Want a luxury getaway, but don’t think you can afford it? Well, guess what: you can land yourself a swanky, upscale vacation for pennies on the dollar at some of the premiere domestic and international leisure travel destinations. It’s true, friends. Imagine yourself poolside at a serene, posh resort, partaking in the good life at a fraction of the cost.
Can you see it? Then you can achieve it! Summer is actually low season for leisure travel in the places on this list. True, you’re going to have to brave some truly H-O-T temperatures outside. But when you can stay at a 5-star resort for a pittance ,why not take advantage? Your VIP status without the price tag can be a soothing balm for the heat. So take a peek at 5 of our favorite low-cost destinations:
Summer temperatures in the Sonoran Desert can hover in the 100-degree vicinity for much of the day, so resorts slash prices to super low levels this time of year because of the decreased demand. That’s good news for bargain travel shoppers. Phoenix and Scottsdale are home to some of the most decadent and luxurious resorts in the world, and if you can stand the heat the pampering comes dirt cheap. Rooms at the toniest resorts in town go for $120/night on weeknights in the summer. You can stay at the legendary Arizona Biltmore for $109/night** in August (the same room will cost you upwards of $500/night in February). The Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain offers midweek deals starting at $259/night**. Compare that to $519/night in November. Plentiful amenities and impeccable service await you. Flights from LAX start at $220* round trip. Insider Tip: The monsoon season (in August) brings in surreal and spectacular late afternoon dust storms, followed by short-lived downpours and electrical storms to light up the desert sky. It’s a great way to cool off and experience something truly special. Many restaurants in Phoenix & Scottsdale offer al fresco dining and patio seating. Never fear – refreshing overhead misters will keep you cool as a cucumber.
2. Palm Springs
Palm Springs has been a Los Angeleno getaway for 60-plus years, and in recent years the Coachella Music Festival and its estimated one-third gay population have helped to banish the retirement community feel and usher in a sort of renaissance for hip, young consumers looking for a quick and easy getaway from Los Angeles. The summer heat brings the rates way down (about 20% off high season prices, though deeper discounts pop up from time to time). You can stay at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club for $129/night** in August for the best people-watching in town. Flights into LAX from JFK start at $422* in August; from O’Hare they start at $350*. LAX is a 2-hour drive from Palm Springs, so plan accordingly. Insider Tip: Go big and just roll some of those hotel savings into your airfare and fly direct to Palm Springs. It’ll only cost about $100 more, and you don’t need a rental car for this very walkable town.
3. Key West
Key West’s wet and humid summer months make it the most affordable time to grab a bargain. You’ll hear a lot about the gamble of visiting during hurricane season, but locals will tell you it’s still lovely 90% of the time. Sounds like a good wager to us! Stay at The Reach, a Waldorf Astoria property and take advantage of the private beach for guests, complimentary daily cocktail reception, and babysitting services. Rates start at $249/night** in August. Flights from New York area airports start at around $355*. Insider Tip: Your pooch can stay with you (specific rooms, pet fee of $75/night).
4. Las Vegas
Always a hotspot, in the summertime the weather makes hotel rates in Sin City a bit more reasonable. Las Vegas pool parties are world famous – take a gander at Vegas Pool Season to plot your party schedule. If you can stay at one of the top properties for pool revelry, you’ll get an admission discount. It’s just like a club. So exclusive. We recommend staying at the MGM Grand so you can partake in the Wet Republic mayhem (for serious party people). Poolside cabanas and bungalows are a nice feature in the summer sun. Rates start at $85/night** in August. Flights from New York are under $400* and from L.A. start at around $125*. Insider Tip: Check out “Ditch Fridays” at the Palms. Just don’t tell your boss.
5. Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena has been quietly ascending the ranks for the past decade to become a dazzling gem in South American travel circles. Cartagena’s Old Town has colonial charm to spare and the food scene is excellent. Shopping is abundant and there’s Caribbean beaches just an hour away. We suggest staying at the 4-star Hotel Cartagonova**, where you can enjoy its central location and partake in the full- service spa. Rooms start at just $76/night in August. Nonstop flights from JFK via JetBlue are just $429* round trip. Insider Tip: Forego your morning OJ or coffee for the more local guanabana (a cross between pineapple and strawberry) juice.
*All airfares for round-trip flights in August 2015. **Avg. nightly rates are for double occupancy per room unless otherwise stated and exclude tax recovery charges and service fees.