Affordable Getaways for Spring and Summer
Houseboat vacations on Lake Powell, along the Utah-Arizona border not far from the Grand Canyon, are great for families, and you can save about 40 percent if you go before April 30. The cost of a five-day rental from Lake Powell Vacations (800/530-3406; www.lakepowellvacations.com) drops from $1,595 to $955. That's for a 36-foot standard-class boat that sleeps up to six and comes with a bathroom, a shower, a kitchen, and an outdoor gas grill.
Prices at better London hotels can run $300 to $400 a night for a double room, but the Barclay International Group (800/845-6636; www.barclayweb.com) has furnished one-bedroom apartments for less than $200 a night that sleep four, and two-bedroom units costing $200 to $400. Some rentals require a seven-night minimum, and others are available only during school vacation periods.
On April 20 the lowest rates of the year kick in at the Franklyn D. Resort (888/337-5437; www.fdrholidays.com) in Runaway Bay, Jamaica. Summer rates at the all-suite, all-inclusive resort start at $560 a night per couple. Sound pricey for the off-season?Keep in mind that it's free for kids under 16 to stay and play—and that everyone's meals, drinks, and entertainment are included. To further tempt, the resort is throwing in an uncommon extra: a personal "vacation nanny" to tend to your kids at no additional cost throughout your stay.
If you buy a package from Walt Disney Travel Co. (800/854-3104; www.disneyvacations.com), you can save almost 50 percent by staying at a neighboring hotel instead of an on-site Disney property. For example, a summer three-night plan for two adults and two kids under 10 starts at $1,350 for Disneyland Resort Hotels; at the Radisson Hotel Maingate, near the Disneyland entrance, a comparable package is $793. Rates include admission to Disneyland Park as well as Disney's new California Adventure.
With its spring/summer holiday weekend packages, the historic Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs (800/634-7711; www.broadmoor.com) lets children under 12 who are accompanied by paying adults stay and eat free. Included are use of bikes and paddleboats, admission to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and horseback trail rides. Rates are $158, double, per night for Memorial Day (May 25—29), $192 for Independence Day (July 2—5), and $153 for Labor Day (August 31—September 4).
The new OceanPoint Resort & Club (866/623-2678; www.oceanpointresort.com), which opened this past winter in the Sunny Isles area, has discounted rates from June through October. A one-bedroom suite (with a queen-sized pullout sofa in the living room) drops from $480 to $385 a night; a $780 two-bedroom is reduced to $625. The units have full kitchens, whirlpool baths, washer/dryers, and even ISDN lines for fast Internet access.
"Untours" (888/868-6871; www.untour.com) are packages of two weeks or more that combine airfare, an apartment rental, and rail passes. And for Switzerland Untours, children 15 and under stay without charge, paying only transatlantic airfare. (On Swiss trains, children accompanied by parents generally ride free.) Apartments are available throughout the country. Adult rates for a two-week Untour to Switzerland start at $1,518 per person, double, including round-trip flights from New York or Boston.
Longing to set sail?If you charter a bareboat yacht (i.e., no crew) from the Moorings (800/368-9991; www.moorings.com), you can get six days at sea for the price of five, or 13 for the price of 10. Regular summer rates start at about $60 a day per person for the self-skippered boats. These Summer Free Days are in effect July 1 to October 26 at the company's five Caribbean bases; and August 13 to October 19 for rentals from the Bahamas, Miami, the Keys, or Baja, Mexico. And if you don't know the jib from the mainsail, don't worry: the boats also have engines.
Internet room discounter Hotel Reservations Network (www.hoteldiscount.com) has added a new division for reduced-rate condominium rentals, with initial offerings mainly in the South, particularly Florida (800/627-7019; www.condosaver.com). When we checked Hilton Head Island availability, we found several properties—two-bedroom, two-bath units with full kitchens and washer/dryers—starting at $170 a night through the peak summer season.
Travel to the Old West: RiverBarge Excursion Lines (888/456-2206; www.riverbarge.com) is running two seven-night Missouri River cruises August 20 and 27, with stops at a Pony Express museum, the house where Jesse James was shot, and—slightly off the theme—the Strategic Air Command Museum, with its historic airplanes. Starting price for adults is $2,180 per person, double; kids under 12 stay free when they share their parents' stateroom.