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New Family Travel Auction Site Launches

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FamilyGetaway.com, a new website for value-seeking families, just launched and is offering travel packages at up to 65 percent off retail prices at places like the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa in Koloa, Hawaii, Highmark Steamboat Springs in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa.

Owned by the same company as LuxuryLink.com, FamilyGetaway.com operates in a similar manner as the popular luxury travel website by offering two purchase options:

-Auction: Those with flexible travel dates can submit bids on the package of their choice, assuring the website’s best values.

-Buy Now: For those with less flexibility, there is the Buy Now option that still offers steep discounts (often up to 50 percent off!).

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Paris Dispatch: Eiffel Tower News, Cool Apps, Exhibits, More...

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You can now buy tickets for the Eiffel Tower online at www.tour-eiffel.fr (English section); it’s also possible to reserve online at both the 58 and the Jules Verne. Van Cleef & Arpels took home the Best iPhone Application award at the Stratégies / Firstluxe.com 2009 Awards. “A Day in Paris”, was inspired by the brand’s site: unejourneeaparis.com. The app traces seven romantic, interactive circuits in Paris with poetic stops along the way.

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UPDATE: Snow and Room Rates Fall in D.C.

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If watching the video of last Saturday’s gleeful, well-attended snowball fight at Dupont Circle makes you as envious as it makes me, maybe you’re ready to head to D.C. for some cold comfort.  The Jefferson, a posh Beaux-Arts hotel between Dupont Circle and Logan Circle, has dropped the rates on their deluxe rooms from their usual $380 to $195 for the next couple of days.

So, own your own piece of the Snowpocalypse (or, D.C. residents, wait out the approaching storm in luxury, no snow shovels required).  Call the Jefferson directly at (202) 448-2300 and ask for the Winter Storm Special. Pack your snowpants and mittens.

(By the way, you can keep up with plans for the next organized snowball fight by going to the Official Dupont Circle Snowball Fight page on Facebook.com.)

UPDATE:  The D.C.-area Kimpton hotels (including the Hotel George, Hotel Helix, Hotel Madera, Hotel Monaco, Hotel Palomar, Hotel Rouge, and Topaz Hotel) have jumped on the wagon with a special snow-day rate that starts at $99.  Use SNW as the booking code.  (See if you can talk them into combining the snow special with the Rub the One You're With spa treatment package!)

Ann Shields is an online senior editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo credit: Stirling Elmendorf

Dr. Ruth Launches "Date Nights D.C."

Washington, D.C. is getting a different kind of stimulus package this month—one spearheaded by the newly-appointed Secretary of Love and Relationships, Dr. Ruth Westheimer. The famous love doctor (inspired by the Obama’s “date nights”) has wasted no time in making her priorities clear, by launching “Date Nights D.C.,” a program that offers tons of deals during the month of February at D.C. hotels, restaurants, museums and more. Here are some highlights:

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Affordable Miami: Get the Incard

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With most of the country experiencing near Arctic temps right now, Miami—a lone warm-weather destination on the eastern seaboard—is looking pretty good. And there's another reason to go: travel discounts!

Miami Beach tourism is offering a slim and subtle bar-coded card for discounts as big as 20% at the area's top shops, restaurants, museums, hotels, and more. The card comes in two colors: platinum for tourists, and black for residents.

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This Tuesday's Emirates Air Sale: $100 Off RT Flights

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We just learned that award-winning airline Dubai-based Emirates throws new sales every Tuesday at Emirates.com/spotlight. This week it’s discounted roundtrip economy-class tickets purchased (via the website) by $100.

Its modern fleet (some 137 aircraft in all) flies to over 60 destinations around the world, including the newly added Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, and LA- and SF-Dubai routes.

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Contest Watch: Holiday Edition

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Tis the season for toys and presents, but what about getting your 2010 travel calendar in line? These three contests might make for one heck of a New Year.

Ultimate Fiji Adventurer
Now – January 1st
Make your New Year’s resolution to be more adventurous. Tourism Fiji has launched a video contest to give away a pair of roundtrip tickets to Fiji on Air Pacific (from Los Angeles) and seven nights—with meals—at Sonaisali Island Resort. Contestants must submit a 2-3 minute video explaining why they are an Ultimate Fiji Adventurer at www.fijime.tv/videocontest. After entries close on January 1st, it’s up to the public to vote on their favorite submission. We could not confirm at publilcation time, but contestants shoudle expect to pay taxes and fees.

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Hot Hotel Deals and More in Beverly Hills

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Beverly Hills, 90210 may remind you of all sorts of things: Rodeo Drive, Bentleys, even a recently-reinterpreted television show on the CW. What likely doesn’t come to mind are hotel deals, which is what all the buzz was about during my recent visit.

The Thompson Beverly Hills on the corner of Wilshire and Crescent, brings Stephen Brandman’s chic-and-shiny aesthetic to LA. The hotel is home to the West Coast’s only BondSt sushi outpost, has a rooftop pool with panoramic views, and easy access to the shops on South Beverly. Rooms are sexy, with beds dressed in Frette linens. And the rate? A wallet-friendly $199/per night.

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Bing Travel to Pay Thanksgiving Baggage Fees for 1,000 Passengers

Planning on braving the airport tomorrow? Sure, the day before Thanksgiving is hands down the busiest travel day of the year and yes, there's not a shadow of a doubt that your airport will be more calamitous than usual. But Bing Travel just may be able to help make your holiday travels a little bit more bearable.

Bing Travel Fareologists will be staked out at the Boston and Seattle airports tomorrow. Travelers with questions can get expert advice on how to travel during this über stressful time of the year. To boot, 1,000 travelers will be randomly selected to be reimbursed for their baggage fees (up to $15).

For more information about tomorrow's giveaway, visit www.bing.com/travel or follow them on Twitter: @Fareologist.

Joshua Pramis is an online associate editor for Travel + Leisure.

No Escape From Work Emails: 47 Airports Get Free Holiday WiFi

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Everyone has a Thanksgiving travel horror story, don’t they? Heading “over the river and through the woods” takes longer and involves more encounters with the surly and stressed hoi polloi than it did when we traveled by sleigh with lap blankets.

Google has granted travelers a respite from watching people freak out in airports during our holiday layovers en route to grandmother’s house. The benevolent search-master is footing the bill for free WiFi in 47 U.S. airports around the country between now and January 15.

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