Going Where Hotel Rates Have Fallen

A look through the recent Hotel Price Index report from Hotels.com offers a graphic reminder of the collapse in hotel rates. In the first six months of 2009, rates for bookings made through hotels.com were 17 percent lower than in the first six months of 2008, both worldwide and in North America.

I propose treating this information as a guide to where to go next. Of course, if you have some dream destination in mind, chances are good that you’ll find pretty good prices on both air fares and hotels almost anywhere at this point. But if you’re looking to visit some places that are offering particular deals right now, I have four suggestions: Las Vegas, New York City, Hawaii and New Mexico.

Generally, the more expensive the city, the greater the decline in hotel rates. In New York City, hotel rates dropped 30 percent.  It still has the highest room rates among cities in the United States, but prices are significantly lower on weekends, and very aggressive Priceline bidders are managing to get luxury hotels in Manhattan for under $150 a night and budget chains for $100.

Rates in Las Vegas, already relatively low, also fell 30 percent. A glut of new rooms and declines in both business and leisure visitors have brought extraordinarily low  prices. Luxury hotels on the Strip can be had for less than $100 on weekdays and some very nice off-Strip properties for half that. If you’ve never been to Las Vegas, now would be the time to see it.

Hotel rates were off 18 percent in Honolulu and 17 percent throughout the state of Hawaii. While the hotels.com average was still in the range of $150 a night, clean and decent rooms in Waikiki are widely available at about $75 a night. On Priceline, Honolulu resorts are going to careful bidders in the $110 to $120 range. Combined with one of the air fare deals that is popping up periodically, a trip to Hawaii can be had at a fraction of the cost you would have paid a few years ago.

I mention New Mexico because Albuquerque comes up as having the least expensive hotel rates of any large city in the United States, with an average rate of $79 in the first six months of this year. It’s an interesting destination in itself, and makes an excellent gateway to beautiful northern New Mexico. You can drive to lovely Santa Fe in an hour.

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