5 "wow" travel destinations for 2010

January 14, 2010 10:08:32 AM PST
Even if you're not a trip anytime soon, it's always fun to dream about fantastic destinations. And if you're like travelers recently surveyed by Travelzoo, travelzoo.com you'd take a vacation this year only if you get a great deal. That's what 74 per cent of people said in a survey of 1,000 travelers in the U.S. and Canada.

In addition, travel survey revealed:

  • 65% of respondents said they will travel to far off lands - internationally
  • 49% will travel to domestic destinations 3+ hours away
  • 25% said their dream vacations include lying on a beach
  • 22% said learning new things about a different culture

    Responding to the survey results, Travelzoo's Senior Editor Gabe Saglie and his team of experts have just released a list of the "Top 5 Wow Deal Destinations" for travel in 2010 travelzoo.com/tv/abc. The destinations include Las Vegas and the Caribbean, perennial favorites popular among Chicago area travelers. Central America, becoming more popular with Midwesterners also made the list. And for those who want a real "wow", destination Gabe recommends China and South Africa.

    1) LAS VEGAS

  • Prices in Las Vegas hit rock bottom in 2009, and that trend is expected to continue into 2010, Gabe says.
  • Las Vegas has been hit hard by the economic downturn, with fewer business and leisure travelers; this equates to a windfall of hotel and show deals in an attempt to lure travelers, he adds.
  • The $8.5 billon City Center adds nearly 5,000 more hotel rooms to Las Vegas; this comes at a time when tourism numbers have been in a dramatic freefall


    Trump International Hotel Las Vegas, Las Vegas

    New, super luxurious 5-Star resort in the heart of the Vegas Strip. Resort is located near the Wynn, with easy access to shopping at Fashion Show Mall, which includes flagship department stores like Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom. Guests enjoy amenities including a fitness center, a pool with sun deck and bar, and indoor valet parking

  • $99 per night.
  • Deal includes $50 resort credit, 4pm late checkout & 2-for-1 tickets to Cirque du Soleil's Mystere
  • Travel through March 31

    2) THE CARIBBEAN (with an emphasis on Cruising)

  • The current cruise prices account for the best cruise deals we've ever seen to the Caribbean
  • It's a buyer's market: cruise lines are sweetening deals by reducing deposits, including free upgrades, offering kids-sail-free deals, throwing in onboard credits and more
  • Cruising is a great option to explore a number of islands in the Caribbean without paying flights into and out of these cities, as well as an "exotic" vacation where the dollar goes a long way


    5-Night Cruise

    Western Caribbean

    6 days, 5 nights at sea

    Ship: Celebrity Cruise Line's Century

    Ports of call: Miami, Key West, George Town (Grand Cayman)

  • $295/pp inside cabin ($50/day)
  • Sail date: March 1
  • Travel on other dates Feb-April also available at slightly higher rates


  • While it's true that Mexico is serving up compelling deals as it recovers from a tourism-turbulent 2009, consumers are missing out on equally awesome deals by not looking just south of that border, Gabe says.
  • Many major airlines are adding flights to Central American cities like San Jose, Costa Rica and Panama City, Panama; there's no major time change
  • A dollar goes a long way in Central American countries, he points out


    Tropical Vacation

    Costa Rica

    Roundtrip airfare from Chicago to San Jose, Costa Rica.

    7 days, 6 nights' accommodations (2 in San Jose, 2 in Arenal, 2 in Monteverde).

    7-day SUV rental w/unlimited mileage.

    Breakfast daily

  • $499 per person
  • Travel May-October; date test-booked: April 22


  • Airfare and vacation deals on the market today are among the lowest seen in years, especially from East Coast gateways, Gabe says.
  • FIFA World Cup will be raising the profile of this country in 2010; don't expect deals in June/early July (when the Cup takes place), but when the tourist throngs leave, and hotels sit empty, there will be deals to be had.
  • Currency is the Rand (US$1 = R7.55) and cost of living is low, so the dollar can go a long way here, especially compared to Paris and London; a sit down lunch can easily cost $2.


    Sale from South African Airways

    To South Africa

    Roundtrip airfare Chicago-Johannesburg: $1055 ($500 off)

  • Travel through April (which is summer in South Africa, with temps ranging 60-75 degrees)
  • Note: South Africa Airways is part of the Star Alliance Network, which means you can get mileage credit on airlines like United, Continental and US Airways


    Cape Town Safari Adventure South Africa

    Roundtrip airfare Chicago-Johannesburg (& returning from Cape Town) Domestic flight between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

    4 nights' accommodations at the Commodore Hotel (Cape Town) -- 5 Stars

    2 nights' accommodations at the Bakubung Bush Lodge in the Pilanesberg National Park.

    Two open-vehicle game drives with the chance to see lions, elephants, rhinos, buffalo and leopards.

    Guided tours of Cape Town, Table Mountain and the Winelands region outside of Cape Town.

    Six breakfasts and three dinners.

    All ground transfers.

  • $2475/pp ($1000 off)
  • Travel through May 15 5) CHINA
  • As host of the 2008 Summer Olympics, China built new hotels and anticipated a tourism boom; but following this world event, average room rates have dropped significantly (average daily room rate dropped a spectacular 50.6% year on year) and hotel occupancy is lower, Gabe points out.
  • We've noticed a trend in extremely compelling vacation package deals that bundle airfare with the best of China; it's a large country, with the major points of interest spread out, so a ready-made itinerary takes the headache out of planning, he adds.
  • The World's Expo will be held in Shanghai in 2010 (May-October), which will heighten attention to China and bring 70 million visitors


    World Expo Escape to China

    Shanghai (Land Only)

    Six nights' accommodations at the 4-star Grand Mercure Baolong Hotel in Shanghai.

    Five-day standard day World Expo ticket. Roundtrip, private airport/hotel transfers

    Daily American breakfast. Hotel taxes and service charges

  • $399/pp
  • Travel June 1-August 31
  • Note: airfare from Chicago to Shanghai during this period is averaging $1000-$1200 roundtrip

    To learn about these and more travel deals from Chicago, visit: travelzoo.com/tv/abc