DALLAS, Nov. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Need an island getaway but want an off-the-beaten path destination? For those looking to cure their wanderlust this holiday season, Hotels.com® has compiled a list of five fascinating, unconventional island getaways where travelers can take a much-needed end-of-year break. Through each of these destinations, vacationers can relive summer days, experience new, offbeat adventures, or escape into undiscovered wonderlands just in time for the New Year.
Based on data from the Hotels.com Hotel Price Index™ (HPI®), these five islands remain affordable (all under $210) despite having some of the largest hotel price increases in the first half of 2012. Plus, they offer distinct activities and cultural attractions for all types of travelers.
"From secluded beaches to quirky theme parks, these islands have it all," said Taylor L. Cole, director public relations and social media, North America at Hotels.com. "Why not start your resolutions early and do something different for the New Year? Each of these exotic islands has something great to offer, and there is no need to break the bank to visit any of them."
Boracay is a small island in the Western Visayas of the Philippines and is known to have some of the best beaches in the world. It was named "Best Island in the World" in Travel + Leisure's 2012 World's Best Awards, and has seen an immense hotel price increase of 62 percent, which is the second largest jump out of all the islands in the HPI after Oahu, Hawaii. Even so, Boracay still retains an affordable average room rate of $143. Here, travelers can de-stress at any of the island's pristine beaches, sprinkled with white shells and picturesque sunsets, or explore bat caves and go snorkeling at Crocodile Island where swimmers can feed fish by hand.
Sapporo is the fourth-largest city in Japan by population, and the largest city on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. Reflecting its emerging popularity, hotel prices in Sapporo rose 27 percent over the year, yet room rates remain modest, averaging $132 per night. Once the base of the first ever Winter Olympic Games held in Asia in 1972, it is now internationally known for its annual Sapporo Snow Festival, which draws more than two million tourists from around the world. The city is also home to the Sapporo Ramen Republic, a ramen-inspired theme park set in an early postwar Sapporo town, making it the perfect place for foodies and cultural connoisseurs alike.
Travelers looking to replenish their health and wellness can turn to the famous thermal spas of Ischia, Italy. As a volcanic island, Ischia's tourism industry centers on its thermal hot springs and volcanic mud – fruits of the island's natural volcanic activity. Visitors can unwind at Giadini Poseidon – the most famous of Ischia's baths – with soothing massages and hot mud baths, and then take a relaxing stroll through the Giarini La Mortella – a green oasis of subtropical and Mediterranean flora. History buffs can also visit the historic quarter of Ischia Ponte, which houses the ancient Aragonese Castle and stone streets seemingly frozen in time. With hotel prices at just $199, up 23 percent from last year, this is a health haven not to be missed.
St. Lawrence Gap, Barbados
For those in search of some excitement and dancing until three in the morning, St. Lawrence Gap in Barbados is the place to go. Up 22 percent in hotel prices, more and more travelers are discovering all that this colorful little Baja neighborhood has to offer. "The Gap" features a one-mile stretch of bars, hotels, clubs, restaurants, resorts, and shops all within a few hundred feet from each other along a powdery-sand beachfront. It is a must-go night spot for any holiday trip to Barbados and offers a diverse shopping experience of craft and gift shops, as well as local trade.
There are few cultural experiences quite like the one found in Sabah, Malaysia. Situated on the beautiful island of Borneo, Sabah is abundant in nature diversity – including world's largest flower, Rafflesia arnoldii – unique cultures, beautiful beaches, and exotic cuisines. As a melting pot of 32 diverse ethnic groups, this is the ultimate destination to experience dense cultural heritage. Visitors can watch graceful traditional dances, sport vivid ornamental costumes, experience unique fish massages (where fish nibble on spa attendees' dead skin to create smoother and suppler skin), and shop for virtually anything under the oversized umbrellas and shady trees on Gaya Street. With rates at just $133 per night – even after a 15 percent overall increase – vacationers can explore all the odds and ends of this other-worldly destination and develop experiences of a lifetime.
For more great travel ideas visit www.Hotel-Price-Index.com.
Amy Chang, Finn Partners for Hotels.com
Taylor L. Cole, APR
Hotels.com North America
Phone: (469) 335-8442
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