The New Hot Spots for the Cold Months
Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean people stop traveling. In fact, certain cities have already seen a boost in the number of people making travel plans for the first three months of this year.
We partnered with Hotwire.com, a popular hotel and flight listing service, to find out which cities in the U.S. and Canada have seen the biggest year-over-year increase in vacation bookings from January through March. Some cities mentioned here are attracting greater attention thanks to an increased number of travel promotions, while others house new attractions that appeal to travelers around the country.
We’ve picked out the eight cities that have shown the biggest increase in demand and ranked them from the smallest to the largest spike. For those who haven’t made their winter vacation plans yet and may be interested in visiting any of the cities on this list, we’ve also used airfare and hotel room listings from Hotwire as well as from Kayak and Expedia to give you a sense of how much you can expect your trip to cost.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
8th Biggest Increase in Bookings: Vancouver
As if the beautiful scenery and skiing options weren’t enough of a reason to visit Vancouver during the winter, there are also plenty of travel promotions taking place there. According to Hotwire’s travel experts, the city opened a slew of new hotels leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics to accommodate the increased demand and now many of these hotels must offer significant discounts to fill up their rooms. Hotels like the Empire Landmark Hotel and Executive Hotel Vintage Park are offering rooms for less than $100. Keep in mind though that flights to and from Vancouver aren’t exactly cheap: Even if you’re flying from Seattle, you can expect to pay between $300 to $400 round trip.
Year-over-year increase in bookings: 25%
Photo Credit: globalreset
7th Biggest Increase in Bookings: Las Vegas
Las Vegas has had a tough time in recent years as the recession simultaneously destroyed Nevada’s housing market and cut down the amount of money consumers had on hand to blow on slot machines. In an effort to keep tourists coming, hotels have rolled out one promotion after another and this year, it seems more consumers have saved up enough money to take advantage of these deals. Big names like Caesars Palace and the Hard Rock Hotel are currently offering rooms for less than $100, along with some very attractive package deals on flights and hotels combined.
Year-over-year increase in bookings: 28%
Photo Credit: joanna8555
6th Biggest Increase in Bookings: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Some visit Fort Lauderdale for the beaches and warm weather, others use it as a jumping off point to take a cruise, and still others go to see their grandparents. In any case, it makes for a rather affordable winter getaway. You can fly round trip to Fort Lauderdale from pretty much any city in the U.S. for roughly $300 or less in the winter (if you plan ahead), and from many cities like Dallas and New York, prices are well under $200 on off-peak travel days. Likewise, many of the hotels cost less than $150 a night for a room with some like the Avon Waterfront Inn offering rooms for less than $100.
Year-over-year increase in bookings: 30%
Photo Credit: MattHurst
5th Biggest Increase in Bookings: New York
New York City is filled with tourists year-round (trust us, we live there), but a few more travelers may be tempted to visit the Big Apple this year as the city rolls out additional promotions on lodging. According to Hotwire, New York is another city where more hotels have been popping up in the previous few years, meaning more ongoing promotions to fill up the rooms. That said, New York hardly qualifies as a cheap visit unless, of course, you stay in one of the hostels on the periphery of the city, where rooms go for anywhere from $20-$50 a night. If you’re looking for a proper hotel room though, expect to pay at least $100 a night.
Year-over-year increase in bookings: 35%
Photo Credit: Getty
4th Biggest Increase in Bookings: Orlando, Fla.
At least some of Orlando’s rise in popularity this season can be pinned to a certain fictional wizard. According to Hotwire’s travel experts, new amusement parks like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios have helped boost demand for travel in the winter. What’s more, the city has been building more hotels and offering more promotions, particularly in the off season. As a result you can find rooms for less than $50 a night in certain hotels. Combine this with relatively cheap flights - $200-$250 round trip from cities like Boston and Chicago – and Orlando makes for a frugal family-friendly getaway.
Year-over-year increase in bookings: 36%
Photo Credit: Allie_Caulfield
3rd Biggest Bookings Increase: New Orleans
New Orleans is back. The city’s tourism industry struggled to recover during the first few years after Hurricane Katrina, but in the past couple years it has come back strong. According to Hotwire’s travel experts, more travelers are looking to visit the city during the winter to watch the Saints play and, of course, to head down for Mardi Gras in February. Round-trip flights to New Orleans typically fall in the $200-$300 range depending on whether you’re flying from somewhere close by like Dallas or somewhere farther like Los Angeles. You can book many hotel rooms in the city for $50-$100 a night.
Year-over-year increase in bookings: 39%
Photo Credit: Ray Devlin
(TIE) The Biggest Increase in Bookings: San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan is arguably the best destination to visit if you want to feel like you’re traveling abroad while enjoying the conveniences of staying in the U.S. The cuisine and culture of this city – and Puerto Rico as a whole – are distinct from anything you’d find on the mainland, but it still uses the dollar and most (at least in this city) speak English. Round-trip flights to San Juan from the East Coast typically run in the $250-$350 range during the winter months and can cost upwards of $400 or $450 from the West Coast. The city is filled with pricey resorts that can cost $200 or more a night, but if you’re looking for something cheaper, hotels like the Casa Condado and the San Juan Park Hotel do have rooms for less than $100.
Year-over-year increase in bookings: 61%
Photo Credit: Steve Beger Photography
(TIE) The Biggest Increase in Bookings: Oahu, Hawaii
Hawaii has long served as a destination for those looking to escape the bitter cold without leaving the U.S., but Oahu in particular has gained a little extra glamor in recent years as the birthplace of President Obama and a place where he still frequently vacations. Flying to Oahu from cities like New York in the winter months typically costs around $700 round trip, or about as much as airfare to and from Europe, but according to Hotwire’s data, you can find plenty of rooms for less than $100 a night.
Year-over-year increase in bookings: 61%
Photo Credit: Getty Images