November 10, 2003 -- For a low-stress winter escape, you can't do better than Cancun. The Mexican resort is striped with white beaches and lapped by warm waters. Plenty of people speak English, tourist facilities are first-rate, crime is low and the American dollar is accepted with a smile.
If Cancun seems custom-made to soothe the American traveler, that's not an accident. The resort was built from the ground up starting in 1974 by the Mexican government, selected as the perfect junction of sand, sea and history. If lounging in fancy new hotels or taking a spin on the jet-ski bores you, a slew of ancient Mayan ruins are within an easy day trip, as are several more modern ecological theme parks. For our full guide to Cancun, see www.frommers.com/destinations/cancun.
During the peak winter season, flights to Cancun can be costly. Enter Spirit Airlines, a simple and honest no-frills carrier we've recommended in the past. Spirit's not fancy, but they get you where you're going safely and on time. Starting December 18, they're flying once a day to Cancun from Fort Lauderdale, with connecting flights from six other cities.
That makes for a long itinerary -- seven and a half hours from Cancun to New York or Detroit -- but the prices are truly unbeatable. Searching for January and February dates, we found Spirit's fares to be up to $300 cheaper than the lowest other fares we could find. Fares from Spirit's cities include (all roundtrip):
- Atlantic City, NJ: $188 ($278.71 with tax)
- Chicago: $184 ($276.21 with tax)
- Detroit: $192 ($284.21 with tax)
- Fort Lauderdale: $158 ($237.71 with tax)
- Myrtle Beach, SC: $174 ($266.21 with tax)
- New York City: $184 ($274.71 with tax)
- Washington, D.C.: $188 ($280.21 with tax)
There's no minimum stay, and these fares don't have an expiration date, but they're being snapped up even as we write this. Even if you don't get the fares advertised above, you'll probably find Spirit's fares to be lower than competitors' -- and that's a sunny thought for a wintry season.
For reservations, go to www.spiritair.com.
Have you flown Spirit Airlines before? If so, we want to hear from you. Skip over to our Air Travel Message Boards and tell us about your experience.