Image: Migis Lodge
Photo courtesy of Migis Lodge
Migis Lodge, located on the shore of Lake Sebago in Maine, is crowded with families in the summer. But come fall, it's an ideal getaway for parents who want to sneak in a little alone time.
By
Tribune Media Services
updated 10/7/2010 11:14:16 AM ET 2010-10-07T15:14:16

The dinner bell!

We troop to the lakefront where, after cocktails, we're served lobster, corn on the cob, strawberry shortcake and more. We look out at Lake Sebago — Maine's second largest — dotted with small islands, as the sun quietly sets. It is an exquisitely beautiful, peaceful scene.

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The best part: I didn't have to shop, cook or do the dishes. I'm not worrying about whether the kids are happy — or where they are at the moment, since they're far from here. Instead, we're spending time with old friends from Chicago whose son is in the Army.

Welcome to Migis Lodge. In a local Native American language, migis means, "place to steal away and rest," says Tim Porta, who is the second generation to run the place — his 29-year-old son Jed is the third.

This is a small resort about an hour from Portland — just 35 well-appointed cabins in the trees. A decidedly family place in summer (families return annually), it morphs into an ideal getaway spot for parents who want to steal away on their own for a few days once the kids are settled into college or their routines at home. At Migis Lodge there are special hikes, fishing seminars and beer and wine tastings around the fire until mid-October.

Whether you want to escape the baby overnight at a city hotel (Doubletree has special romance packages across the country), play golf (Bermuda, which has more golf courses per square mile than anywhere else in the world, offers a third night free), pamper yourself at a spa (spa getaways at the deluxe Viceroy Snowmass in Colorado offer rooms beginning at $125 a night and spa treatments that are 30 percent off), tour wineries (www.cheapflights.com has just listed its top 10 picks of wine destinations) or hike and bike amid the glorious fall foliage (check out Travelocity's fall foliage hotel room sale, offering rooms from $53 per night), fall is an ideal time for some "me" and "us" time.

"Prices are generally less expensive than the summer months," says Travelocity.com's Genevieve Brown. "And since most families are wrapped up with school activities, you're not likely to encounter a lot of kids at your destination."

That's key, of course. You certainly don't want to be surrounded by other people's kids. Join forces with friends and split the costs.

Image: TRANQUILITY
Photo courtesy of Tranquility Bay
Tranquility Bay, Antigua.

Check out deals like the one at Tranquility Bay Antigua, an all-suite beach resort complete with discounts on a two-bedroom suite, private chef for one night and a spa gift certificate. Come midweek and save even more (under $1,100 total for four nights)!

"We found a great four-night cruise deal on Royal Caribbean to the Bahamas — $600 for the two of us. Plus airfare and a grandparent taking over for the week we're at about $1,000," writes Rae Hostetler in an e-mail. Four couples are going guilt-free on a trip that won't bust the budget.

Believe me, the kids will be the better for your getaway. Younger ones discover that they can survive — happily — without you for a few days. Older ones see that you have a life beyond their carpools, homework, games and crises-of-the-moment. And those new college freshmen will be flummoxed that your life really didn't end when they decamped.

For you empty nesters, the fun is just starting, now that you can get away at the last minute without worrying about school schedules or what your teens are up to while you're gone. Check out sites like www.lastminutetravel.com and www.jetsetter.com where membership entitles you to private sales that spell big savings.

Image: VERMONT
Courtesy Vermont Department of Tourism & Marketing
Watch the leaves turn this fall in Vermont.

Go jump in the leaves on a Wednesday. Vermont is offering special "Midweek Peek" deals during its popular foliage season. Meanwhile, the Appalachian Mountain Club promises "stay 2 nights, get the 3rd free" at their New England lodges and White Mountain huts.

Make getting there part of the adventure. Check out www.virginia.org/fall for romantic trips for two, with wineries, scenic drives, historic inns and picturesque small towns; in Washington state, tour wineries during crush season.

The deals are everywhere. Consider the Bahamas, which just announced the return of their free companion airfare on bookings of four or more nights. (You can travel until mid-February, but have to book by Oct. 13.)

"It's the closest 'Caribbean' destination and the flights are a great deal, since there are several low-cost carriers in the region," says Kellie Pelletier of Jetsetter.com.

Wherever you go, and especially if you are leaving kids at home, choose a destination easy to reach — just in case of an emergency.

Orlando — with well-priced flights from everywhere — fits the bill. Yes, Orlando for grown-ups. Skip the theme parks (unless you love them) in favor of the golf courses (176 to choose from), spas (19 destination spas), restaurants (more than 5,300, including plenty of upscale eateries) and shopping (a dozen shopping malls and factory outlet centers). There's so much for grown-ups to do that you can take your pick of adult packages.

Image: MONTREAL
Stephan Poulin, Tourisme Montrea
Jean Talor Market in Montreal. The perfect spot for foodies.

Explore a new city (according to www.hotwire.com, midsized ones like Seattle and Denver are especially good deals now) and linger in all those museums the kids rush you through. If you're a foodie, check out Tourisme Montreal's For Foodies Package (www.tourisme-montreal.org). It offers nightly rates starting at just over $115 a night and discount coupons at check-in for complimentary treats at popular Montreal eateries and savings on culinary classes. Mingle with vintners over wine and cheese at Napa's decidedly adult Milliken Creek Inn & Spa (www.millikencreekinn.com).

Maybe a football weekend is more your speed. Book a flight and hotel together, suggests the experts at www.expedia.com and you can save some significant bucks for your tickets and tailgate parties.

Head to a ski town. You'll find good hotel deals, lots going on and plenty of places to hike, mountain bike and golf from Stowe, Vt., (the Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa, www.stoweflake.com, boasts a huge spa, golf course and restaurants featuring local cuisine) to Breckenridge, Colo., (www.gobreck.com) where you might join the festivities at the inaugural Craft Distillers' "Still on the Hill" Festival Oct. 15 to 16, or stay at the new deluxe One Ski Hill Place (www.rockresorts.com) with its own bowling alley and "rejuvenation center" for massages or try Park City Utah (www.parkcityinfo.com) where you can get a free massage and wine with a room rate under $150 a night (www.parkcitypeaks.com).

As for us, we savored every kid-less moment of our weekend at Migis Lodge. We hiked and golfed, took a motorboat out on the lake, chatted up other guests at breakfast cookouts (blueberry pancakes!), relaxed over leisurely dinners and on the porch of our cabin with wine glasses in hand, we talked and talked -- especially about the kids.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

For more Taking the Kids, visit www.takingthekids.com and also follow "taking the kids" on www.twitter.com, where Eileen Ogintz welcomes your questions and comments.

© 2010 Eileen Ogintz ... Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Video: Budget-friendly travel deals for families

  1. Transcript of: Budget-friendly travel deals for families

    AL ROKER reporting: This morning on TODAY'S TRAVEL , package deals for the whole family . If you're on a tight budget but you'd like to take a family trip, guess what, we've got five travel deals that will give you more bang for your buck . Nilou Motamed is the features director at Travel Leisure magazine. Nilou , good to see you.

    Ms. NILOU MOTAMED (Features Director, Travel Leisure Magazine): Good to see you too, Al .

    ROKER: So there are packages out there that really you can be looking into for whole family deals.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Well, it's all about dollars and cents. When you -- when you book a package, it -- you get a more attractive offer. You get both the hotel and some activities. The key thing, though, is if you're going to book a package, to make sure that you want all the add-ons...

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. MOTAMED: ...so you're not paying extra for anything.

    ROKER: OK, this first one -- and they're all under 250 bucks a night , which is -- which is pretty good.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Honestly, can you believe -- for a family .

    ROKER: For a family .

    Ms. MOTAMED: Yeah.

    ROKER: Now, is there a limit to what the family size is?

    Ms. MOTAMED: You know, if you have a family of 18...

    ROKER: Uh-huh. Not good.

    Ms. MOTAMED: If you're that mormal -- Mormon family , I think maybe no.

    ROKER: Yeah. No.

    Ms. MOTAMED: But I think usually it's about a family of four.

    ROKER: So Duggars , do not apply. Right. First one, we've got the Hotel Marlowe , Cambridge in Boston , Massachusetts .

    Ms. MOTAMED: Yeah. So Cambridge is lovely this time of year. You know, October they have the Head of the Charles , which is -- which is that amazing rowing race, if you want to go there for that.

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. MOTAMED: The Marlowe is a Kimpton property, it's a boutique hotel property...

    ROKER: Ooh .

    Ms. MOTAMED: ...that has a great kind of tongue-in-cheek attitude. They're very pet-friendly and kid-friendly, too.

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Your kids get these little adorable animal print robes when they check in, and they get little amenities for them, which is wonderful. And they have a great package called the Kids Planet Discovery , and with that you get four passes to the Boston Museum of Science , which is a great, great museum.

    ROKER: Yes.

    Ms. MOTAMED: You get breakfast for the whole family , which is great. And it's under 250. It's 229 a night .

    ROKER: Two twenty-nine.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Yeah.

    ROKER: That's fantastic. Let's head now to a little history.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Yeah.

    ROKER: The Williamsburg Lodge in Williamsburg , Virginia , which is a great place .

    Ms. MOTAMED: Well, Colonial Williamsburg -- I'm glad you say that it's a great place because it is a great place and it brings history to life for kids. If they're learning stuff in American history you can take them there to get a full experience of what it was like in colonial times . But lately they've actually had a drop in and visits, and so they've really done a lot to make efforts to make it much more entertaining.

    ROKER: Hm.

    Ms. MOTAMED: And the Williamsburg Lodge has actually had a two-year complete renovation, so you're going to be really in the lap of luxury there.

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. MOTAMED: And your kids are going to have a great time. This is also a great place to go for Halloween . They do a haunted tavern tour, so you can hear the ghost stories about the old times. And again, 225 a night for your stay, including breakfast as well.

    ROKER: And if the kids are old enough, you can leave them in the room and you -- mom and dad go -- the spa there is spectacular.

    Ms. MOTAMED: You can leave them in the room? Is that OK?

    ROKER: If they're old enough, I said.

    Ms. MOTAMED: OK, OK.

    ROKER: If they're -- I don't say just leave them with a bowl of kibble or anything.

    Ms. MOTAMED: No, that -- that's at the Marlowe . That's different.

    ROKER: OK. Now, you want to get to the sun, let's go to Palm Springs .

    Ms. MOTAMED: Well, Palm Springs is a great place to go even in the beginning of winter, it's still warm there. And the Hyatt Grand Champion Resort is a great place to go because they have a kids pool -- they have seven pools. The kids pool has a 60-foot spiral waterslide.

    ROKER: Oh, cool.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Come on, that's fun.

    ROKER: You got to like that.

    Ms. MOTAMED: And they do a desert -- exploring the desert package...

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. MOTAMED: ...where you can go and go on a desert safari , so you don't have to go all the way to Africa . Pet giraffes. You can go to an animal hospital with the kids...

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. MOTAMED: ...so they can appreciate taking care of their pets better. And they do a pizza picnic.

    ROKER: Now -- ooh, that's nice.

    Ms. MOTAMED: And again, under $250 a night .

    ROKER: Now, when we think Florida , we normally think Orlando for a family vacation.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Mm-hmm.

    ROKER: But you said think again.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Think again because, you know, the Captiva Island , Sanibel and Captiva is a place that people should consider. It's in the gulf of Florida , beautiful, beautiful location. And if you want to hunt for seashells, you can do that. If you want to take sailing lessons, you can do that. And the South Seas Island Resort -- you don't have to go all the way to South Seas to experience the South Seas -- is offering 149 a night .

    ROKER: Wow.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Through October 31st . And that is basically four nights for the cost of three, 20 percent off your meals. They throw in sailing, they throw in all the water sports. And I think you have breakfast, too.

    ROKER: That's pretty good.

    Ms. MOTAMED: One forty-nine a night , for the family .

    ROKER: And this last one is a real surprise: Venice, Italy.

    Ms. MOTAMED: I love Europe for the family . And I think kids love the experience of seeing Europe come to life. They see it in their books at school, and why not go to Venice ? But great to go to Venice for under $240 a night .

    ROKER: That's crazy.

    Ms. MOTAMED: At the San Clemente Palace Hotel . I know, it's crazy but it's true. Especially with the euro the way it is .

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. MOTAMED: This is -- used to be a monastery, a 17th century monastery, on a private island . You get a cool old wooden boat ride from -- as your airport transfer, basically.

    ROKER: Sure.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Isn't that fun? And they have a swimming pool , if it's warm enough, and you also get discounts at local boutiques, and a buffet breakfast. Again, for under 240 a night .

    ROKER: And you're in Italy .

    Ms. MOTAMED: And gelato.

    ROKER: Man.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Do I have to say more?

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