(Note: There is a strict payment and cancellation policy. You pay in full when you book and can modify your reservation up until the day before you travel, though you may have to pay more if you change to a more expensive date. There is no refund if you cancel less than 72 hours before your scheduled arrival.)
But what if you have your heart set on staying inside Grand Canyon National Park? As luck would have it, Xanterra, the company that operates lodges and dining facilities inside so many of our national parks (and it happens to run the Grand Canyon Railway) is offering a "Spring Breakaway to the Grand Canyon " package that includes lodging at either Maswik Lodge ($165 a night) or Yavapai Lodge East ($150 a night), free sightseeing tours, and other perks. This package includes:
Accommodations at either Yavapai Lodge East or Maswik Lodge North (end-of-March rates are $153 and $170 per night, respectively)
Sunset or Hermits Rest motorcoach tour of the canyon's South Rim ($20 per adult for Sunset tour; $25 per adult for Hermits Rest tour; always free for one child 16 and under per paying adult).
Breakfast for two adults at the lodge cafeteria (estimated value of $12 for each adult).
A discount of 10 to 20 percent on gift-shop purchases.
Both lodges have stellar locations, a short walk from the canyon's rim, but Yavapai Lodge East is an especially convenient choice for families. Each room features a mini-refrigerator and the lodge sits adjacent to a handy market plaza with a general store, bank, and post office.
Let's suppose a family of four wanted to book a two-night stay at Yavapai Lodge East, taking the two-hour Hermit's Rest sightseeing tour of the West Rim one day and the 90-minute Sunset tour of the South Rim on the second day. If booked separately, these elements would cost $306 for lodging plus $90 for the tours ($25 per adult and $20 per child), for a total of $396. Breakfast for four people will cost about $40 each morning, or $80 over two days -- bringing the total for these components to $476.
But if the same family booked its two-day getaway with the Spring Breakaway package, it would spend $300 for lodging and sightseeing tours. On top of that, we figure the family would also spend $32 on breakfast. Comparing apples to apples, the package comes to $332.
Deal or no deal? This offer turns out to be a surprisingly good value. While there's virtually no savings on the hotel portion, the free sightseeing tours and adult breakfasts add up to a respectable 30 percent in savings for the overall getaway -- but only if you take a sightseeing tour each day.
The Spring Breakaway is available from March 5 to 25. Book by phone by calling (888) 297-2757 ((303) 297-2757 from outside the U.S.) or book online using promo code SPRING. Travelers should book their choice of motorcoach tour at the same time they book the package.
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