Concedes Banas: "Iceland is not top of everyone's mind in the winter." But there are plenty of winter attractions, including hot springs and prime Northern Lights viewing. Some of the most attractive deals stem from airline Iceland Air. Its Northern Lights Escape package, which starts at $953 per person, includes round-trip air fare from New York, Boston or Washington, D.C., as well as four nights' hotel, breakfasts, intra-Iceland air and bus travel, a Northern Lights tour and entry costs to other attractions. Depending on travel dates, just the flight might cost you that much, she says.
Resorts often reassess bookings this time of year, offering deals to entice travelers before warmer spring weather kicks in during March and April, says Banas. With a warmer-than-usual winter, skiers may even see some deals over the Presidents Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekends, which usually demand premium pricing. At Sugarloaf Inn, in Carrabassett, Maine, "Classic Ski Week" five-night packages of lodging and lift tickets start at $425 per person, a discount of up to 50 percent off prices if purchased separately. Village Inn Plaza in Vail, Colo., has discounts of up to 30 percent, with per traveler rates on seven-night "Ski & Stay" lodging and lift ticket packages starting at $464 per night.
New York City
Prices fall off dramatically in January, when attractions like the Times Square ball drop and the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree are past. Typical December rates run $300 to $500, with peak weekends sold out; in January, it's easy to spend less than $100, Saglie says. Even higher-end properties come in at under $200 per night. The four-star St. Giles Hotel, for example, has January rates as low as $152, a 25 percent discount. Four-star Hotel Mela, in Times Square, is up to 40 percent off, with starting rates of $129.
It's another destination that sees traffic drop off between the December holidays and March Spring Break traffic, Dilloo says. Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club, on Kauai, has two-bedroom villas for as little as $480 per night, a 40 percent discount, through the end of February. On Maui, Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa offers $389 per night on select dates through June, 25 percent off regular rates. Most deals require booking by mid January to claim.
Irish tourism groups have dubbed 2013 "The Gathering," and a main focus of the yearlong celebration is enticing travelers of Irish heritage to visit, says Saglie. "We're seeing already some very aggressive packages, even from tour companies that don't usually specialize in Irish travel," he says. That helps undercut rising air fares, even during the peak summer season. Great Value Vacations has seven-night hotel, air and car rental packages starting at $1,199 per person for June through August. Travelzoo estimates the savings at $900 over booking components separately.