Now is the time of year when much of the Caribbean transitions from the high heat of the summer's off-season to shoulder season in the fall, and there is no shortage of promotions. The options range from those who are looking for a late summer/early fall family vacation at an all-inclusive resort to those seeking a culturally-rich experience at destinations both on and off the coastline, at smaller, more intimate boutique hotels.
Book It (tel. 888/782-9722; www.bookit.com) is offering a whole bunch of specials in Mexico, with rooms from $79 at the Sandos Caracol Beach in Maya Riviera, which also comes with a kids-eat- free promotion. The resort has four pools and six restaurants, and it's an all-inclusive deal, so drinks and meals are all covered. The special is valid if you reserve by Monday, August 18 for travel August 17 through December 20.
Those who seek a quieter escape to Mexico at an adults-only resort that is still all-inclusive might be interested in the Golden Crown Paradise in Puerto Vallarta. The property's stays are on sale for $75 per person -- that's half off -- with free golf privileges, for travel now through December 20. You must act quickly though and book by August 16 at 11:59pm, EST. If you stay at the Golden Crown, you have access to amenities at its sister hotel, Crown Paradise; there's also 24-hour room service, three bars onsite, a dance club, and three restaurants. Elsewhere in Mexico, the Dorado Pacifico in Ixtapa is offering rates from $37 per person, valid for stays through December 19. Other incentives include receiving the fourth night free in all rooms, kids stay and eat for free and 20 per cent off the green fee in two golf courses. The specials advertised with Book It also provide you the opportunity to include airfare; for example, a package with roundtrip airfare from Philadelphia and three nights at the Dorado Pacific is priced at $599 per person.
Beach Destinations (tel. 877/433-4378; www.beachdestinations.com) has a special on the European-owned Riu Santa Fe Hotel in Los Cabos. Packages for roundtrip airfare from Los Angeles plus four nights of accommodations are priced from $465 per person (plus about $105 for air taxes), based on August 30 departures. The price only goes up slightly -- about five dollars -- for departures on select dates in September. This all-inclusive property opened less than a year ago and features several different restaurants. If you want to travel in fall, through October 30, the booking deadline is August 20.
Wild Travel Deals (tel. 866/329-7157; www.wildtraveldeals.com), which is affiliated with a Texas-based travel company called Legacy, is offering a really low price for the Iberostar Paraiso beach in Riviera Maya, priced from $389 for five nights and inclusive of all meals, roundtrip transfers, tips and nonmotorized water sports. If you want to add airfare, that package is priced from Detroit for three nights from $399, Chicago, Denver, Washington, D.C., or Boston from $549, or Milwaukee from $569. Keep in mind that there are specific departure dates associated with these very prices -- be sure to read the fine print -- but you can also arrange airfare from other cities, too.
For west coast travelers, Travelocity (tel. 888/TRAVELOCITY; www.travelocity.com) is offering travel packages to Mazatlan from $437 per person for select dates in the fall. The price reflects four nights at Costa de Oro Beach Hotel and roundtrip flights from Los Angeles. The hotel features an oceanfront pool and spa tub, a special kids' pool area, three tennis courts, along with onsite shopping, laundry, and dry cleaning. The hotel is also situated in Mazatlan's Golden Zone, close to restaurants, retail and nightlife. Plenty of other hotels are included in Travelocity's promotion for this part of Mexico's Pacific coast, such as the four-star, all-suite hotel Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay, for example, which starts from $576 for airfare and four nights (or nightly rates from $122 starting September 6) and also offers a kids under 12 eat and stay for free promotion. That hotel encompasses 20 acres and is designed as a village of freestanding villas among mangrove trees.
Mexico Boutique Hotels (tel. 800/728-9098; www.mexicoboutiquehotels.com) operates properties in historic and/or culturally significant buildings throughout the country, not just the coastlines, suitable for travelers who want to experience Mexico beyond the all-inclusive resorts. At the Villa Montana in Morelia for example, families who book four nights receive four full breakfasts (for two adults and two children), four passes to a local attraction, and three hours of babysitting service during a complimentary dinner for two. This special is valid through December 20, with a rate of $435 per night, plus taxes and service charges. It's also available at the 16th century building housing the Meson de Capuchinas in Puebla, through October 31. Rates start at $160 per night if two children under the age of 12 are sharing a junior suite with their parents.
An adult-oriented special is available at Los Juaninos, a former Episcopal palace with views of the Morelia from its rooftop restaurant: a special three-night package for two starts at $790, valid for travel through November 30. The price includes accommodations in its thirty-room hotel, an evening of sampling local cuisine (including wine), guided tours of the historical center and nearby towns, among other amenities. The hotel is located in the historic downtown district right near the cathedral of Morelia. Please bear in mind that it is necessary to book your stay directly through the company in order to receive the rates for these specials; you can find the specials listed on a property-by-property basis right on the web site.
Another boutique property, Villa Premiere Hotel and Spa (tel. 877/886-9176; www.premiereonline.com.mx) in Puerto Vallarta, has a couple of promotions that save about 25 per cent off the regular rack rates. The all-inclusive summer package is priced at $200 per person, per night and provides guests with all meals and beverages, a 50-minute massage (one per person, per stay), and accommodations in an oceanfront room. The price is valid for stays through September 30 and includes all taxes and tips. The European summer package is priced $185 per person per night and includes a stay in an oceanfront room and daily complementary a la carte breakfast. This particular package does not include taxes, but both of them require a three-night minimum stay. Villa Premiere is the kind of place that really caters to its guests: a pillow menu, oxygen bar, and butler service are all at your disposal.