2012 Labor Day Travel Trends

Labor Day is just around the corner, and new data from KAYAK shows just where travelers are searching.

If you’re planning a flight, Las Vegas, New York and Chicago are the top flight search destinations for Labor Day. Average clicked fares for travel to these destinations for the holiday weekend were $291, $300 and $254, respectively.

Of course, you’ll save money if you travel after the holiday weekend – 8 to 10% on average.
People may be flying to Chicago, but they’re staying in Atlanta. Las Vegas, New York, and Atlanta are the popular U.S. hotel destinations by absolute search share rank with hotels coming in at $183.74, $275.63 and $204.21, respectively.

What’s in the ATL? Atlanta search share increased 54% YoY, perhaps due to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Atlantic City ($276.97) and Myrtle Beach ($136.73) hotel search shares increased 49% and 41%, respectively.

Internationally, it’s all about Ireland. Dublin is the top trending destination YoY, likely because of the Notre Dame v. Navy football game on Sept. 1 in Dublin – flight searches surged 246% compared to last year. Will you be cheering on the midshipmen or the Fighting Irish?

London, Dublin, and Paris are the most popular flight search destinations for Labor Day weekend in Europe with average prices of $1071.24, $1355.32 and $1,200.03, respectively.

Within the Caribbean and Central America, San Jose CR, Panama City and Belize City are the most popular flight search destinations. Belize City saw a 50% YoY increase in search share.

So, now that you have that data in hand, where will you be traveling this Labor Day?

[Flickr via Moyan_Brenn]

10 Hotels Helping Guests Celebrate This Labor Day

Looking to travel at the end of the summer, but don’t want to miss out on the Labor Day festivities? Stay at one of these U.S. hotels offering packages, deals and parties.

Riverside Hotel
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Sometimes it pays to work overtime. The Riverside Hotel is offering perks to vacationers who put in the time. Basically, the longer you stay, the less you will pay. With their limited time “Stay More, Save More” package, visitors who stay one night will receive 10% off, visitors who stay two nights will receive 20% off and visitors who stay three nights or more will received 30% off. Other perks include:

  • 25% off at Echo Salon
  • 20% off dinner at Indigo restaurant
  • Buy one ice cream at Kilwin’s, get one free
  • 50% off beer, wine or cocktails at Golden Lyon Pub

Nightly rates start at $149 per night, before the discount. Package is valid until September 30, 2012. Click here to book.The Broadmoor
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Residing near the southern edge of the Rocky Mountains you’ll find The Broadmoor, a luxurious yet historical hotel, which first opened in 1918. This Labor Day, the property is helping families enjoy the holiday with their “Labor Day Family Escape” package, which includes:

  • Overnight accommodations
  • Bicycle and paddle boat rentals daily
  • One hour horseback trail ride or Garden of the Gods jeep tour for each person
  • Complimentary access to The BROADMOOR movie theater
  • 40% discount on adult tickets at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
  • 15% discount on select retail purchases
  • 40% discount on published suite rates

Package available August 30 through September 4. Rates start at $485 per couple for three nights. Click here for more information.

The Lodge At Tiburon
Tiburon, California

Located only steps away from the docks of the San Francisco Bay, The Lodge At Tiburon is a relaxing retreat nestled among the cafés, boutiques and galleries of Tiburon. To help guests enjoy the upcoming holiday, the property is offering a “Labor Day Escape” package. The offer includes 30% the nightly room rate, daily breakfast and dinner for two at the newly opened Tiburon Tavern, a local gastropub with a farm-to-table dining approach.

Package rates start at $168 per night, with a minimum two-night stay required. Click here for more information.

Lakeway Resort and Spa
Austin, Texas

Lakeway Resort and Spa is ideally located near wineries, marinas, restaurants, nightlife and championship golf courses and offers numerous leisure activities. To help guests celebrate Labor Day, the resort has put together an exciting lineup of activities for guests to take part in. Some of the weekend highlights include sporting events for children, complimentary happy hours, S’more making, live music, a swim up breakfast, pizza and pasta buffets and more.

Rates start at $229 during the holiday weekend, with a minimum two-night stay required. Click here for more information.

Windham Hill Inn
West Townshend, Vermont

For those looking to escape the city and unwind amongst the Green Mountains in Vermont, Windham Hill Inn is offering a “Labor Day Mountain Escape.” Along with getting the opportunity to explore over 160 acres of beautiful landscape, guests staying at the inn over the holiday weekend will receive:

  • 3-course daily breakfast
  • Afternoon tea and homemade scones
  • Evening Vermont cheese board
  • Use of binoculars for on-property bird watching
  • Use of tennis court and swimming pool
  • Private garden tour by kitchen team member

Moreover, for an additional cost, guests can arrange to have the kitchen prepare a special Labor Day picnic for them to enjoy on the grounds where it will be stocked with Labor Day favorites such as watermelon, fruit salad, a chocolate dessert and more.

Rates start at $255 per night based on double occupancy. Click here for more information.

The Grove Park Inn
Asheville, North Carolina

This Labor Day, The Grove Park Inn is featuring a festive lineup of activities. From August 31 to September 3, guests can take part in shag dance lessons, pool games, live music throughout the resort, a Coastal Seafood Buffet and much more. Additionally, the weekend package offer includes:

  • Two nights of resort accommodations in a Property View room
  • Breakfast daily at your choice of the Blue Ridge Dining Room’s lavish buffet or In-Room Dining
  • Dinner at the Blue Ridge Dining Room’s coastal seafood buffet on Sunday, September 2, 2012
  • Tickets to the summer kick-off concert on Sunday evening
  • Tickets to the Saturday concert featuring “The Band of Oz”
  • Tickets to the Sunday concert featuring “Chairmen of the Board”
  • Complimentary admission to many of the weekend’s events and activities

Package rates start at $659 per couple for two nights. Click here for more information.

Keystone Lodge and Spa
Keystone, Colorado

For couples looking for a romantic mountain retreat this Labor Day, the AAA Four Diamond Award-winning Keystone Lodge and Spa is offering a “Labor Day Weekend Couples Lodging and Play for Free” package. This three-night package for two features:

  • Nine holes of golf on afternoon of arrival
  • Wagon ride dinner
  • Guided hiking tour
  • Four hour bike rentals
  • Mountain biking lift haul
  • 20% off lodging

Package rates start at $818.68 including tax, surcharge and resort fee. This is for two people for three nights. Available August 31 to September 3. Click here for more information.

MileNorth, A Chicago Hotel
Chicago, Illinois

MileNorth, A Chicago Hotel is located just a few blocks from Lake Michigan where guests can enjoy summer activities like riding bikes along the Lakefront Trail, Great Lake surfing and relaxing on dune-covered beaches. The newly branded property is inviting travelers to Celebrate Chicago this Labor Day. The offer includes:

  • Two cocktails at C-View, the 29th floor rooftop lounge with sweeping views of the city
  • A gift tin of Chicago’s signature Garret’s Popcorn
  • Four ride vouchers to explore Chicago’s largest outdoor playground, Navy Pier
  • $10 Chicago Transit Authority card to live like a local during your trip

Rates start $184 per night. Click here for more information.

W Scottsdale
Scottsdale, Arizona

A luxurious yet comfortable hotel, the W Scottsdale is offering a variety of “pick your package” promotions to coincide with their end of summer Labor Day pool party. The event, which is scheduled for September 2, will take place on the hotel’s rooftop pool deck, WET. Moreover, guests can opt for special offers like:

  • “Road Trip”: Guests will receive a $35 gas card, complimentary overnight WHEELS valet parking, a W Scottsdale travel cup and accommodations in a Wonderful room.
  • “Vitamin W”: Labor Day sun worshippers will receive a W Scottsdale beach tote, Aloe Vera cooling spray, lip balm, a poolside pitcher of margaritas and accommodations in a Wonderful room.
  • “Feel the Music”: Beat lovers will get a $30 iTunes gift card, W Scottsdale ear phones, W Hotels music CD, two cool cocktails and accommodations in a Wonderful room.

Rates begin at $199 per night. Click here for more information.

The Liberty Hotel, A Luxury Collection Hotel
Boston, Massachusetts

This Labor Day, The Liberty Hotel, A Luxury Collection Hotel is giving guests the chance to end the summer in style with their “Farewell To Summer” package. Participating guests will receive overnight accommodations, daily breakfast for two at CLINK and free valet parking.

Package rates start at $299 per night, with a two-night minimum required. Valid August 31 to September 3. Click here for more information.

Five (almost) labor-free recipes for Labor Day

I love to cook. Just not for myself. What I truly enjoy is feeding family and friends, but indoors or out the last thing I want to deal with is a labor-intensive meal–especially when it’s hot. So, in honor of the upcoming holiday weekend, I’m sharing five of my favorite, late summer recipes. They feature easy-to-find ingredients, regardless of where you live, but if you can purchase the produce and meat at your local farmer’s market or from another sustainable source, so much the better. In my opinion, the key to great food (especially where home cooks are concerned) lies in the quality of the ingredients. Even if you’re visiting friends, local ingredients can be adapted or found for these travel-friendly dishes.

The following require little in the way of skill, prep and clean-up, leaving you more time to enjoy the final days of summer with the ones you love (or want to impress). All of the following serve two, and can be easily increased to serve a large dinner party or barbecue.

1. Pancetta-wrapped pears (or peaches) with blue cheese
Allow one piece of fruit per person, and be sure to use ripe, but not mushy, produce–softer pear varieties such as Bosc, French Butter, or Warren are ideal. Halve each piece of fruit, and core or remove pit. Brush cut surfaces lightly with olive oil, and wrap each half in a piece of good-quality bacon, pancetta, or prosciutto (you may want to use a wooden skewer or toothpick to secure it during cooking). Grill over medium-hot coals (start with one half of fruit; if it’s taking too long, wait until coals are hot) until bacon or prosciutto is crisp, and fruit is slightly caramelized. Serve with lightly dressed bitter greens, and garnish with a creamy, non-assertive blue cheese such as Original Blue, Blue d’Auvergne, or Bleu d’Basque.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Pink Thistle]2. Panzanella
I can’t claim credit for this Tuscan classic, but it should be in every cook’s repertoire. Tear a loaf of day-old, country-style bread into 1-inch pieces, drizzle with olive oil, and toast until golden brown. While bread cools, halve one pint of miniature tomatoes, and cut 2 to 4 medium-size tomatoes (I prefer to use a mixture of heirloom varieties for the best color and flavor) into chunks. Place bread in large bowl, and add tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and one tablespoon of good Balsamic or Sherry vinegar. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss with hands until ingredients are combined. Just before serving, tear basil leaves into small pieces and toss into salad.

3. Fingerling potato and haricot vert salad
Scrub 1-1/2 pounds of fingerling or new potatoes, halve or quarter them, and place them in a large saucepan or stockpot of cold water. Boil until tender, and drain. Pinch stems from 1/2-pound of haricot vert, blanch until tender (the younger and thinner they are, the better they’ll taste), and drain. Finely mince one medium shallot, and one clove garlic. Add shallots and garlic to small saucepan with 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil and heat on low until the the shallots and garlic are lightly sizzling (they shouldn’t brown) and the oil is fragrant. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of Champagne or white wine vinegar, and add a tablespoon of Dijon mustard (optional). Coarsely chop one large handful of Italian parsley. Place the potatoes and haricot vert in a serving bowl, and add enough of the shallot vinaigrette to coat potatoes without making the salad soggy. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, add parsley, and toss to combine.

4. Grilled ribeyes with mustard-herb butter
Heat grill until coals are hot. While grill is heating, take a 1/2-stick of room temperature, unsalted butter, and place in small bowl. Add 1-2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard (or as needed), finely minced herbs such as chives, parsley, or chervil, teaspoon minched shallot or garlic and a pinch of salt. Mash ingredients together with a fork until desired flavor is reached.

Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on counter, and place butter at one end of the plastic wrap, shaping it into a log. Roll the butter up (be sure not to roll the plastic into it) to form a tube, and twist the ends of the plastic. Chill until ready to use. Pat steaks dry and generously season both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and grill until medium rare. Arrange a small mound of bitter greens in the center of each plate, add a steak, and top each with an ounce of butter. Serve immediately.

5. Grilled peaches with raspberries and ricotta
Heat grill until coals are hot. Halve peaches, and brush cut surfaces very lightly with olive oil to prevent sticking. Grill until the cut side of the fruit is soft and caramelized. Serve in a shallow dish or bowl with raspberries and a large dollop of good-quality ricotta, Greek yogurt, unsweetened whipped cream, or fromage blanc. Garnish with chopped, toasted pistachios.

All recipes except panzanella copyright The Sustainable Kitchen®

[Photo credits: tomatoes, Flickr user wayneandwax; greens, Flickr user burntfat]

Last minute tropical Labor Day getaways

Ready, set, book. The East Coast was largely spared the wrath of Hurricane Irene and no other pending tropical storms are threatening to ruin your upcoming three-day weekend. Why not jet away for a quick tropical vacation? From the East Coast, many Caribbean islands are a nonstop flight away, and from the west and Texas, Mexico is an easy jaunt.

Consider the following great last-minute Labor Day packages and head out on an impromptu trip:

Puerto Rico & The Virgin Islands
CheapCaribbean.com is offering package deals starting at $359 with departures on September 4th and 5th. The four-star Grand Melia golf resort in Puerto Rico is discounted from its normal price of $799 for a four-night stay, and the three-star Chenay Beach is just $399.

Cruise Crazy
Cruise.com is having a massive Labor Day sale. The Norwegian Spirit sails Sept. 4 from New Orleans to Costa Maya, Roatan, Belize City and Cozumel for $499. Upgrade to an ocean view cabin for just $100 more. Other Labor Day deals include:

  • 6 nights to the Western Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale on the Carnival Freedom for $399
  • 7 nights to the Western Caribbean from Port Canaveral on the Carnival Dream for $479
  • 7 nights to the Bahamas from New York City on the Norwegian Jewel for $649
  • 7 nights to the Western Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale on the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas for $745

Airfare to the Bahamas, San Juan, San Jose and Cancun
Forget the two-week rule, you can still snag decently-priced round trip tickets. We used Fly.com and found rates as low as $201 for flights departing between August 30th and September 3rd, returning September 4th through September 7th. Fly Boston to Nassau for $336 round trip, Atlanta to Cancun for $306 roundtrip and Orlando to San Juan for $201 round trip, plus many more.

West Coasters love the ease of access and upscale luxury to be found in Cabo San Lucas. Time2Cabo.com has a number of packages, including a three-night all-inclusive options at Solmar Beach Resort for $822, a three-night fishing package at Marina Fiesta Resort & Spa for $349 per night and daily breakfast and a fourth night free in the “Suite Romance” package at Esperanza for $5,630.

Riviera Maya
The luxurious Ceiba del Mar in the Riviera Maya is offering special savings for Labor Day weekend, with rates from $129 per night and include European Plans with daily breakfast or Luxury Gourmet Plans with a-la-carte meals at the resort’s restaurants, as well as snacks and premium beverages such as wine by the glass and top-shelf liquors.

Image courtesy of the

Five last-minute Labor Day hotel deals

If you’re like me, you haven’t booked a Labor Day weekend getaway just yet because to do so is to admit that summer is coming to a close. Luckily for us procrastinators and autumn deniers, there are a number of hotels that count on luring in last-minute stragglers with deep discounts on room rates and packages. Let’s take a spin around sites like Google Hotel Finder, Expedia, Travelzoo, and others to see what sweet hotel deals are on offer for Labor Day weekend 2011.Mission Inn
Riverside, CA

This historic inn-turned-resort and spa an hour east of Los Angeles has hosted presidents and celebrities and been the setting for books and films during its 125 years of operation. The Labor Day weekend deal at the Mission Inn starts at $169 per night (minimum two-night stay) and includes complimentary valet parking, dinner for two (with margaritas!), and a $25.00 resort gift card, which you can put towards a spa treatment at Kelly’s Spa or more margaritas.

Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa
Stowe, VT

It is neither peak New England foliage viewing time nor ski season, which makes finding a deal at a ski lodge in Vermont pretty easy. The Stoweflake, which has an on-site nine-hole golf course, walking trails, and a spa, caught our eye on Google’s Hotel Finder because its room rates for Labor Day weekend are listing at 35% less than the typical rates. Rates for rooms start at $160 or you can rent one of the resort’s town houses starting at $239 for a studio townhouse and $399 for a two-bedroom townhouse. As for margaritas, I’m sure they can shake up a few. But its Stoweflake’s 3,000-bottle wine cellar that’s worth checking out here.

Wigwam Resort
Litchfield Park, AZ

A vision in the Sonoran Desert just west of Phoenix, the 80-year-old Wigwam does the Southwest to ridiculous excess with golf, tennis, and pools with water slides. Labor Day weekend room rates at the Wigwam Resort start at approximately $79 per night. The hotel is also offering a “pick your perk” program, which includes half-price tennis clinics, $25 greens fees, and a few other deals. To get the perk, you must use the code “ENDOFSUM” when booking on the resort’s website. Did I mention that the Wigwam has tequila tastings? Having a wide variety of tequilas with which to make margaritas is essential to holiday weekend imbibing.

Biltmore Hotel
Miami, FL

You know where you can get a kick-ass margarita? Miami*. And where better to stay in Miami than the beautiful Biltmore Hotel? Through September via Travelzoo, you can get a junior suite at the Biltmore for $149 per night, a 60% discount from the typical price of $369.
*Okay, sticklers. I know the hotel is technically in Coral Gables. But have you checked out the pool, once the largest swimming pool in the world? More importantly, have you seen the outrageous caviar spread for Sunday champagne brunch? It’s $75 a head, but think of all the cash you’re saving on your hotel room!

Tropicana Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV

For less than the price of Biltmore brunch, you can stay at the famed Tropicana Las Vegas, a touch of South Beach on the strip that received an extensive renovation in 2010. Labor Day weekend rates at the Tropicana Las Vegas start at $65 per night, which means you’ll have more money in your pocket for slots and roulette. And, don’t you worry about those margaritas. As long as you’re gaming at the Tropicana’s Las Vegas Casino, the margaritas are free. What’s that, croupier? I lost again?!

Maybe we should just stay home.