Shermans Travel » Blog » Dominican Republic
Things change. Those words are particularly apt when talking about the current hotel expansion happening in the Caribbean. On Wednesday, we showed you photos of the still-in-construction 1,000-acre mega resort Baha Mar, set to open on New Paradise Island in the Bahamas in late 2014/early 2015. Of the resort’s four hotels (totaling 2,200 rooms), one will be flagged as a Mondrian, the design-forward brand normally associated with urban destinations like New York and Miami.
With its trendy cocktail bars, pool cabanas, and “Sunset Strip vibe,” the Mondrian will be specifically targeting fashion and nightlife crowds. This signals a 180-degree shift from the Caribbean’s usual family-oriented, mid-range hotel offerings. But this could be just the tip of the iceberg. Read more
Nine months out of the year, Caribbean islands are a postcard-ready panorama of blue skies, swaying palm trees, and cocktail-sipping, hammock-lounging bliss. But from September to November (as in, right now), they are associated with another thing: hurricanes. As we speak, reports are showing that the season’s first tropical storms are already forming.
But for those willing to roll the dice, hurricane season can also yield up some incredible bargains. Flights, cruises, and hotels often go for a fraction of their peak season rates, at a time when most travelers are too spooked by the thought of having their trip washed, blown, or flooded down the drain.
And if you’re worried about showing up to a ghost town, rest assured: of the 25 million tourists who visited the Caribbean in 2012, roughly a fifth of them were brave enough to travel between September and November, the peak of hurricane season.
To give you a head start, we logged onto Expedia and CheapCaribbean and chose some hotel-and-flight packages for a range of dates in late October and mid-November. All packages are priced per-person, based on double occupancy, with flights from Miami. Other departure cities are usually available for more.
Clearly, none of the following destinations can provide guarantees on anything weather-related (otherwise they wouldn’t be offering the deals in the first place!). But with prices this low, you can afford to have your trip cancelled and still have extra cash lying around to re-book the whole thing from scratch. Now, get out those bathing suits! Read more
You’ve saved your money, packed your bags and are ready to embark on a new adventure. Through all the planning, the same image came to mind: the perfect beach. Whether rocky, sandy, tropical, or wild, beaches conjure up images of vacation and relaxation. But how do you know if your perfect beach is clean? 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
With temperatures soaring across most of the country, it’s hard for some of us to think about baking in the Caribbean sun. However, cold weather will be here before you know it, and with it a slew of new flights from the East Coast and Midwest to take advantage of tropical destinations.
Booking now for new JetBlue service from D.C. to San Juan (daily) and JFK to Samana, Dominican Republic (twice weekly) will score you big savings. Launching August 23, one-way fares on the San Juan route will be as low as $129 for travel through November 14 if you book by July 13; this will be the only non-stop flight between the U.S. capital and the Puerto Rican capital. Similarly, book by this Friday to secure one-way fares to Samana starting at $169 for flights from the November 14 launch date through February 9.
As the Caribbean heads into its shoulder (April-June) and low (July-November) seasons, the region’s resorts are offering up some romance packages that are a great value and full of fun extras. So if you’re planning a just-the-two-of-you escape over the next few months, here are four options worth considering:
Curacao Couples Getaway Package: If you’re looking to try a new island, I can recommend colorful, cultural Curacao, where this five-night package from the Lodge Kura Hulanda Spa and Casino (shown above at left) is a great value. It includes five nights’ accommodation in an Oceanfront Studio or Oceanfront One-Bedroom Suite, a three-hour romantic snorkel trip to a nearby reef, a poolside cabana couples massage, buffet breakfast daily, complimentary transport to sister property Hotel Kura Hulanda Spa and Casino (in photogenic Willemstad), and taxes and service charges, from $1,450 per couple. Valid April 8 to October 31, 2012.
Book Early at Barcelo Hotels in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Dominican Republic and Save up to 35% off Peak Rates
There is no shortage of deals to sunny destinations in the summer months, but once winter rolls around hotel prices typically skyrocket. Not so this year at Barcelo Hotels in Mexico, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. The premise: the farther in advance you book your stay, the great the discount. Reserve a room more than 120 days in advance for 35 percent off; 90 to 119 days in advance for 30 percent off; 60 to 89 days in advance for 20 percent off; and 31 to 59 days in advance for a 15 percent discount. Reduced rates are available in Mexico and the Dominican Republic from November 1-April 30, 2012, and Costa Rica from December 24-April 30, 2012.
THE VALUE: All-inclusive rates at some of Mexico and the Caribbean’s top resorts start under $100 per person, per night.
THE CATCH: You’ll have to nail down your plans pretty far in advance in order to secure the best discounts. However, there’s no cancellation fee if something comes up closer to the date. There may be minimum stays around the holidays, and rates are much higher during those periods.
THE DETAILS: Go to www.barcelo.com to book, or call 800-227-2356.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on flights.
It’s deals season in the Caribbean, and with good reason: Hurricanes and tropical storms swirl through the region this time of year, squashing many bargain-hunting beach-goers’ plans. This week, Hurricane Irene is causing trouble in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, and seems to have her sights set on southern Florida. To compensate, some airlines are issuing ticket-change waivers for those areas on select travel dates; here’s what you need to know:
Bring the family to the beaches of Mexico or the Dominican Republic and enjoy the Kids Stay Free Summer promotion at select Palace Resorts. Rates start from just $166 per person, per night with up to two children (12 and under) per room staying for free when accompanied by one paying adult. The promotion is valid at eight Palace Resorts, including the 4-star Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana and the Moon Palace Golf Resort & Spa in Cancun. All resorts are all-inclusive, featuring fine dining, top shelf drinks, 24-hour room service, non-motorized watersports, all taxes and gratuities, and more! Book by August 27 for travel now through August 31, 2011.
THE VALUE: This promotion can save hundreds on a family vacation.
THE CATCH: A three-night minimum stay is required.
THE DETAILS: Visit www.palaceresorts.com to book your vacation.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find great, low rates on flights to Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
Qantas: The Australian airline debuted in the Dallas/Fort Worth market on May 16 with flights to Sydney (includes stopover in Brisbane); return flights are nonstop (one-way fares from $499, based on round-trip purchase; www.qantas.com).
Lufthansa: The German airline will launch Airbus A380 service between Miami and Frankfurt on June 10, marking the first opportunity for Miami-area travelers to experience the world’s largest passenger plane (one-way fares from $614; www.lufthansa.com).
JetBlue: Starting on June 17, JetBlue (www.jetblue.com) will expand service from Boston to the Dominican Republic with the launch of that market’s only nonstop route to Santiago (one-way fares from $114).
Porter Airlines: Toronto-based budget carrier Porter Airlines (www.flyporter.com) kicks off its first fall service to Myrtle Beach (following two successful winter/spring seasons) on September 8, offering the only nonstop service between the beach resort and Canada (one-way fares from $179).
From the spring/summer issue of Smart Luxury Travel magazine by ShermansTravel.com.
Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on flights, hotels, packages, and more travel deals.
Still looking for a Memorial Day weekend getaway? CheapOair has flights from New York City to Punta Cana now through June 14, for just $438 round-trip – including most taxes and fees! Flights in May and June on other airlines are over $857 round-trip, so this fantastic flight fare saves you over 50%. Book by May 13th, and you could shortly be relaxing on the white sand beaches, golfing in the sun, or diving the beautiful clear waters.
THE VALUE: Flights from New York City to Punta Cana average over $800 during this peak travel season, so this deal saves you around $400. Plus, most taxes and fees (including fuel surcharges) are included, which usually tacks on an extra few hundred dollars.
THE CATCH: Government taxes are not included, and tickets are non refundable.
THE DETAILS: Click here to book with CheapOair.
Ok, take 2,000 gay American men, sprinkle with internationals from Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, and more, place them on a luxury cruise ship stocked with booze and top notch food, add in Caribbean islands, shake it all up, and you can’t help but have an amazing travel experience. Atlantis Events offers about six cruise programs per year, and I had the good fortune of taking one to the Caribbean this past March sailing on the Celebrity Solstice. I cannot convey enough positive reviews of the experience.
Initially, a German friend prodded me to sign on to the cruise. I admit that I was reluctant at first since I’ve tended to prefer independent travel. But I was delighted by my experience with both Atlantis and Celebrity. While Celebrity (or one of Atlantis’ other partners) runs the cruise, Atlantis organizes all the ship programs, including entertainment. All aspects of the cruise were outstanding – the ship’s design and facilities (the Celebrity Solstice offers a very tastefully designed Art Deco style), food, shows, excursions, and parties. For my review of the ship, click here.
If you need any extra incentive to add a dash of adrenaline to your next trip, consider this: Americans came in dead last in a recent survey designed to gauge travelers’ taste for adventure, behind Kiwis, Canadians, Australians and Brits (in order of most to least adventurous).
The survey, done by adventure travel specialist Intrepid Travel, asked 1,000 respondents from five countries to reveal how likely they were to try a variety of travel experiences. The “intrepid” survey choices included eating a deep fried tarantula, sleeping in village hut, going on safari, haggling at local markets and exploring ancient ruins.
Of course, surveys like this should be taken with a grain of salt, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t consider haggling in a local market or traipsing around ancient ruins all that intrepid (though yes, eating a hairy arachnid, deep-fried or not, would certainly earn you that honor in my book). But the survey did provoke a fun trip down memory lane to some of my most exciting – and, therefore, cherished – travel moments. Here are a few: Read more
This Thanksgiving, forgo the family tradition of turkey, stuffing, sweaters, and shopping, and instead relax poolside on the Norwegian Dawn as it sails through the emerald waters of the Southern Caribbean. Rates for the nine-night cruise start at just $429, a 73 percent discount off rack rates, and include a free $50 onboard credit per cabin as well as a free bottle of wine on select categories! The Dawn will set sail from Miami on November 19 before calling to port in five locales, including Samana, Dominican Republic; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; Antigua; Barbados; and Saint Kitts – all of which boast stunning natural beauty. Travelers will then have two carefree days at sea before returning to Miami.
THE VALUE: The starting rate of $429 comes out to just $48 per night!
THE CATCH: Airfare to Miami not included.
THE DETAILS: To book your cabin onboard the Norwegian Dawn, visit www.vacationstogo.com.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find great rates on flights to Miami, Florida.
Millions of travelers have already discovered the charms of Costa Rica, from its cloud forests, pristine beaches, calming waterfalls, and smoldering volcanoes, there’s no doubt why the nation has been luring travelers away from the typical Caribbean route. Not to mention, this eco-tourism utopia comes with a downright affordable price tag – thanks in part to an increasing number of flight routes from major U.S. hubs. This 6-night air-inclusive vacation package includes two nights in each of the most popular tourist areas such as Arenal, which is home to hot springs and an impressive active volcano, the vibrant capital city of San Jose, and the Monteverde Cloud Forest where visitors will find zip-line and rafting tours. To top it off, this offer also provides a 7-day manual car rental and daily breakfast – all for just $499.
THE VALUE: In comparison, summer fares to popular Caribbean locales such as Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and Saint Lucia range from $350-$500 (from New York). When you factor in a car rental which costs about $150/week, and accommodations for six nights (easily $600 at a 3-star hotel), it’s a no brainer. In the battle of affordable travel this summer, Costa Rica knocks out the Caribbean in the first round – and saves you hundreds on your vacation.
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