Memorial Day Getaways and Last Minute Summer Escapes - My Family Travels

At the recent Leisure Travel Summit hosted by AAA, Best Western and the US Travel Association, we learned that Memorial Day Travel is estimated to be 1.2% higher than it was last year. 

  • Due to high airfares to Europe, domestic travel is up over last year but not above 2008.
  • Due to increased business travel, hotel rates are averaging 4% higher than last year.
  • Airfares are up 3% in many segments, not counting new "extra" fees. 

But family vacations are still a sure bet for travel companies. So it's good news that families planning a Memorial Day Getaway can look close to home or far away — whatever the destination, there's probably a good hotel deal out there.  To help you solidify your plans, here are some of the top deals we've seen recently.

Best Western Offers $50 Resort Credits

You've got to move fast on this one, but it's a good deal for a Memorial Day family road trip.  At all of the 4,000 Best Western hotels around the world, families who stay 3 separate times before June 3rd, 2012 will earn a $50 Best Western Travel Card; 1,000 points per stay (max 3 stays) if you've achieved Elite Status in their loyalty program; and a better offer if you book with Best Western Rewards MasterCard. A “stay” for the purpose of this promotion is defined as one or more consecutive nights at the same Best Western hotel at a rate eligible for earning points or airline/partner rewards through Best Western Rewards. Only one check-in/check-out permitted per stay. To learn more about this offer, visit Best Western Jumpstart Summer.

According to Best Western's exec Dorothy Dowling, who spoke at the Leisure Travel Summit, "The customer is far more empwered than ever before" largely due to easy online price comparison tools. That's why this hotel group prides itself on easy to follow, transparent rules and regulations when it comes to hotel room rates. Remember that at any time of year, Best Western has a low rate guarantee where they'll match any better rate you find on another website, as well as send you a $100 Best Western Travel Card to use at their properties.

Omni Hotels & Resorts up to 30% Off

This season, the luxury and family-friendly Omni Hotels & Resorts are bringing back one of their best-selling packages, the 10/20/30 offer for the long-weekend. Guests who book 1 night will receive 10% off the room rate; 2 nights get 20% and 3 nights can take 30% off.  The offer is based on availability from May 24-28, and guests must book by May 28, 2012, but don't be shy about checking out their rates later in the season; there are often good deals.

And speaking of summer, how about the new Omni Camp program available in all their hotels? Before arrival, families will receive a Pre-call from the camp counselor (concierge) to inquire about their needs. This is followed by a Welcome amenity with s’mores-flavored marshmallows, collapsible water bottle, lanyard kit inside a cinch-up backpack, and a Camp newsletter with scavenger hunt redeemable for a merit badge and ‘dirt & worms’ dessert upon completion. Parents will love:

  • 15% discount on accommodations (minimum 2-night stay)
  • breakfast for kids 12 and under from the buffet or children’s menu
  • $10 gift card for kids to use anywhere in the hotel

There are lots of Omni Hotels to choose from. If you're interested in the family activities taking place in Dallas you can check into the new Omni Dallas Hotel. Get your golf game on at the Omni Bedford Springs Resort or shop for all your beach gear in the Big Apple where you can rest your feet at the elegant Omni Berkshire Place. For more information, please visit Omni Hotels Special Offers

Rock Resorts Doing Unique Discounts by Property

Who wouldn't love a getaway at the super classy RockResorts, that portfolio of deluxe estates begun by the Rockefeller family itself.  You can choose between one of their mountain resorts, where pampering by night prepares your family for days of hiking and mountain biking. Rates start as low as $99 at The Pines Lodge in Beaver Creek, Colorado or $100/night at Northstar-at-Tahoe at Lake Tahoe, California.

At the Grand Teton Lodge in Wyoming, this offer is spelled out in a 5-day/4-night Grand Adventure Package, which costs $1,149 for the 1st adult, $403 for each additional adult, and $273.60 for children (ages 6-11) if you book it for the Memorial Day getaway. Your days are organized like this:

  • Arrival Day – welcome to Jackson Lake Lodge and Grand Teton National Park.
  • River Day –  take a river rafting trip on the Snake River with lunch
  • Free Day – Enjoy a multitude of scenic hikes through Grand Teton National Park on your own. Or travel to nearby Colter Bay Marina to rent kayaks or canoes on Jackson Lake.
  • Lake Day – Enjoy a scenic cruise on beautiful Jackson Lake right at the base of the Grand Teton Mountain Range.
  • Departure Day – breakfast and you're off. *Note that a two-hour canoe or kayak expedition on Jackson Lake can be done on a day of your choice.

Check out all the options at their Summertime Rocks promotion, where each of these unique resorts has its own special offer.

Fairmont Newport Beach, California has Suite Packages

The disco queen of Orange County is undoubtedly Newport Beach, that Pacific coast hotspot where your teens and tweens will want to surf, shop and sunbathe. Starting just after Memorial Day and running through summer, the swanky Fairmont Newport Beach is offering a “4 for $400” package that gives you lots of hotel perks plus proximity to Disneyland when the teens are ready to be kids again. While siblings shop, your younger children can enroll in Sunny’s Kids’ Klub where activities include crafts, games and amusements, cookie decorating, interactive classes and theme days based on pirates and other adventures. Sunny’s Kids’ Klub operates weekends in June, and Thursday through Saturday 10am-4pm, July-Labor Day (cost: $30/day ages 5-12 including lunch and snack).  Designed for a family of four, you can  take advantage of two nights:

  • a one-bedroom suite featuring a king bed and a parlor with a pull-out sofa
  • Daily breakfast buffet for four
  • Free meals for all children under the age of 5 (1/2 priced meals for children ages 5-12)
  • Roundtrip shuttle service to/from Disneyland and Newport Beach
  • Milk and cookies bedtime amenity
  • Valet parking for one vehicle.

This hotel's "Lend a Helping Paw" Package welcomes pets and their families, and gives a portion of every stay to the local humane society. Several more of the posh Fairmont Hotels & Resorts feature active family programs, like the Fairmont Château Laurier in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  Here, the "Prince and Princess" package allows families to rule this castle, truly the city's architectural masterpiece. Starting from CDN$245, families can book a special guest room, enjoy the hotel's 100th anniversary themed treasure hunt, and relax with an in-room movie at night. As always at the Fairmont Hotels, children 5 and under eat for free at their great restaurants.  For more information, visit Fairmont Hotels and Resorts

Big Fun at Gaylord Hotels Outside DC, Nashville, Orlando, Dallas

In an offer that starts for Memorial Day and continues through summer's end, Gaylord Hotels is featuring events and activities rolled into their Summer Fun with Shrek & Friends packages.  At the Leisure Travel Summit, the AAA presenters noted a trend of bundling in more and more activities as families race to experience something new on vacation, in addition to old-fashioned relaxing. Their huge, convention style, atrium-enclosed resorts in National Harbor, Maryland; Nashville, Tennessee; Kissimmee, Florida; and Grapevine, Texas will host encounters with Shrek, Princess Fiona, Alex the Lion, Po, and Puss in Boots from the famous DreamWorks Animation SKG movies such as "Shrek," "Kung Fu Panda" and "Madagascar."

As part of the package, children will receive a DreamWorks activity book and a pair of Shrek ears, as well as one morning priority reservation for the ShrekFeast interactive character meal. Depending on the hotel you select, there's a Character Parade, front-of-line access to DreamWorks character Meet and Greets, an in-house Scavenger Hunt, a family movie on the lawn or around the pool, souvenir family photo, and special wake-up calls by DreamWorks characters.  Each resort also features something unique like fireworks, a pool party or passes to the on-site waterpark. The family package pricing starts at just $209 for one night stay and $339/2 nights, so there’s no reason to miss out on any of the fun. For more information, please visit: Gaylord Hotels.

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts at the Desert or the Beach

Several of the Wyndham Hotels & Resorts are introducing family summer vacation packages, many of them as of Memorial Day and valid through Labor Day.  At the Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa near Tucson, Arizona, families can stay for a week or more with multi-night rates starting as low as $69/night for a 7-night stay or $79 for a 5-night stay.  With swimming, tennis, hiking, a spa and gourmet dining on the 80-acre property, there's no reason not to Stay & Play for the whole week. Also, this summer the Westward Look is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Guests staying between May 20 and September 6,  receive the resort’s centennial overnight rates starting at $100; and AARP and AAA members can save 15% when they book this month.

At the Wyndham Bay Point Resort, a peaceful retreat on 1,100 acres in Panama City, Florida, the summer Family Getaway packages start at $129/night — a perfect excuse to hit the beach. When you bring the kids, everyone enjoys a complimentary upgrade to a 1-bedroom Golf Villa, as well as breakfast for four at the resort's Kingfish Restaurant. Right on site there are five pools; three hot tubs; two golf courses, one of which is the highly regarded Nicklaus Design; five clay tennis courts; the private boat the Bay Point Lady; and a full-service Serenity Spa. Check this out for more special offers from Wyndham.

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