Image: Keswick Hall, Charlottesville, Va.
Keswick Hall
Keswick Hall in Charlottesville, Va., offers a Summer Escape package with special rates such as the junior suite for $570 a night (normal rate is $650). Enjoy horseback riding, hot air balloon rides and three swimming pools overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountain Valley.
updated 8/4/2008 12:31:13 PM ET 2008-08-04T16:31:13

With the weak dollar, high gas prices and summer-camp bills piling up, planning a luxurious summer vacation may not be at the top of your list. However, you needn't take a long flight or drive 200 miles to find a luxury bargain. To retain business during tough times, some luxury hotels and resorts close to home are offering bargains this summer.

"There is an incredibly vibrant business within the U.S.," says Marshall Calder, senior vice president of marketing for The Leading Hotels of the World, a high-end travel agency headquartered in New York City, "or destinations like Caribbean and Mexico where the dollar stands strong."

The options, says Calder, range from outdoor adventures to family fun to romantic retreats—or even a simple weekend away.

"For the domestic vacations, the challenge is the cost of getting people there, whether it's driving or paying inflated rates," says Terry McCabe, account manager of New York-based Altour travel agency. "In response, the hotels are including extra days. The enticements—the extra nights, the activities, the free breakfasts—are keeping the rooms booked. The hotels are becoming smarter."

East coast escapes
For beach bums in the Washington, D.C., area, The Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michael's, Md., offers a special two-night stay with the second night 50 percent off. The Inn's most luxurious room, the Water View Master Suite, usually costs between $700 and $770 a night but, if booked between April 4 and November 8, costs $675 for the first night and $337 for the second. The package includes two tickets to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and a bottle of house wine upon arrival. But the Inn's main attractions are its spa and its restaurant, regularly awarded and recognized by the Distinguished Restaurants of North America. Golf, cycling, fishing, hunting, a sailing school and boat charters are also offered.

If you are looking for a New England escape, Nantucket is a tried-and-true luxury option. The Wauwinet, the island's most luxurious hotel, located on pristine waterfront property nine miles from downtown Nantucket, is currently offering reduced rates starting at $500 a night (usual summer rates start at $700 a night).

"Savvy luxury hotels are constantly taking market conditions and other factors into consideration," explains Bettina Landt, general manager of the Wauwinet. "When we have days with a projected lower occupancy, we will make every attempt to offer attractive rates and packages that have the effect of creating value for the consumer while filling the hotel rooms that would otherwise remain vacant. It makes good business sense."

A stay at the Wauwinet, Nantucket's only Relais & Châteaux property, includes full breakfast each morning and hosted port, sherry and cheese service every afternoon in the library. The hotel's activities include yoga, island tours, beach walks (or runs with a customized, provided iPod), mountain bikes and lobstering. For deep relaxation, the Wauwinet now offers a "Spa by the Sea," where guests enjoy a cranberry crush body treatment, an Atlantic seaweed wrap, a massage on the beach-front lawn or an herbal aromatherapy nap in the herb garden.

If your family prefers the poolside sort of holiday, the Acqualina resort and spa in Sunny Isles, Fla., might be the ticket—especially since it'll feel like a family vacation as much as it will a kid-free getaway. While you and your spouse enjoy a private dinner on the beach, Acqualina will take care of the little ones, offering a 24-hour nanny service, complimentary cribs, hourly arts and crafts classes and dinner-and-a-movie nights. Discounted rates start at $375 for two-night stays, $350 for three to four nights and $325 for stays over five nights in a room that normally runs $850 a night during peak season.

Head west
Luxury resort areas that are winter hot spots for skiing, such as Jackson Hole and Beaver Creek, are becoming more popular in the summer, says McCabe. The Four Seasons Jackson Hole, located in Teton Village, Wyo., offers a summer vacation—with rates ranging from to $595- $695 a night—that includes golf, fishing and hiking, as well as a picnic surrounded by mountain views in either Yellowstone National Park or Grand Teton National Park.

Image: The Wauwinet, Nantucket, Mass.
The Wauwinet
Nantucket's top hotel, the Wauwinet, is offering discounted rates starting at $500 a night (usual summer rates start at $700 a night). The hotel's activities include yoga, island tours, beach walks (or runs with a customized provided iPod), mountain bikes and lobstering. Special spa treatments also available.
If that's a bit too mild for your taste, you could try one of Park Hyatt Beaver Creek's Hike Week packages, offered for three different four-night weekends throughout the summer. Vacationers get the opportunity to conquer one of Colorado's famous "fourteener" mountains (14,000 feet and higher). The first few days involve altitude acclimation and practice hikes before summiting one of the fourteeners—or thirteeners, based on ability levels. The Park Hyatt, which calls itself the "most luxurious base camp in the world," provides ample time for rejuvenation; the package includes two spa treatments, an arrival and farewell dinner, and daily breakfast and lunch. Rates start at $1,929 for single occupancy and $1,574 per person based on double occupancy (winter rates usually run between $639 and $799 per night).

Staying in the city
There's even a taste of luxury right nearby, if you want to spend more time relaxing and less time getting to where you'd planned to go.

"Many of the hotels in the States are offering discounted rates, primarily city-center hotels," points out Calder. "When summertime hits there's usually a reduction in business travel, so it's not unusual to see them try to create more value for leisure and discretionary travel."

For a romantic summer weekend in New York City, the Peninsula is offering a special deal for its 20th anniversary. Between June 27 and Sept. 1, if you pay for one night at the regular rate of $775 a night, you get a second night for $20. And if you happen to be celebrating your 20th wedding anniversary, you will receive a complimentary room upgrade with proof of marriage certificate. The package includes continental breakfast delivered to your room, a welcome bouquet and champagne, and a one-hour carriage ride in Central Park.

Whether the kids are at camp or tagging along for the ride, this summer's dollar dip and high prices at the pump won't necessarily force you to cancel your plans—just to tweak them a little, without sacrificing luxury.

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