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Warm up, burn off the blahs

Email|Print| Text size + By Richard P. Carpenter
Globe Staff / February 6, 2005

Got the February blahs? Too much cold, too much snow, too much ennui? There's an easy cure: Go somewhere warm. Here are a few ideas:

Deals to Hawaii are easy to come by. For instance, Pleasant Holidays has teamed with the Fairmont Orchid on the Big Island (Hawaii) to offer a free fifth night, complimentary breakfast, and a two-category room upgrade when Terrace accommodations are reserved for stays March 13-31, and throughout May. Five-night, land-only vacations start at $798 per person, a savings of $209 per couple. Prices are based on double occupancy and include a lei greeting, daily Dollar rental car use, and hotel and car rental taxes.

Visit www.pleasantholidays.com or call 800-448-3333.

If you're staying on Hawaii's principal island, Oahu, here's a chance to check out some local cuisine. Hawaii Food Tours offers three culinary excursions in Honolulu, all of which include air-conditioned transportation and Waikiki hotel pickup. One of the excursions is the Hole-in-the-Wall Tour, conducted daily and costing $59 a person. Restaurants visited, for education and samples, are Pho Nam (Vietnamese), Zaffron (Indian), Sugoi (local-style bento and plate lunch), Liliha Bakery (for Hawaii's famous coco puffs), with some surprise stops, too.

Call 800-715-2468 or visit www.hawaiifoodtours.com.

It's pleasant in the Azores, where the climate is mild year round (57-71 degrees) with no snow in the forecast. Azores Express currently has a special on February travel from Boston to the Azores and mainland Portugal: A round-trip ticket from Boston to the Azores is only $299 plus tax. Flights to Lisbon, Portugal's historic capital city, start at $399 plus tax. Prices are valid until March 4.

(The fine print: Prices are for Tuesday departures, with Friday flights costing $419 round trip to the Azores, and $489 to Lisbon. Availability may vary, and seats are limited.)

Call 800-762-9995 or visit www.azores-express.com.

For outdoor types, the Divi Tiara Beach Resort on the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac has seven-night discounted dive packages this month and next, starting at $629 per person and including accommodations, daily diving, and breakfast.

(The fine print: To take advantage of this promotion, travel must begin between Feb. 26-28 or March 1-12. Savings will be $100 off per person based on two guests sharing a room.)

Call 800-801-5550 or visit www.diviresorts.com.

Cruise sales are abundant this time of year, especially if you sign up soon. For example, for cruises booked by Feb. 17, Travelocity is offering Target store gift cards worth $25-$600, depending on the length of the cruise and the line chosen. Similarly, those who book a cruise on Expedia by Feb. 28 and sail between March 1 and Sept. 30 get a certificate worth up to $600 at GiftCertificates.com. Orbitz, meanwhile, is handing out American Express gift cards worth up to $300 when an outside stateroom is booked on almost any 2005 cruise except on Carnival. The websites have other cruise deals as well.

Visit www.travelocity.com, www.expedia.com, or www.orbitz.com.

The Florida Keys are nice this time of year. The Chesapeake Resort, a waterfront resort on Islamorada, is featuring an Ocean Romance package in which guests spend two nights in an oceanfront room with a private balcony and a complimentary bottle of champagne. A sunset cruise for two and complimentary continental breakfasts are also included. Prices start at $694 a couple; reservations should be made at least 14 days in advance.

Visit www.chesapeake-resort.com or call 800-338-3395.

For something both warm and different, FlySouthVacations.com is selling Amazon Vacation Adventures from $999, including air fare from Miami. Choose from three packages: a six-night Rio and Amazon package; an eight-night Rio de Janeiro, Iguassu Falls, and Amazon deal; and an 11-night trip that includes stays in Rio, Iguassu, the Amazon, and Salvador.

Visit www.flysouthvacations.com or call 800-234-5245.

It's got to be warmer in Singapore. Pacific Delight World Tours, with Northwest Airlines, is offering a five-night air-and-hotel package to the Southeast Asian city-state for $867 a person, double occupancy, with departures from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. Similar packages to Beijing and Shanghai are $599. The trips also include airport transfers, daily breakfasts, and hotel taxes and service charges. Optional excursions range from $38 to $99.

Call 800-221-7179 or visit www.pacificdelighttours.com.

There are a lot of trips designed especially for women, but here's one for the guys. The Westin St. John Resort & Villas calls its men-only package the Y Not. (Get it? Y chromosome?) Starting at $646 a person, the package includes a three-bedroom villa with a private pool for four nights, unlimited nachos and wings, a case of iced beer on arrival, a half-day fishing trip, a snorkeling excursion to Jost Van Dyke, and a Bloody Mary breakfast. Go for it, fellas!

Call 888-627-7206 and ask for the Y Not rate. For resort information, visit www.westinresortstjohn.com.

Worth quoting From Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel magazine: ''Nearly every travel site has some kind of price guarantee. Most are of dubious value. . . . Guarantees are only worth something if customers follow up on them. Most people don't, and even if they do, it's an arduous and not all that rewarding process."

When not included, airport fees, hotel taxes, and port charges can add significantly to the cost of a trip. Most prices quoted are for double occupancy; solo travelers will usually pay more.Richard P. Carpenter can be reached at carpenter@globe.com.

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