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Where are the best trips to be booking right now? Our monthly Where to Go column tells you the smartest places to go each month for savings, special events, and all around great experiences. Here’s what’s hot for August.
For the Epic Long-haul Trip: Singapore
If you’ve yet to cross Singapore off the bucket list, now’s the time. Characterized by fantastic street food, urban greenery, and of course diverse culture, this Asian destination has become increasingly popular over the years. And August is one of the best times of the year to create an epic itinerary, thanks to the plentiful events packed into the month. Dive right into Buddhist and folk traditions during Ghost Month, when you’ll see locals making food offerings on the streets and hosting live stage performances meant to entertain the spirits. On the last two weekends of the month, street performers, local and international artists, and interactive light installations take over the city for the Singapore Night Festival. And that’s not to mention the International Festival of the Arts, running through most of August and into September, that hosts 36 theater, dance, and music performances for just $25-$50 SGD ($19-$37 USD) each.
Beaches, snorkeling, and maybe some hiking — that’s typically what you’d expect from a Caribbean vacation. That’s why we were surprised to find ourselves on a “safari” jeep tour on a recent trip to Curacao. The Curacao Ostrich Farm, it turns out, is home to one of the largest populations of ostriches outside of Africa. It’s impressive to see how creatively and efficiently the farm operates; the on-site restaurant serves prime cuts while the rest of the animal is used to feed other livestock. Eggshells and even bones are used to make art. The tour explains all of this, and gives guests a thorough introduction to the animals themselves, from birth through adulthood. The video above shows some of what we learned: When you see this fight dance, prepare to run — it’s a warning sign for a potential attack, and ostriches are strong enough to break bones.
In the latest installment of fabulous Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals coming up in the next week, we take a look at under-$100 Caribbean getaways, a 75 percent discount in Panama City, and even a stellar sale for flights to Fiji. Get those credit cards ready…
Autumn is an underrated time to be in the Caribbean, including Curaçao. During this shoulder season, the Dutch island’s 35 beaches are rarely crowded, hotel rates are unbeatably low and, most importantly, the weather is divine. Whether you’re strolling cobblestone streets in the capital city, admiring an ancient fort, or diving in one of the world’s best spots, there’s an activity for every interest.
Even better news: As part of a Dare to Explore promotion, a curated collection of hotels are slashing their rates this fall, by as much as 50 percent. To be booked through various vendors like Costco Travel and Funjet Vacations, are good for travel between September 15 and December 15 — and need to be booked by September 15.
Here’s a sampling:
The latest news from budget-friendly airline JetBlue is that they are beginning service to a new destination this winter. Starting December 2, the airline will fly from New York City to the Caribbean island of Curaçao twice a week, operating one round-trip flight each Tuesday and Saturday, making it the only airline to offer a direct service between New York and Curaçao. This opens up more appealing flight options, flights with Avianca take over 10 hours and require a stop in Bogota, while flights with American Airlines take more than seven hours with a layover in Miami, as well as more attractive fares, December flights with Avianca and American cost $653 and $689, respectively, while you can fly round-trip with JetBlue for less than $400. Read more
Cyber Monday is too long to have to wait for snagging great hotel deals, so we are pleased to see that a group of hotels have put together their own promotion and are calling it CyberSummer. On June 21, starting at midnight, 21 hotels and resorts in the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean will be offering online deals, including four-diamond resorts for $99 a night, five-star hotels offering 50 percent savings, and free nights. Featured hotels include Casa Palopó in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala (pictured above); the JW Marriott, Cusco, Peru, and the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort in Florida. Read more
Home to more than 35 alluring beaches, pristine diving and snorkeling sites, and with a diverse heritage spanning 55 different cultures, Curaçao is one of the most captivating islands of the Caribbean. And, given that the island is situated on the outer fringes of the Hurricane Belt and temperatures hover in the mid-80s all year, almost any time is a good time to visit. Read more
If taking a romantic getaway was your 2014 resolution, then you have lots to look forward to next month. Hotels far and wide are putting together some nifty Valentine’s Day packages to help lovebirds get the most out of the holiday. From free spa treatments, to add-ons like champagne and rose petals, there’s a trip here to suit every taste, and save you some money.
For laid-back lovers…
In Curaçao, the Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort is making itself extra-accessible to lovers on a budget with their “Love In the Caribbean” package, which is available even after Valentine’s Day. Starting at $379 per night with a 3-night minimum, this deal packs in a couple’s massage, daily breakfast for two, a complimentary dinner at Shore, welcome cocktails, and (why not?) a two-day car rental. Valid for stays through the end of 2014.
The twelve days of Christmas have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean there’s no more excitement to be had in December. In fact, for travelers, end-of-year sales and promotions can yield some of the best finds of the whole season. The tricky part? Finding them. But luckily for you, we’ve gone and done all the hard work to bring you the best last-minute travel deals available this week. Consider it our Christmas present to you… Read more
In life, being in the right place at the right time can come down to serendipity, but in travel, it is almost always the result of good planning. To avoid crowds and inflated prices, we recommend the period between high and low seasons when the weather is fine, places are still open and happy to welcome travelers, and you can explore a destination at your own pace. We call this magical time and space continuum the Sweet Spot and make it a point to round up the best of them for you each season. We’ve covered the 40 best places to go this fall and grouped them by region. Our editors have even included picks for our favorite fall festivals, ranging from the fun to the downright funky – time your visit accordingly, and add some oomph to an autumn escapade. Follow the links to right to discover this season’s Sweet Spots.
Just because you don’t yet have vacation plans as the first day of summer approaches doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. Get in on a hot hotel deal with CyberSummer, a one-day only sale that begins at midnight EDT on the summer solstice – this Friday, June 21! Travelers will be able to find exclusive online deals, including four-diamond resort stays from $99/night, five-star hotels offering 50 percent savings, free nights, and more. Want examples? Here are a few, just to whet your vacation appetite. Read more
Last weekend, Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow on Groundhog Day, signaling an early spring. Though this weekend’s northeast blizzard may have hinted towards six more weeks of winter instead, we choose to believe Phil. This week’s warm weather destinations will help you get an early start on spring, so you can enjoy the sunshine, whether Phil was right or wrong. Read more
In a tough economy, it becomes more difficult to sneak away from the office, but also less realistic to spend your savings on a big vacation. Given the constraints on travelers’ time and checkbooks, few options are as ideal as a quick jaunt to the Caribbean – direct flights are readily available from most East Coast airports to most island hubs, and the variety among the islands means there’s a destination for everyone – from the nature enthusiast to the luxury-demanding mogul. Unfortunately, no destination is without at least one drawback, and in the case of the Caribbean, this drawback is hurricane season. Typically running from June 1 to November 30, the Atlantic Hurricane Season has been known to put quite a damper on many vacationers and cruisers on the Caribbean islands. On the other hand, the unpredictability of the hurricane season also means there are great deals on travel to the Caribbean during these months. While there is no guarantee that any destination will be totally safe during the season, the editors at VirtualTourist have put together a list of “5 Caribbean Islands less likely impacted during Hurricane Season.” Read more
Curaçao is one of those Caribbean islands that you may have heard of, but didn’t know too much about – unless you were one of the millions of viewers of ABC’s The Bachelorette, which just filmed single mom Emily Maynard’s finale there. If you liked what you saw – idyllic beaches, crystal clear water, and cobblestone streets set amid colorful 18th-century buildings – then here’s something else that might surprise you: Curaçao is very affordable! It’s low season there from now until mid-December, so you’ll find great deals. And because Curaçao is generally below the hurricane belt, storms are not typically a problem. I have visited the island and have stayed at the two sister hotels where much of The Bachelorette action unfolded, so here’s the scoop on both – plus deals and discounts on other great properties:
There’s no need to splurge on a luxury beach hotel for this year’s summer vacation, thanks to a wave of relatively new – and affordable – beach hotels. Our favorites span the shores of six countries, boast smart design, prime waterfront real estate, all the conveniences you’d expect from a high-end resort, and, best of all, nightly rates that typically go for less than $300 (and, a few for less than $200!). The cherry on top: Our 10 luxury beach hotels for less are practically brand-new; all but one have opening dates within the past two years! Sprawl out in your own oceanfront suite in Mexico, test out the surf at an all-inclusive Costa Rican gem, or people-watch from your boardwalk-view balcony in Venice Beach, California. Waking up to the sound of crashing waves? Yes, please. Salty sea air and soft sand? Must have. Having extra cash for endless piña coladas served beachside in your private cabana? Well, that’s just smart planning. See our Luxury Beach Hotels for Less Slideshow for a preview of the winning resorts.
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