(last paragraph is aruba)
Top five bargain destinations for fall 2010
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Colorado delivers autumnal golds, reds, and oranges; sweeping mountain views; and fall festivals, all at affordable rates.
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By Christine Sarkis, SmarterTravel.com
Here's a secret: If you're looking for a great vacation at a great price, there's a good chance fall is the best time to go. In many destinations, you'll find better weather than in winter or spring, and you'll beat the high prices and crowds of summer.
I've monitored trends, industry news, and sale patterns to point you in the direction of places that offer the best bargains for the coming season. Below you'll find examples of deals presently available for fall trips. Like all deals, these are sure to expire; however, a little research on your part can yield similar results when you're ready to book.
Early fall is Orlando's slowest travel time, and that means bargains that simply aren't around the rest of the year. Factor in new air service and hotel deals galore, and Orlando turns out to be a standout spot for travelers looking for good deals and plenty of fun this fall.
Virgin America debuts nonstop service from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Orlando on October 6, with rates from $139 each way. On the air-and-hotel front, United Vacations is offering either free Disney Dining or 46% off Walt Disney World vacations of three nights or more on select dates in October, November, and December. With the recent increase in Disney World admission prices, discounts are even more useful for keeping costs down.
Some hotels are cutting room rates as well. CheapOair recently reported Orlando hotel rates from $42 for late September stays, and Coco Key Resort is offering September nightly rates from $89.
With its high elevations and abundance of deciduous trees, most notably aspens, Colorado delivers autumnal golds, reds, and oranges; sweeping mountain views; and fall festivals, all at affordable rates. Short-booking-window fall airfare sales have been cropping up all over the place in the last few weeks, so finding a good deal on airfare to Colorado is a real possibility this season, especially if you're ready to book when you find a great fare.
Deals are all over the state this autumn, but a few destinations shine for their combination of discounts and celebrations. Aspen will bring together vivid foliage, festivals, and cheaper rates. Numerous local hotels and rental properties have Perfect Aspen packages offering three nights for the price of two, with rates starting from $99 in September; call individual properties for details.
Meanwhile, Gunnison-Crested Butte is celebrating September Splendor in the Rockies with fall festivals, art walks, and more. Properties around the area have lodging deals with rates as low as $20 per person for fall stays.
For more affordable fall fun, get lost in Colorado's largest corn maze at Anderson Farms, about an hour north of Denver. Or, head to Estes Park for Elk Fest in early October, where visitors can safely observe wild elk during rutting season.
Looking for a more exotic destination on a tight budget? Fiji might be just the ticket. A kids-fly-free promotion puts the tropical island within reach of families, and affordable tickets that include stops in Australia or New Zealand and Fiji can turn a beach vacation into a trip of a lifetime.
Families booking trips by September 30 for travel through February should consider Air Pacific's children-fly-free offer. For every adult flying on a qualifying ticket, one child can fly free (though you'll still need to cover taxes and surcharges). This is one promotion you can't book online; so call Air Pacific or a travel agent.
Not flying with kids? Discounted flights on Air Pacific make adult travel cheaper, too. Round-trip fares from Los Angeles booked by October 31 for travel through March are advertised as starting from $650. However, you may be able to find a flight for even less: On the Air Pacific website, the current base fare is $620. Another $328 in taxes and fees raises the price, but the total clocks in well under most equivalent flights.
Sale fares to destinations in Australia, New Zealand, and Western Samoa with stopovers in Fiji on Air Pacific run between $700 and $800, depending on the destination. And vacation package provider Pleasant Holidays has deals on November travel from $1,189 for airfare, five nights' accommodations, transfers, and perks.
Want fall foliage without the high prices of New England? Virginia offers vivid fall colors, memorable drives, and affordable accommodations, even for those who didn't book months ahead of peak foliage season. In fact, according to Hotwire, Richmond, Virginia, saw a 6% drop in hotel prices compared to last year, putting it squarely within reach of bargain travelers.
This fall, we've been seeing a lot of airfare sales, but they are often short-lived, running for only a few days at a time. When you know your dates and are ready to book, check our reviews of current sales to find discounted flights to Norfolk, Richmond, one of the D.C.-area airports, or another regional airport serving the state.
Virginia makes it easy to save this fall with listings of special fall offers. For instance, you can find a two-night vacation rental with two passes to a historic spa for $139 per person. Or, take advantage of a fall foliage package from $125 a night at the General Francis Marion Hotel, including a $25 gas card and $25 dining certificate, for stays between October 1 and November 3. Other offers include deals on wine tasting, activities, dining, and more.
Aruba, one of the few islands in the Caribbean outside the traditional hurricane belt, delivers fall bargains and low storm risk. In fact, many hotels on the island, including the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort, Westin Resort, and the Divi Resorts, offer a hurricane guarantee, providing some combination of no-penalty rebooking or certificates for future stays in the event of a Category 1 or higher hurricane.
Hurricane guarantees provide peace of mind, but discounts are what inspires fall travel. Holiday Inn Sunspree Aruba is advertising up to 55% off all-inclusive rates for fall stays, with children under 12 free. The Radisson Aruba's Endless Summer Sale offers 35% off room rates, free meals and stays for kids under 18, and $200 in resort credits.
Discounted air-and-hotel packages are another way to save on an Aruba vacation. At press time, JetBlue Vacations was advertising reduced rates from $450 for five nights' accommodations and round-trip airfare from Boston (other departure cities available at a higher cost), and CheapCaribbean.com had sale packages to Aruba as well.