Airlines responded to the global drop-off in travel by taking planes out of the sky, cutting capacity and trying to raise prices. There are some good flight deals still to be found, but not as many. The real bargains these days are coming from hotels. Unlike airlines, they can't reduce their capacity and are eager to fill otherwise empty rooms, restaurants and spas.
The best example of this is Las Vegas, where thousands of extra hotel rooms are expected to saturate an already-flooded market in coming months. A lack of travelers, and still high airfare, has led hotels in Hawaii to also slash rates.
This is a great time for deals said Jeanenne Diefendorf, a spokeswoman at travel site Orbitz.
"As we get into late summer … kids are going to back to school, a lot of people have taken their vacation," she said. "This is when we start to see the really great promotions."
Diefendorf said hotels are getting creative in trying to get people to their specific properties. And that's why you are seeing things like fourth night free or free breakfast or a $50 spa credit.
"You can travel for really cheap this summer and get a great vacation," she added. "Last summer, the big term we heard was staycation -- people who were just going in their backyard. With the prices as cheap as they are now … you can actually take a vacation for a reasonable price."
Out top picks for specials include a Florida resort where the perks grow along with the guest's age, Vegas specials that will make you think you are seeing a mirage or just ate too much at the all-you-can-eat buffet, a desert resort where your room bill could be zero, a $29 Disney-area hotel, cheap flights to Mexico, cruise specials that make you wonder how they make a profit and finally, a hotel that offers you the chance to save by eliminating the bed.
The Millennium Resort Scottsdale McCormick Ranch offers a deal that discount site Travelzoo has called "essentially staying for free."
It works like this: book a room any day of the week through Sept. 12 for $99 per night and receive a daily $99 food and beverage credit. Looking for an upgrade? Splurge on a superior room with a courtyard view for $129 per night and receive a $129 daily food and beverage credit through this "Dollar for a Dollar" promotion.
To take advantage of the deal from Sept. 13 to Oct. 12, just add another $10 to the room rate.
The southwest style resort includes two PGA golf courses, tennis, swimming and lakeside dining. The credit can be used at its restaurant, lakefront lounge, a bar or for room service. Unfortunately, you can't use it to pay for golf.
The package must be booked by Aug. 19.
"We recognize that our potential customers may not have the discretionary vacation dollars that were perhaps available previously; during our traditional 'off and shoulder' seasons we've created value-added packages that allow them to take a vacation that might not have been available otherwise," said Max Roth, the hotel's director of sales and marketing. "This 'Dollar for Dollar' offer, for example, allows a family to extend their available funds by incorporating a credit for their meals; breakfast, lunch, dinner and their choice of beverages."
Roth added that it also helps to keep the hotel's staff employed during this downturn.