Well, it's Cyber Monday. But my inbox isn't exactly overflowing with travel deals. I think there are a few to be had, so I'd advise sticking by your computer today.
The best deal I've seen so far today is from the terrific Kimpton hotell chain, a deal offering 30 per cent off on stays from Thursday to Sunday between now and Dec. 30. It's a pre-paid, non-refundable deal that's valid only at certain hotels and you need to use the word "CYBER" as your rate code.
I found a room for Dec. 21 and 22 at the Kimpton Palomar in downtown Phoenix for $139. Rooms at the outstanding Burnham Hotel in downtown Chicago, which I reviewed in the Star a few weeks ago, were going for just $140 on weekends in early December. It's a fabulous, historic hotel with a cool bar and a nice vibe in a good part of town and very much worth checking out.
I also spotted a series of deals at Expedia.ca, including rooms in Las Vegas for $16, hotels in Montreal from $66 and from Vancouver from $70 and Canmore/Banff from $84. Further afield, there were rooms in Punta Cana, D.R. from $90 and a three-star spot in Paris for $107, which is quite impressive. The deals must be booked today, Nov. 26 for travel by Dec. 31.
DUBAI ON THE RISE?
I had to shake my head at a Reuters report over the weekend, talking about Dubai's latest announcement for a monstrous tourism and retail development.
I don't particularly love Dubai as a destination but I guess it's a good sign for world tourism that Dubai thinks it's gotten over the corporate debt crisis that brought it (almost) to its knees three years ago. For those who missed it, the latest plan calls for the largest shopping mall in the world to be built on the outskirts of what passes for Dubai's current downtown area. There's also supposed to be a park that's 30 per cent bigger than Hyde Park in London.
A retail complex named the "Mall of the World" will be able to host 80 million visitors a year and include over 100 hotel facilities, officials said. A family entertainment centre linked to the mall, developed with Hollywood's Universal Studios would be designed for six million visitors each year.
It's all fine for Dubai, but just because a park is 30 per cent bigger than Hyde Park doesn't make it better. Ditto for the malls. I went to the big shopping mall in Dubai a couple years ago, the one with the indoor ski hill, and was utterly underwhelmed. Aside from the cosmpolitan group of customers, it may as well have been the Mall of America in Minneapolis with higher-end stores or the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta.
The historic centre of Dubai is fun and quite interesting, and there's a nicer beach than you might think to go with some sumptuous resorts. But the downtown feels like Houston without the southern charm and the majority of the developments that march ever onward make you feel like you're in Vegas, minus the crazy guys in costumes and the wedding chapels. Also without the girls and the gambling.
Still, folks seem to flock there and it is quite safe and there's a lot to do for kids, including a fun water park I tried out a couple years ago. They're clearly doing something right to warrant this kind of tourism plan....