Spring Travel: The Hottest Vacation Deals of the Recession

The travel industry, like so many other businesses right now, is hurting. Airlines and hotels alike are hemorrhaging money as seats and beds go unfilled.

It adds up to good news for consumers looking for a spring break that won’t break the bank. Michelle Higgins, travel reporter for the New York Times, reveals some of the best deals around:

1. Orlando: Disney is dealing with offers of 35 percent off its on-site hotels this spring. Value resorts start at $68 a night (plus tax) for travel from April 12 through June 6. This deal is much deeper than this time last year and covers more dates.

2. New York City: Hotel rates are down anywhere from 20 to 50 percent compared to last year, making it easy to find a hotel room for well under $200 a night. Higgins even found one for just $99 a night this week at Hotel 373, a boutique hotel in mid-town using Quikbook.com. The site has also been listing deals at the new Thompson LES for $180 and other swanky new hotels. Also, NYC & Company, the official tourism marketing organization for the city, is running its Sunday Stays program, offering 20–30 percent off a hotel stay and added amenities on Sunday nights at more than 45 locations throughout the boroughs.

3. Las Vegas: With many corporations concerned they will be perceived as spending lavishly in the downturn (known as the AIG effect), bookings are down in Sin City. For bargain hunters however, upscale hotels like the Paris can be found for as little as $70 a night and it's still not too hot in the desert.

4. Hawaii: Pleasant Holidays has been offering four-day package to Honolulu that includes airfare from San Francisco for just $299. After taxes, the trip comes to $330. Higgins calls this an “unheard of” deal.

5. Caribbean and Bahamas: There are some surprising deals for this time of year, when the weather is still great and hurricanes season hasn’t yet begun. A four-night stay at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, normally from $390 a night or $1,560, can now be had for about $1,000. Travelers who book an air-inclusive package through the Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board can also get a $200 rebate.

Recession or not, travelers should always read the fine print. Most of the good deals out there are only valid for a specific time frame. Familiarize yourself with what’s included and what’s not (watch out for fees) and call ahead if you’re not sure, Higgins advises.