Christopher Elliott wrote a recent article, The Disappearing Vacation, where he coins 2009 the year of the ‘naycation’, as in No Vacation for 2009.
The numbers are looking bleak, particularly on the luxury front of air travel.
Premium air travel fell 11.5% worldwide in November 2008 compared to November 2007, according to a New York Times article yesterday, January 20, 2009. The greatest decline is in long-haul travel. Those $15,000 to $20,000 ticket prices finally seem to be an inhibitor to flying up front for the moneyed corporate masses. (I refer to corporate masses from my experience of having traveled on dozens of premium flights and never having talked to someone seated next to me in the premium cabin who paid for their own flight. Corporate travel or frequent flyer award travel is common.)
Trans-Pacific premium travel suffered nearly an 18% drop in November 2008. This might be a good time to try and score a First Class award ticket on a trans-Pacific route.
Trans-Atlantic premium flight travel to Europe dropped 9% in November over the year before.
And the airline industry forecast is for the travel market to decline further before an improvement is seen.
On the hotel front, luxury hotel travel has dropped 24% from a year ago in recent industry tracking data.
Chris Elliott commented in his ‘Disappearing Vacation’ piece “No two ways about it, staying close to home and exploring the local attractions can be dull. (Unless you live in a place where people like to vacation.)”
Lone Cypress, Pebble Beach 1-18-09
Pebble Beach, Western Edge of California, Eastern Edge of the Pacific
I do have the good fortune to live in a place where a staycation is still a great time. When traveling and asked where I am from, I regularly describe where I live, Monterey/Pacific Grove/Pebble Beach/Carmel, collectively known as the Monterey Peninsula, as the place in California where Californians vacation.
We spent the day basking in the sun and whale watching at Pebble Beach this past weekend. The best whale watching from the shoreline I have seen in my life has occurred the past two weeks. The Monterey Peninsula has had the longest winter heatwave in almost 50 years. The temperature in Monterey has exceeded 70 degrees for the past 9 days and on Monday, January 19 the temperature peaked out at 80. The last time the Peninsula saw this kind of winter extended warm temperatures was January 1962.
Cypress Point, westernmost point of Pebble Beach, looking south to Point Sur
I rag on the exclusivity of Pebble Beach, but I have to admit the scenery is damn beautiful and the whalewatching from Cypress Point was the best location on the Peninsula I have been in the past two weeks for close views of whales from the shore. Some whales were within 1/2 mile of land.
The $9.25 entrance fee to the 5,300 acre privately owned and gated community on the western edge of the Monterey Peninsula keeps me from visiting the area as frequently as I would like. Bicycles may enter Pebble Beach without charge for the cycling alternative. I need to get a bike.
Pebble Beach will have the ATT Pro-Am golf tournament in two weeks. The hotels need the revenue. Pebble Beach, feeling the pinch of luxury travel cuts, has shed employees, shut down restaurants on Sundays, and offered discounts on room and golf/spa packages for their three hotel properties: Pebble Beach Lodge, Spanish Bay, and Casa Palmeiro.
The Lodge at Pebble Beach, view from near 18th green of Pebble Beach Golf Links
Still, Pebble Beach Corporation has posted rate increases for April 2009. An ocean view room at the Pebble Beach Lodge will increase more than 4% from $925 to $965 per night.
The Lodge at Pebble Beach, Oceanview rooms
The rooms above look over the 18th green of Pebble Beach Golf Links and Carmel Beach is in the distance.
Pebble Beach Golf Links, 18th green, a view from oceanview rooms at The Lodge
Is $965 for a night at a California coastal resort feasible in this economy?
Time will tell if this luxury retreat on the Monterey Peninsula will continue to see a retreat in luxury for 2009.
Loyalty Traveler tip: The $9.25 car admission fee to Pebble Beach will be deducted from your restaurant or bar bill if you visit one of the Pebble Beach restaurants, bars, and cafes. A bottle of Stella Artois will run $7.25 at Traps in Spanish Bay Inn and appetizers are $10-$20; Peppoli restaurant entrees are $30 to $50. The Lodge has similar prices.
Spanish Bay Inn, bagpiper at sunset