This Week’s Top 20: Hemingway, ‘World’s Best’ Stays & a Side of Poe

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Deal Expert, New York
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The theme of the day is: I WAS ON TV THIS MORNING.

OK, just kidding, that’s not the theme (kind of), but I chatted with PIX11 about where we think there will be major deals next year with our 2016 WOW Deal Destinations. It really comes down to two big trends:

  • The dollar is strong right now. It’s obvious that this means stretching your dollar further abroad. But the other side effect is this: it’s expensive for international travelers to come here, so they’ll go elsewhere, leaving empty rooms where there historically aren’t and making U.S. destinations more affordable for “locals” than they’ve been in years.
  • Increased inventory. That’s fancy travel speak for: more hotel rooms and more airplane routes being added. More space = more competition. More competition = lower prices as airlines and hotels fight to win your travel dollars.

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In that same vein, we’re seeing these trends sprinkled throughout the Top 20 this week. Some other themes I’m seeing this week:

  • Literary geniuses love great hotels (can we blame them?)
  • Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best list (just released this month) recipients are scattered throughout the Top 20 –- I love this magazine.

$200-$249 — Grand Opening: Fall Stays at NYC Hotel, 50% Off

Here’s a great example of increased inventory and a strong dollar driving down rates. This is a brand.new.hotel. However, NYC is more expensive than it’s been in nearly a decade for Europeans, Canadian and Brazilians, which means they’ll vacation elsewhere to stretch their money further. Couple that with this new hotel being part of the 40,000 new hotel rooms that have been added to NYC in the past seven years.

They are fighting for you to stay there. That’s what’s creating a nearly 50% off deal here. I especially love that this is $249 in November. NYC pricing really falls come the new year, so to see a discount for prime fall is rare — and exciting! Cool factor alert: Hemingway used to hang here way before these lofts were restored. I’m pretty sure that’s reason alone that my dad would stay here (I mean, if my brother was a girl they were going to name him Hadley – Hemingway’s first wife’s name).

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$119 — Charleston Historic District Inn w/Parking, 35% Off

Speaking of literary travel: Edgar Allan Poe spent weekends at this Charleston hotel (then called the Pavilion Hotel) in the late 1820s. Don’t worry, the hotel’s since been redone.

Today, Charleston tops the Travel + Leisure’s Readers Choice list, and has been a presence here for over a decade. I don’t know about you, but when I go on vacation there’s nothing like some southern charm, grits and the ghost of Poe to make me feel warm and fuzzy.

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$89 — Chic Miami Beach Hotel w/Breakfast & Drinks

Miami is another destination that relies on Europeans and Latin Americans to fill up their rooms, and now that more of those rooms are sitting empty, here come the deals. While the lowest nightly price here is $89 for late fall, what’s most impressive is the $129-$179 winter rate. We’re talking about prime winter time when the world is looking to escape the latest headline blizzard for some Florida sun and sand.

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$769 — Balcony on World’s Largest Ship w/$350 in Extras

Let’s be clear, if you’re looking for an intimate experience, this is not for you. Get ready to cozy up with 5,000 of your new best friends at sea. Royal Caribbean was just named among the top five mega cruise lines in the World’s Best Awards. And these particular ships (the Oasis and Allure) are the same size as the EMPIRE STATE BUILDING on its side.

So if you like your vacations super-sized — unlimited buffets and all — then this is a GREAT deal. Plus it comes with a balcony cabin for some fresh air, when you need a breather. Why book this now? It’s the lowest price we’ve seen for these balconies.

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$269 — Ritz-Carlton San Francisco: Holiday Stays at 50% Off

It’s a discount at the Ritz. That’s all I’m going to say about this.

Just kidding, I have LOTS more to say. This is another case of history getting a facelift. This 1909 building was just refreshed in March, landing it on the … (everyone together now) Travel + Leisure 500 World’’s Best Hotels list. Thanks to said renovations, this is fresh and modern take on a Ritz-Carlton — which can have an “older” reputation. Plus guests don’t have to worry about dealing with pricey Ubers, a house car will take guests within a couple miles for free.

I don’t know of any famous writers who stayed here … but photographer Ansel Adams also told beautiful stories and is from San Francisco and was there when this hotel was built, so we can start a rumor that he at least passed this hotel at some point.

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$796-$947 — ‘Coolest City in South Africa’ Fare Sale (R/T)

Whoever would’ve thought that Cape Town and Johannesburg would be considered mainstream destinations? Well, we’re a fancy group of world explorers these days, so in an effort to forge the way and leave your friends asking “Oooh, where’s that? How edgy!” this Turkish Airlines sale does the trick.

Durban is known for its world-class surfing, miles of beachfront and Asian-inspired gastronomy. Even CNN calls it “the coolest city in South Africa you’ve never seen.”

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$175 — Puerto Rico: San Juan’s No. 1 Hotel, 55% Off

  • This is the No. 1 hotel in San Juan on TripAdvisor
  • Architectural Digest deemed it  “legendary” (it was built by the same architects who designed Grand Central Station)
  • Almost as important, we’re pretty sure this would be Ron Burgundy approved as the inside is oozing with classic leather furnishings and lots of wood
  • It’s a legit 5-star hotel that’s less than $200 per night (yes that includes weekends!) plus it comes with a room upgrade AND $50 spa credit (so basically it’s the gift that keeps on giving)

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