Location! Location! Location! It just makes sense that some of this year's hottest summer specials are in destinations where prices drop dramatically when the temperatures climb. So, if you're searching for some red hot deals at first-class resorts, check out this list of summer sizzlers where you can vacation like a rock star on a school teacher's salary.
The Valley of the Sun is the perfect summer destination if you want a five-star experience for a fraction of the usual price. The Phoenix/Scottsdale area is known for some of the top resorts in the country, and the summer months bring some sensational specials.
OK, sure it's hot here in the summer, it's the desert, but remember, it's a "dry" heat and 100 degrees in Arizona with very little humidity can feel better than 80 degrees in Florida where there's so much moisture in the air, you're soaking wet as soon as you walk out the door.
Traditionally a winter hotspot, the Phoenix/Scottsdale area goes all out to attract summer visitors, offering everything from dining deals to resort prices that, in some cases, are slashed by more than 75 percent.
A perfect example is the summer special offered by the Four Seasons Resort in Scottsdale. This is one of the top-rated luxury resorts in Arizona and usually the best price you can find on a room is close to $600 a night. Now, starting June 1, room rates will start at $149 a night for Sunday — Thursday. That's a huge savings at a resort that's not only next to one of the top golf courses in Arizona, Troon North, but also has some amazing restaurants, a top rated spa, and a relaxing pool scene. For more: Four Seasons
Some other award-wining resorts to check out that are also offering summer savings include:
•Royal Palms Hotel (www.royalpalmshotel.com)
•The Phoenician (www.thephoenician.com)
•Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Gainey Ranch (www.scottsdale.hyatt.com)
•The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess (www.fairmont.com/scottsdale)
•Camelback Inn (www.camelbackinn.com)
For an updated list of different summer activities and specials in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area two great resources to try are The Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau. Both update their Web sites often.
Lady Luck is very kind to summer visitors in Las Vegas -- you don't have to roll the dice to find some real bargains. Again, the desert is hot, but it's "dry" and you can always find some shade by the pool or just relax inside where there's more than enough to entertain you.
For years Las Vegas has been known to drop room prices dramatically in the scorching summer months but it used to be that room rates weren't that much to begin with so it wasn't as big a deal. Not so anymore with average room rates at the best places at $300-$400 a night, so any deal you can find in the summer season can end up saving you big bucks. Summer is one of the rare times in Vegas where you can still stay at a top resort for under $100 a night.
Here are a few examples. Between now and July 31 you can stay at New York-New York (www.nynyhotelcasino.com ) or the MGM Grand with rates starting as low as $89 a night with some great extras thrown in. At the MGM your cut-rate room price also includes a $25 bar and restaurant credit, 15 percent off of spa services and a 2-for-1 Grand Spa pass. www.mgmgrand.com.
For another, you can try The Summer Solstice Package at Treasure Island that includes a 2-for-1 lunch at the buffet, 2-for-1 drink specials, complimentary VIP access to The Sirens' show, a $22 credit for the spa and a $10 gaming credit, all for just $99 a night, available May 26-September 4. www.treasureisland.com
Accessible only by boat, set on 300 private acres off the coast of Antigua, Jumby Bay is a rare find because it's a luxurious all- inclusive resort with only 40 suites and 11 villas. Known for its world-class service, Travel + Leisure magazine last year rated Jumby Bay the "World's Best Caribbean Resort." While the prices here are steep, now through June you can get 15 percent to 25 percent off of the normal high season rates. www.jumbybayresort.com.
Turks and Caicos is always a smart summer vacation choice because it's only about a three and a half hour flight from many East Coast airports, like JFK, and boasts one of the most beautiful stretches of beach in the world. Some of the world class properties on Grace Bay Beach know all about serving up some sensational summer savings.
How does half off or more sound? That's what you'll find right now at The Regent Palms Turks and Caicos where room rates usually start at $775 a night but right now are running as low as $325. Even better, if you arrive on a Sunday or Monday and stay three nights you get the fourth night free.
The bottom line, there's no doubt it's usually tough tracking down summer vacation specials because this is when most tourist destinations crank up their prices. But if you're willing to think outside the box and pick destinations where summer is the "off" season, you can walk away with some truly special vacation memories and still have some money left over for your next trip.
More: Check out Karen's Schaler's Travel Blog.