Photo: Pixabay

Airfare Deals to Europe Are Excellent Right Now

If you’re even toying with the idea of traveling to Europe next year, talk to your family or travel companions this holiday weekend and purchase your plane tickets right away. Airfare to Europe is currently at a remarkable low; cheap flights and airfare sales are popping up left and right.

“We are seeing some epic airfare sales to Europe,” says George Hobica, president and founder of Airfarewatchdog.com. “[Flights are] 66% or less than usual, and many were good for summer travel, which is highly unusual.”

Joe Brancatelli of Joe Sent Me agrees. “These are the lowest fares I’ve seen in a generation, since about 1985, give or take for inflation,” he says. “Even when you factor in seat charges and other ancillaries, the coach fares are insanely low. I mean, under $400 on major airlines to Europe. That is serious stuff. Record-breaking low stuff.”

George is seeing great deals to Paris, London, Italy, Germany, Brussels, and more, while Joe adds that Spain and Portugal are among the best deals right now. “Some of that is due to the fact that TAP Air Portugal has charged back into the market,” Joe says. “Some of it is that all three U.S. carriers serve Lisbon, Madrid, and Barcelona, and Spain itself has two carriers (Iberia and Air Europa).” Joe suggests keeping an eye out for super-cheap prices to Iceland (thanks to low-cost carrier WOW), and for business travelers, specialty carriers such as LaCompagnie for France and Emirates for Milan are making the New York–Paris and New York–Milan routes a great deal.

What’s the catch?

Well, according to Joe, who’s been covering the airline industry and consumer travel for decades, there isn’t one. “The dollar is very strong in Europe and is nearing parity with the euro—something we haven’t seen since the euro was introduced in 2002. The dollar is also at 30-year highs against the British pound. You also want to watch for cheaper room rates in specific countries (France, Belgium, Turkey) because of the terrorist incidents.”

In fact, the negatives he cited don’t actually have to do with airfare. Joe cautions travelers to watch out for “credit cards that still impose a currency-exchange fee and airport ATMs operated by currency traders (because they offer lousy rates, just like their cash booths).” And, of course, the weather. “So that means watch out for snow storms in your U.S. departure cities that can mess with your schedule. And watch the weather because some European destinations (looking at you, Paris and London) get messed up if they get snow. I mean, an inch of snow at Heathrow creates nightmares.”

If you do find yourself stranded or snowed in, Wendy recommends contacting Brett Snyder of Cranky Concierge. He and his team specialize in emergency air travel solutions, and if anyone can find a way to get you where you need to be, it’s Brett.

How to find the deals:

To find the deals, you can sign up for fare alerts at Airfarewatchdog.com or use the site’s helpful “fares from a city” feature. Just type in your departure city, and it’ll spit back great deals to locations all over the world. Two other useful tools are Google Flights (type in your departure city and it’ll show you several low-price options; shift the date to see more) and Kayak.com (when you click on the calendar icon in your initial search, small green dots below certain dates indicate days when airfare is cheaper).

So what are you waiting for? As Joe put it, “Honestly, this is one of the greatest times for Europe travel I have ever seen. Cheap fares. Cheaper hotel rates. Fabulous currency exchange rates. And because it is winter, the culture of Europe is in full swing—you’ll not only get good theater, you’ll actually meet locals in their own cities and towns. That doesn’t happen when Americans go in August!”

Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

Evening View, London, England

The Impact of Brexit on Travel to the United Kingdom

It’s too early to tell all the complex ways that Britain’s vote to exit the European Union, a.k.a. Brexit, will affect travelers. But those who were thinking of a trip to the U.K. this summer might be particularly motivated, now that the British pound has dropped significantly in value.  The pound is at $1.32 today, which is a 31-year-low.  “In the very short term, travel to the U.K. will be an incredible bargain,” says Joe Brancatelli, business travel expert and founder of JoeSentMe. “For travelers, the exchange rate translates to an immediate 10 percent discount on hotels, restaurant meals, train tickets, Uber and cab rides, or whatever you pay for in pounds.” He adds that we are likely to see bargains elsewhere in Europe in the short-term as well, since the euro has fallen too.

In case you want to seize the day and head to the U.K. this summer, here are FAQs covering what you should know.

Q: Should I buy my airline ticket now, or wait?

A: There are deals right now. “Just today I wrote about sub-$450 round-trips to Europe,” says Gary Leff of View From The Wing. “I’ve been seeing plenty of great deals recently, including frequent business-class sales of $1,500 –$2,000.  Whenever you see a deal like that, jump on it—but only when your plans are firm because those sales are going to be non-refundable and carry hefty change penalties of $300 to $500 per ticket.”

Q: Should I use reward points to pay for airline tickets?

A: Probably not. “Frequent-flier awards are best used when airfares are high,” says Gary, a specialist in points and miles.

Q: Should I pay for accommodations now, or wait?

A: If that’s the way to guarantee you get the hotel, room type, or rental apartment you want, pay now.  If you aren’t required to pay now, you might as well wait. “I’m not usually a fan of prepaying,” Joe points out, “because I don’t think travelers can be short-term forex experts. The pound was at $1.49 before the Brexit vote came in. It is selling at $1.31 today. You’d have to be betting on a global recession to think it’ll decline much further. You’d also have to be a cockeyed optimist to think it’ll run up a lot in the weeks ahead.  So, if we are at or near the floor, I suppose it makes sense to lock in rates in advance. But I think the pound will be historically low for months and months. So I don’t see, for July-August, any need to lock in.”

Q: Should I pay in pounds or in my home currency?

A: “Always pay in pounds,” says Joe, “if for no other reason than if a hotel or an airline bills you in dollars, you get a bad currency exchange rate and, if you use the wrong credit card, you could get hit with forex fees anyway.” As always, use a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees; it will save you about 3% on every overseas purchase.

“If you use a credit card that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee,” says Gary.  “then you’re going to be more or less indifferent to the currency you’re buying in, because you’re going to get a favorable rate and you won’t get a surcharge.” (Gary regularly reports on the best credit cards for travelers, along with current sign-up bonuses and offers).

Q: Should I be using hotel points to pay for my hotel?

A: Probably not. “Hotel points are best used when hotel rates are high,” says Gary. When the exchange rate is in your favor, it usually doesn’t make sense to use points. Instead, take advantage of hotel deals and save your points for destinations where rooms are expensive.

As Gary explains further, “Most hotel programs assign their properties to categories and charge a fixed number of points throughout the year (Hilton is an exception, varying the number of points a hotel costs even within its category, and making it difficult to get outsized value from their points).  Hotel rates tend to be seasonal, or to vary by day of week.  Use your points when prices are higher than average, and spend cash when they’re lower than average.”

Q: If I’m in the U.K., and a shop or restaurant gives me the choice of paying in pounds or dollars, which do I choose?

A: “Always pay in the local currency,” says Gary. “If you’re given the option of paying in dollars, the merchant is generally going to convert prices from the local currency to dollars at an exchange rate that’s unfavorable to you. And if your credit card charges a foreign transaction fee, they’re going to charge you the fee anyway—even if the bill is in U.S. dollars—because the transaction originated outside the U.S.”

Q: If I’m in the U.K., and I have a choice of paying by credit card or in cash, which do I use?

A: If the British pound is fluctuating every day, travelers should probably check the exchange rate every day (go to XE.com or use the XE app) because that might affect their daily decisions as to how to pay for things. On a day when the value of the pound is particularly low, it may make sense to pay in cash because credit cards may use an exchange rate that applies a day or two later, when the transaction is billed.

Even before last week’s Brexit vote, London represented a great value this August in particular. Here’s why.

Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

A Tip for Finding Cheaper Hotel Rates

We recently heard an interesting hotel hack from a reader, about how to find cheaper rates: Sometimes if you make two separate back-to-back reservations, it’ll turn out cheaper than if you book one. Here’s what our reader Jerry Huller had to say:

I subscribe to Wendy’s newsletter and want to pass on a travel tip: If staying at a hotel over a long weekend, consider pricing individual nights to see if you can get a cheaper rate.

My wife and I are planning to stay at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek in Santa Rosa, CA, in April. On the hotel website, I priced a three-night stay arriving on a Friday and leaving on a Monday. The price was $252.10 per night (for a View King room with the AAA rate). Then I decided to price just the Sunday night and found a price of $234.10 per night for the same type of room. Then I went back and priced just the Friday night and Saturday nights, and got the cheaper rate of $234.10 per night. Then I went back and priced all three nights and again got the higher rate of $252.10 per night.

It’s cheaper to make two back-to-back reservations than one three-night reservation.

Have you ever tried this?  Let us know if it worked, and share your own hotel tips below.


Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

Serenity Pool at the Four Seasons Maui.

Best-Value Hotels in North America’s Hot Spots

For the Trusted Travel Experts on Wendy’s WOW List, spending the night in a hotel is serious business: They’re constantly scouting new properties in their destination and re-inspecting their past favorites to make sure they’re still up to snuff. Here are their favorites across North America:

Disney World

Best for Pinching Pennies
The Garden Wing rooms at the Contemporary allow you to stay in the most expensive neighborhood at Disney—the coveted “monorail” line, which is the closest to the Magic Kingdom—without having the most expensive house on the block. By not paying the premium to have a lake view or a theme-park view in the main Tower building, you can enjoy staying at a deluxe resort in one of the best-priced rooms.

The Port Orleans French Quarter Resort is in Disney’s moderate category, but don’t dismiss it. This sweet Dixieland-themed property has only 1,000 rooms, so there’s less competition for space at the pool and the food court than at other mid-priced resorts, which can be twice as large. The kids will love the water slide, and the whole family will appreciate the direct buses to each of the parks and the option for a boat ride on the canals to Downtown Disney.

Families enjoy the Family Suites at the Art of Animation Resort. They can sleep up to six people, have two bathrooms, and are themed after Cars, Finding Nemo, or The Lion King. You also get a separate room from your kids! Rates start at about $270, which is a much better value than paying for two rooms. —Michelle Allen, Trusted Travel Expert for Disney

Read Michelle’s Insider’s Guide to Disney World, Orlando, and contact her through our site to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Maui, Hawaii

Best Pool for Kids
Families headed to Maui might consider the Grand Wailea, where the enormous pool deck is a kid’s paradise, with nine interconnected pools, four waterslides, caves, waterfalls, and even a rope swing.

Best for a Special Occasion
The Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea has the best location on the island. Honeymooners appreciate the candlelit, beachfront restaurant and the adults-only Serenity Pool, while families can take advantage of the complimentary kids’ club. It’s one of the priciest hotels on the island but, at certain times of year, we can arrange for our guests who stay five nights or more to receive a $100-per-night resort credit. Unless you plan to spend a lot of time inside, don’t bother springing for a room with a full ocean view—you’ll be more than satisfied with a partial ocean-view. —Jay Johnson, Trusted Travel Expert for Hawaii

Read Jay’s Insider’s Guide to Maui,and contact him through our site to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

San Juan Islands, Washington

Best for Under $200 a Night
The Inn at Ship Bay is the best value in the San Juan Islands in summer: its water-view rooms cost just $195 a night. They are comfortable rather than swanky, but when you’re able to enjoy the view from your balcony—and then walk a few steps to the hotel restaurant, which is one of the island’s best—you won’t worry about the motel-style bathrooms. — Sheri Doyle, Trusted Travel Expert for the Pacific Northwest: Oregon, Washington, British Columbia

Read Sheri’s Insider’s Guide to the San Juan Islands, and contact her through our site to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

The Four Seasons Seattle

The Four Seasons Seattle. Photo courtesy Steve Sanacore.


Best City Pool with a View
The Four Seasons has big rooms, great service, and a prime location one block south of the Pike Place Market. The heated pool is warm enough that you can swim outside in December, while you’re taking in the view of Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains. The partial bay-view rooms are a good compromise, cost-wise, between the city-view and the full deluxe bay-view rooms. My preferred rates often provide substantial savings of $100 per night or more in the summer months. — Sheri Doyle, Trusted Travel Expert for the Pacific Northwest: Oregon, Washington, British Columbia

Read Sheri’s Insider’s Guides to Seattle, and contact her through our site to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Utah’s National Parks

The Castle, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. Photo: National Park Service

The Castle, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. Photo: NPS Photo

Best-value splurge hotel
Book one of the four suites at Cougar Ridge Lodge and you’ll have access to an exhibition kitchen where cooking lessons, wine tastings, and custom wine blending can be arranged; a roomy bar; a game room with a state-of-the-art simulator and a full-length bowling alley; and ATVs, horses, and bikes available for an additional cost (guests at the less expensive casitas that have recently been added to the property can’t use most of these features). The two suites on the north side of the lodge have private hot tubs; the two on the south side have access to a wrap-around deck that leads to a shared hot tub. The lodge is a half-hour drive from the entrance to Capitol Reef National Park, home to amazing rock formations, excellent hiking and road touring, fly fishing, and more.

Mexico City

Best for a Weekend Getaway
Head to the St. Regis Mexico City on a weekend, when prices are significantly lower. It has top-notch service right on Reforma, the city’s main thoroughfare, and it’s especially great for families, thanks to the kids’ program (in-room glamping!), indoor pool, and child-care services. — Zachary Rabinor, Trusted Travel Expert for Mexico

Read Zach’s Insider’s Guide to Mexico City, and contact him through our site to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Best Way to Make Lemons from Lemonade
Hacienda San Angel, a cluster of exquisitely restored villas in the hills above the historic center of Puerto Vallarta. After the triple hit of the economic crisis, swine flu, and the narco-media blitz, rooms are only a fraction of their 2008 prices. The San Jose, Vista de Santos, and Angel’s View Suites have even better views of downtown and the Pacific Ocean than do the more expensive Royal Suites. We can typically offer upgrades and special amenities, depending on season and occupancy. — Zachary Rabinor, Trusted Travel Expert for Mexico

Read Zach’s Insider’s Guide to Puerto Vallarta, and contact him through our site to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Riviera Maya, Mexico

Best for Privacy Seekers
Hotel Esencia is one of the finest boutique hotels on the coast, with relatively uncrowded beaches, as it’s bordered by private homes to the south. Watch for third-night-free promotions, which give you a 33 percent discount over advertised rates. The super-personalized service makes you feel like royalty; you are, after all, staying in the former home of an Italian duchess. — Zachary Rabinor, Trusted Travel Expert for Mexico

Read Zach’s Insider’s Guide to the Riviera Maya, and contact him through our site to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

British Columbia, Canada

Best Pool for Kids
Fairmont Chateau Whistler is an outstanding hotel with genuine hospitality and a ski-in, ski-out location at the base of British Columbia’s Blackcomb Mountain. It’s also my favorite place in Whistler to send families—the façade looks like a French castle, but it’s as-homey-as-can-be inside. My kids love swimming between the indoor and outdoor sections of the pool and sipping hot chocolate with marshmallows in one of the three outdoor hot tubs, while my wife and I appreciate the inexpensive meals we can pick up at Portobello Market, a kind of high-quality cafeteria. All of our travelers enjoy complimentary breakfast and room upgrades at the hotel.

Best Wilderness Sightings
As wilderness lodges go, it’s hard to beat the value for dollar you get at Sonora Resort, a Relais & Chateaux property in British Columbia’s Discovery Islands. Unlike other similar properties, Sonora doesn’t require a minimum stay, and its rates include the room, meals, and beverages, but you pay extra for the activities you want. And there are plenty to choose from: wildlife programs (where you can see whales, grizzlies, seals, sea lions, eagles, or dolphins), sea kayaking, fishing, snorkeling with salmon as Wendy and her family did last summer, or just hanging out at the fabulous spa. Our guests who book here get a complimentary two-hour wilderness excursion by zodiac. —Marc Telio, Trusted Travel Expert for Western Canada

Read Marc’s Insider’s Guide to British Columbia, and contact him through our site to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

Cheetah in Kenya Photo by Susan Portnoy

Great Deals on Kenyan Safaris Are Happening Now: Don’t Miss Out

If you’ve been even toying with the idea of taking a safari, now is the time to book it. KLM has just announced a flash sale of airfare to Nairobi, starting today through March 14, for trips taken through May 31. Fares out of several major US cities start as low as $723. Even better news: Those aren’t the only flight deals right now. Dan Saperstein, one of our Trusted Travel Experts for East Africa and South Africa Safaris, reports that British Airways and Swissair are also offering fares right now for less than $800 (he’s even seen a few for less than $700), and that some discounted fares are extending through July and August. “These are all excellent deals,” he says, “as this airfare is usually anywhere from $1,100–$1,500 per person for these airlines (KLM can be upwards of $2,400 at times).”

In addition to the airfare deals, there are two other big discounts that travelers can take advantage of if they head to Kenya in spring:

1. Accommodations: “Pricing for the camps and lodges is also less expensive these months of the year,” Dan explains. “Rates typically go up around June 15th in East Africa, so combined with the airfare, you can see significant savings traveling during these months.”

2. Visas and fees: In an effort to encourage more family travel, Kenya just changed its entry visa policy so that all children under the age of 16 get into the country for free, effective immediately (adults are still $50). In the same vein, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that from July of this year, all park fees will be reduced and that VAT charges will be removed. Dan says, “It may not appear to be a huge difference on a daily basis, but it certainly adds up to a huge savings over the course of one’s safari, especially when traveling with a family.”

As for the key question of whether spring is a worthwhile time to take a safari, Dan says “absolutely it is. Rains can occur this time of year, but the ever-changing global weather patterns make it a worthwhile time to visit, as the animals are there to be seen year-round; they certainly don’t go inside if it happens to rain!”

Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

ubud bali

Five Destinations That Will Be Cheaper in 2016

Want to make your money work harder for you in 2016? The U.S. dollar remains strong throughout much of the world, but here are five destinations where you’ll find especially attractive prices for hotels, souvenirs, and even flights this year:

Great Britain

The London Eye Ferris Wheel

The London Eye Ferris Wheel. Photo: Celebrated Experiences

While everyone knows that the dollar has been strong versus the Euro, few people noticed in January when the dollar hit a 12-year high versus the British pound; that Michelin-star dinner or bespoke suit will be almost 20% cheaper than it was just two years ago. Also, with so many new luxury hotels opening in London, competition is fierce, especially outside of high season. Jonathan Epstein, our Trusted Travel Expert for England, Ireland, and Scotland, points out that rates are lowest in August, when business travel to the city dries up—but with free museums, long days, and lovely weather, it’s the perfect time to take your family. Many properties are even upgrading his clients as soon as they book.

To get the best possible trip, use Wendy’s trip-request form to contact Jonathan.


Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island, Queensland. Photo courtesy Tourism Australia.

Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island, Queensland. Photo courtesy Tourism Australia.

Stuart Rigg, our Trusted Travel Expert for Australia, attributes the continent’s excellent value this year to a combination of factors: a favorable exchange rate (10% better than a year ago), increased competition among airlines flying there from the U.S. (with new service from Los Angeles on American Airlines, and from San Francisco on Qantas), and low-season deals: In the Whitsunday Islands, where temperatures are in the upper 70s and and scuba diving conditions are ideal during the antipodal winter, both the One&Only Hayman Island and Qualia resorts are offering savings of up to 25%.

To get the best possible trip, use Wendy’s trip-request form to contact Stuart.

South Africa

Tintswalo Safari Lodge, South Africa

Tintswalo Safari Lodge, South Africa. Photo: Tintswalo Safari Lodge

Since the Rand has devalued by about 40% against the dollar since last year, South Africa is a steal this year, according to Julian Harrison, our Trusted Travel Expert for Southern Africa. Tintswalo Safari Lodge, one of his favorites near Kruger National Park, cost $635 per person per night in 2015. This year, in spite of a 10% increase in rates, that same room is going for $435 per person per night.

To get the best possible trip, use Wendy’s trip-request form to contact Julian.


Three years ago the Canadian loonie was equal in value to the U.S dollar. Today it’s dropped by almost one-third. Every meal you eat will cost 10% less than it did at this time last year, and savings like that add up over the course of a week. If you book an itinerary in advance through a Canadian travel firm, you’ll save on arrangements priced in Canadian dollars. For example, Jill Curran, our Trusted Travel Expert for Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, arranges a five-night exploration of Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula—with opportunities to view this spectacular, unspoiled coastline by boat, by kayak, and on foot—that costs $142 less (for two travelers) than last year.

To get the best possible trip, use Wendy’s trip-request form to contact Jill.


The rupiah is also down compared to the dollar. Since hotel rates in Indonesia are quoted in dollars, this won’t affect your accommodation expenses, but it does mean that intra-island fares have come down quite a bit—and the cost of all that island-hopping can really add up. For example, a round-trip ticket from Bali to Yogyakarta on Garuda Indonesia (the country’s most reliable carrier), which cost $256 a little over a month ago, is now $189. Prices for overseas flights are also at an all-time low, reports Diane Embree, our Trusted Travel Expert for Bali—in some cases, 50% less than what they cost a year ago.

To get the best possible trip, use Wendy’s trip-request form to contact Diane.

What are your tricks for finding good value abroad?


Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

Tokyo, Japan

Go Now! 5 Countries Where Your Dollar Stretches Far

Note from Wendy: There can be a big difference between the cost of living in a destination and the cost of traveling there. First, what travelers spend money on is different than what residents spend on. Second, tourist taxes can be high. Third, sometimes there are lower rates for locals than for foreigners. Fourth, in some countries the price difference between, say, a three-star and a five-star experience is much more dramatic than in the U.S.  Still, when foreign currencies drop against the U.S. dollar, of course we want to take advantage of it. Here are five places where you can.  

This article originally ran on Yahoo! Travel

If you’re looking for a deal on your next trip, skip the guidebook and read today’s financial news.

It’s been a cruel, cruel summer in the financial world, and the economies of certain countries are still struggling to rebound.

In June, just as summertime tourism season kicked off, Greece announced it was on the verge of financial collapse, and its position in the eurozone was in peril.  In August, Greece was able to reach a billion-euro bailout plan with its lenders, but it is still on shaky ground in the eurozone.

Then two weeks ago, just as summertime tourism was winding down, China’s stock market went into a downward spiral, which had a ripple effect on stock markets around the world.

While China’s economy hasn’t bottomed out (yet), several other countries have been experiencing “significant currency depreciations,” said Douglas Quinby, vice president at Phocuswright, a hospitality research firm. “These currency rates have a big impact on travel.”

In short, when the exchange rate begins to favor the American dollar, travelers looking to explore the world should start packing their bags.

Here are a few countries to consider visiting in order to maximize your travel budget.


Quinby noted that Japan’s tourism is surging, due in part to the falling yen. A night at the new Andaz Tokyo Toranomon, which offers spectacular views of the city, can be had for around $483 in early October. That’s still a pretty penny, but it’s down about $200 from last summer’s rate. Nonstop flights from Los Angeles are also averaging around $720.

Also from Yahoo! Travel: The 10 Best Museums in the World

St. Petersburg, Russia

Take advantage of low airfares and see beautiful St. Petersburg. The Church of the Savior on Blood (not to be mistaken for St. Basil’s) is especially worth a visit. Photo courtesy iStock.


Like other countries with an oil-based economy, Russia’s currency fluctuates with global oil prices. The ruble has been falling steadily for about a year, and China’s recent woes haven’t helped. A cursory look at the cost of flights to St. Petersburg from New York on Google Flights found ticket prices in the low $500s in early October, which is comparable to some flights to the western U.S. A night at the opulent Ritz-Carlton Moscow was just $300 on Booking.com for a stay in early October.

Also from Yahoo! Travel: Foodie Bucket List: 12 Iconic Restaurants Worth Traveling for


Down under, the Australian dollar keeps slipping. Last week, one Australian dollar was equal to 70¢ U.S. Traveling to Australia is a long haul, and flights from Los Angeles are going for well over $1,000 next month (the start of summer in Oz). But if the currency rate holds, U.S. travelers will still get more for their money when booking hotels and resorts. The One&Only Hayman Island Resort, a private island in the Whitsundays, has one-bedroom suites available in mid-October for around $2,000 AUD a night. With the currency rate, that drops to about $1,369 USD.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

With an unlimited air pass, you can visit Rio, São Paolo, and everywhere in between. Photo courtesy iStock.


Despite hosting the recent FIFA World Cup and the upcoming Summer Olympics, Brazil’s economy has remained in a recession. The Brazilian real, the local currency, is the weakest it’s been in 13 years, and President Dilma Rousseff is fighting to save the country’s investment-grade credit rating. Perhaps that’s why Azul Brazilian Airlines recently announced their Azul Brazil Air Pass, which gives fliers 10 days of unlimited flights throughout Brazil for $299, or 21 days of flights for $399.

Also from Yahoo! Travel: The Most Scenic Drive in All 50 States

Toronto, Canada

Head north and visit great Canadian cities like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Photo courtesy iStock.


Our neighbors to the north are also in a recession, with the Canadian dollar (or loonie) currently sitting at about 75¢ U.S. In major cities, debt-to-income ratio is near a record high, and the central bank is debating whether or not to lower interest rates again. With that said, cities like Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal are hot spots for traveling fashionistas, who can score major deals on designer wear. Home to stores like Hermès and Chanel, the exchange rate will work in your favor if you’re looking to purchase a pricey bag … or two!



The Least Expensive Weeks to See Your Favorite Destinations This Summer

If you haven’t made summer travel plans yet, listen up. TripAdvisor has compared the costs of travel to the ten most popular destinations this summer, and for each place they’ve identified the least expensive week. New York City, for instance, is most affordable over the July 4th holiday. Paris is most affordable the week of August 3-10, London August 17-23, Rome August 24-31—although I, for one, would not want to be in those cities in August, when all the locals have fled. I’d prefer to be on Mexico’s Riviera Maya, where I was last August: It’s the optimal time to swim and snorkel with whale sharks (and the least expensive week for Cancun and Playa del Carmen is August 24-31). Need a cooler, less crowded summer escape? Think Canada—especially British Columbia, the Canadian Rockies, Newfoundland (my August 2013 vacation spot), New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, or Quebec. Your U.S. dollar buys you about 20% more in Canada than it did last year. Other smart August options: Scotland, Norway, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, or a safari in East Africa.

To help you choose, here are our insider’s guides to all these top spots:

Which destination is calling to you this summer?


Evening View, London, England

Attention, Last-Minute Planners Scrambling to Book a Spring-Break Trip

Attention, last-minute planners scrambling to book a spring-break trip: True last-minute deals—as opposed to phony marketing ploys—exist when you’re traveling at off-peak times of the year and you’ve got schedule flexibility, not when you’re traveling during Easter week like everybody else. Remember that at peak travel times you’ll almost always get better value for your dollar by booking well in advance. Which is why it’s your summer travel that you should be booking right now—especially if you’re headed to Europe, where plane seats and hotel rooms are selling out fast, thanks to the strong U.S. dollar.

To maximize your summer trip—to bypass crowds and lines at sights, to get the room you want in the hotel you want, to get the best private guides—do not wait to reach out to the expert travel planners on my WOW List. It’s too late to maximize spring break, but it’s not too late to maximize your summer vacation…yet!

Private Villa, Transcoso, Brazil

Five Expensive Destinations That Will Be Cheaper in 2015

The dollar is once again king: Since the Great Recession, the Unites States’ economy has recovered better than any other major country’s: At the start of 2015, our currency was at an eleven-year high compared to those of other major countries, while the euro was at a nine-year low. Local currencies are down at least 10% against the January 2014 dollar in many popular travel destinations, including Mexico, Argentina, the euro zone, Sweden, Norway, and much of Africa. Parts of the world that not long ago were unaffordable for many are now within closer reach. Here are five places where the strong dollar will carry you surprisingly far in 2015:


Temple monks in Wakayama, Japan

Temple monks in Wakayama, Japan. Courtesy Paco

Since 2012, the yen has decreased in value by a whopping 43%. Hotels have raised their rates a bit, says Duff Trimble, our Trusted Travel Expert for Japan, but not nearly enough to keep up. This makes the country a bargain compared to what it cost to travel there a few years ago. You’ll find the best deals outside the peak periods for cherry blossoms (early April) and fall foliage (late November). Game for a last-minute getaway? Why not try skiing in Japan this winter.

To get the best possible trip, Ask Wendy.


Sossusvlei Dunes, Namibia

Sossusvlei Dunes, Namibia. Courtesy Cherri Briggs

South Africa & Namibia
A weakening rand and strong U.S. dollar mean that these two African nations are a steal for American travelers right now (the Namibian dollar is tied to the South African rand). Two years ago, $1 bought you about 8 rand; today, the rate is above 11.50. Over the course of a five-night safari, that difference could save a couple more than $3,500 at Royal Malewane, a luxury lodge situated on a private game reserve adjacent to Kruger National Park.

Read Insider’s Guides from some of our Trusted Travel Experts for Africa: Nina Wennersten and Dan Saperstein’s Insider’s Guide to South Africa Safaris, and Cherri Briggs’s Insider’s Guide to Namibia

To get the best possible trip, use Wendy’s trip-request forms to contact Nina and Dan, or Cherri.


Evening View, London, England

The view from Victoria Tower of the Houses of Parliament, the River Thames, Westminster and Westminster Bridge, towards the East as dusk is falling. Courtesy Visit Britain

Yes, the dollar buys more British pounds than it has in over a year. But that’s not the only reason that there’s value to be found in this perennially expensive city, says our Trusted Travel Expert for the United Kingdom, Jonathan Epstein. Several new five-star hotels have opened recently, and the competition has driven prices down: At the Milestone Hotel overlooking Kensington Palace, for instance, your fourth night is free (in a suite, the third night comes at no charge); at the Athenaeum Hotel in Mayfair, Epstein’s clients get 50% off a second room during certain times of year.

Read Jonathan’s Insider advice for London Heathrow overnight layovers.

To get the best possible trip, use Wendy’s trip-request form to contact Jonathan.


Gardens of Peter, St. Petersburg, Russia

Gardens of Peter, St. Petersburg, Russia. Courtesy Greg Tepper

With “diminished crowds and dramatically lower prices,” reports our Trusted Travel Expert for Russia, Greg Tepper, “now is the best time to visit Russia in many, many years.” Despite the current political climate, urban Russians are generally pro-Western, and personal safety is no more a concern than in Rome or Paris. If you want the best value, advises Tepper, start booking now: Hotels are at a huge discount, but many have already warned Tepper that they may soon start quoting rates in dollars or euros. Dance lovers would be wise to plan a trip during the Mariinsky International Ballet Festival in mid-March, when acclaimed dancers from around the world perform together in St. Petersburg. Tepper’s three-night programs to Moscow and St. Petersburg are the perfect introductions to these legendary cities; for WendyPerrin.com readers, the packages (including luxury hotel accommodations with breakfast, airport transfers, and one day’s private guided touring) start at $1,675 per person in Moscow and $1,200 per person in St. Petersburg—about 25% off what the same would have cost last year.

Read Greg’s Insider’s Guides to Moscow and to St. Petersburg.

To get the best possible trip, use Wendy’s trip-request form to contact Greg.


Even in the quiet year shoehorned between hosting duties for the World Cup and the Olympics, Brazil is a hot destination—but also a more affordable one for Americans, thanks to the most favorable exchange rate in almost a decade. From the megalopolis of Rio de Janeiro to the jungles of the Amazon, prices are about 20% lower than even last year, and the Brazilian real isn’t predicted to strengthen until 2016.

Read our Trusted Travel Expert Paul Irvine’s Insider’s Guides to Rio de Janeiro and to Trancoso, Brazil.

To get the best possible trip, use Wendy’s trip-request form to contact Paul.


Where are you headed this year?

Gardner bay, Galapagos Island, beach

January Is One of the Best Months for Travel. Here’s Why.

Holiday travel might be one of the most trying experiences of the year, but the reward for it is about to arrive: Once Christmas and New Year’s are over, you’ll find the best travel deals of the winter—in the “dead weeks” of early and mid-January.

According to TripAdvisor data, travelers save about 25% if they take their trips during these weeks. For example, the average cost of a seven-night winter trip to New York City is $3,271, but if you visit between January 17 and 24, it’ll cost you an average of $1,955. It’s a similar story in Key West, where you’ll save about 14% if you travel between January 10 and 17.

To kick-start your post-holiday travel getaway (because, frankly, you deserve it), we’ve collected a small sampling of the January travel deals you can find worldwide.

Golf at the Four Seasons Nevis

The Four Seasons Nevis. Courtesy Four Seasons

The Caribbean

Why it’s a value now: January is the slow time between the holidays and when people start their escape-to-the-sun vacations in February.

Where the deals are: In the past, our Trusted Travel Experts have tracked down hotel deals at several beach destinations, where a free night brings the price down: Rosewood Little Dix Bay (seventh night free), Four Season Punta Mita (third night free), Four Seasons Nevis (fifth night free), Curtain Bluff Antigua (fourth night 50% off, or seventh night free), Nisbet Plantation (sixth night free), and Cap Juluca in Anguilla (fifth night free).

Contact Wendy to find the right travel specialists to plan your Caribbean getaway.


The Cristallo hotel Cortina d'Ampezzo Italy

The Cristallo, Cortina d’Ampezzo

Italy: Skiing in the Dolomites

Why it’s a value now: “With the falling euro and airfares at their low point, a ski trip to Italy from New York will come in lower than a trip to Colorado,” says Brian Dore, one of our Trusted Travel Experts for Italy—especially in January, when prices generally drop for a short while. Plus, he adds, an Italian ski vacation has the bonus of Italian charm and delicious food.

Where the deals are: Brian found a deal at the four-star Hotel de la Poste (one of Cortina’s oldest and most charming hotels right in the center of town). For seven nights in January, the hotel is offering rates from €1,093 (standard) to €1,515 (junior suite). In February those rates shoot up to €1,393 to €2,450. The five-star Cristallo, also in Cortina, has some packages running too. For example, for €1,032 per person, the Winter Experience package gives you four nights, a three-day ski pass, an €80 spa voucher, and dinner for two in the hotel restaurant.

Contact Brian and Maria to plan your Dolomites ski vacation.


The Galapagos Islands

Why it’s a value now: There’s a small window of time right after the holidays when some Galapagos cruise ships experience a January lull, even though it’s summer in this region (and thus a great time to visit). That can mean sales for those willing to travel at the last minute. It’s even a good time for spotting wildlife: giant tortoise eggs are hatching and land birds start to nest. 

Where the deals are: One of our Trusted Travel Experts was able to hab a last-minute deal for a traveler who had flexible travel dates. The trip leaves January 12 with no extra single supplement charge because the client said she was willing to share a cabin. The secret perk is that it’s unlikely someone else will book at the last minute as a single, so this client will likely get her own cabin at no additional charge.

Contact Wendy to find the right travel specialists to plan your Galapagos getaway.

Sunrise Thimphu, Bhutan. Photo courtesy Antonia Neubauer.

Sunrise Thimphu, Bhutan. Photo courtesy Antonia Neubauer.


Why it’s a value: Antonia Neubauer, our Trusted Travel Expert for Bhutan and Nepal, reports that “January and February are considered low season in Bhutan, so the government per diem is cheaper, and you don’t have tons of tourists driving the only east-west road in the country.”

Where the deals are: The per diem cost of traveling is slightly cheaper in January, plus Antonia’s company is running a January special that includes a $500 bonus toward a trip for two (Jan 15–Valentine’s Day).

Contact Antonia to see find out more about this special.


Southern Africa

Why it’s a value: Tourism to Africa has taken a big hit because of the ebola scare, but both Zimbabwe and Botswana—beautiful safari destinations—are far from the western region where the virus broke out. (There are more than 5,000 miles between Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone; that’s greater than the distance between New York and L.A.). So if you’ve been thinking about planning this kind of dream trip, now is a great time to do it.

Where the deals are: Cherri Briggs, one of our Trusted Travel Experts for Southern Africa, is offering packages at 35 percent off to those traveling between January 6 and March 31. The price includes all meals, local beverages, all safari activities, and even laundry.

Contact Cherri for more information on this deal and others.


Point Yama by Como Phuket hotel villa pool

Point Yama by Como Phuket

Thailand: Phuket

Why it’s a value: Thailand is a deal, as it continues to recover from images of last year’s protests and a slump in tourism. Sandy Ferguson, one of our Trusted Travel Experts for Southeast Asia, notes that this month’s usual high volume of Russian tourists have cancelled their plans, leaving some hotels and resorts with open rooms they’re trying to fill.

Where the deals are: Point Yamu by Como Phuket is offering several variations on a deal: You can get your seventh night free in Phuket, or you can book three or four nights in Phuket and receive a free night at Point Yamu’s sister hotel, the Metropolitan Bangkok (where you can dine at Nahm, the first Thai restaurant to earn a Michelin star).

For those looking for total relaxation and pampering, Banyan Tree Phuket’s villas are going for about 20% less than usual during certain date ranges (Jan 10–Feb 7, Feb 13–17, Feb 24–Mar 31).

Contact Sandy to plan a Thailand vacation. (For hotel rooms only, book directly with the hotels.)


Cyber Monday Travel Deals

Note from Wendy: Luxe hotel stays are nice, but sometimes it’s better to scrimp on your hotel room so you can splurge on special experiences at your destination. These steep travel deals let you do just.

It’s that time of the year, when hungry shoppers start lining up in droves for post-Thanksgiving shopping deals, whether it’s on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. This year, even the travel industry is getting in on the action — everywhere you look, there are Cyber Monday deals galore.

Omni Hotels
This year, Omni’s Seasons of Savings Package is giving Cyber Monday a head start to book pre-or-post holiday vacations at almost every Omni property for $89 to $169. The package started last week and is bookable through Cyber Monday, Dec. 1. The offer is valid for stays through Jan. 31, 2015.

MSC Cruises
MSC Cruises, with its fleet of 12 ships, has also started its sale already — and it will continue through Cyber Monday. Here’s a sample: on MSC Divina, passengers can choose from 2015 winter and spring dates departing from Miami and sailing to the Caribbean, as well as Bermuda. Rates range as low as $99 per person for two-night sailing to $349 per person for a seven-night sailing. (Do the math: a seven-day cruise comes to $49 a night… that’s really cheap.)

Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island, Bahamas
Want to hit the beach this winter? Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island is offering massive savings of up to 50 percent off winter travel. This once-a-year-deal is valid for travel between Dec. 1, 2014 through Mar. 31, 2105 and includes great add-ons, like kids under 12 eat breakfast and dinner free, with the purchase of an adult meal plan.

Kimpton Hotels in Florida 
Snowbirds rejoice. Look for savings of up to 20 percent at Kimpton’s Florida hotels: EPIC Hotel in downtown Miami, Surfcomber Miami, South Beach, Vero Beach Hotel & Spa, and The Angler’s. The sale starts on Nov. 26 for Kimpton Karma members; on Nov. 28, the sale opens to the general public. Rates are available for stays now through Mar. 1.

Peninsula Hotels
The Peninsula Hotels’ three U.S. properties — New York, Chicago, and Beverly Hills — are offering their largest rate promotion of the year, with rooms discounted up to 30 percent, as well as other discounts, like 30 percent off some treatments at the Peninsula Spa in New York. And with cool winter events, like an outdoor ice skating rink on the fourth floor of the Peninsula Chicago, you know it’s going to be a can’t-miss experience.

Sonesta Hotels and Resorts
Sonesta Hotels and Resorts has properties across the U.S., from Boston to Fort Lauderdale to New Orleans. Here, the Cyber Monday promotion gives you up to 25 percent off two night stays for reservations — just use promo code Cyber2014.

Ski season has begun, and Liftopia, a digital marketplace for advance purchase lift tickets, just launched its annual Black Friday Preview on Monday, Nov. 24. The promotion allows skiers and boarders to save on lift tickets all season — up to 87 percent when you stack them up against walk-up prices.

More from Yahoo! Travel

Get Ready for Cyber Monday Deals

A Travel Survival Guide for the Impending Zombie Apocalypse

Eye Massagers and Star Wars Toasters—Odd SkyMall Gifts for the Holidays


Wendy’s Wisdom:

Sometimes any old hotel room will do, but when you need a one-of-a-kind hotel room–complete with the special treatment that preferred guests get—that’s the moment to reach out to the right Trusted Travel Expert on Wendy’s WOW List.

Jumby Bay Island Resort, Antigua

Where to Find Deals Between Thanksgiving and Christmas

‘Tis the season to snap up a great travel deal if you’re able to sneak away between now and December 18 or 19.  Every year, during the slow period that falls between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays—a time when most people stay home—resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico offer significant deals in order to fill rooms. Sometimes you’ll see third, fourth, or fifth nights free, or even complimentary meals or airport transfers. The best way to find these deals is to ask an expert who has solid relationships with resorts in the area—that will translate to offers and perks that are not available to the general public.

For inspiration on resorts and hotels, check out our Insider’s Guide to Finding the Perfect Caribbean Resort. And then contact Ask Wendy for a WOW List–recommended Caribbean expert. You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this. For Mexico, reach out to WOW Lister Zachary Rabinor, who will know to treat you as a VIP when you use Wendy’s trip request form for him. You can learn more about him via the reviews of his trips written by other travelers.

If you can’t get away till Christmas/New Year’s, no worries: You’ll find availability, and a few nifty deals still, in Mexico, and here are some unexpected travel ideas for that time of year too. The next window for super deals is the second and third weeks of January.

Curtain Bluff Resort Antigua

Curtain Bluff, Antigua

Sandpearl Resort Clearwater Beach Florida

Score Exclusive Savings at 22 Hotels and Resorts

Don’t you love an empty white-sand beach? My family loved this one at the Sandpearl Resort in Clearwater Beach, Florida, February 2012. 

Starting at midnight tonight Eastern Time, and continuing throughout the day on Saturday, June 21st, 22 hotels and resorts in Florida, the Caribbean, and Latin America will offer exclusive reduced rates in a Cyber Summer Travel sale. Five-star beach resorts will have suites available at half price, four-diamond resorts will cost just $99/night, and more. You can check out the special offers right now.  They are valid throughout the summer and, in some cases, through the end of the year. But the booking window is one day only: June 21st (the summer solstice).

The deals that really caught my eye are 50% off beachfront suites at Anguilla’s CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa; three nights free if you book four at St. Kitts Marriott Resort; and $129 nightly rates at the Lord Balfour in Miami’s South Beach. Even one of my children’s favorite beach resorts is included:  The Sandpearl, in Clearwater Beach, Florida (near Tampa), where we enjoyed a fabulously kid-friendly vacation two years ago.

Hope you scoop up something great!

Sandpearl Resort Florida beach volleyball

My kids played volleyball for days on the Sandpearl’s beach. It felt like playing on baby powder. Clearwater Beach, Florida, February 2012