New year, new opportunities for travel

01/02/2011 12:00 AM

01/02/2011 12:04 AM

Though commercial life may slow down at the end of one year and the beginning of another, the world of travel remains full of recent events and new products that might affect your vacation plans.

A 3,000-room hotel — the Cosmopolitan — has just opened on the Strip of Las Vegas, a totally unnecessary addition to an already overbuilt city. Its owners, Deutsche Bank, have surprised travel observers by refusing to follow the lead of other deluxe properties that have slashed room rates to attract business. The Cosmopolitan's published rates are therefore among the highest in Vegas. I predict that the new property will have gaping vacancies, and — once that problem is fully realized — it eventually will respond to your requests for big discounts. Call them and bargain; offer half what they are asking, and see what happens.

Packages to China

Though winter packages to China are selling briskly, the competition among tour operators is stiff, and several of them have begun to offer major reductions off their published rates. Make a call to, or study its website, and request $200 or so off the already-low winter prices; there's a good chance you'll get the savings.

Royal wedding

When April 29 was announced as the date for the wedding of Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton, it was expected that all hotel space in London for that date would be sold out within minutes. It didn't happen. Numerous tour operators have announced they have air-and-land packages to London for the event, of which the most affordable is a $1,099-per-person trip from, bringing you round-trip air from New York to London and six nights with breakfast daily at a London hotel, for dates overlapping April 29. If you're determined to see the royal carriage and the beaming couple from curbside in London, rather than on television, here's your chance.

Mexico still hot

Contradicting all the predictions, tourism to Mexico in 2010 was up by nearly 20 percent over the figures enjoyed in 2009; and the 2010 figures are close to the totals enjoyed in 2008, shortly before an outbreak of swine flu caused a major drop-off in trips to Mexico in 2009. Though smart tourists are avoiding cities along the U.S./Mexico border (like troubled Ciudad Juarez), they're going in heavy numbers to Cancun, the Maya Riviera, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta, where drug-related violence hasn't been experienced to any major extent.

High-speed rail

When the newly elected governors of Ohio and Wisconsin announced they would turn down federal appropriations for the development of high-speed rail in their states, they caused the supporters of high-speed rail in California to rejoice. Last month, the Department of Transportation announced that the $600 million rejected by Ohio and Wisconsin would go instead to that West Coast giant, where it will be used for the partial completion of a high-speed line between San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. What a disappointment for Ohio and Wisconsin!

Cruise deals

It's not just the low-cost, mass-volume cruise lines that currently offer real bargains in seagoing trips. If you go to the websites of spiffy, luxurious Regent Seven Sea Cruises, Seabourn Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Silversea Cruises and Sea Dream Yacht Club, you will find that on many dates, they are offering not simply two-for-one pricing, but free air transportation to embarkation ports, free shore excursions, prepaid gratuities and numerous other goodies. When you compute the resulting net cost of your trip, you will find that the upscale ships charge only slightly more than those of the mass-market lines.

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