Hot Travel Locations!

0122_hoteldeals_170x170When it comes to 2009’s hottest travel destinations, think cheap–but not chintzy.

To keep visitors coming, top-shelf destinations no longer have top-shelf price tags. This year, four- and five-star hotels are offering unprecedented deals at in-demand spots like Cape Town,Belfast and Vancouver.

In Depth: Hotel Deals In 10 Travel Hot Spots

According to booking site Hotels.com’s quarterly Hotel Price Index, the cost of hotel accommodations decreased by 3% globally in the last three months of 2008. And average daily rates for Jan. 1, 2009, were down significantly in several major U.S. cities, according to another booking site, Travelocity.com. In San Francisco, rates were down 15% from Jan. 1, 2008; in Las Vegas, the rate decrease was 18%.

“For the first time in my career, [high-net-worth travelers] are focused more on the deal than the experience,” says Jack Ezon, president of leisure travel for New York-based agency Ovation Vacations. In other words, travelers are looking for the best prices first and considering the destination second.

Just last week, Ezon sold one week in hotspot Riviera Maya, Mexico for $7,000. The suite booked usually runs $3,000 per night, which means this guest received a nearly 67% discount on his or her holiday.

Sure, the tropical forests, view of the Caribbean Sea and seven restaurants at Riviera Maya are nice, but the best part about staying in a Mandarin Oriental hotel is the highly lauded service and amenities, which include private yoga and Pilates sessions as well as culinary classes that teach local food traditions.

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