Editors' Pick: Originally published Dec. 28.
Don’t think you cannot afford a swank - and sunny - new year’s getaway. Many places have your name on them, with January prices that are affordable.
No, you probably cannot afford prime Caribbean - and you know what? Luxury hotels in, say, Turks and Caicos are already selling out for prime January days. Ditto for top places in Hawaii. But there is plenty of availability - and keen prices - in multiple Sunbelt locations, and there also are at least a few foreign destinations that will give you not only sun but lots of bragging rights.
Isn’t airfare a killer? It is if you insist on flying over the holidays. Said Dmitiry Dudarenko, owner of AirfareSpot.com: ”End of December equals super expensive. Waiting one week to the beginning of January can save a decent amount of money.” Advice for fugal travelers: wait just a few days into the new year, and suddenly airfares to sunny spots plummet.
Where exactly will you find availability, at prices you can pay and, yes, sun, lots of it to fuel you up to bear the chills of January and February? Multiple travel experts pointed to many overlooked destinations. “You can find all kinds of hotel deals,” said Claire Newell, owner and president of travel agency Travel Best Bets and a spokesperson for rewards card Chase Sapphire Preferred. Read on for an assortment of prime spots for January getaways - some in the U.S., some abroad - with great rates.
* Scottsdale, Ariz. In Old Town Scottsdale - the vibrant bar and restaurant scene in metro Phoenix - The Saguaro Hotel, a Joie de Vivre property, is priced at $118 per night in mid January (down from$141/night over New Year’s Eve). Expect daily highs around 70, lows around 40 and probably lots and lots of sun. Perfect weather for biking, hiking, golfing, or just sitting on a saloon patio sipping margaritas and nibbling chips and salsa. Many other hotels are similarly priced. You have to be determined - and picky - to spend over $200 a night for a January room in this town.
* San Diego, Calif. Think highs in the mid 60s, lows maybe 50. Plenty of sun. The Sofia Hotel - a 1926 gothic revival building in the hip Gaslamp Quarter - is around $259.night in mid January. There are plenty more hotels under $200. The Pacific Ocean beckons (the water temperature will be around 60).
* San Antonio, Texas. The seventh biggest city in the U.S., San Antonio is a city of history (“Remember the Alamo”) and its tourist show stopper, the San Antonio Riverwalk, a pedestrian only walkway packed with restaurants, shops, and art (The San Antonio Museum). On Airbnb $94 buys a night in studio apartment, a block from Riverwalk and similar from the Pearl Brewery. Highs will be mid 60s, lows in the mid 40s. Austin and Dallas have been getting the buzz lately, but old Texas hands still recommend San Antonio for a truly Texas getaway.
* Nicaragua. David Capaldi, president of Discover Latin America, a travel company, has one word for you when the question is about bargain sunny destinations: Nicaragua. “A fantastic value for money destination,” he said. Rooms in four star hotels run $150. Dinner for two in a good restaurant runs $20 to $30. Breakfast usually is in the room rate, said Capaldi, but if you want to splurge in town, “a typical Nica breakfast of eggs, tortillas, cheese, beans and coffee costs around $2,” said Capaldi. Who goes there? Many who “are looking for a travel experience similar to what Costa Rica offered 30 years ago before it was discovered by tourists in large numbers,” said Capaldi. Is it dangerous? No, said Capaldi. “On a listing of the 120 most dangerous countries, Honduras is number 2 most dangerous in the world, El Salvador is number 8 and Nicaragua is number 89, ranked in between Iceland and the Netherlands, and actually safer than Ireland,” he said.
* Cambodia. Elizabeth Avery, founder of travel company Solo Trekker 4 U, offers her suggestion for a prime sunny getaway for the frugal: Cambodia, especially Siem Reap in northwestern Cambodia, the gateway to the ancient temples of Angkor Wat. Yes, airfare is stratospheric - $1,600 was the best Google found for flights from Phoenix. But three star hotels, said Google, run around $40 per night. (Posh five stars are around $210.) Dinner - often that flavorful Southeast Asia melange of French and Asian - is maybe $10 a person at a nice restaurant, including wine. Anything else you do will cost a few dollars. You wanted sun? You get it. Daytime highs are around 87, lows at 70.