More cross-border airport hopping ... New Four Seasons Toronto opens today
In the wake of that terrific Conference Board of Canada report that shows millions of Canadians are avoiding high fees and fares in Canada and flocking to U.S. airports for their holiday trips came a good follow-up from Expedia.ca.
They offer dedicated Cross Border Deals from Buffalo, Detroit, Burlington Vermont, Seattle and Bellingham, Washington and note that big savings can be had if folks don't mind the drive. Most of us here in Toronto have a good two hour drive to get to Buffalo-Niagara. If you live in Oakville or Hamilton or Niagara, it's a heckuva lot closer. Oshawa? Not so great an option.
Expedia says Bellingham is just an hour from Vancouver and is most popular for flights to Las Vegas, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Diego. The top five destinations Canadians fly to from Buffalo are New York City, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Boston and Chicago. As for Burlington, about two hours from Montreal, it's used mostly for flights to Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, New York City, Las Vegas and Tampa. Seattle is about three hours from Vancouver and is used by Canadians mostly for flights to New York, Los Angeles, Orlando, San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale. Detroit is about 2.5 hours from London Ontario and just across the border from Windsor. The most popular Detroit flights for Canadians are those heading to Orlando, Las Vegas, Fort Lauderdale, Phoenix and Tampa.
The conference board report says Canadians save about 30 per cent by flying out of the U.S. versus flying from Canadian airports. For Montrealers, the cost of a flight to U.S. destinations from Burlington is often half the cost of leaving from Montreal, which is amazing.
Of course, driving to the U.S. is not without its issues. There's the time involved, although lineups might be shorter and security simpler in Buffalo than in Pearson, for example. You have to cross the border, of course, which can be time consuming depending on the time of day. You might have to pay for parking at the airport if you're not staying at a hotel. If you do stay at a hotel you might get free parking but would have to, of course, pay for your room.
Expedia.ca recommends checking for hotels with free parking and free airport shuttles. They also point out that coming home to Buffalo and then facing a wait at the border and a two or three-hour drive might not be the ideal ending to your holiday. Yeah, probably not, but worth it for a savings of $400 on your tickets for a family of four, I'd think. Maybe you'd save more than that.
About the same time Expedia was listing some good information about cross-border trips, the folks at Cheapflights.ca sent me a list of the most searched flights for October getaways. They found three places that had more than a 200 per cent increase in flight searches over the last month. Searches for Fort Myers, Florida, home of wonderful islands, good food and great beaches, were up a whopping 456 per cent. Searches for Phoenix jumped 302 per cent, possibly due to cooling weather in Arizona that makes the fall a great time to enjoy the golf, hiking, spas, shopping and other activities. Searches for New Orleans were up a solid 286 per cent as folks gear up for events such as the Voodoo Music Experience, which runs Oct. 26-28 and features the likes of Neil Young, Green Day and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Rounding out the top five search list for the month were Key West, Florida (awesome place, with searches up 258 per cent) and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with searches jumping 245 per cent over September figures.
FOUR SEASONS OPENS TODAY
The latest in the five-star hotel assault wave on T.O. takes place today, when the new Four Seasons Yorkville officially opens its doors. Luminaries and media folks will be on hand in droves, I suspect, and I'm hoping to make it if they'll let me past security.
The Star's Susan Pigg has a good story on the hotel in today's business section, so you can check that out here. There's also a cool graphic on the hotel in this month's Toronto Life, which reveals that there are 300 silent-close toilet seats on the property and that they take eight seconds to close. They also note that security staff learns something called "verbal judo" to disarm aggressive guests, and that sounds intriguing as hell.
You can take the slippers home with you for free, but the robes are supposed to stay behind. Ditto for the free iPads they lend out to folks for their stay, which is becoming a trend in the industry for high-end hotels. Not so much the Comfort Inn at the Airport. Not yet, anyway.