A shaken Paris wants its spring visitors back

An undated handout photo of an open-air lounge area at Mama Shelter Paris, a boutique hotel in the city. A recent decline in plane tickets from major US airports to Paris has pushed luxury hotels in the City of Lights to offer better values and upgra
An undated handout photo of an open-air lounge area at Mama Shelter Paris, a boutique hotel in the city. A recent decline in plane tickets from major US airports to Paris has pushed luxury hotels in the City of Lights to offer better values and upgrades this spring. PHOTO: NYTIMES

PARIS (NYTIMES) - What's better than a springtime getaway to Paris? There may be only one answer: a trip to the City of Light that's more affordable this year compared with the past several seasons.

Data from Expedia.com show that the price of plane tickets to Paris has dropped 30 per cent from Los Angeles, 60 per cent from Chicago and 65 per cent from New York City, compared with last spring and spring 2015.

The decline, according to Sarah Gavin, a company spokeswoman, is because airlines are seeking to woo travellers back to Paris after a rough tourism climate in 2016. More recently, a gunman killed a police officer on the city's tourist-heavy boulevard, the Champs-Élysées, on April 20.

Numbers from the travel search engine Kayak.com also indicate a decrease in airfares: Ticket prices from the United States to Paris between April 1 and Sept 1 are an average of US$625 (S$871), 32 per cent lower compared with the same period last year.

Luxury hotels, too, are offering better values this spring in comparison with the past five years, said Paul Tumpowsky, the chief executive of online travel agency Skylark.com. They are also throwing in amenities for guests such as guaranteed room upgrades, breakfast and hotel credits.

"There are more luxury hotels in Paris than ever before," he said, "so travellers get better deals because there is excess supply compared to demand."

Expedia.com has several hundred offers. One example, from May 18 to 21, includes round-trip airfare from Los Angeles International Airport to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris on Scandinavian Airlines and accommodation at the upscale Hôtel Plaza Athénée. The price is US$2,000 a person.

Skylark.com has several travel packages. One offer in May is for a stay at the upscale Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris. It includes round-trip airfare from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City to Charles de Gaulle Airport, three nights' accommodations, a guaranteed room upgrade, daily breakfast and a US$100 food and beverage credit. The price is US$3,795 for two people.

Mama Shelter Paris, a Philippe Starck-designed boutique hotel, has a half-dozen offers with nightly rates from 109 euros (S$166). One is the Love, which includes accommodations, breakfast, a welcoming bottle of Champagne and late checkout. From 179 euros a night.

The boutique four-star property C.O.Q. Hotel Paris has a spring deal that includes three nights' accommodations, breakfast, a bottle of wine, the use of two scooters throughout the stay and a dinner in the hotel's bar with a glass of Champagne. From 199 euros a night.

Grand Pigalle, a boutique hotel in the Pigalle neighborhood, has nightly rates from 174 euros through spring, a 20 per cent discount off regular rates. The price includes breakfast.

Luxury apartment rental company Paris Perfect, which has more than 100 apartments around Paris, each with upscale furnishings and a fully stocked kitchen, is offering a 20 per cent discount on apartment rentals in April and May. Nightly rates start at 158 euros.

Book a stay at Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg through an agent who is part of the Signature Travel Network and receive a room upgrade (if space is available), a 50-euro food and beverage credit, two glasses of Champagne or two cocktails, and early check-in and late checkout. Rates from 400 euros a night. To book, email Signature agent yaron.yarimi@frosch.com. Other agents can be found by emailing info@signaturetravelnetwork.com.

A package for luxury seekers who also enjoy fine dining is expensive, but it's still a saving compared with the cost of accommodations bought separately. Four Seasons Hotel George V, Parishas the three-night Culinary Discovery offer. The property's three restaurants - Le Cinq, Le George and L'Orangerie - received a total of five Michelin stars in the latest Michelin guide. In addition to accommodations, breakfast and a private tour of the hotel's 50,000-bottle wine cellar, guests get either a multicourse lunch or dinner at each restaurant. From 1,550 euros a night.

The all-business-class airline La Compagnie, which operates between Newark Liberty International Airport and Charles de Gaulle Airport, has a Solo Offer in which round-trip airfare begins at US$1,800 a passenger.