Last-Minute Labor Day Weekend Deals Abound

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Didn't put much labor into your Labor Day weekend plans? Don't fret, there are still deals out there.

Despite the BP ( BP) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and blistering temperatures in the Northeast and Midwest, vacation rental agencies are reporting that this summer's results were much sunnier than expected. Jamie Dito, spokeswoman for Austin, Texas-based rental site HomeAway, says rentals near such hot spots as New York City, Cape Cod, Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Disney ( DIS) properties in Orlando, Fla., remain popular, but inland Gulf Coast destinations such as New Orleans and Hot Springs, Ark., saw increased demand this year.

Steve Daimler, spokesman for Philadelphia-based last-minute rental site PackLate says the demand that has kept his firm busy all summer has extended to Labor Day, with his company wrapping up a 72-hour Labor Day sale earlier this week. The demand for last-minute deals dovetails with an uptick in travel, as Air Transport World calculates that the nine largest U.S. airlines (behind strong performances from Delta ( DAL) and United ( UAUA)) collected $1.45 billion in net income in the second quarter ending June 30 after posting a $556 million loss the same time last year. As a result, FareCompare.com notes that airlines have been able to increase peak-day fares from between $20 to $60 this summer as seats fill.

Meanwhile, Newton, Mass.-based TripAdvisor and its vacation rental subsidiary FlipKey reports a 120% increase in summer rentals from last year. Vacation home demand on those sites has doubled since winter, and areas including Texas' Gulf Coast, North Carolina's Outer Banks and the Jersey Shore rank among the top rental destinations.

Newfound demand hasn't dried up the deals , though, as PackLate is still offering a five-bedroom home in Clermont, Fla., six miles from Walt Disney World with a screened-in patio and in-ground pool, garage and gas grill for $60 per night (closer to $100 including fees). For those who've had it with the heat and hate the earworm that is "It's a Small World After All," PackLate also has a one-bedroom condo in Breckenridge, Colo., with hot tub, pool and gym access, a balcony with a view of the mountain and a heated garage for $85 a night ($110 with fees).

Even beachfront properties aren't out of the question when it comes to end-of-summer deals. HomeAway lists a two-bedroom, two-bathroom San Diego condo that sleeps six and offers a washer/dryer, Wi-Fi, garage and a balcony with an unobstructed view of the beach and ocean at 25% off its $1,950 weekly and $837 weekend rates. The better deals are found away from the beach, however, as a four-bedroom condo in Harbor Springs, Mich., near Lake Michigan's Little Traverse Bay offers beds for 10, fireplace, flat-screen TV, foosball table, private deck, heated pool access for an end-of-summer sale price of $495 for three nights or $795 for the week.

While TripAdvisor is stocked with last-minute deals in Hilton Head, S.C., Destin and Kissimee, Fla., Gulf Shores, Ala., and Gatlinburg, Tenn., that's no reason to take a vacation from haggling. TripAdvisor vacation rental director Hank Hudephol still suggests negotiating for better rates, reading property reviews, traveling in larger groups and contacting multiple property owners to get the best deals.

-- Reported by Jason Notte in Boston.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet.com. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, The Boston Phoenix, Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent.

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