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As tempting as it may be to escape the last days of what has been a lousy winter, if you are prepared to hold off a few weeks or even months, you'll get a lot more Caribbean bang for your buck as package prices plummet in the spring and summer seasons. You need a few more weeks to squeeze into that bikini or wriggle into those shorts anyway -- so save your cash and travel during the shoulder and off season.

Air Jamaica Vacations (tel. 800/568-3247; www.airjamaicavacations.com) is currently promoting a special "Best of Barbados" package priced from $1,199 per person based on double occupancy. This deal features round-trip airfare flying Air Jamaica, airport transfers, seven nights' accommodations at the all inclusive four-star Mango Bay Hotel (www.mangobaybarbados.com) located on the beach in St. James on the island's famed west coast, all meals and drinks (including wine with dinner), water sports (including waterskiing, sailing, kayaking and snorkeling), a glass-bottom boat ride, a shopping trip to Bridgetown, sailing aboard a catamaran, tips, hotel taxes and service charges. Sample package prices, including a first night free and a $200 air credit per person include:

  • $1,199 from Atlanta
  • $1,225 from Baltimore
  • $1,225 from Philadelphia
  • $1,245 from New York
  • $1,289 from Chicago

Taxes of up to $143 are additional. This package must be booked by March 23, 2007 and is valid for travel from May 1 to July 15, 2007.

Still in Barbados, you can't really go past Cheap Caribbean (tel. 800/915-2322; www.cheapcaribbean.com) for its super budget deal. Travel between May 1 and July 15, 2007 and enjoy seven nights in a studio room at the beachfront two-star Allamanda Beach Resort located in Hastings on the south coast, round-trip airfare from the U.S., airport transfers and breakfast daily from an incredibly low $499 per person based on double occupancy. Guests at the Allamanda also receive a buy one, get one at 50% deal at a variety of island attractions with transportation to and from the attraction plus they have access to the amenities at their sister hotel, Amaryllis Beach Hotel, located a three minute drive away by complimentary shuttle on Palm Beach. The Amaryllis provides complimentary snorkeling gear and other non-motorized water sports. Plus guests receive discounts at the Chattel Plaza and a 10% discount at the Barbados Golf Club. Hurry -- this deal must be booked by March 21, 2007. Taxes are additional. From U.S. departure points, sample prices for this package start from:

  • $499 from Miami, New York, Newark, Atlanta or Philadelphia
  • $549 from Washington DC or Orlando
  • $579 from Boston
  • $599 from Chicago, Cleveland or Dallas
  • $699 from Los Angeles or Denver
  • $749 from San Diego or Seattle

If Jamaica is more to your liking, try Cheap Caribbean's current deal staying at the four-star, all-inclusive Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort (www.sunsetjamaicagrande.com) in Ocho Rios. The package, which is valid for travel from April 9 to June 15, 2007 is priced from $649 per person based on double occupancy. It includes round-trip airfare to Montego Bay from Miami, five-nights in a resort view room at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort, all meals and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), non motorized water sports, airport transfers, a free $5 phone card, all tips and gratuities. This deal must be booked by March 21, 2007. Use coupon code JAMAICA2007 during checkout when you book this vacation package and receive an additional $50 off. Taxes are additional. Prices from other cities include:

  • $709 from New York or Atlanta
  • $749 from Washington DC or Cincinnati
  • $799 from Detroit or Providence
  • $849 from Charlotte or Boston
  • $899 from Los Angeles or Dallas

Travel by Jen (tel. 800/603-3178; www.travelbyjen.com) often has a good selection of low priced Caribbean trips on offer and this spring and summer are no exception. A seven-night trip in May or June to St. Thomas, including round-trip airfare, airport transfers and seven nights at the waterfront, three-star Holiday Inn Windward Passage (www.holidayinn.st-thomas.com) located in downtown Charlotte Amalie starts from $699 per person based on double occupancy (plus taxes). This package price is valid for departures from a number of U.S. cities including Atlanta, Boston, Charleston, Charlotte, Cleveland, Detroit, Harrisburg, New York, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. There is no given book-by date but these deals sell out quickly.

Book It.com (tel. 888/782-9722; www.bookit.com) has a special on the new four-and-a-half-star all-inclusive Occidental Grand Punta Cana (www.occidentalhotels.com/grandpuntacana/index.asp) in the Dominican Republic. The resort is located on Bavaro Beach, 30 minutes from the Punta Cana international airport. Book by April 2, 2007 and travel between May 1 and June 30, 2007 and pay only $79 per person per night in a deluxe room including all meals and domestic beverages. This price represents a saving of 50% off regular rates and there are no blackout periods. The all-inclusive rate features buffet breakfast, lunch and a la carte dinner daily, tennis, free entrance to the nightclub (drinks extra), non-motorized water sports (kayaking, sailing, windsurfing and snorkeling), free intro Scuba Clinic in the pool, horse riding, Merengue dance classes, children's program for kids aged four to 12 years, all hotel taxes, gratuities and service charges. Dine at one of nine restaurants, drink at one of the seven bars and swim in any of the three large pools or in the ocean.

Another resort offered through Book It.com which has a 50% off deal is the new Gran Bahia Principe (www.bahia-principe.com) in Runaway Bay, Jamaica. Pay only $99 per person per night for stays between April 9 and June 30, 2007. This deal includes all meals, alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, daily activities, taxes and gratuities. This special must be booked by March 28, 2007.

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