People in travel are talking about Mexico. The combination of the outbreak of swine flu several months ago and reports of drug-related violence served to decimate tourist traffic to Mexico this past winter and spring, and the downturn continues in summer. In those non-holiday weeks when there isn't a large amount of local, Mexican traffic, many hotels have been reporting occupancy rates so low as to defy credulity. The response of those properties — especially the deluxe hotels — are pricing lures never before seen.
You'll find the discounts first by simply bargaining (politely state the rate you're seeking), but better still also in the air-and-land packages to such major resort locations as Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco.
The various tropical tour specialists all offer these stunning bargains, but — surprisingly enough — the giant Expedia seems to have an especially attractive array of offers.
Go to Expedia.com and punch in a request for an eight-night hotel stay in Cancun, in October.
The search engine will respond with rates that will make you rub your eyes. Remember, as you look at the following prices, that they are all for round-trip air between U.S. gateways and Cancun (on American Airlines), and a full eight nights at a high-quality beachside resort hotel.
In fact, in some instances, the prices are for airfare, eight nights of accommodations and all-inclusive meals and drinks (in packages marked with the words "all-inclusive").
• From Miami:
Westin Resort & Spa, $543 per person (that's for round-trip airfare from Miami and a room for eight nights, including taxes and fees; the same features are provided at all the other hotels, below); Hilton Cancun Golf & Spa Resort, $506 per person; Cancun Caribe Park Royal Grand, $523 per person; Crown Paradise Club Cancun, all-inclusive, $751 per person; Royal Solaris Cancun Resort, Marina & Spa, all inclusive, $665 per person; Hyatt Regency Cancun, $534 per person; Gran Melia Cancun, $590 per person.
• From Chicago:
Westin Resort & Spa Cancun, $564 per person; Hilton Cancun Golf & Spa Resort, $527 per person; Cancun Caribe Park Royal Grand, $544 per person; Crown Paradise Club Cancun, all inclusive, $772 per person; Royal Solaris Cancun Resort, Marina & Spa, all-inclusive, $686 per person; Riu Caribe, all inclusive, $758 per person; Hyatt Regency Cancun, $555 per person; Gran Melia Cancun, $611 per person; Riu Palace Las Americas, all inclusive, $991 per person; Le Meridien Cancun Resort and Spa, $751 per person.
• From New York:
The Westin Resort & Spa, $589 per person; Hilton Cancun Golf & Spa Resort, $552 per person; Cancun Caribe Park Royal Grand, $569 per person; Crown Paradise Club Cancun, all-inclusive, $796 per person; Royal Solaris Cancun Resort, Marina & Spa, all-inclusive, $710 per person; Riu Caribe, all-inclusive, $782 per person; Hyatt Regency Cancun, $579 per person; Gran Melia Cancun, $636 per person; Le Meridien Cancun Resort and Spa, $776 per person.
When you consider that some of the above properties are five-star resorts with every convenience, that they would normally charge more than $300 per room per night independent of airfare, you get a sampling of the shattered price structure in today's Cancun.
But are these areas safe? From all reports, swine flu currently is no greater a problem in Mexico than it is in numerous other nations all over the world.
And drug-related violence occurs primarily in border areas and towns of Mexico. No one, to my knowledge, has reported that such violence has been directed against, or affected the stays of, tourists.
So if you're still seeking a vacation destination in the months ahead, one priced at surprisingly low levels, think "Mexico."