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They say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. This year, March has come in like a lion and gone out like some kind of lion-velociraptor hybrid. With a bunch of late-season storms walloping parts of the U.S. and others shivering through an extended cold spell, it’s easy to forget that spring has officially arrived. While you’re waiting for the weather to catch up with the season, close out March in Africa, where more manageable climates, majestic beasts, arid deserts, and stunning architecture await those with an adventurous spirit.
I just got back from my first trip to an all-inclusive resort, and I actually really enjoyed the experience. Aside from taking in the sun and sand, I also learned a lot about the different people you’ll find at nearly every all-inclusive resort. Here are my researched and field-tested findings. Read more
That made me a little jealous, but also eager to talk with Ogintz –a syndicated family travel columnist, author, and creator of TakingtheKids.com – as I wanted to pick her brain about the trip. And as soon as she put her bags down, she graciously permitted me to do just that, as well as get some of her picks for 2013 family travel.
Even the most veteran of cruise lovers require some time to get their sea legs. The sea can be an unforgiving mistress to those who have trouble keeping their footing on solid ground. Throwing unlimited liquor into the mix seems like a recipe for disaster for the balance impaired. But for cruisers with steely spines and iron stomachs, Norwegian Cruise Line’s new package is a great way to make any vacation more intoxicating (pun intended).
Norwegian Cruise Line has recently introduced an all-you-can-drink alcohol package, offered on three of their 11 liners – the Norwegian Sun, Norwegian Gem and Norwegian Jade. Packages go for $49 per person per day plus gratuity, though further details of what the package includes have yet to be released. Though the line’s fare price encompasses a number of amenities such as room service, buffet, and fitness facility access (for after you carbo-load), alcoholic beverages cost a separate fee.
After making a splash with our recent flight and hotel etiquette miniseries, we wanted to turn our attention to the pool – an area just barely treading water in the travel manners department. I’m not sure if we should blame chair hogs, the invention of cell phones, waning social graces, or a combination of all three, but over the past few years, pool etiquette – be it at the Ritz or the Holiday Inn – has floated off the edge of the infinity pool. Whether you’re planning on escaping to a palm tree-studded all-inclusive, a romantic retreat, or a family Disney extravaganza this winter, there’s bound to be some serious pool or beach time, so here’s a poolside protocols refresher.
Looking for an easy way to escape the hustle and bustle of daily live? Drive on over to the intimate Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, and receive a $100 gas card if you stay two nights or more. Travel to the working horse ranch, which is located on 60,000 acres of breathtaking desert landscape, is valid through September 15. Rates start at $199 per person, per night, including all meals and activities such as horseback riding lessons, trail rides, hiking, mountain biking, swimming, and fishing.
Nestled between the Rincon Mountains, Saguaro National Park, and the Coronado National Forest, the ranch is perfect for anyone looking to unplug and discover the great outdoors. The traditionally decorated rooms offer spectacular scenic views of the surrounding desert and mountains.
Visit the Tanque Verde Website or call 800-234-3833 to book. Mention the Fill Up Your Tanque offer.
Continuing a trend in upscale cruising, luxury yacht cruise line Compagnie du Ponant has ditched the pay-as-you-go model for onboard amenities in favor of a single price tag for the entire cruise. Effective immediately, pricing for all new bookings will now include meals, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (both from the in-room mini-bars and onboard restaurants), welcome cocktail party, 24-hour room service, scheduled onboard entertainment, gratuities, port charges, and taxes and fees.
All-inclusive pricing has become the standard on luxury small ship lines like Seabourn, Silversea, and Regent Seven Seas, where the base price also includes shore excursions, round-trip airfare, and ground transfers. Crystal Cruises also began the transition to all-inclusive earlier this year with free alcoholic beverages and pre-paid gratuities.
With summer — and school break — just around the corner, it’s time to start planning a great getaway for the whole family. These money-saving deals are suitable for a group, whether you’re taking the kids to Orlando for some theme park hopping, planning your next family reunion on a cruise, or hiding out at a Caribbean resort where little ones stay free. We found those deals and more, good for travel throughout summer and fall, starting from just $87. Book soon to lock in the best savings.
Popular bath product and fragrance brand L’Occitane is bringing a sensory slice of Provence, France, to the American consumer in a delightfully more experiential way than its boutique-only outposts previously allowed for. The first and only branch of the L’Occitane Spa concept on U.S. soil debuted in February at the Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Port St. Lucie, Florida, in a seemingly natural partnership between the two French-brand favorites.
Opened on the grounds of Club Med’s only all-inclusive American resort, the new Club Med Spa by L’Occitane serves as the final touch in the resort’s sweeping $28-million renovation, which also saw the implementation of a new family-friendly main pool and an adults-only infinity pool; enhancements to public spaces and guest rooms; and the opening of the Club Med brand’s first golf-, tennis-, and fitness-dedicated academies (helmed by pros like tennis trainer Gabe Jaramillo – mentor to the likes of Andre Agassi and Monica Seles – and golf guru and Arnold Palmer protégé Brad Brewer).
Since regaining control of its historic canal in 2000, with expansions set for completion in 2014 (the 100-year anniversary), Panama has emerged as a top stop for tourists worldwide. Its capital city, which is ideally set between the Pacific Ocean and lush jungle, has an ever-growing modern skyline across the bay from a revitalized historic district, making it a destination for all types of travelers. And the Westin Playa Bonita, the first Westin in Panama, is a testament to Panama’s rise to the top, embracing the country’s growth and modernity as a sleek skyscraper, while keeping the unique history and landscape at the finger-tips of guests. Read more
Appealing to today’s more value-conscious upscale traveler, luxury line Crystal Cruises has added all-inclusive amenities to their standard pricing. These new benefits began with Crystal Symphony‘s first transatlantic voyage from Miami to Lisbon on March 19 (the next all-inclusive sailing will be the Crystal Serenity‘s trip from New York to London on May 8).
The new all-inclusive pricing includes prepaid gratuities for housekeeping, butler, and dining staff, an impressive selection of fine wine and premium spirits in the restaurants, open-bar service throughout the ship, 24-hour room service, and more.
As repeat passengers, my husband and I anticipated exceptional cuisine and a world of imaginative itineraries when we had the pleasure of taking an 11-day cruise through the Panama Canal in January. It was the perfect time of the year to sail from Costa Rica into the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, stopping at the colorful ports of Curacao, St. Maarten and St. Thomas before arriving in Miami.
Unfortunately, it was too soon in the year for us to take advantage of Crystal’s all-inclusive pricing – but there’s always a next time. Read more
For all you early planners, and especially for those with romantic beach holidays on your mind, Couples Resorts Jamaica is offering unbelievable deals if you book your future travel by April 17. All-inclusive rates for travel between December 26, 2012 and December 25, 2013 at the four Couples Resorts Jamaica start at just $169 per person, per night, with savings up to 57 percent off their published prices. A three-night minimum stay is required for the 2013 Early Escapes deal, but all service charges, taxes, and gratuities are already included.
Couples Resorts Jamaica consists of four resorts: Couples Tower Isle and Couples Sans Souci, both in Ocho Rios, and Couples Negril and Couples Swept Away, both in Negril. At all of them, you’ll enjoy beachfront properties set for romance – the resorts are adults only – with all-inclusive additions like scuba diving, reef snorkeling, and sunset cruises and excursions, as well as amenities such as access to multiple pools, beach butler service, and gourmet dining. It’s all included in the nightly fee, no extra taxes, tips, or dining surcharges.
To enjoy your all-inclusive romantic retreat and great savings, book the 2013 Early Escapes special online. Plus, if you stay at least seven nights, you’re eligible for extra bonuses like a $300 resort credit or the seventh night free, depending on your travel period. Learn more about date restrictions here.
For lodging on St. Croix, a great family option is Divi Carina Bay, which became an all-inclusive property in January 2011 (the only one of the island). Situated on the eastern end of the island – close to what is considered the easternmost point of the United States – Divi Carina Bay sits on 1,000 feet of sandy beach with sparkling waters protected by a reef. The resort takes full advantage of this location, with all 180 rooms and 20 villas sporting ocean views as well as a vast array of water sports including snorkeling, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and windsurfing. Divi also offers a free intro to scuba diving in its main swimming pool; for a fee, guests can get PADI-certified in five to six days. There’s plenty to do on land, too, from tennis to mini golf to the only casino on St. Croix, where you’ll find lots of locals as well as guests. After all that exercise, guests can grab a bite at the two main restaurants, pizza shack (open late afternoons and evenings), and casino café, which stays open until 3am. Tip: For a bit of quiet relaxation, head to the pool near the villas, which is open to everyone but tends to attract fewer guests than the main swimming pool near the beach. All-inclusive rates start at $175 per person, per night this spring; up to two children under age 12 stay and eat free with paying adults. www.divicarina.com
For general trip-planning information, see our St. Croix destination guide, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on hotels, flights, and vacation packages in St. Croix.
Nothing staves off those post-holiday, cold-weather blahs quite like planning a beach vacation. Breezes Resorts and Spas is offering savings of up to 55 percent off at six of its properties in the Bahamas (Breezes Bahamas), Jamaica (Breezes Runaway Bay, Breezes Grand Negril, or Breezes Trelawny), Curaçao (Breezes Curaçao), and Brazil (Breezes Búzios) for travelers who book by February 15 for travel between May 1 and October 31. The chain’s all-inclusive rates include accommodations, all meals at multiple dining venues, unlimited premium-brand drinks, numerous land and water sports offerings, entertainment, and more.
THE VALUE: Savings range from 25 to 55 percent off of rack rates, working out to as low as $68 per person, per night. You’ll secure the most highly discounted rates by booking ahead for travel in August or September.
THE CATCH: A minimum 3-night stay is required.
THE DETAILS: To book, visit www.breezes.com or call 877-273-3937.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on hotels, flights, vacation packages, and more travel deals.
Bring the whole family to an all-inclusive beach resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica, this holiday season. The Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort Montego Bay is offering stays from $72 per person, per night – a savings of 65% on current rates.
Stay now through December 24. These rates include all meals and snacks, resort activities and entertainment, non-motorized water sports, and free in-room WiFi. Plus, two children per booking stay for free.
Located directly on the beach, the expansive SunSpree also offers a state-of-the-art fitness center, a full-service spa, and plenty of sports, swimming and activity options for the whole family, as well as numerous restaurants, bars, and lounges.
THE VALUE: Save 65% and receive all-inclusive amenities at this family-friendly Montego Bay resort.
THE CATCH: These rates are only available through December 24.
THE DETAILS: Visit the SunSpree Montego Bay or call 888-288-6006 to book.
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