Now that the peak winter season is over and spring is in the air, Caribbean resorts are bending over backwards to fill empty beds. While spring generally offers great weather and smaller crowds, summer will inevitably be the cheapest time to head south, with the increased risk of hurricanes. Never fear though, the chances of running into a major storm are relatively small compared with the promise of stunning beaches, sunny skies and discounted deals.
Starting close to home, the three-star Sheraton Grand Bahama Island Our Lucaya Resort has introduced a "Free Fridays" program. The promotion is valid for any four-day, three-night stay from now until September 1, 2008 as long as you book by April 16, 2008. Pay for two nights at $89 per person, per night based on double occupancy and get the third night free, kids 11 and under stay for just $5 per child, per night and all guests receive free breakfast, happy hour (well maybe not the kids on the happy hour) and unlimited golf on the "Friday" of your choice (actually even if your stay doesn't include a Friday, you can turn any day into a Friday). If you want to turn this into a flight inclusive package, Sheraton is partnering with Travelocity (www.travelocity.com/freefridays). A package with round-trip airfare from New York plus the three-night stay and Free Friday program is priced from $851 per person including all taxes and fees for midweek travel in April and the same price for a weekend trip in June. From Chicago the package is priced lower with a four-night deal from $694 per person and a fight-night from Miami is priced from $576 per person.
Moving further south, Aruba is offering deals and specials across the island to celebrate the onset of spring. Highlights include:
- The recently renovated beachfront Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino (tel. 800/223-6388; www.arubamarriott.com) has a Sand Dollars package where guests get a fifth night free and $100 resort credit. Room rates start at $269 per night, based on double occupancy. This deal is valid for stays from now until December 19, 2008 using the booking code S29.
- Or how about a Rejuvenation Getaway at Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa (tel. 800/223-1108; www.manchebo.com). This deal includes four nights' accommodations, morning yoga on the beach and a full body refinement package for two at the Spa del Sol, featuring a relaxing couples massage, clay or volcano mud body wrap, manicure or pedicure, and all tax and service charges. Rates start at $1,255 per couple for stays from May 1 to December 20, 2008.
- Tamarijn Aruba (tel. 800/554-2008; www.tamarijnaruba.com) all-inclusive family package lets two children (up to age 18) stay free when sharing a room with two paying adults. Also included are children's camp in addition to all meals and snacks, unlimited beverages, and non-motorized water sports. Rates start at $338, per room, with a five-night minimum stay required.
- Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort's (tel. 800/969-2310; www.amsterdammanor.com) Romance at the Manor package offers four-nights accommodations, a bottle of champagne upon arrival, champagne breakfast-in-bed, a romantic cruise and dinner on the beach from $995 per couple, inclusive of all taxes and service charge. Valid until December 16, 2008.
Airfares to Aruba are also quite reasonable. Sample midweek fares during the month of May, including taxes:
- From Atlanta on American Airlines $476
- Fort Lauderdale on Spirit Airlines $357
- From New York on Jet Blue $415
- From San Francisco on American Airlines $495
- From Detroit on Continental $472
The Dutch side of the beautiful island of St. Maarten is enticing visitors to spend their summer vacation in the Lesser Antilles with the "SXM Bucks" Summer Savings promotion. Book accommodations at any of the participating resorts for stays from May 1 to December 15, 2008 and receive the fifth night free plus $50 in "SXM Bucks" to spend at any of the eight participating restaurants, shops, car rental and tour operators. Pay for six nights and get the seventh night free plus $100 in "SXM Bucks." The "SXM Bucks" Summer Savings Promotion is valid at Divi Little Bay Beach Resort (www.diviresorts.com/DiviLittleBay/index.html) -- with room rates starting at $130 per night; La Vista (www.lavistaresort.com)- from $140 per night; Mary's Boon (www.marysboon.com) -- from $75 per night; Oyster Bay Beach Resort (www.oysterbaybeachresort.com) -- from $150 per night; Princess Heights (www.princessheights.com) -- from $225; Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort (www.sonesta.com/greatbay) -- from $156 per night; Sonesta Maho Beach Resort (www.sonesta.com/MahoBeach) - from $156 per night; or the Westin Dawn Beach (www.starwoodhotels.com/westin/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=1770) -- from $149 per night. When making your reservation, mention the "SXM Bucks" promotion to receive the discount. A few of these properties are condominiums and/or time share resorts so rooms are spacious suites and studios with full facilities.
Cheap Caribbean (tel. 800/915-2322; www.cheapcaribbean.com) currently has a special deal on trips to Gran Bahia resorts in the Mexican Riviera, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. Fly from Miami and spend five-nights at the three-and-a-half-star all-inclusive Grand Bahia Principe in Tulum, Mexico from $699 per person based on double occupancy. Travel between May 1 and 31, 2008 and save an additional $50 per person when booking at either of the two Mexican properties and using the promotional code Mexico50. Other departure cities available for additional cost. These specials sell out quickly so you'll need to book by June 9, 2008. Cheap Caribbean is also featuring a Best of Barbados sale which offers a seven-night trip including airfare from Miami and breakfast daily from as low as $329 plus taxes per person based on double occupancy staying at the three-star Time out at the Gap Hotel or the three-star Amaryllis Beach Resort. This deal is only for travel from September 1 to 30, 2008 but for only $70 more you can get all these perks for travel May 1 to June 20, 2008 staying at either Time Out at the Gap or the Allamanda Beach Hotel. There are more than 25 participating properties at a variety of price and star levels to choose from in the Best of Barbados sale and purchase deadline is April 9, 2008.
Another discounted option is the grand opening sale at the luxurious Ocean Coral and Turquesa five-star all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen on the Riviera Maya. A package with a five-night stay in a deluxe junior suite including all meals, beverages, activities, non-motorized water sports and international airfares starts from $719 per person based on double occupancy out of Miami, $759 from New York, $789 from Detroit or Washington DC and $809 out of Dallas or Denver. These rates are valid for travel from May 1 to 31, 2008. Book by April 9, 2008. Or head to La Romana in the Dominican Republic and enjoy a five-night stay at the three-and-a-half-star Sunscape Casa del Mar from May 1 to June 13, 2008 and pay only $499 per person based on double occupancy including flights from New York. Also this spring at Sunscape, kids eat and stay for free when accompanied by a paying adult. Add $30 for departures from Washington DC or Orlando, $80 from Chicago and $100 from Boston. The booking deadline for this special is April 4, 2008
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