Where are in-the-know travelers jetting to for the best holiday getaways this year?
Virtuoso’s Misty Belles shared the scoop on eight key destinations for holiday travel on NBC’s TODAY. The network’s managing director of global public relations also provided her insider tips on how to secure the best values for travel to these in-demand destinations.
Best holiday getaways: sun and sand destinations
If you’re hoping to go to Hawaii for the holidays, you’re not alone. “Everyone seems to be headed to Hawaii this year because Christmas Week is almost completely sold out,” cautions Belles.
To secure the best values, she suggests, “Go the two weeks prior to Christmas because you’ll save 50, 60 percent on your rate and they have availability.”
Another great warm-weather destination: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, highly recommended in particular this year because of its Zika-free status. “It’s this dry, arid environment so they don’t have a mosquito population,” says Belles, also praising its easy access, especially from the West Coast. “Going pre-Christmas is going to save you more but there are still some values to be had there during Christmas Week.”
Best holiday getaways: the American West
Belles is enthusiastic about two U.S. desert cities: Palm Springs and Scottsdale. “They have over 300 days of sun every year so you’re really assured a nice, sunny vacation,” she explains.
What makes the California city so much fun? “Palm Springs really embraces their sort of old Hollywood feel and they have some fine glamorous Rat Pack parties during the holidays,” says Belles.
As for Scottsdale, it’s great for families looking for value. “The airfares to Scottsdale are really fantastic so it’s a good affordable getaway,” Belles elaborates.
Best holiday getaways: urban escapes
One city’s charms make it the perfect location for holiday celebrations: New Orleans. ”You have fun, festive and food all converging in this great destination,” Belles explains. “It’s wonderful for families, also for couples. The key to New Orleans is to go during the week because you’re going to save so much more on your hotel staying weekdays versus weekends.”
Any major center that caters to business travelers is also ripe for savings during the slower holiday season. Belles recommends three in particular: New York, London and Paris. “Christmas Week is actually a great time to visit those cities,” advises Belles. “When business travel goes soft during that week leisure travelers can go and save 25, 30 percent on their hotels and really enjoy the cities while they’re all dressed up for the holidays.”
Belles also offered other expert tips for securing great value for the best holiday getaways:
Hotel booking advice
• Look at the total value, not just the nightly rate. “We’re seeing some great multi-night promotions that have third, fourth, fifth night free, breakfast added in, some additional resort credits, so shop that way and you’ll really see some savings,” Belles comments.
• Consider prepaying your stay for extra savings.
• Book now. “Once we reach November those rates are going to go up and up and up until you get to Christmas,” cautions Belles.
Flight booking advice
• Reserve air on weekends or early in the morning: “That’s when you get to see the best fares.”
• Book 21 days in advance.
• Fly on the holiday itself. As Belles points out, “You’ll actually save more flying on Christmas Day rather than Christmas Eve so if you’re willing to be flexible you’re actually going to see quite a bit of savings flying on the actual holiday itself.”
• Travel the week before Christmas: “We found some great airfares on Monday, December 19.”
Work with a travel advisor
While you can book directly with hotels and airlines, Belles recommends a savvier approach. “Work with a travel advisor who takes the stress out of it for you,” she counsels. If you’re looking for one to find you the best destinations and values for the holidays, an extensive list of advisors is available at virtuoso.com.