Passengers were literally dancing in the aisles Thursday as JetBlue launched its new service from Fort Lauderdale to Haiti.
While the timing of the launch with Christopher Columbus's landing on Hispanola may have seemed significant to JetBlue marketeers, what matters to Haitian-Americans is the prospect of lower fares as a result of much-needed competition. In the past, fares to Port-au-Prince were often higher than to neighboring Santo Domingo, with little off-season variation because of the country's minimal dependence on tourism.
The Haiti route makes Fort Lauderdale the largest provider of air service to Haiti, according to an airport official.
Strapping on a jetpack to hover above the water doesn't sound like usually family vacation stuff. But they got that going on and a bunch more at Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, with its new “Family Island Adventure” package, aimed at entertaining the whole clan.
The resort's adventure center staff recommends and books family oriented activities, including the island's first water-propelled jetpack experience, where guests get suspended in air 10 feet above water, giving them the experience of defying gravity. Water sports include stand-up paddle boarding lessons for the whole family; swimming with turtles at Buck Island; and taking a night kayaking tour in clear-bottom kayaks ringed with LED lights. And new for this season is night paddle boarding, with special boards lit from beneath.
There's also a shark encounter at Coral World Marine Park, where guests get up close and personal without cages or barriers. And if the kids just want to hang in the water, the resort has four pools, including a new splash pool for younger ones, and there's always the beach.
The package starts at $224 per night, per room, and includes a $200 activity credit at the adventure center. For information, and booking, visit www.frenchmansreefmarriott.com, or call 800-228-9290, and use promotion code ZJL. You've got plenty of time to decided: The package is good through Aug. 31, 2014.
The Alexandra Resort on Grace Bay Beach on Providenciales in the Caribbean island chain of Turks and Caicos has a fall deal going, with 35 percent off regular rates for all room categories, that also includes 10 percent off Pelican Kids’ Club passes or a free roundtrip airport shuttle for one to the local grocery store; a 20-percent discount at Spa Sanay; a free bottle of wine on arrival; and late checkout.This offer is valid for new reservations made directly with the resort. Minimum four-night stay is required between Sept. 2 and Dec. 19 (excluding Thanksgiving). Guests staying seven nights on the package also get a free ride for two from the airport to the resort.
The resort also recently introduced a new single-parent travel feature, offering 35 percent off regular rates for all one- and two-bedroom suites, which includes breakfast for one adult and up to two children; an extra 10 percent off rates for a seven nights or more; and free babysitting service in suite, for up to two children, three hours per evening, for those staying a minimum of seven nights.
Children under 12 also stay free when sharing a suite with their parents. This offer is valid for new reservations made directly with the resort. A minimum three-night stay is required for travel until Dec. 19.
The Alexandra also has a deal running for the 3rd annual Caribbean Food and Wine Festival from Oct. 30-Nov. 2. Guests staying between Oct. 29 and Nov. 5 get a 20-percent discount on rooms, two free passes to the food-tasting event at Beach House Resort, and two free passes to the festival’s street fair. Minimum four-night stay is required to qualify for the deal. Check it out at www.alexandraresort.com.
If you’re a Red Sox fan and can’t get enough of baseball any time of year, consider the 2014 Red Sox Fan Cruise, available only through AAA Southern New England. The cruise from Fort Lauderdale Jan. 12-19, a seven-night Western Caribbean swing on the Celebrity Silhouette, will have along as participants 2004 post-season closing hero Keith Foulke, Red Sox announcer Joe Castiglione, former starting pitcher John Tudor and former infielder Dave Stapleton. The ship visits Cozumel, Mexico, Grand Cayman Island, Falmouth in Jamaica, and Labadee, Haiti.In addition to onboard meals, fitness centers, entertainment and daily activities, guests can play catch with Foulke and Tudor, attend two exclusive on-board cocktail parties, test martinis at a tasting event and hit an all-day private beach party in Labadee. Guests also get a $!50 onboard credit per stateroom. Rates start at $910 and run to $1,290 per person. For info, visit www.redsoxcruise.com
Calabash Cove Resort & Spa on the West Indies island of St. Lucia is offering off-season deals that tie into new United Airlines non-stop flights to the island from Newark and New York, which start in July. For dates booked through Dec. 20, the resort offers reduced seasonal rates starting at $405 a night, depending on rooms and meal plan selected. If you book five or more nights in a sunset ocean-view junior suite by June 14, for travel through Dec. 20, you get an extra 10 percent off rates and a $200 resort credit.
For information visit www.CalabashCove.com The new St. Lucia flights have connections from a variety of New England locations, including Boston, Burlington, Vt,, Portland, Maine, Providence, Windsor Locks, Conn., and Manchester, N.H.
Cap Juluca, a resort on the Caribbean island of Anguilla and member of The Leading Hotels of the World, is offering a couples-only deal. The “Exclusive Tangled Up in You” package is available through Dec. 18 which includes a five-night stay in the resort’s new 3,290-square-foot ocean-front Jonquil Suite, with private infinity pool, Jacuzzi and full-service kitchen, free non-motorized sports, a private beach dinner, one in-room massage for two, and a one-day private boat trip with snorkeling, fishing, picnic lunch on a nearby island and a visit to the beaches of St. Maarten. Package prices start at $13,765, exclusive of 20-percent tax and service fees.
Open to all is the resort’s “More Maundays” package (the resort is on Maundays Bay), which gets you a fifth night free when booking for. The deal runs through Dec. 18, with rates from $495 a night.
The resort, with accommodations spread out in 18 separate Moorish-style beachfront villas, recently underwent a multi-million renovation that included reconstruction of the main house social hub, adding 60,000 new flowering plants, modernizing back-of-house functions and changes to its four dining venues and guest rooms. To check it all out, visit www.capjuluca.com
Nassau Paradise Island in the Bahamas is promoting an “Instant Savings” deal this spring and part of summer. Travelers who book by May 20 at participating hotels get $300 in savings when booking an air-inclusive six-night minimum stay, or $200 for a four- or five-night stay. Travel can take place through Nov. 3, but with blackout dates of June 20 through Aug. 18. The offer is valid for travel starting in the United States and Canada. Participating resorts include Atlantis Paradise Island, Comfort Suites Paradise Island, Harborside Resort at Atlantis, Marley Resort & Spa and 13 others. For the full list and to book, visit www.NassauParadiseIsland.com
There are a few long weekends coming up, for Americans and our neighbors to the north, and the Alexandra Resort on Providenciales in the Caribbean islands of Turks & Caicos are offering deals. The Memorial Day weekend special cuts 20 percent off any one- or two-bedroom suite, based on a minimum four-night stay, and includes breakfast for two from the Mango Reef B&B menu and 20-percent off Spa Sanay services. Book by May 17 for travel between May 24-31.
According to a survey by Marriott Caribbean & Mexico Resorts, the celebrity respondents would most like to vacation with was Halle Berry, followed by Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and Denzel Washington. The fun question was part of a more serious survey that was seeking out the source of stress in people and why they vacation, a polling of 1,400 travelers that found 72 percent saying they plan a vacation specifically to de-stress and forget the daily grind, with most of them citing workplace tension as being ahead of financial concerns as their greatest source of daily pressure. A third of respondents also admitted they didn’t use all their available vacation time, the survey said.
Marriott Caribbean & Mexico Resorts is offering an antidote to all that during April, which believe it or not is “National Stress Awareness Month,” and has been since 1992, sponsored by the nonprofit Health Resource Network. The resort chain, with properties in Cancun, Aruba, St. Thomas, Grand Cayman, St. Kitts, Curacao and Puerto Vallarta, is cashing in on traveling stress with a special “De-Stress for Less Event,” offering guests 20-30 percent off leisure rates on travel through Aug. 31, with bookings made before April 30, minimum two-night stay required. Travelers can learn more by visiting www.paradisebymarriott.com, using promotional code X32 when booking.
Sorry to say, Berry and the others are not included in the deal. But it’s nice to think about.
Bolongo Bay Beach Resort in St. Thomas of the American Virgin Islands, and the St. Thomas Diving Club, have partnered to offer stay-and-dive savings to travelers this spring and summer with a five-night package deal, that reflects a savings of more than $550 per couple. It includes five nights in an oceanview room for two; a pair of six-dive passes; scuba gear for each person; and a sunset sail for two on Bolongo’s 53-foot cat, Heavenly Days. The deal also includes free use of a Go Pro camera for a day, one per couple.
Tiny it may be, but for the 8th year running, Water Island in the lee of St. Thomas, USVI has a major league house concert coming up Feb. 8, 9 and 10 featuring the likes of Carnegie Hall pianist Julian Gargiulo, Russian pianist Maria Yefimova, jazz pianist and composer Wells Hanley, and more. Ten musicians will play three different programs for three nights at the beautiful waterside home of Alex Randall from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM. Everyone's invited. The concerts are free. Donations to cover the artists' expenses recommended.
From St. Thomas, take the ferry from Crown Bay Marina to Water Island. The Randall home is a short walk from the pier. Contact Alex Randall for more information and to reserve an indoor seat:
Phone: (340) 514-9995
Marriott and Renaissance Caribbean and Mexico Resorts recently surveyed travelers about the tech ties that bind us all on vacation, some 1,184 people in all (53 percent male, 47 percent female), and made some notable and completely understandable findings:
--85 percent of respondents had experienced being annoyed by someone chatting loudly on their cell phone while traveling
--50 percent reported checking their own emails and voicemails several times a day - while on vacation
--36 percent said they did it on the beach
--82 percent used their social-network channels to stay connected
--More than 50 percent felt staying connected to work added to their stress while vacation
--30 percent said they gave their cell numbers to clients while on vacation
--31 percent reported being tempted to toss their cell phones into the ocean (frankly, we thought that would be higher)
So who does that bother? Not the spouses or traveling companions of those taking the survey. A scant 15 percent of respondents felt that their connectivity bugged their spouses, partners or fellow travelers.
Marriott and Renaissance Caribbean & Mexico Resorts has engineered a solution - if you're willing to take it. The company has launched a new "Braincation" program, offering tech-free zones at each of its nine properties in the Caribbean and Mexico. Starting in December and running through winter, designated "peaceful" areas at each resort will encourage tech-loving guests to disconnect and not use anything with a plug or battery and to just enjoy themselves. Which, technically, is what being on vacation is all about. And you don't need a survey to know that.
For info on the resorts, visit www.paradisebymarriott.com
Marriott and Renaissance Caribbean and Mexico Resorts is giving travelers a little cash incentive to run away this winter with its "You Deserve Some Credit" program. Visit any one of nine resorts in seven locations and get up to $200 in resort credit to wine and dine as you see fit. Travelers must book through Nov. 30 for stays at one of the resorts between Jan. 1 and April 30 to get the deal, which can be applied to any room category.
With this offer, travelers to any of the three Mexican resorts in the Collection will receive a $50 resort credit daily for a three-night stay ($150 credit maximum). The Caribbean resorts are offering guests who book a $50 resort credit daily for a four-night stay, and the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino is offering $40 daily resort credit for a five-night stay ($200 credit maximum). Use promotional code LLF when booking.
The resorts are: Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino; Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino; JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa; CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort; Curacao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino; Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort; CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa; St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino; and Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort. For info, visit www.paradisebymarriott.com/
As someone who stayed at the Turks & Caicos Beaches a couple of years ago, I can attest to the luxury digs, and though I was there sans family, it never had a kid-intensive feel to it. The place was huge, with 16 restaurants and so much to do, the humanity was spread out quite a bit and there was, mercifully, no noticeable squealing and screaming from teeming hordes of children. There was just so much going on for children in a variety of programs for all ages, it never had that overrun feeling a lot of family resorts have.
Call it barefoot chic: At the new Beach House Turks and Caicos, slated to open Oct. 22 as Grace Bay's first boutique hotel, "No Socks Allowed" signage will be found on specialty items throughout, reminding guests to kick off their shoes and socks and relax. Beach House has 21 one- and two-bedroom suites (each a minimum 1,150 square feet) with what hotel officials call interior designs melding Caribbean with New England, showcasing crisp whites and blue hues. French doors frame views of the expansive beach and open to oversized patios that have daybeds. Suites also have culinary nooks where private chef dinners and surprise treats can be placed in the refrigerator.
The hotel also has a 90-seat Beach House Restaurant, run by Chef Eric Vernice, a native of France, who has created eight-course meals. According to hotel folks, menus will focus on one item, such as lobster, a unique spice or a country, with each course more unique than the last, paired with wines and cocktail teasers.
If it sounds pricey, it is: Nightly rates run from $532 to $1,038 on weekends and holidays, with special rates available in shoulder seasons. For more information, visit www.beachhousetci.com or call 855-946-5800.
The Definitive Caribbean Guide, an online destination resource, will be available via a new e-book list and mobile content as part of major expansion plans announced by its owners, Definitive World Guides Ltd. The announcement was made along with news of the appointment of Adrian Moss as publishing director and opening of new offices in Cheltenham, England. The e-book list, when launched, will offer in-depth and comprehensive island coverage for the Caribbean traveller, with user-friendly features and independent reviews. The first titles are expected later this fall, followed by the launch of the mobile app next year. For more information, visit www.definitivecaribbean.com
Capitalizing on this selling point for the nation, the board of tourism developed a short-term, web-based campaign aimed at turning heightened name recognition into visitors. Called "Celebration of Kirani: Celebration of Grenada, the campaign incorporates a specially designed logo featuring Kirani James carrying Grenada's national flag with the tagline, "Grenada: Gracious Every Day," rolled out in an integrated approach on Grenada Tourism's website, digital advertisements and social media pages. Among the elements included in the campaign are: a "Quote of the Day" initiative utilizing quotes about Kirani from traditional and social media; an island tour of Kirani's Top 10 things to do and see on Grenada; weekly press releases; social media posts; and a video program featuring footage of Kirani's September 1-3 homecoming
"Since Kirani James' Gold Medal Olympic win and his highly publicized gesture of goodwill toward fellow competitor Oscar Pistorius have elicited such an emotional response from people around the world, we have initiated a campaign to capitalize on the awareness built for Grenada as a result," said Dr. George Vincent, Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture. "When he asked to exchange bibs, his magnanimous and unpretentious spirit became reflective not just of his own personality, but that of all Grenadians as genuine, warm and friendly, thereby increasing the appeal of the island as a desirable vacation choice."
Check it all out at www.grenadagrenadines.com, as well as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.
Elite Island Resorts, which has properties throughout the Caribbean, is now doing sales, marketing and reservations for The Club Barbados Resort and Spa, formerly Almond Beach Club Barbados, and is offering a deal at the resort with introductory rates of up to 50 percent off through Dec. 20. The resort has 161 rooms, two restaurants (indoor and outdoor), three freshwater pools and a variety of water sports. Elite Island Resorts has hotels in Antigua, St. Lucia, Tortola, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and Anguilla.
All-inclusive rates start at $335 per night, per person. Booking by Sept. 15 pretty much guarantees the 50-percent off that rate, hotel officials said, but after that, the discount is less hefty as the Caribbean enters its busier seasons. For reservations and information visit www.theclubbarbados.com, or call 866-317-8009.
For more details and to enter, log on to Facebook and like the Marriott Resorts Caribbean and Mexico page: http://www.facebook.com/MarriottCaribbeanMexico. You can also follow along on Twitter, at @MarriottResorts and #SpotTheSun.