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My State Cordially Invites You, Please RSVP

Here in New York, Memorial Day brings outdoor cafés, white wardrobes, and the March of the Visitors—the season when friends from out of town begin arriving to enjoy the city just as it’s warming up. So I spent the last two weekends as a tourist in my city, hosting friends and hitting the streets from the Brooklyn Bridge to Broadway (that’s right, even Times Square). As you might imagine, it’s not difficult to convince anyone to visit you when you live in Manhattan, a luxury I’ve never had before. It was a lot harder to fill the sofa bed when I lived in other cities. Come to think of it, I didn’t even need a sofa bed.

Easy Money: Resort Credits

Don’t get me wrong — discounted room rates are great. Like a moth to a flame, I’m drawn in by percent-off promotions when I shop for a hotel deal. And these enticing deals are everywhere — 25% off! No, no wait, there’s another one – 40% off! Wait – 60% off!

And then I stop to think — 60% off what, exactly? If you don’t know the starting price of a hotel room, the discount may not mean much to you.

Personally, I like my discounts in dollars. Resort credits offer a specific dollar amount for you to spend while you’re at your hotel on cocktails, food, spa treatments — you name it. It is one of the most popular hotel trends in a down economy and, depending on the amount, can add a great deal of value to your vacation. Here are three  resort credit offers available right now:

Ike’s Impact: Come Back to the Florida Keys

When forecasters initially mapped out the path of Hurricane Ike, it looked like the Florida Keys were going to take a direct hit. Authorities ordered tourists and then residents to evacuate and the dozens of bridges leading back to Miami filled with cars stuffed to the gills with people, pets, and their prize possessions. Then, a few days later, the weather forecasters scratched their heads, looked at the maps, and declared Ike was on a path to Texas, and would miss The Keys altogether. Evacuation lifted–you can come back now!

But very few people did come back—to the tune of millions of dollars in lost tourist revenue, according to an article in USA Today. This was the backdrop to which I arrived in The Keys last week: shuttered condo complexes, plentiful “closed” signs, abundant parking, zero traffic, empty swimming pools, and spectacular weather.

A Retreat For Everyone in Amelia

Each year I take an annual “Girls Weekend” retreat to Amelia Island in Florida. Turns out, I’m not alone as 33% of the traveling public takes an annual vacation each year and women are even more likely than men to do this kind of a trip, according to the Travelocity Forecast poll for 2008. According to the research, women tend toward beach vacations though they like shopping and spa. My group of women, about 14 in all, do the same thing year after year.

We love the beach and the rolling sound of the waves, though we habitually sit by the pool where we can overlook the ocean and catch the magnificent breeze but remain close to the bathroom, food, and a power outlet should we be in need. (Yes, blackberries abound at this weekend retreat for professional women.)