Puerto Rico's El Conquistador Resort.
Did this weekend’s snowtorm make you long for the dog days of summer? Quit daydreaming — the recession has forced luxury hotels to offer extreme discounts on vacation packages. In mere days, you could be feeling the sun on your skin with one of these last-minute getaways.
This small U.S. Virgin Island is accessible only by ferry, offering an exclusive excursion. In addition to clear blue water, St. John has fascinating historical sites such as the Annaberg Sugar Plantation Ruins. Plus, U.S. citizens don’t need a passport.
Caneel Bay, a Rosewood Resort, has seven beaches, hiking trials and a holistic mind body wellness center. When guests pay for four nights, they can receive the fifth free with the hotel’s Five for Four deal, available Jan. 3 to March 30. Rates start at $495 per night. 340-776-6111, caneelbay.com.
Getting there: Flights depart from LaGuardia and Kennedy airports daily. Round-trip flights in January start at $510.
This Texas city is best known as the site of Davy Crockett’s last stand at the battle of the Alamo. Visitors can enjoy the restaurants and shops that make up the San Antonio River Walk. They can also check out the dude ranches of Texas Hill Country, located just outside the city’s limits.
Located on the legendary River Walk, The Watermark Hotel & Spa has a rooftop pool and the city’s only four-star spa. With the hotel’s Holiday Spirits & Sprinkles Package, guests receive a second night for half price. The package is available until Dec. 28, with rates starting at $199. 866-605-1212, watermarkhotel.com.
Getting there: Continental Airlines offers two nonstop flights to San Antonio daily and many more with connections in Houston, from which you can hop on a shuttle flight or rent a car. Flights start at $373 for late December.
With four different, vibrant cities — Negril, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Kingston – this little island has a lot to offer. In late January, Jamaica will host its own Jazz and Blues Festival. The entire month of February is dedicated to Bob Marley, with a photographic exhibition at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston and plenty of live music.
Strawberry Hill, an Island Outpost resort, is located above sea level in the Blue Mountains. The boutique property comprises tropical cottages with a birds-eye view of Kingston. The hotel provides a fourth-night free deal. In addition, guests will get a complimentary bottle of wine and travelers’ footbath. Rates start at $295. Booking and travel must take place by April 30. 800-OUTPOST, islandoutpost.com/strawberry_hill.
Getting there: Two daily nonstop flights go between Kennedy and Kingston on Air Jamaica. Flights for mid-February start at $340.
Spend a day surfing or learn about this island’s whaling history and spot a humpback whale while you tan on the shore. Then enjoy the excitement of dinner and dancing at a traditional luau.
Located on Hawaii’s north shore of Maui, Paia Inn is a hip, intimate boutique hotel in the center of Paia, a small beach town with access to three beaches, local cafes, galleries and surf shops. Through Dec. 31, guests can enjoy a four-night vacation for the cost of three. Rates start at $189 per night and are based on availability. 800-721-400, paiainn.com.
Getting there: Fly directly into the Kahului airport on Maui with U.S. Airways, for around $1,000 per ticket or fly into Honolulu for $691.
This “Island of Enchantment” is another locale that doesn’t require a U.S. passport. Through the end of the year, the island will host the LeLoLai Festival, which is a celebration of the many cultural influences - Spanish, English and African - that make up today’s Puerto Rican culture.
A Waldorf Astoria Property, El Conquistador Resort has a water park, private island, casino, 18-hole golf course and spa. The resort is now offering a Winter Escapes Package, which includes breakfast for two and a $50 activity credit (up to $200) for each consecutive two-night stay. The deal is valid for booking and travel by March 31.Additionally, those who book the package by Jan. 31 will receive a complimentary one-night stay during a future visit. Rates start at $259. 888-543-1230, elconresort.com.
Getting there: There are many direct flights from New York to San Juan, including multiple mid-January flights starting at $255 on United Airlines.