Spring has definitely sprung. Even here in Denver, March has been unseasonably wonderful…I mean, warm. I just know Mother Nature is not done with one last winter wallop before Mother’s day. But for now, I can’t help but get excited for Spring Break and summer adventures.
Have you already had your Spring Break? Or perhaps you are waiting until school children are through filling up the top destinations to have a vacation (very smart) or are you already planning for the summer? Whatever the reason, peak vacation time is back.
According to the Hotel Price Index from Hotels.com, travelers are booking more last minute deals than in prior years. And I don’t blame them. While it’s important to book ahead if you know what you “have to have” and you don’t mind paying for it; more hotels, airlines, cruises, etc. are boosting their last-minute marketing strategies. The catch is that if you are going to wait for a last-minute deal then you have to be ready to book when you see a good value. Wait too long and you might have to rethink your trip plans.
The HPI also provided some helpful information as it relates to actual hotel pricing. In fact, hotel prices are on the rise, up four percent (4%) over 2010. But don’t fret – I see this as positive reinforcement of an economic recovery and in truth, prices have still not bounced back to the rates that we were seeing in 2005.
Sunshine Solutions for Spring and Summer
Cancun is once again topping every list I can find as the destination for Spring Break. Because of the popularity in combination with the peak season, expect to pay more for accommodations with an average price per night of $186.38.
Acapulco, on the other hand, feels more upscale while the average price is much less. Recent drug-wars in Mexico have become a tourist safety issue in our neighboring country. The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect U.S. citizens and other visitors to major tourist destinations. Still, U.S. State Department officials are warning American tourists to stay alert and not to wander far from Mexico’s resort areas.
Nassau, Bahamas is such a pleasing destination. It’s one of those places where couples, families, and friends can all have their vacation needs met. The average cost per night was $207.07 in 2011 according to the HPI, expect that number to be a bit higher this year and definitely in the next few months.
A more affordable option may be Negril, Jamaica with an average price per night at $147.33. It’s home to the all-inclusive resort, which is a great way to know what all your costs will be BEFORE you get the bill.
Asheville, NC has been popping up on more lists as a top vacation destination. I don’t know if I should be happy or sad to let this best kept secret spot out of the bag. I’ve been going to Asheville and nearby cities, like Brevard, since I was a kid. With the average hotel price around $108 per night, Asheville is an affordable vacation destination with an abundance of activity to keep you interested.
Amazing restaurants and art galleries abound in the North Carolina resort town. Guests to this town have a variety of options including: trekking the Big Fork Ridge Loop in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; whitewater rafting on the Class IV rapids on the French Broad River; or sliding down the 60-foot long Sliding Rock, a natural water slide with a 7-foot deep natural pool at the base (don’t worry, lifeguards are on duty from Memorial Day through Labor Day).
Lihue, Hi is located on the island of Kauai and is a bit more affordable than nearby Maui and Honolulu, where prices are up 10% from the year before. Enjoy the beaches, the surf, and a traditional Hawaiian hula. Here are a couple of helpful tips when visiting the Hawaiian Islands. I’ve also noticed some amazing airfare deals for Hawaiian destinations on Twitter. So follow the major airlines that fly there and get the jump on super savings.
Do you have a best-kept secret spot you would be willing to share with us here on the Travel Smart Blog? Tell me all about it. I’m always looking for a new adventure! I’ll be heading to the Florida beaches in a few weeks with the kids and I already have Zac Brown Band playing in my head constantly “Toes in the water…Life is good today.”