There's plenty of room at the inn. Nationally, average hotel occupancy in 2009 is projected to be 55.5%, the lowest in more than two decades, and the average room rate is down to 2005 levels, said Robert Mandelbaum, Atlanta-based director of research information services for industry specialists PKF Consulting. "It's an all-out rate war in some markets," he said. But not everywhere. You may still pay top dollar for, say, a beach resort at Christmas because some owners would rather risk a few empty rooms than cut prices on peak dates. To find the best rate, "check all distribution channels," Mandelbaum said. Call the hotel; check its website; run searches on Expedia, Travelocity and other big online sellers; and consult a travel agent. Look for free stays too. Through Aug. 15, guests who spend two nights at InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo and other chains run by InterContinental Hotels Group can earn free nights by registering at www.getafreenight.com.
Peninsula Hotels Shanghai photo
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