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Island vacations are a breeze

Email|Print| Text size + By Richard P. Carpenter
Globe Correspondent / May 21, 2006

Travelers choose the Caribbean for many reasons, only one of which is to escape the woes of winter. Subtract that and you still get balmy weather, beautiful waters, friendliness, food, and the sense of well-being that such a vacation can bring. If you add substantial savings to the equation, you have good reason to consider the Caribbean during the off-season. Here are some of those savings:

Club Med has seven-day, all-inclusive getaways starting at $675 in its resorts, including those in Turks and Caicos, the Dominican Republic, and Martinique. That's seven nights for the price of three.

(The fine print: Prices are land-only for selected dates through June 16 and Sept. 2-Nov. 3.)

Call 800-CLUB-MED or visit www.clubmed.com and click on Share a 7-day Weekend.

Another all-inclusive operation, SuperClubs' Breezes Resorts, is wooing families with nightly rates starting at $74 per person, coupled with Kids Stay Free and Single Parents Special programs. Through Dec. 24, children ages 2-13 stay, eat, and play for free, a $50 daily savings. The single supplement is waived for single parents traveling with youngsters during this same period. Both promotions are combinable and available at Breezes Puerto Plata Resort, Spa & Casino; Breezes Punta Cana Resort, Spa & Casino; and Breezes Curaçao Resort, Spa & Casino.

(The fine print: The Kids Stay Free offer is for one child per paying adult. A three-night minimum stay is required for both offers.)

Call 800-GO-SUPER (467-8737), visit www.superclubs.com, or see a travel agent.

Dominica is rapidly becoming known for its ecotourism, adventure possibilities, and good prices. For instance, the Garraway Hotel is offering a Sweet Sisserou Special June 15-Sept. 15 that includes seven nights in a deluxe room, airport transfers in a private taxi, full daily breakfast, and a private full-day island tour with a guide. The package is $995 per couple. If you book before June 15, the hotel will upgrade you to a superior suite and add a candlelight dinner for two. And if you're wondering, the sisserou is a rare Amazon parrot and Dominica's national bird.

Call 767-449-8800 or visit www.garrawayhotel.com. For more Dominica information and deals, call 888-645-5637 or visit www.dominica.dm.

Montpelier Plantation Inn, a secluded resort in Nevis, is featuring a Summer Special that offers one complimentary night with breakfast and afternoon tea when booking four nights or more. That's a savings of $280.

(The fine print: The special is valid June 1-Oct. 31, for new bookings.)

See a travel agent, call 869-469-3462, or visit www.montpeliernevis.com.

The Turks & Caicos Club's three-night Snorkel Away on Grace Bay package, available through Oct. 31, gets you a one-bedroom oceanfront suite; a half-day of snorkeling Provo's barrier reef; unlimited daily snorkeling off the club's beach and reef, with snorkeling equipment provided; breakfast and lunch daily; a gourmet dinner; and several other amenities. The price is $1,995 per couple.

Go to www.turksandcaicosclub.com/package/snorkeling.html or call 649-946-5800.

Wimco Villas upscale properties are discounted as much as 40 percent until mid-December. For example, on St. Barts, a three-bedroom villa with a bath in each bedroom is priced at $9,200 in season, but is available now for $5,800 a week.

Call 800-449-1553 or visit www.wimco.com.

During Dive Into Adventure Bonaire, June 17-24, some of the world's most prominent marine biologists, conservationists, naturalists, underwater photographers, and diving pros will lead dive and dive-related adventures. Land-only packages including seven nights' accommodations at one of the host hotels, breakfast daily, six days of one-tank boat dives, unlimited shore diving, round-trip airport transfers, hotel taxes, and service charges start at $619 per person. Bonaire also has several attractive packages throughout the off-season.

Call 800-BONAIRE (266-2473) or visit www.infobonaire.com.

State of savings
If you truly want an economical vacation, go to North Dakota or Nebraska. According to AAA, the daily cost, including food and lodging, for a vacationing family of four in those two states is $191. Hawaii is the most expensive at $559 daily. AAA expects a 5.4 percent rise in the cost of vacationing this summer over last year.

Car rentals
Depending upon the date and location, CarRentals.com lists rates beginning at $7.52 a day. Prices are updated hourly. No matter where you rent your car, though, check with your insurance company or credit card company to see whether or not you need the expensive collision damage waiver.

Seeing Slovenia
For those seeking a different destination, Unique World Cruises & Tours offers the Republic of Slovenia. From the Sea to the Alps, Sept. 18-25 or Oct. 9-16, is an eight-day escorted tour that includes Ljubljana, Portoroz, Postojna Caves, and Bled. The price is $1,098-$1,198 per person including airfare from New York, first-class hotels, breakfast and dinner daily, airport transfers, city tours, and entrance fees. Optional excursions to Venice are available for $75.

Visit www.uniquediscounttravel.com or call 800-669-0757.

Meet the Beatles
Club ABC Tours' Liverpool With the Beatles is a guided trip to all the celebrated Beatles haunts throughout London and Liverpool, from Abbey Road Studios to Penny Lane. Starting at $1,399 per person, the eight-day package includes round-trip airfare from New York, hotels in London and Liverpool, hotel taxes and service charges, and round-trip rail transportation between cities. The club requires a $30 annual membership fee.

Call 888-TOURS-ABC (868-7722) or visit www.clubabc.com.

The call of duty
The true bargains in duty-free shops in airports and other locations are cigarettes and alcohol. As GQ magazine notes, at some Asian airports, you can save as much as $25 on a carton of cigarettes, and in the Mideast spend as little as $7 for a liter of Stoli vodka. Most other items, such as chocolate and clothing, may be no bargain even with the tax savings. But they are often uniquely packaged and of high quality, so they make nice gifts.

Boys will be boys
Through September, the Edgewater Beach Resort in Panama City Beach, Fla., is featuring a Boys and Their Toys package starting at $269 per person per night. The fellows get 18 holes of championship golf, a bucket of beer, a deep-sea-fishing excursion, Golf Villa accommodations, Jet Ski rental, and the ever-popular basket of wings.

Call 800-874-8686 or visit www.edgewaterbeachresort.com.

Vegas tickets
Ticket prices for Las Vegas shows are up nearly 16 percent over last year, with the average seat costing $62.02, according to LasVegasAdvisor.com. The website says, however, that you can take a chance and save up to 61 percent with sellers of last-minute tickets, such as Tix4Tonight (877-849-4868; www.tix4tonight.com) and Tickets2Nite (888-484-9264; www.Tickets2Nite.com.

When not included, hotel taxes, airport fees, and port charges can add significantly to the price of a trip. Most prices quoted are for double occupancy; solo travelers will usually pay more. Offers are subject to availability and there may be blackout dates. Contact Richard P. Carpenter at carpenter@globe.com.

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