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REAL DEALS

The weather outside is frightful? Not everywhere

The aurora borealis, here shining on Eagle River, Alaska, is a bonus of northern travel. The aurora borealis, here shining on Eagle River, Alaska, is a bonus of northern travel. (ASSOCIATED PRESS/FILE 2005)
Email|Print| Text size + By Richard P. Carpenter
Globe Correspondent / December 17, 2006

This is the time of year when feelings run hot and cold. Sure, the holidays are exciting , but they are also exhausting. So why not step back a moment and do some Christmastime dreaming about desirable destinations that are truly either hot or cold. For instance:

Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of Aloha makes a seven-night , round-trip journey from Honolulu, visiting Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island along the way, with all shipboard meals and shows included. Prices on Expedia.com start at $399, with several other websites and agencies offering similar savings on NCL Hawaii cruises. Air fare, of course, is not included.

The aurora borealis is one of nature's most entrancing displays. A Winnipeg package, March 2-5, lets guests see the northern lights from the deck of the largest winter lodge in Manitoba, and includes several outdoor activities such as ice fishing, a lake excursion aboard an enclosed ice tractor, a tour to a mining museum, a planetarium presentation, a visit to an aboriginal art gallery, a slide presentation by a local historian, and cultural art demonstrations. The cost is about $1,600 , and the tour will be limited to 14 people.

Visit heartlandtravel.ca and click on Western Canada, Manitoba, and Winnipeg Tours or call 866-890-3377 .

Tuck me in, Santa
Santa Claus is on the premises of the Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa in Lake Placid, N.Y., but only until Dec. 23 because he will be kind of busy after that. Until then, the inn is offering a Santa Turndown Service at no extra charge to parents. If requested, the jolly guy will arrive at a guest room at a designated time to greet children, take their Christmas lists, share milk and cookies, and tuck them into bed. Published room rates begin at $200.

Visit mirrorlakeinn.com or call 518-523-2544 .

A seven-night Alumni Campus Abroad program called Mayan Splendor in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula takes visitors into the heartland of Mayan culture -- the subject of the new movie "Apocalypto ." Among places visited are ancient Uxmal , a UNESCO World Heritage Site; Chichén Itzá , once the hub of Yucatán's political, religious , and military power; Mérida , known as "The White City" for its gleaming white facades; and Celestún , whose nearby estuary is home to the Northern Hemisphere's only mainland colony of the American flamingo, which can exceed 18,000 birds. The price of $2,295 (which may vary slightly depending upon the departure city) includes air fare, a seven-night stay in Mérida, three meals daily, all excursions and educational programs, airport/hotel transfers, and baggage handling. Trip dates are Feb. 1-8, 8-15 , and 15-22; Oct. 27-Nov. 3; Nov. 3-10 , and 10-17 . The land-only price is $1, 890.

Call 800-323-7373 or visit ahitravel.com .

ResortQuest, which specializes in vacation rentals, has a variety of deals at Western ski resorts. For instance, at Breckenridge and Keystone, Colo., a Stay & Ski package costs $104 per night per unit. Mention the package when booking a reservation and automatically receive discounted lodging plus free ski rentals . The offer is valid through April 30, with some dates excluded, but stays must be booked by Feb. 29.

Call 800-506-7813 and mention booking code DBM EP2. For resort information, visit resortquestbreckenridge.com or resortquestkeystone.com .

For tennis lovers who want to combine quality time on the courts with a Caribbean vacation, there is the Barbados Sugar Hill Tennis Package . Stay in a one-, two-, or three-bedroom villa apartment or townhouse and get tennis lessons and court time, a full-body massage for one person, lunch and dinner for two, and round-trip airport transfers. The package is available through March, and prices start at $2,460 a week.

Call Altman Villa Rentals at 866-360-5292 or visit aaaltman.com .

Vermont's Stowe Mountain Resort is promoting its Vacation Rewards Program, which discounts lift tickets while providing a few freebies and other benefits. Buy multiday lift tickets at least seven days in advance and get 15 percent off , holidays included. With a two- or three- consecutive -day adult/senior ticket purchase, you can choose a two-hour ski/snowboard demo or a free equipment quick-tune. With a four - or more consecutive -day adult/senior ticket purchase, there are options for adults or children. For youngsters, the choice is a multiday child ticket or coupon for 25 percent off the multiday Children's Adventure Program (lift included). For an adult, the choice is a multiday adult group lesson or a multi day ski or snowboard rental. Prices vary.

Visit stowe.com/rewards.php or call 888-253-4TIX .

How about a soothing soak in Iceland's mineral-rich waters? An Iceland Spas package, beginning at $1,009 from Boston , features a luxury spa program in Reykjavík that provides hot tubs, aromatic steam baths and sauna, shoulder, scalp, and deep tissue lava massages, along with air fare, three nights' accommodations and round-trip transfers.

Call 800-661-3830 or visit iceland-experience.com .

When not included, hotel taxes, airport fees, and port charges can add significantly to the price of a trip. Most prices quoted are for double occupancy; solo travelers will usually pay more. Offers are subject to availability and there may be blackout dates. Check boston.com Monday-Friday for a Web-only New England Real Deal. Contact Richard P. Carpenter at carpenter@globe.com.

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