Wanted: Tourists in search of horse rides along a crisp blue coast. Drinkers of ice cold El Presidente beer. Cigar lovers. Sun worshippers. And people who like inexpensive travel deals and seeing new places? Sound familiar? It does if you've looked into visiting the Dominican Republic. The island paradise in the Caribbean that shares a border with Haiti on the island of Hispanola has built a steady tourism industry known for package deals and all-inclusive resorts. Add a discount airliner with inexpensive fares and you have a sizzling new destination hot spot.
The Vacation Travel Mart (tel. 800/288-1435; www.vacmart.com/ct/thespecial.cfm?sid=295) has some well-priced Winter Special to several Dominican beachfront locales. The site offers 3, 5, and 7-night packages to Punta Cana with accommodations at the LTI Beach Resort on the Bavaro beach. These air/land all-inclusive deals start at $454 with travel out of Miami for the three-night excursion. From New York, the same trip costs $517 dollars with other United States gateways available. As an added bonus, all meals and drinks are thrown into the price of these travel packages. The hotel has 447 rooms and every recreational activity under the sun. Air takes and security fees are not included. Travel is good through March 31, 2005 and it must be booked by the same date.
Vacation Mart also offers a similar deal to Puerto Plata (www.vacmart.com/ct/special.cfm?h_hid=3026&i_id=POP&orig=). On the North coast of the island just 90 minutes from the Puerto Plata Airport, this five day/four night all inclusive trip starts at $469 out of Miami and goes for $599 out of Washington National and $799 out of Dallas/Ft. Worth. Lodging is at the Allegro Playa Grande by Occidental. You need to book this special deal by February 11, 2005 with travel good through March 31, 2005 with a possible blackout applying around President's Day depending on availability.
Specials to Boca Chica (don't you just love the way that sounds) are available through CheapCaribbean.com (tel. 800/915-2322; www.cheapcaribbean.com/specialAvailability.jsp?pacID=27). A five-night all inclusive air/land deal starting at $799 per person based on double occupancy can be had if you book by February 3, 2005 (act quickly, that's tomorrow night) and travel by March 31, 2005. Boca Chica is a coastal town near Santa Domingo which is 80 miles to the inland tobacco farms of the Cibao Valley that punch out some of the world's finest cigars outside of Cuba. With this deal, all meals, drinks and tips and gratuities are included. Accommodations are at the Hamaca Coral by Hilton. Air and security fees are not included. The hotel can arrange transportation and tours of the Cigar-making region.
For you do-it-yourself travelers who eschew package deals, Jet Blue (tel. 800/538-2583; www.jetblue.com) offers discounted airfare to the Dominican Republic out of New York City. In conjunction with their fifth year anniversary, the airline is offering "Take Five" specials to the Dominican for just $75 each way or $150 round trip with additional costs going to security fees and departure taxes. Only a five-day advance purchase is required with booking on this sale fare obligatory by February 4, 2005 with travel good through May 25, 2005. If you don't hit the date, non-special roundtrip fares to the Dominican from JFK don't usually exceed $225 with proper advanced booking.
For land-only hotel deals to several Dominican Republic properties, check out Hotelopia (tel. 866/321-1730; www.hotelopia.com/home/destinations/dom_rep.jsp). Rates at this site are for double rooms and start at very low prices such as $76 per night at the Playa Naco Golf and Tennis Resort and only $135 at the five-star Sirenis Cocotal Beach Resort in Punta Cana.
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