Fall is typically bargain time in Mexico, but many 1999 values are being extended into 2000 because millennium madness hasn't sparked heavy year-end bookings. Thus pennywise travelers in search of sun and salsa should do well south of the border.
Tour operator Travel Impressions has air-inclusive seven-night fall packages to Cancun starting at $568 and three-night packages at the deluxe Acapulco Princess for $565.
Club Med for the first time has planned winter value packages rather than offering spotty last-minute bargains to areas that prove slow as winter wears on. Among deals it's touting are three-night Special Weekend Getaways on select dates (land-only rates start at $249 for Cancun). Seven-night all-inclusive Cancun vacations (airfare, lodging, meals, unlimited beer and wine with lunch and dinner, gratuities, holiday insurance and most activities) start at $799 Nov. 27 to Dec. 11.
Over Thanksgiving (Nov. 20 departure), seven all-inclusive nights with airfare start at $899. Other all-inclusive one-week Club Med Mexico holiday deals (departures Dec. 18) include Cancun, $1,749; Huatulco and Ixtapa, $2,149; and newly renovated Playa Blanca, $2,849. Prices are per person, double, for a standard room. Adult prices apply to all guests 12 and over (at some villages, such as Cancun and Playa Blanca, guests must be age 18 or older). Additional costs include government taxes/fees; annual Club Med membership fee of $50 per adult, $20 child, and one-time initiation fee of $30 per family.
Liberty Travel is advertising three-night and six-night packages to Cancun (from $399/$485) and Acapulco (from $439/$499) with midweek airfare and hotel; most are available through Dec. 14 but effective dates vary.
Continental Airlines Vacations is promoting "Fall Free Nights" -- air-inclusive vacation packages to select hotels and destinations throughout the country. Packages offering a fourth night free are available to Acapulco, Cancun, Cozumel and Los Cabos; most also have free-night offers that apply to longer stays. Four-night stays -- including round-trip airfare, airport transfers, lodging and hotel taxes and service charges -- start at $599 per person, double occupancy. Packages subject to availability, restrictions and blackout dates.
Among hotel deals: In Cancun, fourth night free at the Hyatt Regency Cancun, Omni Cancun Hotel & Villas and the Caesar Park Cancun Beach & Golf Resort. In Cozumel, fourth night free at the Coral Princess Hotel & Resort; sixth night free at the Fiesta Inn Cozumel. In Los Cabos, fourth night free at the Melia Los Cabos, Presidente Inter-Continental Los Cabos, Fiesta Inn San Jose del Cabo, Casa del Mar and Hotel Solmar; sixth and seventh nights free at the Hotel Finisterra. In Acapulco, the Acapulco Princess offers the fourth or the sixth and seventh nights free; Westin Las Brisas a fourth night free. The eight other properties in the Westins of Mexico group are offering various specials, as well, with room rates starting at $152 daily through Dec. 21. Travel agents can supply plenty more.
Thailand: You can look a gift horse in the mouth, or you can see the Emerald Buddha in person. It seems incredible, but New York-based SmarTours will give you a two-week tour to Thailand in return for $1,299. The price covers round-trip air from Chicago, all flights within Thailand, four-star hotel stays in -- and tours of -- Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Phuket. Daily breakfast and a welcome-night dinner also are included. Even more amazing is that the price is good on selected departures November-April, during peak travel season when the weather is cooler. "Millennium" departures Dec. 18 and 27 cost $1,699. What? You're not dialing yet? (800-337-7773)
Chunnel: Promotional fares on the Channel Tunnel Eurostar train afford savings of up to 40 percent off regular fares for travel until Nov. 30 on tickets booked through Rail Europe. Travel must take place from Monday to Thursday between London and Paris or Brussels (or points in between). A first-class one-way ticket costs $149, compared with the usual $219; a second-class ticket costs $89 instead of $149. The discount fares are nonrefundable, and tickets cannot be exchanged. The London-to-Paris trip takes three hours; London to Brussels, 2 hours 45 minutes. Reservations: 800-387-6782. On the Internet, it is www.raileurope.com.