Stay and save in U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas) Department of Tourism is offering a Sizzling Summer Sampler that's meant to encourage longer visits.
This promotion offers a complimentary fifth-night stay, a $50 to $100 resort credit, a $50 gift card (intended to entice guests to explore the sites, flavors and culture of America's Caribbean), plus up to $200 in savings on a host of included experiential activities, tours and extras.
The Sizzling Summer Sampler is valid for new bookings made between April 15 and Oct. 15 for travel between May 1 and Oct. 31 and is based on a five-night-minimum stay.
Participating hotels include: The Buccaneer Hotel, Carambola Beach Resort, Chenay Bay Resort, Club St. Croix, Colony Cove, Divi Carina Bay Resort, Hotel Caravelle, Palms at Pelican Cove and Sand Castle on the Beach in St. Croix. Also included are The Westin Resort on St. John, as well as the Best Western Emerald Beach, Bolongo Bay Beach Resort, Holiday Inn Windward Passage, Marriott Frenchman's Reef, Pavilions & Pools, Point Pleasant Resort, Sapphire Beach Resort & Marina Sapphire Village, Secret Harbour Beach Resort and Wyndham Sugar Bay Beach Resort & Spa on St. Thomas.
Reservations for this promotion can be made through tour operators, including BookIt.com, Vacation Outlet, Vacation Express, Funjet Vacations, Spirit Vacations, United Vacations, Delta Vacations, Future Vacations, Continental Airlines Vacations, CheapCaribbean.com, Travelocity, TNT Vacations, LIBGO Travel, US Airways Vacations, Travel Impressions, Classic Vacations and Total Vacations.
For more information about the U.S. Virgin Islands, visit www.usvitourism.vi.
When traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. citizens enjoy all the conveniences of domestic travel, including online check-in. Passports are not required (but it never hurts to bring one with you).
Three airlines grind to a halt
In the wee hours of April 3, ATA Airlines (www.ata.com) declared bankruptcy and discontinued all operations with no advance notice. This came just days after Aloha Airlines (www.alohaairlines.com) also ceased operations. Also joining the list is Skybus Airlines (www.skybus.com), which discontinued operations on April 5 after completing all its flights the day before.
Customers who purchased tickets from Southwest Airlines (www.southwest.com or (800) 308-5037) for flights operated by ATA under a code-share agreement will be contacted by Southwest and have their flights changed to a new itinerary closest to their previous travel plans or offered a full refund for any unused portion of a ticket.
If you've paid with a credit card on any of the three airlines, you can contest the charge for a flight not taken if you do so in writing within 60 days of the charge appearing on your credit card. Otherwise, you might have to line up in bankruptcy court.
More information about filing for a claim through bankruptcy court is available on each airline's respective Web site.
Save on Bill Me Later option
Continental Airlines (www.continental.com or (800) 523-3273) is trying to encourage customers to use its Bill Me Later Option by throwing in $20 for first-time users making a reservation and picking that option by April 23.
To sign up, all you have to do when making a reservation is select Bill Me Later at checkout, where you'll have to answer two quick questions and accept the terms. Once you've been approved, you'll get a statement in the mail with your $20 credit already applied.
For more information, visit Continental's Web site.
Redeem Marriott points at front desk
Marriott Rewards members can now redeem points at the front desk for free rooms at Marriott International hotels in the U.S. and Canada, with no planning ahead required.
Members can use points to walk in or extend their current stay. Points are redeemed at the Stay Anytime rate and subject to availability.
Silver Elite members can now redeem points at the front desk for room upgrades. The upgrades are 5,000 points per upgrade level and subject to hotel availability. This new feature (similar to one Starwood already has in place) excludes hotels in Hawaii and Marriott Vacation Club and Ritz-Carlton properties.
Save on family trip in Colorado
Families who want to take that summer trip this year without breaking the bank can turn to ResortQuest, the nation's largest resort vacation home and condominium-rental company. Summer rates for a two-bedroom condo start at $199 per night, which is an average savings of roughly 20 percent versus standard hotel rooms.
Every ResortQuest Colorado residence, which ranges in size from studio to four bedrooms, features a full kitchen as well as daily housekeeping, concierge services and local shuttle service. Condos and homes are located in Aspen, Snowmass, Breckenridge, Keystone, Steamboat Springs and Telluride.
As a bonus, Resort Quest is offering a Family Adventure package this summer that includes a $100 Adventure Card redeemable for a variety of outdoor activities, including horseback riding, whitewater rafting and fly-fishing lessons.
The Family Adventure package is available May 1 through Oct. 1 with a three-night-minimum stay required. Blackout dates and additional restrictions may apply. To book, visit www.resortquestcolorado.com or call (800) 467-3529, and be sure to use promo code DIR ADV.