Blog Archives

St. Croix: Fantastic Flight Promotion


For an affordable getaway on a beautiful island…St. Croix is a deal! No passports required for U.S. Citizens!

Promotion Includes:

  • $500 Instant Credit Per Booking
  • $50 Dining Certificate
  • $50 Retail Certificate
  • $50 Activity Certifcate
  • 6th Night Free

Package must include airfare. Book by October 31, 2011 for travel August 22 to December 15, 2011 {as with all promotions, restrictions apply).

How Cruise Ships Avoid Hurricanes | CaribbeanTravelMag.com


Cruising during hurricane season? Here’s what you need to know prior to your cruise vacation.

by Alyx Kaczuwka
image-cruise-ships-avoid-hurricanes

Photo by: Thinkstock

A common concern when booking a cruise during hurricane season (officially June 1st through November 30th, with peak storm activity from August through October) is the weather, and how it might affect your travel plans. In an average year, there are eight to ten named storms, about two thirds of which will develop into hurricanes. Unless you’re planning a cruise outside the hurricane belt, it’s possible there might be an active storm during your trip – but it should be reassuring to know there is a significant amount of planning on the part of the cruise lines to ensure it has little to no impact on the enjoyment of your vacation.

The primary tool the cruise lines have when it comes to dealing with storms is information. In addition to all the precautions that will be taken to ensure your ship won’t cross the path of a storm before you even leave your home port, they will monitor radar changes on the fly with modern satellite equipment, and make changes to an itinerary whenever necessary.

In most cases, the ships will simply change their itinerary to avoid a storm. These diversions may be focused on avoiding the path of the storm – thus keeping you and your fellow passengers out of harm’s way – or avoiding the aftermath of the storm, for example, if a location has been left without electricity. It is not uncommon that the ship will divert and skip a particular port of call for these reasons. The ship may dock in another location. You’re probably familiar with the expression “any port in a storm” – so you may find yourself checking out another city where their port had availability! Alternately, the ship may stay at sea, anchored in calm waters.

There are also times when ships may choose to cruise in a reversed itinerary, if this option will allow them to avoid the storm’s path. And, some will change the itinerary entirely, for example, embarking to Western Caribbean destinations like Cozumel and Riviera Maya instead of Eastern Caribbean destinations like the Bahamas (or vice versa) if the storm is expected to traverse a large path during the cruise’s schedule.

It’s also worth knowing that even if the storm makes a sudden change, modern boats can easily get out of its way. A typical hurricane will putter along at a speed of about ten knots, but cruise ships can easily move at twice this pace.

Overall, if you are flexible, booking a cruise during hurricane season may work out to your advantage. Travel deals often abound during peak season, and while you may end up visiting different ports, or a slightly different order of ports, than you originally planned, it should have little to no impact on your enjoyment. And if you’re still concerned, there’s always the option of purchasing travel insurance, so that you’re covered – just look for a policy that covers weather-related events.

Source: CaribbeanTravelMag.com

St. Croix’s Buccaneer Resort: Offers a Treasure Trove of Savings this Summer


This summer and fall, St. Croix’s Buccaneer resort offers a treasure trove of savings to delight the inner buccaneer of its guests. Offerings include a generous 20% off published daily rates, 50% of a second room for the kids, the $100 Buccaneer Treasures package (valued at $300), the luxury 2011 Summer Family Vacation package and complimentary Kids Camp! The resort is the longest running resort in the Caribbean, and a member of Historic Hotels of America, a division of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Buccaneer is a destination beach resort, family-owned and operated since 1947.

This summer and fall, St. Croix’s Buccaneer resort offers a treasure trove of savings to delight the inner buccaneer of its guests.

Savings begin immediately with a generous 20% discount off published daily rates, extending through December 16, 2011. For example, a rate of $360 is now $288. Traveling with family? Add a second room for children 18 years and younger and take 50% off the published rate.

More savings are offered by the $100 “Buccaneer Treasures” package for two people staying five nights or more. Valued at approximately $300, it features a 2-day Hertz car rental or a guided island tour; welcome amenity, and each guest’s choice of a 25-minute spa treatment, 18 holes of golf, three hours of tennis, or a sunset sail. Stay seven nights, and a $100 dining credit is applied to the room.

Time for a family vacation before school starts?

The luxury 2011 Summer Family Vacation package, available thru August 31, 2011, includes connecting oceanfront rooms, kids club, sunset sail, and a car for the entire stay to explore St. Croix. The rate for two adults and up to four children under 18 is $2,753 for four nights; $3,441 for five nights; $4,130 for six nights and $4,818 for seven nights.

Year-round, kids in the four-to-12 year-old range enjoy their own resort experiences with the daily complimentary Kids Camp. Activities include beach and pool games and races, nature explorations, treasure hunts, soccer games, sandcastle building, and tug ‘o war to name a few. A dedicated Kids’ Camp clubhouse is stocked with games, movies, and arts and crafts materials, offering a respite from the heat of the day.

All guests of The Buccaneer enjoy breakfast buffet each morning, welcome cocktails, welcome cocktail party at the Sugar Mill with steel drums and Mocko Jumbie stilt walkers (Tuesdays), introduction to SCUBA lessons, snorkeling, kayaks and floating mats at the beach, free resort-wide wireless internet access, twice-daily housekeeping, and live musical entertainment in the evenings.

For more information and reservations visit www.TheBuccaneer.com or call 800.255.3881.

Top Luxury Resorts in the Dominican Republic – Islands.com


From urban-chic decor and fine cuisine to over-the-top pampering—these 7 luxury properties in the Dominican Republic cater to your every need. 

Sun-lovers have long sought out the Dominican Republic for its silky strands, its friendly residents and its affordability. Now they can add high style to the list of attractions. From shore to tempting shore, resorts have been upping the ante in terms of design. Suave decors with fine amenities are all the rage now, treating visitors to a splash of panache as they sip their rum cocktails in the comfort of a chaise lounge.

As the Dominican Republic matures into a full-service vacation destination, its portfolio of accommodations expands. Now the most discriminating travelers have ideal retreats thanks to Xëliter Serviced Residences, a recently introduced brand by the respected CHC – Coral Hospitality Corp™, which strives to provide discreet, anticipatory service in private, convenient destinations. It features in its portfolio three properties in the Dominican Republic, two of which are located in Cap Cana — an exclusive private community where luxury blends in perfect harmony with the paradisiacal surroundings.

Golden Bear Lodge is so pampering that it quickly earned recognition as a Preferred Boutique™ and a member of the Preferred Golf Program. It is inspired by the life and lifestyle of the legendary “Golden Bear,” Jack Nicklaus, and it is perfectly situated between two of his signature championship golf courses. This 91-suite property offers guests sumptuous accommodations complete with chic furnishings, marbled bathrooms and impressive views of the crystal-clear Caribbean Sea.

Caleton Villas is definitely one of the most sought-after vacation spots in the world for its harmonious blend of renewing comfort, pampering services, gracious elegance and world-class golf. For those who seek the highest standards of luxury, this exclusive boutique hotel offers stunning villas with breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea and the famous Jack Nicklaus Punta Espada Golf Course.

In up-and-coming Samaná, Vista Mare is a stylish enclave with only 87 chic residences, where clean lines and white leather dominate the décor.

Situated on a hill overlooking a secluded bay, Vista Mare is a world within itself. A restaurant, a mini market, a fitness center, a bar and beach club complement the two beaches and the swimming pool. Guests windsurf, sail, snorkel and ride mountain bikes, for starters.

Whichever Xëliter property you choose, you can arrive knowing you’ll be treated like royalty and will be lodging in a contemporary facility in a beautiful locale. 877-859-4575, xeliter.com

It’s not that you won’t be privy to classic Dominican vacation highlights like dancing to merengue on the beach, or that you won’t have the time of your life during those classic activities. But at the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana, the offerings are so hip, so happening, so over-the-top in-the-now that you’ll experience this burgeoning Latin-Caribbean destination in a whole new way.

Take the spa. Sure, you can get an incredible massage or body wrap elsewhere. But a choice of countless treatments in 35 spa suites, each a chic retreat? And what about the hydrotherapy center? The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana has the most complete one in the entire Caribbean. Imagine a cutting-edge ice room along with a clay steam room, color therapy steam rooms, lagoons, whirlpools, a sauna, a sensory expertise pool, a hydroreflexology area and even a “food creek pathway.” Now that’s a spa. The fitness center, exercise classes and salon services are just as spectacular.

If the spa sizzles so grandly, you can bet the casino is just as mega-fun. The largest gaming empire on the island, this 48,000-foot wonder is a spirited sensation of excess. You’ll find casino games, sure – 40 gaming tables, 450 slot machines, high-limit poker games in the Salon Prive — but at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana, the casino is an integrated experience. Smack in the center, you will soon be able to dine on fine foods prepared by chef Kerry Simon, a celebrity cuisinier recognized as the “Rock ’n Roll Chef” by Rolling Stone. When the mood strikes, take a break from baccarat for a spin on the dance floor at Oro Nightclub, a VIP hot spot with electrifying entertainment. You can always return to Sports Book and weekly promotions like Random Hot Seat. This casino invites you at all hours.

Urban panache on a prime stretch of beach. The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana. 888-ROCK-002, hardrockhotelpuntacana.com

Talk about the sizzling Dominican Republic’s new styles! Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana, a remarkable serene haven, takes the lead. This adults-only, Unlimited-Luxury® resort opened in May 2011. You’ll be among the first to stay in this pampering contemporary-Caribbean paradise, where every meal, every cocktail, every room service delivery is included.

The style is refreshing. Incorporating the colors of its island surroundings, guest rooms invite relaxation with clean lines and splashes of tropical hues like vibrant orange and palm green. You’ll be guaranteed a personal whirlpool tub for two on your furnished terrace or balcony, ideal for romantic evenings with a bottle of bubbly. You’ll be welcome to dine in the three restaurants, each a beautifully themed escape with expertly prepared foods. Every bartender at each of the five lounges will be quick to pour premium beverages at your request, day and night. And the spa – indoors or out, in solitude or together, you can indulge in the wonders of massages, facials and more (fee-based).

Service is doting, as it is at all award-winning Secrets Resorts & Spas. And the amenities seem endless, from soft bathrobes and comfortable slippers to afternoon hors d’oeuvres and nightly shows. As for the striking design elements – they’ll just make your stay that much more special. Guests have access to a variety of daytime and evening activities including land and water sports, daily special events such as movies on the beach and dance classes, and nightly shows and entertainment.

Should you desire a change of scenery, you needn’t wander far. On the same day in May, the adjoining Now Larimar Punta Cana debuted next door. Stroll over to the new family-friendly sister resort. Dine in its six a la carte restaurants and toast your luck in bars and lounges. Bowling, billiards, tennis, sailing … you’ll find a load of ways to love your days. 866-SECRETS,secretsresorts.com

You crave adult-only time on the beach and by the pool, yearning for the tranquility of a kidfree restaurant along with luxurious lodgings and pampering service. Book yourself a room at The Royal Suites Turquesa by Palladium and live your dream. This upscale all-inclusive resort caters to discriminating members of the over-18 set seeking a serene escape, yet its guests are free to use all the facilities of three adjacent sister hotels in Punta Cana’s Grand Palladium complex. There, water polo, mini golf, soccer and windsurfing are among the diversions. Sophistication when you want, coupled with an abundance of activities when you prefer a bit of action.

Everyone who stays at The Royal Suites Turquesa receives VIP treatment. Butlers are on call to assist you 15 hours a day. And room service is on the menu around the clock. Those who opt for the Swim-Up Suites experience bliss of another level. In these suites, a door opens directly to a tempting meandering swimming pool so you can go from bed to lounger to refreshing water in a few short steps. Should you feel thirsty and not feel like helping yourself to the complimentary beverages in your minibar, a server will scurry over to your private terrace with the cocktail of your choice. Like all The Royal Suites Turquesa accommodations, Swim-Up Suites include a sitting area, a hydromassage tub, memory foam mattresses, bathrobes, a pillow menu, a plasma-screen TV, DVD player and – should you want the ultimate in privacy – a discreet pass-through window for room-service deliveries, and many other exclusive amenities.

To round out its exclusivity, The Royal Suites Turquesa has its own a la carte French restaurant plus five bars and seven swimming pools. Grand Palladium’s seven additional restaurants, casino, disco and spa are always available. 888- 237-1226, fiestahotelgroup.com

The clean lines. The suave feel. The sophisticated service. The creative cuisine. You’ll feel like a jet-setter at Sivory Punta Cana, a resort designed to wash your worries away. Situated on a blissful stretch of palm-studded golden sand in a coveted nook of Punta Cana, the Sivory functions in harmony with its natural surroundings. Well-being is the goal, and the resort delivers, from the restaurants to the guest rooms to the spa.

You’ll lodge in a spacious 650-square-foot suite stocked with all the essentials. Your minibar will hold complimentary soft drinks and beer. Your bathroom will have both a soaking tub for two and a couples shower with double shower head. Sundries by ETRO, a flat-screen TV with DVD player, a balcony with chaises, even a wine cooler supplement the inviting suites.

Spend your days lounging by the pool and on the beach. Kayak, windsurf and snorkel every day. Dine in three exceptional restaurants, whether you opt for a meals-included plan or choose a la carte service. At Tau, you’ll be one of only 20 guests for whom the chef creates Asian delicacies. For the ultimate in gourmet cuisine, opt for Gourmond, a fine dining enterprise with 8,000 wines on the menu. For a more casual meal, choose Laveranda, where Mediterranean foods and cool sea breezes create a magic experience. End your day relaxing with a cigar in a special lounge billed as “art for smokers.” Or listen to live music in Sybbar.

When you’re ready for a splurge, indulge in massages, facials and hydrotherapy treatments at the Aquarea Spa. You’ll enjoy the CV Primary Essence essential oils produced in Spain. 855-748-6790, sivorypuntacana.com

When you’re seeking a splash of suave with your sun-and-sea getaway, select the Dominican Republic. A luxury boutique hotel where exclusiveness is felt in every detail. Located in Punta Cana, Sivory’s concept breaks away from the existing selection of hotels in the Dominican Republic. Set in fascinating natural surroundings, guests will enjoy the intimacy of 55 suites with personalized 24hour service, a private beach, a superb range of cuisine in three a la carte restaurants, the Caribbean’s most selected wine cellar and our extensive Aquarea Spa & Wellness center. Katarzyna Schubert weddings@sivorypuntacana.com • Tel. 1.809.412.5034www.sivorypuntacana.com

When you’re seeking a splash of suave with your sun-and-sea getaway, select the Dominican Republic.

Source: Islands.com

Author: Vanzellini

Summer Travel Tips to the Caribbean Islands – CaribbeanTravelMag.com


From the best last minute deals to the top destinations—this is what 7 travel experts have to say about traveling to the Caribbean Islands this summer.

 

Rick Seaney from farecompare.com

What do you think will be the best summer deals for Caribbean island travel?

“JetBlue and others have added quite a bit of lift to the Caribbean lately. Airfare is not as good as it’s been, but typically the resorts are much cheaper than they were. There are some decent deals in the $450 to $500 range. I even saw some special deals on American to Barbados in the $280 to $300 range for a little while on a new route. You have to be a deal hound right now.”

When is the last minute for travelers looking to take a Caribbean island summer trip?

“One tip to everybody: if you just shopped one day earlier you’d save a ton of money. Last-minute deals tend to be with packaging sites, with a hotel and air together where you don’t know what either one of them costs, where price is opaque. You don’t know who’s discounting, air or resort, but typically both are.”

Where are you going this summer?

“We are looking at Atlantis. It’s a possibility. If you want Atlantis in June, you’re going to have some kids around. I’ve been to the Caribbean dozens of times and enjoy it greatly, the laid-back attitude. I’m definitely a beach goer.”

Gabe Saglie from travelzoo.com

How do you get a good travel deal for a Caribbean island trip in the summer?

“One of the best destinations for last-minute opportunities is the Caribbean islands. This year we’ve seen even in peak season some pretty good deals; that becomes much more prevalent in early summer months. One sticking point this particular summer is going to be the airfare. It’s volatile. Low-cost carriers have been releasing last-minute airfares, releasing on a Tuesday and you have a couple days to take advantage of it. Also look at some of these all-inclusive resort packages that are offering some pretty impressive bargains because of how affordable these resorts are becoming in the summer season. Look at companies specializing in Caribbean vacation packages. When we deconstruct a package, piece it together ourselves, 9 times out of 10 these packages do offer an amazing amount of value.”

Have you seen more Caribbean resorts offering air credits?

“Yes, I think it has become more prevalent than we’ve seen in the past. Airfare credit becomes an extremely effective way to offset the airfare costs. Because on the other side of airfare, resort rates are pretty darn impressive, particularly for June and July, and people can consider a vacation they may not have before.”

Do Caribbean destinations with direct flights still offer better deals?

“Yes, the frequency and convenience of direct flights is something to be said. Odds are better you’ll find an airfare bargain to the Bahamas, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, where one flight can get you there. Others where it’s more difficult to get to will require more of an investment.”

When is the last minute to book a Caribbean summer trip?

“I’m definitely someone who doesn’t rule out that a couple days before you want to take off, bargains will exist. Odds of a Caribbean resort being available are pretty good. You may want an oceanfront suite but 2 to 3 days out may have to settle with an oceanview room. You have to cast a bit of a wider net with last minute deals. But by being flexible on options, that 11th hour front, not necessarily that one island, one resort, one particular day. A week or two out on the resort front, availability has been quite good.”

Angela Lyda from travel-ticker.com

Which Caribbean island destination do you think will have the best travel deals this June and July?

“We have seen plenty of deals for summer travel in the Dominican Republic, and we don’t expect that to change any time soon. There are several reasons that make the Dominican Republic a deal destination this summer. One being that over the last few years, the Dominican Republic has been on a building boom and a lot of new resorts have opened — both high-end properties and budget-friendly hotels. This means that there are typically plenty of open rooms year-round, especially during the off-season. And with so many rooms available, the resorts are forced to offer compelling deals to get consumers on their beaches. Additionally, the weather from mid-June to July is hotter than other times of year and this often drives tourism down. During the main summer months, temperatures range from the high 80’s to low 90’s. However, if you travel in the beginning of June, you can typically avoid the hottest times of the year, but still get the great summer savings.”

Any specific tips on finding such summer Caribbean island deals for accommodations and airfare?

“Look for package offers that bundle airfare and all-inclusive resorts. When travel partners combine airfare and hotel, they get access to exclusive rates, which allow consumers to get the most benefits for their money. And if you get a package deal that includes an all-inclusive resort, the savings are even better! Typically, these resorts include meals, drinks (including alcohol), entertainment, activities, and kids’ clubs. These properties tend to cost more, but in the end (if you compare paying a la cart for a week of meals, drinks and activities) you can save up to 50% on everything compared to hotels where you’re getting a room only.”

When is the “last minute” for such deals? One week before departure, a few days?

“Last minute varies based on destinations, but for the Caribbean I would say 15-30 days out is last minute. When booking last minute, you’ll need to be a lot more flexible with where and when to travel in order to get the best bang for your buck.”

Tom Trotta from priceline.com

Which Caribbean island destination do you think will have the best travel deals this June and July?

“The Bahamas due to their $300 Air Credit Mexico due to lingering bad press  – Cancun / Riviera Maya in the Caribbean and Cabo on the Pacific Coast. Even the Dominican Republic should have good deals this summer especially in early June and late August.”

Any specific tips on finding such summer Caribbean deals for accommodations and airfare?

“On Priceline we have our “Best Package Rates” in packages which customers pick the hotel but the hotel assigns the room type and category in exchange for lower prices that have to be packaged with Air”. Some hotels only make these available for two travelers while others allow up to 4 adults in one room. Our package searches ask for the number of travelers so if these rates display for a triple or quad search, we’ve already filtered the results for this rule and you can book with confidence that your room will have two double or larger beds. Priceline also has a long term agreement with American Airlines so customers are assured of seeing them in our selection as they have been going up and down on our competitor’s sites and in legal disputes with some of our competitor’s GDS owners. Delta has also pulled their flights off of some mid-sized travel agencies. The majority of vacations purchased on Priceline to the Caribbean are include “Tour Airfares” which must be packaged with hotels and are cheaper than if you bought the Air separate from your hotel. These are not called out on our site but they are the majority of our sales to the Caribbean.”

When is the “last minute” for such deals? One week before departure, one day?

“After Easter some of the best deals are available with long advanced purchase windows. But more are made available inside of two weeks and if availability remains can even be purchased up to the afternoon of the day of arrival (assuming you can make your flight on time)!”

Alexander Basek from IgoUgo.com

Which Caribbean destination do you think will have the best travel deals this June and July?

“This year I would target Caribbean destinations where there is a lot of inventory. The more hotels, the better your chances of finding a deal. There have been a lot of discounts in Puerto Rico during the high season so I’d look for some offers there. JetBlue is adding intra-Caribbean capacity (between San Juan and St. Maarten) and although it doesn’t start until November, it may cause fares to drop in anticipation of their arrival, both in terms of a destination and as a connecting point to other parts of the Caribbean. I’d also look at Nevis, where the Four Seasons has reopened and is considerably less expensive than comparable properties on other islands—they have a three for the price of two offer, for example.”

Any specific tips on finding such summer Caribbean deals for accommodations and airfare?

“Six weeks out is still the best time to start looking for anything that might be a deal on hotels and plane tickets. I’d also look at areas you’re interested in now, to establish a base price that it costs in the high season. Then you can know just how good a deal the June and July offers are.”

When is the “last minute” for such deals? One week before departure, one day?

“Generally speaking, 10 days—because of the 10 day weather forecast—is a great time to do last minute shopping for hotels. Hotels know that’s when a lot of guests wait to make their plans and try to entice those last minute shoppers with good offers.  Airfare, be ready to pull the trigger three weeks out. If possible, click through to see how many seats are available to get a sense of whether the fare may drop because the plane is empty.”

Robert Birge from kayak.com

Which Caribbean island destination do you think will have the best travel deals this June and July?

“KAYAK’s Explore feature would show you which areas in the Caribbean will have the best deals in June and July. Explore lets users enter a starting location, a month they’d like to travel, and any stipulations (such as budget) or activities (such as a beach or golf destination). Users are then presented with all of the locations worldwide that adhere to their preferences. For your purposes, you can zoom in to see more options and prices of flights in the Caribbean region.”

When is the “last minute” for such deals? One week before departure, one day?

“We consider anything within a 2 week departure date of the time we send a deal email alert to be “’last-minute.’”