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by Elie Seidman on 10/21/09

It’s no secret that the hotel industry has been struggling through the economic downturn. Americans are traveling less frequently for leisure, businesses are cutting back on employee travel, and the word “staycation” has made its way into the cultural lexicon.

But the industry’s pain can be a smart traveler’s gain. In an effort to boost occupancy and recover lost revenue, hotels — particularly luxury and ultra-luxury hotels — have cut rates in a big way. In July, occupancy in the U.S. was down 10.3% from a year earlier, according to data collected by Smith Travel Research. Room rates, meanwhile, had dropped almost 9%. Even better: Prices at luxury hotels were down a whopping 16.5%.

But those are just the averages. At Oyster Hotel Reviews, we get up close and personal with the hotels we review – and what we’re seeing are amazing deals on some of the choicest properties in the country. Last year around this time, basic rooms at Las Vegas’s luxe Palazzo were going for around $549 a night; this year, the same room will cost you $299.

The new Trump International Hotel and Tower is also an excellent value. Its spacious and understated rooms with kitchenettes and impressive technological features – flat-screen TVs built into the bathroom mirrors, for example – set this recently opened upscale property apart from other luxury hotels in Sin City. Though there’s no casino on the premises, the rates – which range from $88 to $200 – make this place a steal.

If Hawaii’s in your plans this year, some of the best deals can come from the little guys. The chic, independent Hotel Renew is a solid option for travelers looking for affordability and a splash of personality on Oahu. Rates are around $150 and up through the fall, and you can score a room with beach view for under $200.

If bigger chain properties are more your speed, we recommend the funky Best Western Coconut Waikiki (newly renovated in 2008), where rates run as low as $133 through autumn. Hawaii hotels have been ramping up their discount and promotional offerings this year, too: for instance, the Sheraton Waikiki’s “Sunsational Savings” promotion offers a third night free, plus a dining credit and the possibility of a room category upgrade.

Room rates in New York City have hit record lows this year. The newly-opened Ace Hotel – perhaps the hippest of the hip Manhattan newcomers – is selling its “cheap queen” rooms for around $269 per night. Rooms at the quiet, classy Franklin NYC are going for $299 per night (and up) this fall, and staying two consecutive nights earns you a third night free. Another strategy: book a room at the Affinia Dumont, where rates start around $264 – the all-suite, upscale property has outstanding spa and fitness offerings, spacious rooms, and kitchenettes (wallet-friendly “home” cooking will help keep your Big Apple trip within your budget).

For more hotel deals, check out Oyster’s Best Value Hotels in Las Vegas, Hawaii, and New York City.

Elie Seidman is the Co-Founder and CEO of Oyster.com



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