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REAL DEALS

Paint your winter blues aquamarine

Seen from Olveston, Montserrat, last month, Soufriere Hills volcano reveals superheated ash and lava inside its cone. Seen from Olveston, Montserrat, last month, Soufriere Hills volcano reveals superheated ash and lava inside its cone. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Email|Print| Text size + By Richard P. Carpenter
Globe Correspondent / February 4, 2007

Wintertime may not be bargain time in the Caribbean, but the recent cold spell no doubt has many New Englanders thinking of how sweet it would be to visit one of those sunny islands. (As you read this, I am cruising toward Antarctica, and my thoughts may well be of Caribbean climes, too.) Here are some defrosting possibilities:

Montserrat may get you thinking about St. Patrick's Day. After all, this volcanic island is the only country outside of Ireland to recognize it as a national holiday . The island was once a haven for Irish Catholics who had served as indentured servants in the British West Indies, and the influence of their culture and heritage is still felt. The Vue Pointe Hotel currently has a seven-night Volcano Vue Package for $699 a person that offers accommodations in rondavels, or round huts, with volcano views ; a daily continental breakfast on the pool patio ; airport transfers ; transportation to the Volcano Observatory and National Trust with its rain forest trails and bird-watching sites ; a guided snorkel tour ; a scuba pool dive ; and a welcome glass of rum punch.

For resort information, call 664-491-5210 or visit vuepointe.com . For Montserrat information, go to visitmontserrat.com .

The Bolongo Bay Beach Resort in St. Thomas is featuring a five-night Hibiscus Package for $2,235 a couple through April 15. Guests get beachfront accommodations with balcony views of the Caribbean, a chilled bottle of champagne and two souvenir flutes, chocolate- dipped fruit and tropical flowers, a $50 resort credit, a his and hers half-hour massage, a three-course dinner for two with wine, a sunset cocktail cruise, his and hers T-shirts, a scuba lesson, and unlimited use of windsurfers, Sunfish sailboats, kayaks, aqua tricycles, swim mats, and snorkel equipment. Room tax and service charge are included .

Call 800-524-4746 or visit bolongobay.com .

For the romantic out there, Harbour Village Beach Club in Bonaire is offering the "Lazy Days, Dreamy Nights" package through April 11. Included are seven nights' accommodation s , daily breakfast, one aromatherapy massage, one scuba experience for beginners or one boat dive for certified divers, one torchlight dinner on the beach, one hammock on the beach, a bottle of champagne , and airport transfers. Prices start at $1,367 per person.

Call 800-424-0004 or visit harbourvillage.com .

Bringing the children? The Half Moon Resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica, lets youngsters under 12 stay for free when sharing a room with two adults, and they get half off any meal plan. Half Moon also has a single- parent rate, which includes the single occupancy price with up to two children under 12 staying free. For those who may have left the children behind, however, there is the Good Life package, which requires a three-night minimum stay and includes one Swedish massage for each adult, three meals daily, premium drinks at hotel bars and mini bars, an in-room welcome gift and champagne, unlimited use of Half Moon's 13 tennis courts and fitness center, paddle boats, lilos , kayaks, and airport transfers. Double occupancy rates start at $589.

Call 800-626-0592 or visit halfmoon.com .

Dominica bills itself as the Nature Island of the Caribbean, and one way to check out that claim is with the Jungle Spa Adventure Package from the Jungle Bay Resort & Spa . Along with accommodations, all meals and fresh juices, there are daily scheduled hikes and activities, such as mountain biking, ocean kayaking, snorkeling, and excursions to hidden waterfalls, ocean pools, hot springs, and to better-known attractions like Boiling Lake . In addition, half-hour daily spa treatments are included, as are yoga classes. The price through May 15 is $249 a person per night, a savings of at least $80 over separate purchase of included items.

Call 767-446-1789 or visit junglebaydominica.com .

A pass on passports
US residents flying back into the country now need a passport , no matter their foreign destination, even Canada and Mexico. But you can go pretty far away and still be on US turf. Among places where a passport isn't a necessity: St. John and St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands (usvitourism.vi), Puerto Rico (gotopuertorico.com), the Northern Marianas (mymarianas.com), Guam (visitguam.org), and American Samoa (amsamoa.com , a website from which you may be redirected ).

Le château et le neige
Quebec City's Le Château Frontenac is decidedly in snow country, with more than 75 inches having fallen this year. The hotel's Experience Winter Ski Package starts from about $314 US per night and includes a room, buffet breakfast, lift tickets to Mont- Sainte-Anne or Stoneham ski centers and complimentary access to the hotel's health club and indoor pool. For the city's annual Carnival, now through Feb. 12, there is the Family Carnival Package , starting from about $387 per night for two adults and two children. Included are a room, buffet breakfast, and Carnival Passports for the entire family, including activities and gifts.

Call 800-441-1414 or, for hotel information, visit fairmont.com/frontenac .

Happy trail to you
TourCrafters has built an off-season package, Etruscan Trail , around a stay in Rome and in the Tuscan countryside. The three-night deal starts at $509 land only or $919 with air from Boston through March 31. Visit tourcrafters.com or call 800-482-5995 .

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. Check boston.com Monday-Friday for a Web-only New England Real Deal. Contact Richard P. Carpenter at carpenter@globe.com.

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