Romantics on a budget> can get some love this year from the lodging industry if you don t mind a little rain or long plane rides.
Travel has yet to pick up from its 2009 slump, and properties are trying to convince consumers to book a quick Valentine s Day getaway. While holding the line on room prices, some hotels are offering free extras such as sparkling wine, spa credits and candlelit dinners. Others are reducing room rates by as much as half. When comparing options, consider the value of those extras and discounts, says Anne Banas, the executive editor for SmarterTravel.com, a deal-tracking site. You may be paying a premium for the convenience of not having to buy your own chocolate-dipped strawberries or rose bouquet.
Travelers planning a big romantic gesture for the weekend -- celebrating an anniversary say, or proposing marriage -- should call the property and alert them. A lot of times they might throw in a free bottle of Champagne, says Adam Anderson, a spokesman for travel booking site Expedia.com.
Consider these four destinations that are both frugal and romantic:
1) Napa Valley, Calif.
With temperatures in the 50s and 60s this time of year and a decent chance of rain, it s easier to find discounts in this destination, says Sandy Soule, the vice president of marketing for BedandBreakfast.com, a travel booking site specializing in B&Bs. Pack accordingly if you plan to spend all day winery hopping. Rates at the Napa Old World Inn start at $99 per night during its winter sale, a 38% discount. (Maximize the deal with promotions from BedandBreakfast.com, including 10% off and free FedEx shipping on gift cards, and $50 off when you book a stay of at least two nights.)
It s a little far afield for a weekend getaway the flight from New York is about 12.5 hours, and from Los Angeles it's eight but travel to this popular honeymoon destination is cheap right now. A slumping luxury segment means you can find hotel and air packages for less than half price. Normally, airfare alone would cost about $1,400, says Barbara Messing, the vice president for deal-tracking site Travel-Ticker.com. We found a trip departing Feb. 12 including airfare from Los Angeles and four nights at the Hilton Hotel Tahiti starting at $898.
If time is an object, consider Florida, suggests Genevieve Shaw Brown, a spokeswoman for Travelocity.com. Average hotel rates in South Florida are down 13% for February compared with last year, according to Travelocity. Tampa and St. Petersburg are down 20%. Room rates at the 3.5-star Postcard Inn On the Beach in St. Petersburg currently start at $107 per night. Flights to St. Petersburg start at $400 from New York.
4) Las Vegas
With the tourism industry in Las Vegas reeling from the recession, it's a good time to get VIP treatment at low prices, Anderson says. Review site Gayot.com named the top of Paris Las Vegas casino's Eiffel Tower -- offering views of the city and surrounding desert -- as one of the best places nationwide to kiss. A three-night stay at Stratosphere Tower Casino & Resort starts at $80 per night for a deluxe room, a 45% discount. You'll also get unlimited access to the casino's tower, which has a rollercoaster, other rides and its own city observation deck.