It's springtime for budget travelers, even if the calendar still says winter.
The economic recession has dampened travel, resulting in smaller crowds and lower room rates. Boutique hotels, luxurious and chic, are opening across North America, offering unique accommodations at a discount. There's never been a cheaper time to book a getaway. Check out the deals:
Ace Hotel and Swim Club; Palm Springs, Calif.: Portland, Ore.'s hippest boutique hotel recently opened up shop in this oasis city. The small chain renovated a former Howard Johnson hotel in the Deepwell neighborhood, which has been home to Eva Gabor and Elizabeth Taylor. Known for its mix of modern furnishings and abstract decor, the hotel's bright white facade and swim-club pool (seen above) have made it the new playground in town.
The hotel's minimalist rooms, which start at $89 a night, feature aluminum paneling and plasma TVs suspended above metal wardrobes. Inside, simple wooden chairs give a nod to '70s design. If you have money to spare, the hotel offers suites with furnished terraces and fireplaces that make them perfect for a romantic getaway.
Hotel Basico; Playa del Carmen, Mexico: It looks like a factory from afar, but it's actually a chic hotel for party-minded jet-setters. The hotel used recycled material like spare tires and pipes to furnish its 15 rooms, which run as low as $160. Not-so-fluffy beds are elevated on platforms and surrounded by whimsical chairs and artful bric-a-brac from local shops.
Hotel Basico is within walking distance to the beach, but guests can also relax in its two refurbished water storage tanks that overlook the azure-blue Caribbean. Later, they can lounge at the Azotea Bar on the roof, where entertainment varies from DJs to the occasional film noir.
Hotel Valley Ho; Scottsdale, Ariz.: This 1950s motor lodge strikes a balance between retro and luxury. The six-story main building features balconies and exterior stonework inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. The hotel offers two in-house restaurants, including an outpost of the tiki chain Trader Vic's. The best part of the resort is its sexy and curvaceous swimming pool, which is surrounded by tented cabanas. The hotel's 156 rooms start at $207.
Viceroy Miami: This new hotel is part of Icon Brickell, a three-tower complex on Biscayne Bay. The hotel's lobby was designed by Kelly Wearstler, a judge on Bravo's "Top Design," with heavy use of black and white and tufted-sofa seating. Common spaces like the 15th-floor dining room and the restaurant Club 50 are Palm Beach chic with old-money details like a cabana-lined infinity pool overlooking the city.
Light flows into the rooms, priced as low as $230, through floor-to-ceiling windows. Inside, guests will find four-poster beds, Italian linens and small desks that are more conducive to writing "thank you" notes than business proposals. Larger suites offer decadent living areas with lime green sofas, kitchenettes and balconies overlooking the bay. All bathrooms feature slab-marble floors and soaking tubs.
The Joule, Dallas: The 10-story Joule, owned by Starwood Hotels and Resorts (HOT) (Stock Quote: HOT), opened last year in downtown Dallas inside a neo-Gothic building erected in the 1920s. The lobby, designed by Adam Tihany, blends bold steel with quirky industrial accents. The hotel outfits its 129 rooms, which start at $254, with zig-zag carpeting, feather-top mattresses and chrome pendant lighting.
(HOT) Those looking to splurge should book a "loft suite," which offers a two-story living room, a bedroom with a city view and a dining room. Guests can also enjoy the skyline from the hotel's sexy rooftop pool bar.
(HOT) Lake Placid Lodge; Lake Placid, N.Y.: After suffering a devastating fire and subsequent closure in 2005, the hotel has reopened with an exquisite lakefront lobby filled with period antiques and handmade furnishings. Few times of year are more romantic than winter in the Adirondacks, which is why the hotel is offering a special package for as low as $350.
(HOT) Timber-lined rooms offer plaid window treatments, camel-colored club chairs and two-sided fireplaces. Bathrooms offer the occasional lake view from deep soaking tubs and double-headed rain showers. The hotel's new Artisans restaurant offers rustic candlelight ambiance and New American cuisine from chef Kevin McCarthy.
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