Consumer Lookout
A Summer of Value Lies Ahead

By Kathy Chin Leong
For real estate, its location, location, location. For vacationers this summer, it's value, value, value. Given the deep gas prices,  throughout California, and many of the hottest destinations, hotels and tour operators and restaurants are touting gas card rebates, and unique discount packages to draw folks in so they don't have to spend megabucks. Well, at least so they don't have to spend as much money as the last time they shot the wad on a big vacation.

Here's what BAFT found:


In Mendocino, the Mendocino Inn is cleverly marketing its 'Economic Stimulous Package'designed as a countermeasure to the high gas prices. The deal is simple: if you stay mid-week at the MacCallum House Inn & Restaurant for two nights, up through June 30, you get a $200 credit toward your lodging. A complimentary bottle of local wine will be in the room when you arrive.

The only restriction: you must book your reservation online at
Going for the weekend? The MacCallum House also offers a $75 credit for a one-night reservation or a two-night weekend reservation. "Even a $75 credit will cover the gas for most people coming from just about any place in Northern California," says Herman Seidell, general manager. "We think it's just the right economic incentive to allow people to treat themselves to a relaxing time away from the hustle and bustle of the city."

The MacCallum House, built in 1882, is one of 29 historic buildings featured on the new guide "Walking Historic Mendocino," published by the Mendocino Study Club, a local chartable organization celebrating its centennial. See

Not wanting to go far from the Bay Area?  Country Sojourns villa rental company is touting the concept of "Stay-cations" where families can join together in renting a lovely country villa in nerby Napa or Sonoma. The idea is to get away from home, enjoy a gourmet kitchen, pool, and resort-like home without the hassle of ringing telephones and home responsibilities.  Click on for more info. The company also provides complete touring itineraries and can set up activities locally as well as call in massage therapists or chefs to come to the home.


San Diego hotels are helping visitors offset the high cost of fuel this summer with special hotel packages that include gas rebates, hotel credits and gas cards as well. These value-added packages allow drive-in visitors and those renting cars in San Diego to recoup some of their gas expenditures and save that money for fun in the sun.

Paradise Point Resort & Spa
on Mission Bay is offering visitors a $100 gas card and free parking with a qualified 4-night stay. Rates start at $249 per night (plus tax), and a minimum 4-night stay is required. Gas cards are issued at check-out. Reservations must be booked by June 30, 2008, and travel must be completed by September 30.

To book this package, reserve online by using the promotion code “FREGAS” at

Not far is the Hilton San Diego-Del Mar offers a “Gas & Go” package that includes a $25 gas card, free parking and complimentary buffet breakfast for two. Package rates are $30 more than the best available rate at time of reservation. This offer is subject to availability; blackout dates may apply. Gas cards are issued at check-in. To reserve the “Gas & Go” package, visit

The Residence Inn by Marriott San Diego Downtown
, located just minutes from San Diego International Airport, San Diego Bay and downtown’s historic Gaslamp Quarter, is offering a package that includes a $25 gas card for each night of a guest’s stay. Rates range from $204-$304 per night (plus tax), and a minimum two-night stay is required. Gas cards are issued at check-out. This offer is valid Thursday-Sunday through December 31, 2008 and subject to availability; blackout dates may apply. To reserve, use the promotion code ZZ1 when making online reservations at

Set in the heart of downtown’s exciting Gaslamp Quarter, the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter is offering a one-night “Summer Sizzle” package that includes a $25 gas card, free valet parking, breakfast and 10-15% off select area attractions booked through the hotel’s concierge. Rates start at $279 (plus tax) double occupancy, and this offer is subject to availability and valid through December 31, 2008. Other restrictions may apply. To book the “Summer Sizzle” package, use the promotion code EB5 when making online reservations at

Loews Coronado Bay Resort & Spa, nestled on a private peninsula on San Diego Bay, is offering visitors a one-night “Money for Miles” package that includes a gas credit of up to $50 off their hotel bill, complimentary self-parking and a list of the least expensive gas stations in the area. Rates range from $289-$429 per night, based on availability, and this offer is subject to availability and valid through September 1, 2008. Guests submit gas receipts for a credit at check-out; receipts must be dated one day prior to arrival or during a guest’s hotel stay. To reserve the “Money for Miles” package, book online at


If you aren't sure exactly where to go, but you want a deal, look to hotel chains that are offering nationwide deals. For instance, the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts has reported that if you book 2 nights or more at any participating Fairmont before June 30th, 2008, you can receive a $50 Food & Beverage credit per night. If that option isn't thrilling, you can choose to earn triple miles with one of our participating partners. Call 1 800 830 1411 or contact your travel professional or visit

Shell Vacations Hospitality offers a collection of 22 one-of-a-kind resorts in popular vacation destinations throughout the United States and Canada including Whistler, California, Arizona and Hawaii. The company is known for its friendly service, superior locations and home-away-from-home amenities.
Located throughout the U.S. and in Canada, Shell resorts are ideally suited for family and multi-gen travel. Ideal for their ample accommodations, beautiful surroundings, family-friendly activities and reasonable price-points, Shell’s 22 one-of- kind resorts offer myriad of packages and deals for the vacationing families on its web site

Currently, Shell is offering its Summer Promo for resorts in Hawaii, Canada, Arizona and California. The promo includes a $15 gas card, up to 15 percent savings for guests staying four nights or more as well as a ‘Fun on the Beach’ gift pack with popular beach games for kids of all ages. Guests also receive a 10 percent coupon off their next stay.

Designed to accommodate family vacations, romantic getaways, retreats, reunions and business trips, Shell Vacations provides the best value, quality and choice for travelers seeking an extraordinary experience. Spacious one- to three-room accommodations such as private villas, stylish suites and upscale condos offer home comforts including fireplaces, full kitchens and private patios. Shell Vacations Hospitality is a subsidiary of Shell Vacations LLC, a premier developer of upscale vacation ownership resorts. For more information, please visit


Hawaii tourism organizers don't want to lose visitors, and they have announced discounts to entice travelers. Disounts from American Airines Vacations, American Express Vacations, Classic Vacations, Expedia, NWA WorldVacations, Orbitz, Pleasant Holidays, Travelocity and United Vacations are offering discounts of at least $200 per person on select airfare,  hotel rooms, and more. See  for details. You can book vacations on that website to Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui and Big Island.

Over in Honolulu, the Hawaii Superferry that transports inter-island announces that it is making summer more affordable by offering promotional fares at $49 for one-way passenger travel from now through September 30. Seniors (62+), children (2-12), and retired military promotional fares travel for as low as $39 during this period. Vehicles can move across for $65 one way.

Passengers voyaging on Hawaii Superferry's Alakai enjoy onboard services that include food, entertainment and shopping. A variety of seats, from reclining armchairs to family-friendly tables surrounded by leather sofas, make voyaging on Hawaii Superferry conducive to socializing, watching an on-board movie, playing a video game, quietly enjoying a book or seeing the islands from a new perspective from the ocean. Keiki can play in the Manta Cove, while kids of all ages can enjoy the video arcade.

Visit for the latest schedules and fares and to make their reservations online. Customers may also make reservations by calling 1-877-HI-FERRY (877-443-3779) from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. HST, seven days a week.

Hawaii Superferry currently has one morning voyage daily from Oahu to Maui and from Maui to Oahu. Beginning May 9, an afternoon voyage will be added four days a week operating on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.



And you thought Europe was out of the question with the lagging dollar? In June only, you can go to Rome for four nights starting at $1249 including air via Altalia Airlines and hotel and breakfast. This offer called the Summer Rome-ance package is offered by Visit Italy Tours. Call 800 255-3537 or go to .

Even with gas prices going through the roof, tour operators are still willing to offer bargains. Travel company dubbed Amigo Travel says that if you depart in October or November, you can fly for as little at $700 round trip to London from SFO. The South Sandy, Utah, company says it will also match any price quoted by other agencies. Call 1/800-614-7731, 800-709-2838; or go online to or


Vancouver is fast becoming known as one of Canada's best dining destinations thanks to chefs with a passion for local and seasonal ingredients, conscious seafood sustainability, Asian influences, and access to fabulous British Columbia wines and local craft beers.

And here's the deal on deals in Vancouver from the city's hottest restaurants. From now until late September, Aurora Bistro will offer their mid-week summer tasting series, "Your Food, Your Wine @ Aurora" for $49 per person. This special menu is available Monday to Thursday and provides diners a fresh taste of British Columbia. For $49 per person, guests enjoy three regional dishes paired with a local wine from various British Columbia wineries (wine is included in the price).

Watch for local treasures - beets, berries, asparagus and heirloom tomatoes. This deal is a great way to experience BC's abundance of amazing local foods paired with delicious regional wines. See
"Start Smart" at YEW Restaurant + BarOn Sunday and Monday evenings, the newly renovated YEW Restaurant + Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver is offering a special $35 three-course dinner (excluding alcohol and gratuity) that will please your palate and your wallet.

Five O'Clock Menu at West Restaurant- Enjoy a five-course tasting menu for just $65 per person. With great offerings like parfait of chicken liver and foie gras, roasted Polderside chicken with mushroom polenta, and a chocolate Marquis tart to finish, this is a yummy deal.






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