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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:

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CuracaoWillemstedThe 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

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

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

CuracaoHome 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…

CuracaoIn 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.

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Last-MinuteThe 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

CyberSummer Hotel DealsJust 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

WillemstadLast 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

ArubaIn 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

Willemstad on the Caribbean island of CuracaoCuraçao 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:

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Crystal SymphonyAppealing 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

Aerial View of Lodge Kura Hulanda on CuracaoAs 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.

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THE LUXURY Curacao, which puts the “C” in the Southern Caribbean’s delightful “ABC” islands (tailing Aruba and Bonaire), is known for its cultured capital, terrific dive sights, and the colorful and historic Hotel Kura Hulanda Spa & Casino. Combine a stay in the history-rich heart of Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage site, at the Hotel Kura Hulanda with some downtime on the beach at the resort’s secluded sister property, the Lodge Kura Hulanda & Beach Club.

THE VALUE The “Winter on Sale” deal slashes rates by 40 percent, and is valid for bookings in all room categories (excluding the three-bedroom Kalki Villa at Lodge Kura Hulanda) for travel through April 7, 2012. After the promotion, rates at the Hotel Kura Hulanda start at $192/night, while prices at the Lodge Kura Hulanda start at $159/night.

THE CATCH Note that taxes and fees will tack on an additional 20 percent to the discounted rates. Plus, a 3-night minimum stay is required to secure the deal, and the promotion must be book before it expires on February 15 .

THE DETAILS Visit www.kurahulanda.com for more information on the properties, but you’ll need to call 877-264-3106 or email reservations@kurahulanda.com to actually book the special offer.

Visit our Curacao Travel Guide for more trip-planning information, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on flights, hotels, cruises, and more travel deals.

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.

Curacao by Scooter

December 7th, 2011 by

Curacao ScootersWhen I first stumbled upon my new favorite haunt in Willemstad, Curacao – a sexy Latino bar called Mundo Bizarro – and parked my ride on the sidewalk with the assurance that I would never have to worry about getting a parking ticket, my vacation officially began.

As the Caribbean’s most populous and largest of the ABC islands, Curacao offers a variety of activities which include shopping along the Breedestraat Punda; photographing the colorful Dutch architecture from the rickety Pontoon Bridge connecting the two sections of Willemstad separated by waterway; diving and snorkeling at over 30 beaches renowned for their coral reefs (both natural and man-made); and lots of bars and restaurants scattered throughout the island.

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