You don’t have to wait until Saturday to start your weekend; the fun can begin on Friday afternoons. That’s the message hotels around the United States and throughout the Caribbean and Europe are trying to get across to an overworked, stressed-out American crowd by creating attractive packages valid for weekends in July and August.
Summer Fridays – the idea of either ending a Friday workday early or taking it off altogether – are enjoyed infrequently, if online polls are any indication. A survey last year by Google and Priceline.com of 15,723 Americans showed that only 8 percent said they played hooky on Fridays come June.
This summer, hotels are hoping that targeted deals will encourage a trend in the opposite direction.
Many of these packages are designed with millennials in mind, said Misty Belles, the global head of public relations for the luxury travel network Virtuoso. “Millennial travelers haven’t banked as much vacation time as their older counterparts, and our research shows that they are in the mindset of thinking of several three-day breaks as their vacations,” she said.
And, according to Belles, these short getaways aren’t limited to destinations within driving distance of home. “Younger travelers are very willing to jump on a plane to get away, and the travel industry, especially hotels, is realizing and catering to this new traveler preference,” she said.
Delta Air Lines is also trying to push the Friday-is-a-holiday idea with the Go Fridays social media marketing campaign it kicked off June 27 in New York City. The airline is partnering with the productivity platform Slack to find office workers throughout the city and entice them to start their weekends early by offering rewards such as Delta flight vouchers, reservations at popular restaurants and a private tour of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
The aim of the campaign, according to Bill Betz, the airline’s general manager for marketing in the Northeast, is to “bring some classic summer fun to some of our hardworking New York customers.”
For those looking for a destination getaway, the Bermuda Tourism Authority has a new Summer Fridays campaign that encourages East Coast residents in cities like New York, Boston and Washington to consider the island for a weekend trip.
“Time is precious for people today, and Bermuda offers the mystique of island life for savvy travelers that’s easy to access. Being a two-hour flight from most cities in the Northeast, summer weekends can start sooner in Bermuda,” said Victoria Isley, the chief sales and marketing officer for the tourism authority, in an email.
Seven hotels on the island, including the Rosedon Hotel and the Grotto Bay Beach Resort, are participating in the campaign by offering a “fourth night free” deal for travelers who book their trips for stays through Aug. 31.
Below are nine other packages that celebrate an early start to summer weekends.
▪ Camden Harbor Inn, a Relais & Châteaux property in the picturesque coastal town of Camden, Maine, has a Maine Summer Fridays deal. The weekend starts with a lobster roll lunch at the property’s restaurant, Natalie’s, and also includes two nights’ accommodations, daily Champagne breakfast, a sailing trip around Penobscot Bay with sparkling wine and canapés, a five-course dinner at Natalie’s with wine and unlimited bottled water, tea, coffee and snacks. Prices from $1,520 for two people. Information: camdenharbourinn.com.
▪ The One&Only Ocean Club on Paradise Island in the Bahamas is offering Summer Fridays with accommodations, a poolside late lunch for two upon arrival, daily sunrise yoga classes and a choice of an express spray tan, a blowout for women, a shave for men or a manicure and pedicure. Prices from $735 a night; valid through Sept. 30. Minimum two-night stay. Information: oneandonlyresorts.com.
▪ Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, a resort near Malibu and Los Angeles, is offering Friday Night Fever, a deal that includes accommodations, drinks, parking, discounts on select spa treatments and 20 percent off poolside dining on Fridays. Prices from $381 a night. Information: fourseasons.com/westlakevillage.
▪ Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort, on a private island off the coast of Antigua, is offering the Friday Jump to Jumby package. Included are accommodations in a beachside courtyard suite, meals including afternoon tea, all drinks and most water sports such as water skiing and kayaking. Prices from $1,450 a night for two guests. Information: rosewoodhotels.com/en/jumby-bay-antigua.
▪ The Marriott Marquis, Washington, D.C., recently introduced the Digital Bingeworthy Package; the deal includes a 20 percent discount on weekend room rates, access to Netflix, Hulu and Pandora on in-room televisions, a bottle of wine and snacks such as nuts, caramels and popcorn. Prices from $119 a night. Information: dcmarquis.com (use Promo Code PD50).
▪ Besides the fourth-night-free offer, in which rates start at $579 a night, the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, Bermuda, has the Bermuda Summer Weekends package. Guests receive up to 50 percent off when they book three, five, or 10 two-night weekends through Aug. 31. The package costs $3,799, $5,999 and $10,999 and includes laundry, luggage storage, airport transfers, daily breakfast for two, early check-in/late checkout and a $150 hotel credit per stay. Information: thehamiltonprincess.com.
▪ The Doyle Collection in London – the Bloomsbury, the Kensington and the Marylebone – has the Luxurious London Weekends offer, which includes accommodations for two nights, breakfast, afternoon tea, late checkout and a bottle of Champagne. Prices from 525 pounds (about $678) for two nights. Information: doylecollection.com.
▪ The Chatwal Hotel, in Manhattan’s theater district, is offering a Summer Weekends package that includes two nights’ accommodation with a third night free, breakfast, two tickets to a Shakespeare in the Park performance, two tickets to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and two tickets to the Central Park Zoo. Prices from $1,504 for three nights. Valid through Aug. 14. Information: thechatwalny.com.
▪ Finally, for day-trippers interested in traveling from New York City to Sunset Beach on Shelter Island, N.Y., the air charter service StndAIR has Sunset Hooky, running on Thursdays and Fridays through Sept. 2. The company’s eight-passenger seaplane departs for Sunset Beach on Shelter Island at 11 a.m. from New York Skyports Marina, on the FDR Drive in Manhattan, and returns at 4:30 p.m. At the beach, passengers can enjoy a three-course Mediterranean-inspired lunch and get access to a beach chaise and a bike. $735 a person. Information: stndair.com.