With a cloud of uncertainty hovering over the future, people have been reluctant to shell out extra dollars for high-end travel. As a result, many hotels and resorts have felt the pinch and lowered their prices. So all this belt-tightening is making travel more affordable.
If that's not reason enough to rethink your stay-at-home holiday, then maybe you'll be get surprised this week by a year-end bonus you thought wouldn't be coming. Or perhaps all those great sales saved you some extra bucks on your Christmas shopping.
Regardless, now is the time to plan a last-minute New Year's trip: Expensive hotels that are normally full still have rooms, have slashed their prices and most are offering all sorts of special perks.
For those travelers who have already experienced this season's first few crippling snowstorms, a trip to warmer climes may appeal most. Our first thought — Miami, where there is sure to be a range of New Year's Eve activities, from rowdy club nights to a long, luxurious evening in a lounge.
Two of Forbes Traveler's favorite hotels, The Tides South Beach and The Regent Bal Harbour, have availability for the 31st. Book a room at the Tides to be in party central, and your on-staff personal assistant can help you get on the right VIP list. The Regent is located in a quiet enclave and its sophisticated fare includes five-course meal for an indulgent New Year's Eve.
Midnight in the big city is always romantic, and maybe you don't even have to travel very far to be there when the ball drops. Why not go for 2009's biggest trend, the "stay-cation"? That's a fancy way of saying, “Get a hotel room in your nearest city and pretend you are away from it all.”
So we have hotels such as the glamorous Stoneleigh Hotel in Dallas, the über-hip Gansevoort Hotel in New York and the historic Fairmont San Francisco. For the Stoneleigh, bring your best vintage duds — they'll be perfect for the newly renovated Art Deco space; while for the Gansevoort, you will want your edgiest designer labels in order to fit in with all the scenesters hanging out there.
How about a New Year's Eve minus the streamers and bubbly? Keep it active at either the Doral Golf Resort in Miami or the Arrabelle at Vail Square. A day at the links or on the slopes may be the perfect way to ring in 2009. After all, Doral's Blue Monster Course has an 18th hole that Forbes Traveler pros determined is one of America's toughest — make it your New Year's resolution to get a par-4. The Arrabelle is Vail's newest luxury hotel, and its cozy 36 rooms make a fine homecoming when skiing right in from the Eagle Bahn Gondola.
Don't call it an impulse buy — a special New Year's can put you in the right frame of mind to tackle what's ahead. There’s a wide range of hotels and prices, from New York's new micro-hotel The Jane, with rooms starting at $99, to L.A.'s grande dame, the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, whose NYE package starts at $419.