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6 Simple Ways to Save on a Last-Minute Romantic Weekend Getaway
Turn up the romance without breaking the bank with these pro tips.
You still have time to plan a romantic trip this season.(Getty Images)
If you're yearning for a romantic retreat but haven't finalized your plans, you're in luck: You can still pull off a last-minute trip without breaking the bank. You might even wind up saving more by jetting off to a warm, sunny locale with swaying palms and crystal waters in Mexico or the Caribbean than to major cities across the U.S. While you may be concerned about the latest travel advisories from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urging pregnant women to avoid tropical destinations across Mexico and Central and South America, the truth is, there are many affordable and safe places to plan a romantic getaway. And while affordable flights may be harder to find at this time of year, it's not too late to snag deals on hotel rooms or take advantage of competitive exchange rates – you just need to know where to look. Whether you want captivating coastal views and secluded sands or a storybook ski area with pristine powder, experts share their secrets for planning a bargain-friendly weekend getaway for two this winter.
Know Where to Go
If your ideal vacation involves a combination of beachside cocktails, salty sea air and sugary sands, consider forgoing a trip to California or Florida for a quick jaunt to the Caribbean or Mexico. "Valentine's Day and Presidents Day fall on the same weekend, which means domestic hotel deals (and availability for that matter) are going to be hard to find," says Gabe Saglie, senior editor at Travelzoo. If you have the flexibility to extend your vacation, you can find deeply discounted hotel rates at high-end properties across the Caribbean, he says. The Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curaçao, for example, is offering a promotion that allows guests to stay four nights and get an extra night free, which translates to more than $250 in savings. And if you have limited vacation days, Grand Lucayan in the Bahamas is currently offering a promotion with stays starting at $145 a night from Feb. 12-15, which is about 50 percent off regular season pricing. And in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, rooms at the Four Points by Sheraton Puntacana Village are listed at $133 a night on Travelzoo.com for the same time period, and include amenities such as complimentary Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and a fitness center.
And Mexico resorts are offering comparable deals, Saglie says, pointing to a current Travelzoo.com promotion at the adults-only Grand Miramar, which is currently offering three-night stays for $450, translating to more than 42 percent in savings.
Consider a Cold-Weather Destination
Don't dismiss cooler locations for a romantic getaway this season, says Jeanenne Tornatore, senior editor at Orbitz.com, suggesting Breckenridge, Colorado, as a mountain town that is both charming and cost-effective at this time of year. Last-minute hotel and flight packages start at $500, she says. "And there's nothing quite like cozying up to your loved one by the fire or in the Jacuzzi after a day on the slopes in a winter wonderland," she adds.
Look for Promo Codes and Packages
"One of the best ways to save on a last-minute romantic weekend getaway is to look at flight and hotel packages, as these will deliver the greatest value," Tornatore explains. And with an abundance of all-inclusive lodging choices to pick from, it's easy to organize a romantic and affordably priced weekend trip, even if you've waited to the final moment, she says. Orbitz.com is currently offering hotel and flight vacation packages to the Riviera Maya, a region along Mexico's Caribbean coast and the Yucatán Peninsula filled with scenic beaches and Mayan ruins, starting at just $500 per person, she says.
Keep Your Travel Plans Flexible, and Pay Attention to Deal Alerts
"Flexibility is going to get you the most bang for your buck," says Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir.com. "Airlines do offer last-minute fares, sometimes at a deep discount, usually very close to the weekend," he says. But if you have some wiggle room, and you're not set on a particular location, you can score some great deals in places you wouldn't expect, he says. He also advises shifting your departure date and booking a midweek flight to capitalize on less demand and greater flight inventory. "You'll also find hotel rates are much lower midweek and often don't come with a minimum night's stay," he says.
Klee advises signing up for alerts from your favorite airlines and travel retailers. "When last-minute sales come up, they'll come right to your inbox," he says. Alternatively, you can use handy sites and apps like KAYAK and Hopper to find bargains. While KAYAK allows you to purchase hacker fares (one-way tickets to different destinations that are often less expensive than traditional prices), Hopper enables users to book their flights immediately after an enticing flight deal pops up.
"If you want to stay local and still get a good deal, you have to be flexible with your dates," Saglie says. Though affordable hotel rates will be harder to snag over Valentine's Day and Presidents Day weekend, there are deals after the holiday, he explains, pointing to a Travelzoo.com promotion for White Springs Manor, a Georgian Revival farm mansion in New York's Finger Lakes wine country, available for $99 a night for stays through the end of May, with the exception of Feb. 14-15 and May 29-30.
Go Where You Can Beat the Exchange Rate
"You may be thinking that traveling domestically would be the best way to save on a last-minute getaway, but think again," says TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals spokesperson Laurel Greatrix, "With the U.S. dollar being so strong, look at traveling to countries that are experiencing a beneficial exchange rate as a result, such as Canada or countries that accept the euro." And with plenty of direct flight options, a four-day getaway to popular destinations like Paris and Dublin is within reach, she adds, noting that the U.S. dollar is up 20 percent against the euro since the same period last year.
Consider a Vacation Rental or a Hotel in an Off-the-Beaten-Track Location
Vacation rentals are often less expensive than traditional hotels and inns, Greatrix explains. Plus, they offer additional privacy, she adds, making them an ideal choice for couples on a tight budget . "Find one with an ambiance that suits your taste – be it a cozy mountaintop cabin, a beachside bungalow or an urban oasis with panoramic views. The options are endless," she says.
And if you'd prefer staying in a hotel in a beach destination, Tornatore suggests veering away from the sands for the most advantageous rates. "Consider staying at a hotel in city center. You’ll save money, have the opportunity to take a romantic stroll on the bustling city streets and still be within walking distance of the beach," she says.
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