Believe it or not, vacation season is winding down and late summer is a great time for some fantastic bargains. Conventional wisdom says to head to some calm and collected place: perhaps a beach on the northeast coast, or a ranch out west, or a cool mountain retreat. I say to hell with conventional wisdom. Don’t worry about things that are beyond your control. Damn the torpedoes and full steam ahead to Cancun, London and Aruba.
Cancun. Hey, if it is good enough for Emily, it is good enough for you. Cancun just had a brush with Hurricane Emily, as did the resort area south of the city known as the Riviera Maya. Both areas were prepared-after all, it is hurricane season, and resorts and hotels on the Yucatán know what to do when the weather acts up. In 1988, Gilbert taught Cancun a lesson; since then, most of its buildings have been beefed up in anticipation of another big blow. There will still be damage of course, but tourism is the number-one industry here, and you can bet everything will be rebuilt pronto.
Check with your travel professional to find out which resorts are open, or check out the firsthand info in our own Tripso forums. A five-night “Square-Deal” package for late August on the Riviera Maya with Apple Vacations starts at $699 per person, including airfare from the northeast United States (you pick the class of hotel, Apple Vacations selects the actual hotel based on availability).
London. When a horse throws an experienced rider, the rider gets right back on. We are experienced travelers, so when radicals bomb the London Underground, we head straight for London. Statistically speaking, you are more likely to be injured in your bathtub than in a terrorist action, but these actions do take their toll on tourism. Airfare to London was already affordable during the high-season summer months thanks to British Airways, which had lowered some fares to celebrate the selection of London for the 2012 Olympics. Now, the recent bombings are beginning to have an impact, and the fares should begin to creep even lower.
London has always been a fascinating city for me. I find it truly awe-inspiring to stand in a building built in the ninth century that is riddled with bullet holes from World War II. What a remarkable history that is. If you have never been outside the United States, the Caribbean and Mexico, London makes a fabulous first venture abroad. You have a head start on the language, the dollar is getting stronger, and prices are heading down as the high season comes to a close. Yes, London is still a bit pricey (airfare and hotel accommodations for a week at the Jurys Inn Chelsea, including daily breakfast, will run $1,700 per person), but believe me, it’s worth it.
Aruba. Despite what Geraldo and Greta would have you believe, Aruba is a wonderful, friendly and safe island oasis. As with any place in the world, there are some bad apples, and they have certainly given this lovely country a huge black eye. An ongoing poll being conducted by the NBC’s Channel 2 in Houston shows that half of its 64,000 respondents would not visit Aruba because of Natalee Holloway’s disappearance. I am glad that mind-set is not shared by tourists coming to the United States.
My office is seeing a decline in bookings to Aruba, and that’s too bad. The Holloway case is an isolated incident. Aruba is unlike all the other islands in the Caribbean. Because it lies so far south, it is relatively safe from hurricanes. The weather is breezy and rarely humid, making beaches and water sports enjoyable year-round. The people are friendly and welcome nearly 1.5 million visitors each year. And there are bargains to be had: A five-night package with Apple Vacations at the five-star Wyndham Aruba Resort in August starts at just $834 per person, including airfare from the northeast United States.
Tourism plays a major role in the economic stability of Cancun, London and Aruba-as it does in the United States. Now is the time to show our resolve to support them. Take advantage of some fantastic pricing, then go and have a great time. But, like all foreign trips, don’t forget trip insurance.
Are you interested in talking to fellow travelers? Register and post on our Tripso Forums between now and August 15, 2005. You’ll be entered to win two tickets on US Airways.
John Frenaye is the president of JVE Group, Inc., a diversified company based in Annapolis, Md. With a background in business management, he writes about the travel industry as an insider with an outsider's perspective. E-mail him or visit his Web site.