Click for Deals
For quick reference when you’re ready to escape, check independent Websites that keep tabs on sales. The hotel discounter Quikbook.com has a Best Deals page that recently flagged a $199 rate at the Standard Hollywood (standardhotels.com) in L.A., valid through November 30. FareCompare.com’s Deals of the Day page recently highlighted a Continental special from Newark to London for $592. And SpaFinder.com tracks deals like an overnight package at the Spa at Norwich Inn (thespaatnorwichinn.com) in Connecticut for $378 per person through December 30.
Get on the E-List
The constant e-mail blasts you get from sites like Hotwire and Priceline are annoying. However, not all travel e-mails are instantly deletable, especially if you sign up to receive notices from independent properties or boutique-hotel brands. Examples: Mohonk Mountain House (mohonk.com) in New Paltz gives e-mail subscribers first shot at special offers, like a $258-per-person weeknight rate through November 30—a $173 savings. And the swank James Hotel in Chicago (jameshotels.com) used its September e-mail to promote sale rates starting at $159 a night—a 50 percent discount.
With occupancy rates in decline, hotels are dangling carrots—spa and dining credits, gas vouchers, discounts if you add an extra night to your stay—to those who ask for them. Stowe Mountain Lodge (stowemountainlodge.com) in Vermont is tossing in a free massage (normally $85) with each room in November. And in Milford, Pennsylvania, the Hotel Fauchère (hotelfauchere.com) is including dinner for two in its weekend-getaway package, which starts at $650. Specials aren’t always promoted on a hotel’s Website, so book over the phone and ask specifically about available perks.
Rather than relying on online travel agencies like Orbitz to find the lowest-priced rental cars when you want to escape the city, go directly to the car companies. Enterprise (enterprise.com), for one, operates rental lots in areas like Park Slope and Astoria and, across the Hudson, in Jersey City and Hoboken—all of which may not show up on a conventional Web search, but may result in better deals.