Although it may seem counterintuitive to head to warm, sunny places when it's warm throughout most of North America, it's actually the perfect time to visit destinations that most Northerners head for once the first flake falls. We've rounded up some of the best current offers on the Caribbean -- from Bermuda to the Virgin Islands -- including hotel, airfare, all-inclusive, last-minute, and other offers designed to get you on the beach, with a fruity, umbrella-drink cocktail sweating comfortably in your hand.
Marketers can be ingenious. Right now, Sunburst Vacations (tel. 800/786-2877; www.sunburstvacations.com) will refund American travelers the cost of processing their passport, up to $97 U.S. dollars, valid for passports issued between April 15, 2005 and April 30, 2006, in conjunction with the new rule, called the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which requires that travelers to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Canada or Mexico must carry a passport to enter or re-enter the United States. The passport-processing fee will be reimbursed for any seven-night trip booked through Sunburst, such as trips to Bermuda currently on sale. There are other destinations on sale as well, but it takes a little bit of plugging away; the prices are not advertised per se and you must select your departure airport and trip dates. For example, a weeklong stay that includes round-trip airfare, departing on a Tuesday in June from New York JFK to the three-star Harmony Club is available from $1,293.38 per person. Trips that start or end on weekends come at a higher price.
Currently, eLeisurelink (tel. 888/801-8808; www.eleisurelink.com) is offering a five-night trip to Puerto Rico with a stay at the Ritz-Carlton San Juan from $1,045, including airfare from Baltimore (New York/JFK from $1,129; Miami from $1,085; land only $819). The package includes a $250 food and beverage credit. The hotel is located on eight acres of beachfront property and features a spa, fitness center and is located minutes from historic Old San Juan. It's valid for travel between June 1 and November 23, 2005 with a booking deadline of June 29, based on departures between Monday-Friday. For a shorter getaway, they're offering a three-night Dominican Republic all-inclusive deal for the Breezes Puerto Plata Resort, Spa and Casino (ka-ching!) from $569 for Miami departures. The deal is valid for travel through December 14, 2005 with a long booking deadline -- November 30. Other cities are available, including Los Angeles ($925), New York JFK ($685) and Chicago ($829).
Mount Nevis Hotel (tel. 800/756-3847; www.mountnevishotel.com/deals.html) in the West Indies is running a 50 percent off sale through December 15, 2005 to celebrate its million-dollar renovation process, perfect for families. It's only offered for a two-bedroom superior suite with a kitchen for four nights from $500 a night and you will receive four subsequent nights for free -- so that's $2,000 for eight nights.
American Airlines Vacations (tel. 800/321-2121; www.aavacations.com) is running a special called "Puerto Rico is Fun" from $320 for five nights/six days, using the two-star Park Plaza Normandie San Juan as the lowest-priced hotel. The travel dates available are June 4, 2005 and December 21, 2005; must book by December 17. You'll also earn 3,000 bonus miles if you book through them; the site gives you the opportunity to choose among several departure times for both flights and they are definitely biased toward double occupancy, which is not unusual. It can be a little confusing though once you get into the search: the hotel rates look high, but then once you click to reserve, it takes into account the flight discounts. A search for departures from New York JFK at the end of June, returning on July costs $698.20 per person, including airfare, for a room called "superior fun." The price quote excludes taxes and fees. For the Bahamas, the outfit is offering a deal on the Nassau Beach hotel, starting at $354 from Miami, $656 from Dallas/Ft. Worth, and $719 from Los Angeles, for a three-night stay until August 31, exclusive of airfare. For a June 30 departure from Miami, with a stay at an ocean view room (second cheapest), the cost starts from $433.15 per person, including airfare.
The popular budget airline JetBlue (tel. 800/538-2583; www.jetblue.com) is running special rates for last-minute travel to two hotels in San Juan, Puerto Rico; the three-star Radisson Ambassador, from $120 a night, double occupancy, for stays between June 10 and July 8, and the four-star historic Hotel El Convento, from $165 per night between June 12-16. For Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, they're offering rates from $157/night at the Hamaca Coral by Hilton, complete with disco and large casino, between June 3 and July 18. In terms of airfare, there are not currently any all-inclusive deals running, but their fares are affordable and if you have some flexibility in your trip dates it's worth a look. A quick search for last minute departures in mid-June reveals prices from $99 one-way up to $204, depending on time of day -- the earlier the flight, the cheaper the price. Because it's smaller, though, there are fewer cities going to these areas, so it takes a little work to find a deal. However, flights from Buffalo departing to Santiago, mid-week in June and returning on a Thursday start at just $85 each way; weekend return flights are about double that.
Liberty Travel (tel. 888/271-1584; www.libertytravel.com) has dozens of offers, including some to Jamaica, such as the "Take Four" special for families. The all-inclusive package gives you round-trip midweek airfare to Montego Bay, transportation to and from the hotel, all meals and beverages, hotel taxes and services charges. For four nights at the three-star FDR Pebbles resort, rates start at $1,089 from Chicago, $1,469 from Miami and $1,489 for departures from JFK, Newark, or Boston; others are available as well. The deal is valid for travel from now until June 16 and from September 2 through November 10. For the British Virgin Islands, Liberty Travel is offering seven-night specials to Tortola including the Lambert Beach Resort, a three-star spot along one of the cove beaches, from $899 (from Miami) with the seventh night free. The package includes round-trip airfare, transportation to and from the hotel, its taxes and services charges and accommodations. Departures from Philadelphia and Boston start from $1,025 and New York-JFK fetches $969, for example. The rates are valid for travel between now and December 14, 2005.