12 Affordable Winter Escapes
1. ORLANDO The all-suite Caribe Royale Resort Suites & Villas (800/823-8300; www.cariberoyale.com), near Walt Disney World, has nightly rates starting at $129 for two-room units with a pair of queen-size beds, a pullout sofa, a refrigerator and microwave, and two TV's. This discount price is available in November and December; four-night packages with Disney World passes start at $535 per person, $125 for kids three to nine.
2. FLORIDA GULF COAST Through December 16, the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort (800/426-5669; www.colonybeachresort.com) on Longboat Key, near Sarasota, offers rates from $245 for a one-bedroom suite ($295 for a two-bedroom). There is a two-night minimum; children under 18 stay free. The price includes a daily $50 credit for use at hotel restaurants, shops, and sports facilities.
3. ST. LUCIA Seven-night family packages at Windjammer Landing (800/743-9609) start at $2,750 for two adults and one child in a one-bedroom villa; or $3,950 for two adults and two kids in a two-bedroom villa with a private plunge pool. Children ages 4 to 12 can participate in a supervised recreation program. The special, available through December 17, also includes 35 hours of nanny service per week.
4. BIG ISLAND Through December 20, the Orchid at Mauna Lani (800/845-9905; www.orchid-maunalani.com) offers a second room at $19.99 a night to guests who book one room at regular rates. Prices start at $375, double.
5. OAHU The Kahala Mandarin Oriental, Hawaii (800/526-6566; www.mandarin-oriental.com) has a family package, good till December 17, costing $295 and up per night (a minimum three-night stay is required). Kids under 10 eat free; children 5 to 12 can participate in the supervised activities program. A second room is available at half price.
6. CRUISE American Hawaii Cruises (800/765-7000; www.cruisehawaii.com) lets kids 17 and younger travel free--except for port fees, transfers, and state tax--on its seven-night Hawaiian sailings of December 4 and 11 and its three-night cruise departing December 18. The cost of the seven-night cruise and one night at the Outrigger East Hotel in Honolulu is $4,110 for a family of four; the three-night cruise is $2,258.
7. CALIFORNIA Through December 18, a Saturday-to-Saturday plan with three nights in San Francisco's Argent Hotel (formerly the ANA Hotel) and four nights in Tenaya Lodge, outside Yosemite National Park, goes for $1,100, double. Kids can share their parents' room at no cost. The special includes a family pass for San Francisco's cable cars, admission to Yosemite, and a discounted Hertz rental car. Book through Tenaya Lodge (800/635-5807; www.destinationtravel.com).
8. NEW YORK CITY Accommodations for four people in a furnished, 700-square-foot one-bedroom apartment are priced from $175 a night at Hospitality House (800/987-1235; www.hospitalitycompany.com), on East 49th Street near Lexington Avenue. The new property also has two-bedroom units for $275; other short-term rentals are available elsewhere in Manhattan.
9. RAIL Amtrak (800/872-7245; www.amtrak.com) and Canada's VIA Rail offer a 10 percent discount for children ages 2 to 18 (and adults 60 and older) on the North America Rail Pass, good for 30 days of unlimited travel in the United States and Canada. Travel must extend to both countries (there are trans-border connections in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal). From October 16 through December, the regular price is $450 per person. All rail segments require a reservation.
10. CARIBBEAN One free day of supervised Camp Hyatt activities is included in the Together package at Hyatt's four resorts in the Caribbean (800/233-1234; www.hyatt.com). The package also comes with a round of golf and unlimited tennis. Starting nightly rates, per person, double, are $99 at the Hyatt Regency Cerromar Beach and $129 at Dorado Beach, both in Puerto Rico; $129 on Grand Cayman; and $139 on Aruba. A three-night stay is required. These off-season prices are good until December 19.
11. EUROPE United Vacations (800/328-6877; www.unitedvacations.com), an affiliate of United Airlines, has introduced family vacation packages to London and Paris that include hotels and activities for both children and adults (airfare is extra). In November, prices start at $369 per adult and $64 per child 16 and under for London, and $389 per adult, $89 per child 11 and under for Paris. The rates cover a hotel for three nights, breakfasts, and museum and city transportation passes.
12. WEB DEALS VacationSpot.com (www.vacationspot.com) features information and on-line booking for hundreds of rental villas, condos, houses, and inns around the world, plus an invaluable section offering tips for family travel planning. If you click on the Special Offers heading, you can search the deals by date and destination.