Separate the Summer Vacation Deals from the Duds

On the lookout for a good deal on a family vacation? The first thing you'll notice is how many headlines promise wild savings and freebies. Unfortunately, a good many sure-fire bargains will fail to deliver, so savvy shoppers should always do the math before booking any trip. Here's how a trio of special offers stood up to our scrutiny.

Save Up to 33 Percent at Colorado's Brand-New One Ski Hill

New resorts offer more than just that new-hotel smell; they often run terrific introductory deals to convince you to give them a chance. Rock Resorts -- a small chain of upscale resorts with properties in Vail, Aspen, and as far away as St. Lucia -- is opening a new resort in Breckenridge this June, 100 miles from Denver International Airport and 70 miles from the Eagle/Vail airport.

Next winter, One Ski Hill Place will offer a ski-in/ski-out resort with access to four lifts. But before that, this summer, the lifts can bring you to hiking and biking trails, as well as the Peak 8 Fun Park (opening June 18) which features an alpine slide and miniature golf. Summertime pursuits will also include golf and nearby horseback riding and whitewater rafting. Year-round, the hotel features a movie lounge, game room, indoor pool and a two-lane bowling alley. Lodging, meanwhile, ranges from studios to four-bedroom condos, each equipped with kitchens, fireplaces and Wi-Fi.

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The resort is offering two introductory packages:

Be the First: Book by June 1 for a stay during June and you'll get 33 percent off regular room rates, as well as a complimentary breakfast. When we checked dates online, we found one-bedroom condos starting at $149 per night for a family of four, down from the regular $224 rate -- indeed, a hefty 33 percent off.

Early Bird Winter Package: Book by July 1 if you want to get a boot up on the resort's first ski season, starting November 12. The offer, good for stays between November 18 and April 18, 2011, promises up to 44 percent in savings. When we price-checked a November stay for a family of four, we found one-bedroom condos starting at $183 per night, compared to the regular November rate of $285 per night. That works out to a 36 percent savings -- also a hefty deal, even if it doesn't max out the "up to 44 percent" promise.

As usual, rates are subject to availability, and blackout dates may apply. Quoted rates are based on double occupancy per condominium. Tax, gratuities and resort fees are not included. Book online by clicking on the package rate, or mention the appropriate package when calling 888/906-6303.

All-Inclusive Packages at the Arizona Biltmore

If you can stand the heat, there are super summer deals to be had in the desert. At Phoenix's Arizona Biltmore -- a grand dame that first opened in 1929, and was designed by a Frank Lloyd Wright protege -- a pair of packages look good enough to make you forget that summer highs average about 103 degrees. (To be fair, the cliche is true: it really is a dry heat.)

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