Okay, travel fans. It’s time to get in on the bidding action for travel deals and discounts on dozens of getaways and other travel-related items up for grabs in an annual online travel auction sponsored by the Society of American Travel Writers.
The deadline is 11:45 p.m., Friday, and, as a longtime member of SATW, I’ve learned from past auctions that the bidding really heats up in the last hour or so as bargain-hunters vie to snare deals without pushing competing bids up too soon. Those with fast fingers on their keyboards at the 11th hour tend to land some amazing deals on international travel opportunities, including last-minute entries in the auction such as two nights in a 5-star hotel in Aqaba, Jordan, valued at $375. The bid, as I write this, is just $50.
I’ve won some bids and lost some over the years but I must say I don’t remember nearly as many tempting items in the past as offered in the current catalog, http://auctions.readysetauction.com/societyofamericantra/catalog/view
For starters, you can win lunch with an astronaut at Kennedy Space Center in Florida or swim with dolphins in Miami. Bite into a 72-ounce steak in Amarillo, sample trendy restaurants in Miami or visit Mt. Airy, N.C., for some “Andy of Mayberry” time-traveling.
Among the headliners is a three-night, studio apartment at Oyster Bay Beach Resort on St. Maarten. Other international getaways include La Residencia in Mallorca, Spain; the Kempinski in Prague, the Steigenberger in Brussels, several top-tier Mexican resorts and all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
Golfers may win stays at the Fairmont St. Andrews in Scotland and Barnsley Gardens Resort in Georgia.
In Las Vegas, the high bidder will stay at ARIA Resort, complete with dinner and a show.
A Palm Springs package features a luxury hotel, an aerial tram tour and a San Andreas Fault eco-tour. Or opt for a Palm Springs B&B plus dinner.
In St. Louis, win one night at the Moonrise Hotel, tram tickets for the Arch and a riverboat sightseeing cruise. Or, bid on tickets to three hot attractions in Kansas City or overnights at 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville, Ark.
Spa devotees can get pampered in Colonial Williamsburg or at The Willcox in Aiken, SC.
For adventurers, there’s a 4-day, OARS-led whitewater rafting trip on the Green River through Utah and Colorado. Sailors may enjoy a 4-day Windjammer trip or sailing instruction and lodging in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.
Among destinations with a smorgasbord of meals, lodging and activities are Asheville and the Wilmington Beaches in North Carolina; the Smoky Mountains in Pigeon Forge, TN; Branson, MO, with airfare (!); Blue Harbor Resort and the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin; Indianapolis and St. Augustine, FL.
Other Florida packages include the Don CeSar Hotel in St. Petersburg; the Henderson Inn and a three-bedroom condo in Destin; the new Alfond Inn in Winter Park; Disney World’s new B Hotel; Miami’s b2 Hotel; and Hawks Cay Resort in the Keys.
In Georgia, stay at The Inn at Serenbe near Atlanta or the King & Prince Resort on St. Simons Island. Or check out the Inn at Palmetto Bluff in nearby South Carolina.
Foodies may take Le Foodist courses in Paris, presented in English, or dine at Frank & Alberts in the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix (you could snag an overnight package there, too).
Closer to home, bid on tickets for culinary trails in Stratford, Ont., or win overnight stays in Wisconsin at Lake Geneva’s Grand Geneva Resort or the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee.
Consider a weekend stay in the Fairmont Dallas or two nights in the Outrigger Waikiki. In Mississippi, check into the gracious Monmouth Inn in Natchez. Sip tea at Buchart Gardens in Victoria, Canada; spend a night at Hotel Murano in Tacoma, WA, or use City Passes to sightsee in Manhattan.
One lucky bidder can win a $500 gift certificate to BedandBreakfast.com. Also available: tickets to Phoenix museums or Monticello in Charlottesville, VA. Other items include Scottevest travel vests and four lift tickets to ski Deer Park in Utah.
Baskets brimming with goodies from Belgium and Wisconsin cheese would make great holiday gifts.
It seems like there’s something for every traveler in this auction (but be sure to check for date restrictions). Start perusing the catalog and get in on the bidding at: http://auctions.readysetauction.com/societyofamericantra/catalog/view