The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare and six nights' accommodations from $959 per person — plus air taxes of $180.
When: Travel through June 15, Sept. 16-Oct. 31, 2008.
The fine print: The starting rate is based on Tuesday departures and returns; add $80 per person for Friday departures. Breakfast daily is included. Hotel taxes, service fees, and fuel surcharges are an additional $180 per person. Kids under 6 stay at the hotel free and pay a child airfare rate of $424-$450, which is $75 less than the adult airfare. Add $20 per person for bookings made within 14 days of departure. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $240. Airport-hotel transfers are not included. A cab ride from the airport to downtown Ponta Delgada is about $12.50. (Look for cabs with an "I speak English" sticker.) Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: No deadline; based on availability
Contact: Azores Express, 800/762-9995, azores-express.com.
Why it's a deal: According to a recent Kayak search, the lowest round-trip airfare between Boston and Ponta Delgada, SÃ£o Miguel, starts at $798 in mid September (SATA). In comparison, the Azores Express package rate of $1,139 (including all taxes) covers the airfare and six nights' accommodations for an additional $521 per person, or about $87 a night. Azores Express estimates that the savings are up to 60 percent compared to paying for airfare and hotel separately or compared to booking this package during the high season—when the price for airfare alone is similar to that of this entire package.
Trip details: The Spring/Fall Azores package includes a round-trip flight on an Azores Express wide-body A310 aircraft between Boston and Ponta Delgada, located on the southern coast of the main island in the Azores, São Miguel. The special also covers six nights' lodging at Vila Nova Hotel, a five-minute drive from the airport. It's in the historic district of Ponta Delgada, a short walk from the Renaissance-style Forte de São Brás and less than half a mile from Convento da Esperança. The closest beach is a little over three miles away.
The Vila Nova's 102 rooms are air-conditioned and have basic amenities like a private bathroom, a hairdryer, a direct-dial telephone, Internet access, a complimentary safe, and cable TV. The whitewashed five-floor property also boasts a heated outdoor swimming pool, a game room with pool tables, and a fitness center. The in-house Atlantis Restaurant serves international and regional fare and is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the evening, you can relax at the Vila Nova Hotel Bar.
São Miguel is the largest and most populated island in the Azores. Architecture buffs will appreciate the many historic churches and palaces, while nature lovers will rejoice at the sight of the sprawling volcanoes, lakes, and lagoons. One of the island's most popular attractions is Sete Cidades, a village situated in a volcanic crater, and the nearby twin lakes, one blue and one green, visible from Vista do Rei.
Not ready to leave? Additional nights at Vila Nova are $50 per person for double occupancy and $100 for single.
You can also upgrade to hotels on two other islands. For Terceira, add $90 per person for accommodations at Praia Marina; add $160 per person for Varandas do AtlÃ¢ntico; add $260 for Terceira Mar Hotel. To stay on Faial at Hotel Do Canal, add $270 per person. The add-on charges include the connecting airfare from São Miguel. To learn more about the islands, visit the official websites of the Azores Regional Tourist Office and the Portuguese National Tourist Office.
Getting to Boston: If you live outside the Boston area, you can still take advantage of this package by booking a separate flight to Boston from your city. A recent search on Kayak revealed that the lowest round-trip fares to Boston in September start at $149 from New York City (JetBlue), $219 from Chicago (American Airlines), $260 from Miami (AirTran), $340 from Seattle (Northwest), $357 from L.A. (Midwest), and $367 from Houston (Northwest).