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 Le Blanc Spa ResortEvery Tuesday, we’ll feature the best travel bargain we’ve seen all week right here, on our blog. Be the first to find out which deals make the cut by subscribing to our blog or signing up for our weekly deals newsletter.

The Deal: After all the cooking, wrapping and relatives, you might be seeking a soothing kind of post-holiday vacation. Our advice? Relax and say “Spaah” at Le Blanc, an all-inclusive luxury resort in Mexico, and enjoy $1,500 worth of dinners, spa treatments, games of golf and more — for free.

Cancun’s Le Blanc Spa Resort is offering up to $1,500 in resort credit with stays of five to eight nights through December 2012. Stay four nights and receive $750 in resort credit, or stay three nights and receive $500 in resort credit. You can use the credit toward a long list of special perks that aren’t covered by the resort’s all-inclusive rates, like a dolphin swim excursion, spa treatments, a romantic lobster dinner on the beach, room upgrades, Champagne and wine, and even wedding packages.

If destination nuptials aren’t on your 2012 to-do list, you can still enjoy the much-lauded service and plush accommodations at LeBlanc. The resort is ranked number one out of 169 Cancun hotels on our sister site TripAdvisor, and it was even selected as one of TripAdvisor’s 2011 Travelers’ Choice winners. The adults-only beachfront property features five restaurants, two golf courses, three outdoor pools, and a fitness center that offers yoga and Pilates classes.

The Catch: LeBlanc is an all-inclusive luxury resort, which means it’s not exactly the best place to go for a bargain-basement vacation. The lowest rates we found came to $296 per person, per night for an autumn stay. Prices are more expensive in winter and early spring.

The Competition: JW Marriott, Renaissance and Marriott Resorts are offering $100 in resort credit plus a free companion ticket with their “Stay Here, Fly There” promotion. This deal isn’t valid in Mexico, but you can snag the offer at select properties in other balmy beach destinations like Florida, California, Texas and Hawaii.

Find these bargains and more money-saving offers in our Hotel Deals.


– written by Caroline Costello

 BedandBreakfast.com Gift CardEvery Tuesday, we’ll feature the best travel bargain we’ve seen all week right here, on our blog. Be the first to find out which deals make the cut by subscribing to our blog or signing up for our weekly deals newsletter.

The Deal: We know the holiday season is in full swing when BedandBreakfast.com rolls out its annual Black Friday gift card sale. (We also know the holidays are here when the giant penguin wearing a Santa hat appears near our office door.) Through the end of the month, BedandBreakfast.com is offering a free $75 gift card with any gift card purchase of $250 or more.

Purchase five $50 gift cards to hand out to your friends and keep the $75 bonus for yourself. Or, of course, you can gift that extra card as well — but where’s the fun in that?

The Catch: BedandBreakfast.com lists more than 11,000 properties, but these gift cards aren’t valid at all of them. The cards can only be used to book stays at B&B’s and hotels that accept online reservations through the booking site — about 4,000 properties around the world. Look for the blue “book now” button next to a property listing; if that button’s there, you can pay for your stay with a gift card.

The Competition: Costco.com is currently selling $100 BedandBreakfast.com gift cards for just $74.99 each. Which is the better deal? Ultimately, you’re saving 25 percent if you go with Costco.com and 23 percent if you pay $250 for $325 worth of gift cards with BedandBreakfast.com.

But when it comes to gift giving, we think the BedandBreakfast.com Black Friday sale comes out on top. With this sale, you can get gift cards in varying amounts ($25, $50, $100, $125, etc.) instead of just $100 increments. Plus, BedandBreakfast.com lets you pick from eight different gift card styles, and it even offers a customizable photo gift card that you can personalize with your own uploaded picture.

Find these bargains and more money-saving offers in our Holiday Travel Deals.

– written by Caroline Costello

farm turkeysIn merely a week’s time, families across the U.S. will gather together to dine on turkeys, Tofurkeys, pies and potatoes. It all sounds fantastic — unless you’re the one washing the dishes and stuffing bread cubes into the back end of a bird. Although November 24 is fast approaching, you still have a chance to flee your kitchen and embark on a refreshing holiday weekend getaway, sans scary electric carving knife. Here are five fantastic Thanksgiving hotel deals to lure you away from that stove.

1. Pie and Booze in San Francisco
San Francisco’s Hotel Palomar is topping off your Thanksgiving stay with a freshly baked pie and a bottle of — what else — Wild Turkey bourbon. The downtown boutique hotel, which offers free Wi-Fi and is pet-friendly, is pairing these celebratory perks with deluxe accommodations in its “Pie + Family + Booze = Splendid Holiday” package, available through the end of December. Prices start at $299 per night.

2. Save Up to 58% on Thanksgiving Hotel Stays
Hotels.com is offering up to 58 percent off hotel stays in dozens of destinations around the world — including the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Canada and locales across the U.S. We recently featured this offer as the Travel Deal of the Week on our blog, and for good reason. This wide-ranging hotel sale covers so many properties, it’s worth a look no matter where you’re heading for the holidays.

3. Newark Airport Thanksgiving Package
If your eve-of-Thanksgiving flight is departing at an hour during which you’d normally be fast asleep, consider staying near the airport. New York-area travelers can avoid those high holiday hotel prices by booking the Thanksgiving Weekend deal at the Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott. Special Thanksgiving rates start at $199 a night.

4. Celebrate Thanksgiving Like a President
This Thanksgiving package in Washington D.C. includes a host of holiday perks, from a four-course Turkey Day dinner for up to eight people to a professionally photographed family portrait taken in your suite. You’ll bunk at the Madison, a luxurious boutique hotel located near National Mall monuments and, of course, down the street from the First Family. Prices start at $799 per night.

5. Give Thanks on the Slopes
Spend a long weekend zooming down the slopes, dining on decadent four-course dinners and toasting the holiday from the comfort of a traditional mountain lodge in Utah. Alta Lodge, set at the base of the Alta Ski Area, is offering a four-night Thanksgiving package that covers meals, lodging and taxes for $900 per person. A special Thanksgiving dinner is also included in the rates.

– written by Caroline Costello

PumpkinsEvery Tuesday, we’ll feature the best travel bargain we’ve seen all week right here, on our blog. Be the first to find out which deals make the cut by subscribing to our blog or signing up for our weekly deals newsletter.

The Deal: This Thanksgiving, Hotels.com is tempting travelers to ditch the kitchen and take a vacation. The booking site is offering up to 58 percent off Thanksgiving accommodations, as well as free nights and complimentary dinners at select properties. Travelers must hit the road November 22 – 29 to take advantage of this deal.

There are some pretty remarkable discounts on offer here, such as 49 percent off all-inclusive rates at Smuggler’s Cove Resort and Spa in St. Lucia. Nightly prices, which normally start at $525 and cover everything from meals to water skiing, are on sale for as little as $269. Other big markdowns include 57 percent off rates in the Dominican Republic, half off Lake Tahoe hotels and free fourth-night stays in Jamaica. Bottom line: If you’re thinking about taking a last-minute getaway around Thanksgiving, this deal is worth a look.

The Catch: At some properties, you’ll have to meet minimum-night-stay requirements to save. For example, you can receive 58 percent off your accommodations at Wyndham Nassau Resort, but you’ll have to hang around for three nights or longer; unless you’re planning a whirlwind weekend getaway, this shouldn’t be a huge deterrent.

The Competition: So far, this deal is the most comprehensive Thanksgiving hotel sale we’ve spotted. But you can find more Turkey Day discounts in our Holiday Travel Deals.

– written by Caroline Costello

breakfastEvery Tuesday, we’ll feature the best travel bargain we’ve seen all week right here, on our blog. Be the first to find out which deals make the cut by subscribing to our blog or signing up for our weekly deals newsletter.

The Deal: This Veterans Day, hundreds of B&B’s across the U.S. and Canada are honoring servicemen and servicewomen with free accommodations. Properties that have signed up for the B&B’s for Vets program are offering complimentary one-night stays for active military and veterans as well as their companions for the night of Thursday, November 10. The icing on the pancake? Veterans can start their mornings with a plate of home-cooked eggs or French toast at properties that offer breakfast on the house.

The Catch: More than 500 American B&B’s have signed up for the program in addition to more than 215 Canadian B&B’s. But rooms are filling up fast, so it’s best to book your stay as soon as possible. According to a press release from the B&B’s for Vets program, “While some [inns] have already filled, new inns and B&B’s are being added daily.”

The Competition: There are other Veterans Day deals to be found next month. Many chain restaurants, including Applebee’s and Chili’s, will offer free meals and other discounts to active military and veterans on November 11. Here’s one of our favorite Veterans Day perks: Everyone — even those who didn’t serve in the military — can get free admission at more than 100 U.S. national parks the weekend of Veterans Day, from November 11 through 13.

Find these bargains and more money-saving offers in our Travel Deals.

– written by Caroline Costello

Boats in Perkins Cove, MaineEvery Tuesday, we’ll feature the best travel bargain we’ve seen all week right here, on our blog. Be the first to find out which deals make the cut by subscribing to our blog or signing up for our weekly deals newsletter.

The Deal: Labor Day has come and gone, and right now, shoulder-season deals to destinations like Hawaii, the Caribbean and Europe are easy pickin’s. But if you’d like to visit a place that shows its best colors this time of year, you don’t necessarily have to pay high-season prices. We spotted this excellent high-season deal for one of the United States’ great fall destinations: Maine.

For a limited time, Orbitz is offering $50 off Maine hotel stays in addition to up to 30 percent off accommodations and free-night stays at participating properties in the Pine Tree State. This offer is valid for three-night (or longer) stays through mid-October.

Essential Portland, Maine Travel Guide

The Catch: Since it’s currently high season for travel to Maine, rooms at the more popular properties are filling up fast — especially if they’re on sale; a quick search on Orbitz confirmed this. According to the Orbitz Web site, Acadia Inn, one of the hotels featured in this offer, only had three available rooms left for the dates I punched in (September 15 through 17). Likewise, Orbitz told me only two available rooms remained at the Majestic Regency in Wells, another cut-rate property, for the same dates. Act fast if you’re thinking about snapping up this offer.

The Competition: A smart way to visit Maine on the cheap is to grab a last-minute New England cruise deal. Right now, we list several discounted leaf-peeping sailings in our Cruise Deals, including a seven-night early-October New England and Canada cruise for $649 with prepaid gratuities, and a similar late-October sailing for just $549. Both cruises sail roundtrip from Boston, and both include stops in Maine.

Find these bargains and more money-saving offers in our Travel Deals.

– written by Caroline Costello

hotel saleEvery Tuesday, we’ll feature the best travel bargain we’ve seen all week right here, on our blog. Be the first to find out which deals make the cut by subscribing to our blog or signing up for our weekly deals newsletter.

The Deal: Hotels.com is running a short-lived promotion that will satisfy those travelers addicted to flash sales and private discount travel sites. For just 48 hours, the hotel booking site is slashing nightly rates at select properties by as much as 50 percent. But the clock is literally ticking on this limited-time offer (there’s a digital countdown clock spinning away on the Hotels.com home page).

Noteworthy discounts featured in this sale include half off stays at the Nouvel, Barcelona (reduced nightly rates start at $106); 40 percent off two-night stays at several properties in Las Vegas; and 40 percent off rates at The Alex, an upscale Manhattan property (with discounted nightly rates from $298). Travel dates range from the end of August through September 27.

The Catch: There’s not an enormous variety of hotels here (far less than the typical sweeping Hotels.com sale). Most of the hotels included in this sale are U.S. properties, with the exception of a few places in Barcelona. Additionally, you’ve got to meet some minimum-night-stay requirements before you can snag the discounts at certain hotels.

The Competition: Travelocity is having a one-day sale today, which is worth looking into. We did some digging and found 40 percent off rates in Miami (for stays in September), and even 33 percent off an ecolodge in Costa Rica. Check both sites to search for a decent hotel discount in your destination.

Find these bargains and more money-saving offers in our Hotel Deals.

Editor’s Note: IndependentTraveler.com is a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, an operating company of Expedia, Inc., which also owns Hotels.com.

– written by Caroline Costello

Westin ArubaEvery Tuesday, we’ll feature the best travel bargain we’ve seen all week right here, on our blog. Be the first to find out which deals make the cut by subscribing to our blog (top right) or signing up for our weekly deals newsletter.

The Deal: Guests staying for two or three nights at select Starwood Hotels and Resorts are eligible to pay rates equal to their birth year for their second and third nights’ stays. For example, if you were born in 1960, the nightly rate for your second and third nights’ accommodations comes to just $60, but you’ll have to pay full price for your first night’s stay.

This promotion is valid at select Starwood properties in the U.S., the Caribbean and Canada. At some luxury resorts, rates for second and third nights’ stays amount to your birth year plus $100.

Is this deal worth your money? If you can remember the moon landing, yes. For younger travelers, it depends.

At the Four Points by Sheraton Caguas Real Hotel & Casino in Puerto Rico, nightly rates start at $169 before taxes. Say you were born in 1950. The price for your next two nights drops to $50 plus taxes. That’s a savings of roughly 70 percent on your second and third nights. A traveler born in 1980 will save about 53 percent. The older you are, the greater your savings.

The Catch: At some properties, the hotel’s standard nightly rate is actually cheaper than the first night’s rate with the age promotion; watch out for that. In a few cases, the special first-night age promotion rate is so expensive that your stay could actually cost more than it would without this promotion — especially if you’re a younger traveler.

Here’s an example: At the Westin Resort and Casino in Aruba, first-night rates start at $499 for guests booking with the age promotion. But standard nightly rates for the same room come to just $189. Only travelers born in 1934 or earlier will save money.

The Competition: You can find a number of similar age-related offers in our Senior Travel Deals, including 20 percent discounts at Days Inns for AARP members and 15 percent savings at Marriott properties for travelers ages 62 and older.

– written by Caroline Costello

Hyatt Key West Resort and SpaEvery Tuesday, we’ll feature the best travel bargain we’ve seen all week right here, on our blog. Be the first to find out which deals make the cut by subscribing to our blog (top right) or signing up for our weekly deals newsletter.

The Deal: Stay at participating Hyatt properties and receive up to $500 in free resort credit. The credit can be used for activities, spa treatments, meals, drinks, you name it. In short, anything that could be charged to your room can be paid for with resort credit. (Exceptions include casino charges, resort fees and hotel taxes, and gratuities.) The longer you stay, the more you can save:

-Get a $100 resort credit with a two-night stay
-Get a $200 resort credit with a three-night stay
-Get a $400 resort credit with a four-night stay
-Get a $500 resort credit with a five-night stay

While Hyatt has hundreds of properties around the world, only 20 resorts are participating in this promotion. But the eligible resorts, we must add, are all located in popular vacation destinations, such as Maui, Aruba, Cancun, Clearwater Beach, Key West, Lake Tahoe and San Diego.

The Catch: You’d better be set on your vacation plans, because nothing about this deal is refundable. To get the free resort credit, you have to submit a full nonrefundable payment at time of booking. And if you don’t use all of your credit during your stay, you won’t be able to receive a refund of any kind for the never-touched bonus bucks.

The Competition: Wyndham Resorts is offering a $100 American Express Reward Card plus free one-night accommodations to guests who stay at participating properties for five nights or longer. In addition, Hotels.com is running a summer “GIFTAWAY” sale featuring discounts on hotel stays plus perks like free Kindle e-readers.

Find these bargains and more money-saving offers in our Hotel Deals.

Editor’s Note: IndependentTraveler.com is a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, an operating company of Expedia, Inc., which also owns Hotels.com.

– written by Caroline Costello

parisEvery Tuesday, we’ll feature the best travel bargain we’ve seen all week right here, on our blog. Be the first to find out which deals make the cut by subscribing to our blog (top right) or signing up for our weekly deals newsletter.

The Deal: Hotels.com is offering discounts of as much as 60 percent on select properties around the world. But this deal won’t be available for long. The offer is on the table for 48 hours only and, given that the countdown clock started this morning (we’re being literal here — there’s an actual countdown clock on the Hotels.com home page), your 48-hour window has already shrunk a bit.

Now that you feel sufficiently rushed, let’s take a closer look at how much you can save. We spotted some big markdowns in this 48-hour sale, including half-off prices at Sole on the Ocean, a beachfront Miami property, and 60 percent off accommodations at two Parisian hotels, Hotel Magenta Paris and Hotel Cervantes Paris.

The Catch: Watch out for minimum stay requirements at some of the hotels, like that beachside Miami spot we mentioned a few sentences ago (you must stay four or more nights to get the 50 percent discount).

The Competition: We found a few offers lurking in our hotel deals that come close to matching the discounts offered in the Hotels.com 48-hour sale. Starwood Hotels is offering half-off second-night stays at select hotels in the U.S. and abroad, and Wyndham is serving up a similar deal, with 50 percent off second-night stays at select properties across the globe.

Find these bargains and more money-saving offers in our Hotel Deals.

– written by Caroline Costello

Editor’s Note: IndependentTraveler.com is a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, an operating company of Expedia, Inc. Expedia, Inc. also owns Hotels.com.