Looking to book your winter vacation or something for the fall? Mexico might be a great option, says Taylor Cole of Hotels.com.
I had a coffee with Cole in Toronto on Monday and she said she hasn’t seen a concerted tourism push like the one Mexico is putting on in a long time. A spate of shootings and violent incidents in Mexico a few months ago put the nation on alert, and she said the tourism chief has been on TV all over the place, seeking to assure would-be visitors that all is fine.
“We’re seeing 30 per cent off right now for some places,” Cole told me. She singled out Los Cabos, Acapulco and Cancun/Riviera Maya (see photo) as places to look for deals. Cancun and the Riviera Maya, as well as Cabos, are particularly known as some of the safest spots in the country.
One might expect huge deals in Spain given the economy, but Cole said there are really only “pockets” of bargains to be had. One piece of advice she likes to give, and it goes for many countries/cities/destinations, is to stay outside of the most popular spots and commute. Or check out a secondary destination as well as the big boys.
In Spain, I’d advocate checking out Madrid or Barcelona but also spending time in the coastal city of Valencia, which has a fabulous old town and castles and a great market, plus a long stretch of coastline and excellent food. It’s the home of traditional Spanish paella. It’s also got a fabulous museum with marvelous, modern design and a great aquarium that the kids will love.
“When I go to France I love Strasbourg,” Cole said. “It feels German (see photo) but you speak French and it’s a great mix. It’s only 2.5 hours from Paris on the TGV, too.”
There’s been an “influx of inventory” (that’s code for a lot of new hotels) in New York, which helps visitors. But it’s still expensive if you want to stay in Times Square. Instead, Cole advocates mixing it up and moving to another part of the city and taking a short commute to the theatre.
If you don’t mind waiting a while to nail down your accommodations, Cole suggests booking your hotel at the last minute.
“Hoteliers don’t want to leave rooms empty. Check out upper category hotels for last-minute deals if you want that four or five-star room with a view.”
Other areas of note from our talk include:
- New Orleans. Decent room rates and hospitable people in a city that’s definitely rebounded from Hurricane Katrina.
- Indonesia. “You can often find really good hotel deals for a beach bungalow or something near the rain forest.”
- Manila. “I didn’t know what to expect but the Shangri La in Manila is a fabulous property with great service.”
- Toronto. “To have four big luxury properties built in such a small radius is quite a bit. There’s a bit of that in New York, of course, and maybe Dallas and California. But not like this.”
In a related note, Carlson Wagonlit Travel yesterday released its 2013 Travel Price Forecast. The report calls for modest growth in travel costs next year, with the highest increases coming in the Asia/Pacific and Latin American regions.
That’s probably no surprise given the economic growth (with some exceptions of course) in those regions.
You think that’s bad? Carlson Wagonlit is forecasting a double digit price hike for hotels in Brazil (see Rio photo at right) as the economy booms and because of strong demand linked to limited supply. That could ease a bit as hotels come on line for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics, officials said.
Overall, Latin America hotel rates are expected to rise about 6.3 per cent next year. Which means not all countries are as red hot as Brazil.
Here in North America, Carlson Wagonlit expects airline prices to go up 2.8 per cent in 2013. A whack of U.S. airlines raised air fares on the weekend. Yeah, it was only by a few bucks per ticket, but still….
North American hotel rates are expected to rise 3.2 per cent next year, but car rental prices should drop 1.1 per cent, the report said.
Over in Europe, airfares should climb 2.5 per cent next year, while hotel rates will go up only 1.3 per cent. Car rental rates in Europe should climb about 1.2 per cent, but the cost of a high-speed rail ticket likely will go up 4.5 per cent, so keep an eye on that.
$22.6 BILLION IN BAG FEES AND SKINNY BLANKETS
Wow. A report says that 50 worldwide airlines last year brought in $22.6 billion in ancillary revenue through fees for bags and other services. Not only is that a huge amount of money on its own, it represents a 66 per cent increase from what airlines brought in two years ago, according to the study by IdeaWorks, a consultant specializing in ancillary revenue and brand development.
So, if you have the feeling that you’re getting nickel and dimed and quartered and dollared to death, you’re pretty much bang on.
Amazing, isn’t it? I mean, $22.6 billion?? That’s a lot of extra bags and skinny blanket fees and tinny headphone rental fees, folks.
Want to avoid the fees? You might want to skip United, which brought in $5.2 billion in ancillary fees. Next on the list was Delta at a relatively paltry $2.5 billion, followed by American Airlines and Qantas, which I didn’t realize was so heavy into the extra fee policy.
Figures for Canada weren’t available, but there were no Canadian airlines in the top 10 fee earnings list.