Hotel deals for Canada this summer and Europe later in summer, says HotWire
It looks like a pretty decent time to book a hotel in Canada, even around Canada Day. But if you're thinking of Europe, you might want to aim for August or September.
I met yesterday with Pierre-Etienne Chartier, vice president of operations for HotWire.Com. Chartier is based in San Francisco but is from Montreal so he understands the Canadian market and HotWire is one of the better companies at keeping tabs on what's happening with travel trends north of the border.
Chartier told me average hotel prices around the world have gone up about 15 per cent in the last year, but he said he's finding some very good deals for Canada, partly because the strength of the Canadian dollar has a lot of folks from up our way taking trips to Boston, Chicago, New York and other American cities.
"There's a decreased demand for the Canadian market in Victoria and Banff and Niagara Falls," he said, "So prices are good. Even to mid-July there are good deals in Banff, but it gets busy after that."
Chartier said even Montreal and Toronto, although relatively expensive, have good deals, while Vancouver has some "fantastic" bargains.
"In the big cities, we've seen four-star hotels going for $85 and five-stars for as little as $135."
With HotWire, you don't see what hotel you're booking but you know the area and some details and the category (number of stars). Chartier, for example, was staying this week at the Sheraton in downtown Toronto for a measly $85.
With so much attention focussed on the London Olympics, starting in late July, Chartier said he expects good deals in Paris and other European cities after the Games.
"The demand for hotels is never what folks expect" around the Olympics, he said, adding that prices haven't necessarily dropped yet but that they might in July for travel in August or September.
Closer to home, he suggests looking at summer travel in cities that do a good deal of convention business and might not be so full in non-peak times. That list includes Orlando, Dallas, Las Vegas and San Diego.
In Vegas, Chartier said you can find a four-star property for as little as $40 and a place on the strip for $70. A five-star hotel might cost you just $120 in Vegas this summer.
Car rentals don't get a lot of press in terms of pricing, but Chartier said rental firms are selling their used vehicles for a pretty good price these days, which translates into longer usage of cars and somewhat reduced rates. So you might find some good deals on your rental car.
I've found a wild swing in car prices over the years. I usually pay about $160 a week in Florida and maybe a little more than that in California. But it's often quite a lot more in some places, especially in Canada.
It's not all good news, of course. While hotels are reasonably priced in some locations, air fares right now are quite high.
"Travel has recovered very well, and airlines haven't added much capacity, so right now air fare are the highest we've seen in a while."
Just for fun, I went on HotWire.com today and checked prices for a pretend trip to Vancouver June 8 to 11. I found a five-star property in downtown Vancouver for a ridiculously cheap $112, and one near the airport (close to public transit) for $79.