062 A pensioner from Northriding, north of Johannesburg whose internet banking account has been robbed of R31.500 which he believes was an inside job. ( He did not want to be identified.) 280610 Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

Cape Town - The uncertain international economic climate is having a positive spin-off for South African holidaymakers these holidays, with bargain accommodation available at quality resorts worldwide.

Even with current exchange rates South Africans can enjoy overseas holidays at prices last seen many decades ago – as low as R90 a person a night.

For about R3 300 a family can spend a week this Christmas or New Year at luxury resorts in sought-after destinations such as the Scottish Highlands, Jamaica, the Costa del Sol in Spain or one of the favourite playgrounds of America’s well-to-do – Hyannisport on Cape Cod.

The local holiday operation, African Club Innovations, has launched a new brand – Premium Vacations – to allow holidaymakers access to quality accommodation bargains available on the local and international market.

There is a “joining fee” of R750, and subsequent monthly subscriptions of R385. Club membership may continue for as long as eight years, and the monthly subscription fee is frozen for the period of membership.

There is no limit on the number of times members can access bargain holidays throughout the year. Bookings can be made online, or through a call centre.

Because of the huge volume of holiday accommodation available in the current economic climate, international timeshare operators have co-operated to cut prices to the bone – especially in stressed countries like Spain and Portugal.

Other premium bargain destinations which used to be the exclusive preserve of the well-off include Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Thailand and even places like Aspen, Cape Cod and Miami’s exclusive beach enclaves.

Rodney Mills, of ACI, says Premium Vacations is like a club.

“Members can leave any time they like by simply discontinuing their monthly payments. There are no complicated contracts to sign, and no credit checks.”

The organisation also has arrangements with car hire and air travel operators, and members can claim discounts.

Here are some examples of what’s available these coming holidays, all of which are R3 278 a unit.

l Seven days in a four-sleeper unit at the Courtyard Resort in the US beach getaway village of Cape Cod, New England, over Christmas (courtyardresorthyannis.com).

l Seven days in a four-sleeper unit at Hillcrest Lake Villas, an hour’s drive from New Orleans, over New Year (www.redweek.com/ resort/P524-hillcrest-lake-villas).

l Seven days in a four-sleeper unit at the Rocky Mountain ski resort in Banff, Canada (January 6 to 13); (bestofbanff.com/banff-rocky-mountain-resort/).

l Seven days in a four- or six-sleeper unit in various quality resorts on the Spanish Costa del Sol over Christmas (December 21 to 28); Marbesa Club, Club Caronte or El Capistrano Oasis.

l Seven days over Christmas in a four- or six-sleeper unit at the stately Loch Rannoch Highland Club in Perthshire, Scotland (www.lochrannochhighlandclub.co.uk/).

l Seven days in a four-sleeper unit at luxury Club Evasion, Morocco, at Christmas (www.extra weeks.co.uk/info. php?ID=460).

l For more information on the online resource and affordable rentals go to www.premi-vac.co.za - Weekend Argus