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Real Deals

Places and faces of Florida to please everyone

Email|Print| Text size + By Richard P. Carpenter
Globe Correspondent / November 5, 2006

Depending upon where you travel in the Sunshine State, you find the historical Florida, the glittering Florida, the natural Florida, the beachy Florida, and, of course, the theme park Florida. Let's hopscotch the state and look at an offering or two from each.

St. Augustine, founded in 1565, bills itself as America's Oldest City and retains much of the look given it by Spanish settlers so long ago. For those who want to add a little romance to the history, the Victorian House , a bed-and-breakfast inn, features a Romance Package that includes iced champagne in your room upon arrival, two wine glasses with Victorian House etching to keep, a dozen chocolate truffles, a horse-drawn carriage ride for two through Olde Towne St. Augustine, and an $80 gift certificate for dinner at a restaurant of your choosing. The price is $199 in addition to room costs, which range from $109-$289 a night.

Call 877-576-7742 or visit victorianhousebnb.com.

The South Beach section of Miami Beach overflows with glitz and glamour, especially for those who don't mind shelling out more than a few dollars. Loews Miami Beach Hotel , for one, has a Nip & Tuck Package starting at $599 a night for a two-night stay through Dec. 20. Designed for, but not limited to, those who have just beautified themselves with plastic surgery, the offer includes Art Deco or contemporary accommodations, a day in a poolside cabana (with cabana boy included), extra pillows for elevation and an eye pillow, access to disguises for those who want to go incognito, an in-room massage, and breakfast in bed each morning.

If that's just not you, take out your wallet again and consider the hotel's two-night Simply South Beach program, starting at $12,500 per couple through Dec. 30. From an exclusive showing at David Yurman and a full-day Ferrari rental to a private beach cabana with personal beach butler and Presidential Suite accommodations, you will certainly experience SoBe in style.

Call 877-604-1601 or visit loewshotels.com/hotels/miamibeach.

Although Key West is known for its zest and zaniness, the Florida Keys as a whole put you close to nature, with their distinct vegetation, unique animal species, and marine sanctuary. The Tarpon Flats Inn & Marina in Key Largo forsakes no creature comforts with its two-night Sweetheart of a Deal for $379. In addition to a waterfront suite, participants get a bottle of wine and a fruit- and- cheese plate in their room, breakfast at their door each morning, and a sunset champagne cruise or a morning snorkel sail aboard the Reef Roamer, a 41-foot catamaran.

Call 866-546-0000 or visit tarponflats.com.

Everyone, it seems, has a favorite beach area for coastal Florida. Among the most popular, certainly, are the beaches of Sanibel/Fort Myers. West Wind, a casual Gulf-front resort in Sanibel, is featuring through Dec. 20 a three-night Sunlovers' Special that includes a guest room with refrigerator for $423 or a kitchenette for $483.

Call 800-824-0476 or visit westwindinn.com . For other specials, a guide, tips, and information, visit fortmyers-sanibel.com.

In Daytona Beach, the Shores Resort & Spa has an offer designed to evoke memories of a younger you making S'mores by the campfire and maybe shivering to a ghost story or two. The S'mores Thing Package through Dec. 31 includes a night in a luxury room, breakfast for two in the resort's Baleen restaurant or al fresco, and a personalized S'mores kit with a souvenir tin to use at a beach campfire if you wish. Prices start at $219 per couple per night .

Call 866-934-SHORES or visit shoresresort.com.

Walt Disney World recently announced that it is cutting the fat and calories in its theme park meals and snacks for children. At just about the same time, SeaWorld Orlando noted that it has a new healthy-alternatives restaurant, uses trans fat-free frying, and has healthy choices throughout the park for all ages. Budget travelers, however, will tell you that the way to ensure a healthy meal and save $10-$12 a day per person is to make your own meals or sandwiches and eat them just before you get to the parks. (For kids, though, a small snack in the park can be part of the fun.)

Disney World launched its Year of a Million Dreams celebration Oct. 1, but since this is a magical place, that year will last 15 months. There will be daily giveaways, with prizes including everything from a private shopping spree to an overnight stay in the Cinderella Castle Suite . There will be new attractions, including a technologically stunning "Finding Nemo" ride at Epcot and a "Finding Nemo" musical show at the Animal Kingdom. Although a base ticket now costs $67 a day for one park, buying multi day tickets reduces the cost considerably, as do ticket-hotel and ticket-flight-hotel packages that are widely available from travel agencies -- large and small, online and off -- and from Disney World itself. For current offers, visit disneyworld.com and click on My Disney Vacation.

Still paradise
Hawaii's tourism people are spreading the word that the recent earthquake left almost all facilities unscathed and that travelers may save on special offers designed to call attention to that fact. An upscale example: Through Dec. 19, save 40 percent at the Mauna Lani Resort at Kalahuipua'a on the Big Island of Hawaii. Guests get a room plus a daily island buffet breakfast for two, free daily use of snorkeling equipment, complimentary access to the exclusive Mauna Lani Sports and Fitness Club , nightly Hawaiian entertainment, guided tours of the historic fishponds and petroglyph fields, several cultural activities, and two pineapple martinis on the house. Rates start at $390 a night.

Call 800-367-2323 or visit maunalani.com.

Shoppers special
Love those outlets? The Ogunquit Resort Motel in Ogunquit, Maine, has a Midweek Shopping Package Getaway valid to Dec. 31. The offer includes two nights' lodging Sundays through Thursdays, two continental breakfasts, a $30 certificate toward dinner for two, late checkout (1 p.m.), and more than $500 in discount coupons to the Kittery outlets . Prices range from $59-$84 a person.

Call 877-646-8336 or visit ogunquitresortmotel.com.

Netherlands sale
Untours, which sells packages that feature accommodations in places other than hotels, is having a winter (off-season) sale that gives you two weeks in the Netherlands for $799, land only, or $1,399 with air fare from New York. The offer includes 14 nights in a fully furnished vacation rental (cottage, flat, or farmhouse) in the university town of Leiden, 30 minutes from Amsterdam, airport transfers, ground transportation (car rental, train pass, or city transit tickets), and on-site English-speaking support. Available dates are Jan. 3-March 14.

Call 888-868-6871 or visit untours.com.

Rail deals
Railpass.com is offering a 25 percent discount on many BritRail passes purchased at the website for travel through Feb. 28. The off-peak pricing is good for the BritRail Flexipass , BritRail England Pass , and BritRail London Plus Pass for four-, eight-, 15-, and 22-day and one-month passes. A four-day second- class adult Flexipass starts at $207. Youths ages 16-25 can save extra with four-day pricing starting at $155. One child (age 5-15) travels free with a paying adult, and additional children are half off the adult price.

Philly podcasts
Philadelphia is providing free "soundseeing" tours for iPods and other audio players at soundaboutphilly.com . The first three available are "History Unplugged," 300 years of non- textbook American history; "Flavorhoods," a look at dining in different ethnic neighborhoods; and "My Philly," recommendations straight from the people who live there.

One for One
On the small island of Provo (the nickname of Providenciales) in the Turks and Caicos, the Reef Residences on Grace Bay (formerly the Coral Gardens) has an introductory One for One offer. Guests pay for one night and get the next night free, and then every other night is free up to a stay of 30 days. Thus a family of four (with two children under 10) can stay for a starting price of $285 per night and receive full American breakfast for four daily, free airport transfers, two complimentary massages, free snorkeling equipment, and beach towels and chairs. The all-suite resort is on 12-mile-long Grace Bay Beach.

Call 800-950-2862 or visit cunadevida.com and click on Reef Residences.

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 . Offers are subject to availability and there may be blackout dates. Contact Richard P. Carpenter at carpenter@globe.com.

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