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Real deals

No kidding - a getaway to start the school year

Lodging places in Stowe are offering packages combining rooms with a ride on a glider, hot air balloon, canoe, or kayak. Lodging places in Stowe are offering packages combining rooms with a ride on a glider, hot air balloon, canoe, or kayak. (Chris Romano)
By Richard P. Carpenter
Globe Correspondent / September 7, 2008
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Everybody's back in school. For some moms and dads it's time for a little private getaway; for others it's a chance to plan one last treat for the kids. Look over this New England menu:

  • Smugglers' Notch Resort in northern Vermont offers seven activity-based packages during the foliage season. The packages focus on family fun, golf, local attractions, eco-adventure, creativity, relaxation and wellness, and outdoor adventure. Each is available now through Oct. 13, the lowest rate period of the year. One example: the AutumnFest Family Package, designed for those with children 6 weeks to 5 years. Book three nights and get the fourth night free. Prices start at $330 for a two-night stay for one to four people.

    For all the fall packages, visit smuggs.com.

  • Also in Vermont, Stowe lodging places are offering an Uncover Our Secret: Stowe From the Sky and River Package that gives visitors the option to view the town from a glider, hot air balloon, canoe, or kayak. The packages, available through Sept. 18, start at $75 per person for the paddle trip and one night's lodging; from $87 per person for the glider ride with a night's lodging; and from $274 a person for hot air balloon packages with one night's lodging.

    Visit gostowe.com and click on Specials or call 800-467-8693 (GO-STOWE).

  • Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., has just opened a new venue, Casino of the Wind, featuring 45,000 square feet of gaming space, with a Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville restaurant set to open Sept. 29. The casino-resort offers several specials, including a Legendary Escape Package for two, starting at $99 a person a night. Included are a superior or deluxe room, $15 food and beverage coupons per person, and a $10 betting coupon per person.

    For all the specials, visit mohegansun.com/staying/special-packages.html or call 888-226-7711.

  • Children of all ages can burn some energy on Sept. 21 in Truro from 2-6 p.m. by taking a turn climbing inside a big wooden barrel full of grapes and stomping wildly. The free event caps the Truro Treasures Weekend and takes place at Truro Vineyards. Along with the stomping, there are options for picnicking, al fresco dining, and vineyard and winemaking barn tours. There also will be wines on sale.

    Visit trurovineyardsofcapecod.com and click on Truro Treasures.

  • A pleasant way to view New Hampshire's foliage is from a kayak on a river or lake. Purity Spring Resort in Madison has a Columbus Day weekend package highlighted by two days kayaking down the Saco River and on Purity Lake with experienced guides. Added to that is a barbecue lunch, wine and cheese appetizers (soda for the children), a lobster bake on Purity Lake, and evening entertainment at the resort. Prices start at $214 per person for adults and $108 for children ages 4-12.

    Visit purityspring.com and click on Packages or call 800-373-3754.

  • With its two-night Penobscot Bay Experience Package, Abigail's Inn, a bed-and-breakfast in Camden, Maine, combines a windjammer cruise on the bay and savoring lobster on the deck. Packages start at $450 and run through this month.

    Visit abigailsinn.com/specials.htm.

  • The Appalachian Mountain Club is stressing the softer side of outdoor adventure in its Rivers to Peaks experience in New Hampshire's Pinkham Notch. The three-night package includes accommodations, meals, and naturalist programs at the Joe Dodge Lodge, guided canoeing or kayaking, a scenic ride on the Wildcat Express Gondola, and trail running or Nordic walking at Great Glen Trails. The cost is $285 per person ($260 for AMC members) and is available Sunday-Thursday through Oct. 9.

    Call 603-466-2727 or visit outdoors.org.

  • Nantucket is peaceful, pleasant, and somewhat less expensive in the fall, especially for those who stay Sunday-Thursday. Until Oct. 26, the Wauwinet, the island's only Relais & Châteaux property, has rates starting at $290 a night, as opposed to its listed rates of $390-$700. The White Elephant, meanwhile, starts at $245 a night until Dec. 8 as opposed to so-called rack rates of $260-$570. At the Jared Coffin House, prices start at $124 instead of $220-$450. The Cottages at the Boat Basin, within walking distance of downtown, has a starting price of $162 a night, compared with $230-$490, until Nov. 1.

    Visit nantucketislandresorts.com/packages or call 800-475-2637 (ISLANDS).

  • Inn by the Sea is a big participant in the Harvest on the Harbor food and wine festival in Portland, Maine, Oct. 23-25. Packages include two nights' accommodation, two tickets to the Gala by the Sea food and wine experience, and admission to the manager's cocktail party. The cost is $649 per couple.

    Visit innbythesea.com or call 207-799-3134. For information on events, go to harvestontheharbor.com.

Cheaper, you think?

Driving isn't always the cheapest alternative, says Captain Karen Kahn, a pilot involved in aviation for more than 35 years. "Always factor into your decision the fees for long-term parking, your car's miles-per-gallon average, and the value of your time, as well as wear and tear on you and your car. . . . If your starting destination is near a smaller, local airport, the cost of a commuter flight can be equal to or less money than the cost of driving yourself or hiring transportation to reach the nearest metropolitan airport."

Kahn's website is captainkarenkahn.com.

$600 gift card

Through Jan. 15, travelers who book a Rocky Mountaineer vacation package of at least six nights get a Fairmont Hotels & Resorts gift card worth up to $600 per couple, provided the booking is for the railroad's GoldLeaf Service with Fairmont deluxe accommodation. The gift card may be used for purchases billed to the guest room or for dining, shopping, or spa treatments. Trip prices vary. The six-night Classic Rail Circle trip, for instance, begins at about $4,000.

Visit rockymountaineer.com and look for the Early Booking Bonus logo or call 877- 460-3200.

Cheapest flights

When it comes to flying, there isn't necessarily a correlation between distance and dollars.

CheapOair.com has compiled a list of the least expensive international airfares now through fall. The cheapest destination is Nassau, Bahamas, from Miami ($251 round trip) and the most expensive on the list is Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from Houston at just $1,652 round trip, including all taxes and fees.

Although prices naturally vary by departure city, other destinations on the list include: Kingston and Montego Bay, Jamaica; San Jose Cabo and Mexico City; Guatemala City; Panama City; Quito, Ecuador; Caracas; San Jose, Costa Rica; London; Paris; Hong Kong; Manila; Tel Aviv; Rio de Janeiro; Papeete, Tahiti; Sydney; Tokyo; and Johannesburg.

For various offers, visit cheapoair.com. Note the terms and conditions, which include no refunds or transfer of tickets.

When not included, hotel taxes, airport fees, and port charges can add significantly to the price of a trip. Most prices quoted are for double occupancy; solo travelers will usually pay more. Offers are subject to availability and there may be blackout dates. Richard P. Carpenter can be reached at carpenter@globe.com.

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