Any island country with the mantra "No Worries, Man" sounds good for a vacation in the sun. As high-peak season in the Caribbean comes to a close and packages and fares get slashed to lure travelers to island paradises, Jamaica leads the way in all-inclusive travel packages. Plus, in celebration of what would have been music legend and patron saint for peace Bob Marley's 60th year on this earth, some quaint island hotels are offering year-long specials to the land of Jerk Chicken, reggae music, sandy beaches and, for some, wacky weed.
Air Jamaica Vacations (tel. 800/LOVEBIRD; www.airjamaicavacations.com) just announced a series of four-day/three-night air and hotel packages to several of the islands hottest beach areas including Montego Bay and Negril. If you book by Thursday, March 31, 2005 and travel between April 16 and June 30, 2005, you can choose from several hotels with packages starting at $399 from Orlando with an accommodation at the Sandcastle Resort. Add $30 for a departure from Philadelphia or the New York area, $40 from Boston and $50 from Washington, D.C. and Atlanta. For an air/land deal that includes all meals, snacks and unlimited cocktails plus entertainment and no-cost water sports, Air Jamaica has a three-night four-day trip to the Sandals at Montego Bay starting at $799 that comes to around 40 percent off the usual price.
Worry Free Vacations (tel. 800/437-1787; www.worryfreevacations.com) lets you choose if you want an inclusive air/land/rental car trip or any combination of the three. First, you choose the flight and then you choose the hotel you want to stay at and the site then tallies up your total cost and offers additional options. A four-night trip to Ocho Rios from St. Louis, Missouri with accommodations at the Crain Ridge Resort, a small hotel on a bluff overlooking the ocean with rooms equipped with kitchenettes costs $660 for airfare on a charter airline plus $382 for hotel lodging. If you don't like a certain price, just change your air, hotel or date specifications for a new price and personally-tailored trip. Air taxes and security fees are additional.
A seven-night package to Negril from St. Louis through Apple Vacations (tel. 800/365-2775; www.applevacations.com) comes in at around $1,490 per person for an air/land inclusive trip. Accommodations for this trip are at the beachfront Riu Tropical Bay. All meals, drinks and activities are included in the price. When selecting a trip using Apple Vacations' website, you select the dates you want to travel, your departure city and your destination. The Apple Vacation search engine does the rest offering up air selections, in our case we got a flight on USAir (tel. 800/428-4322; www.usairways.com), and hotels with low prices and package options.
If you want to forego the package deal vacation and break off on your own away from all the medium-size to large Jamaican resorts, Jakes (tel. 800/OUTPOST; www.islandoutpost.com/Jakes) is a small, boutique property owned by legendary music producer Chris Blackwell. Known for bringing Bob Marley to the world on his Island Records label, Blackwell also discovered Cat Stevens before going on to build exclusive hotel properties around the world. The beauty of Jake's is its remote privacy, low cost, and peaceful charm. Beachfront private bungalows painted in bright Caribbean colors start at $95 dollars from April 20 to December 14, 2005 and $115 the rest of the year, or the four months of peak Jamaican travel season. Located on Treasure Beach, near a fishing village on the island's relatively undeveloped South coast, Jake's is a quiet island getaway composed of 15 bungalows with its own restaurant and legendary hotel bar. In conjunction with Bob Marley's would-be 60th birthday party, Jake's offers trips to Marley's birthplace and reggae star Peter Tosh's memorial monument. Jake's is a 2 1/2 hour car ride from the Montego Bay airport through pretty Jamaican countryside. Transportation from the airport can be arranged by the hotel.
Now that you know where to go for the best deals, head to our Jamaica Message Boards to talk with fellow travelers.