free tickets to paradise

With the addition of two new American Airlines flights from Miami International Airport to St. Kitts, arriving in paradise has never been easier. And you know when I speak of paradise I can only mean one place: the sublime Four Seasons Resort Nevis. (Star Alliance loyalists take note: Cape Air continues its scenic, low-flying service into Nevis direct via San Juan, too). On arrival, take a stroll on untainted stretches of golden sands; play amid dramatic tropical backdrops on the acclaimed Robert Trent Jones II-designed course; unwind in a private outdoor cottage at the Caribbean’s poshest spa; and recount the day’s events as you savor excellent seafood and spectacular ocean vistas at Mango. Or do what I love most: snuggle into a gingerbread-trimmed beach house and be pampered. Even better, book a five-night stay – good through December 19th - and receive a $1000 airfare credit.

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live blog: tanning update

As if to prove yesterday’s point,  I opened Thursday’s NY Times – how last century, I know – and found an 8-page supplement of Caribbean deals and discounts.  I love it when I’m right.

But more interestingly, it got me curious about just how much prices have changed in a year. So I did a quick search of deals at the five resorts I had mentioned in 2009 and the results surprised me.  Far from coasting back to normal, it seems like the travel industry continues to take some serious knocks – especially down among the islands.  Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and Bermuda are being particularly aggressive in introducing credit and cash-back schemes to encourage travelers.  So too are the huge cruise liners that depend on volume.  Even tiny Anguilla, an upscale island that’s suffering through an expansive development push that coincided with the real estate bust, is reaching out in search of travelers with cash to spare.

I wonder when we’ll hit the proverbial bottom?  Until then, however, nobody can really be faulted for taking advantage of the steals that are there for the taking.

You think the discounts at Marley Resort & Spa were good?  Book your trip through www.bahamas.com and you can get an air credit of up to $400 per person.

Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort has a 5-night package available through American Express Vacations for an unbelievable $515, including a $250 resort credit.

Plan a stay at Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino by April 8 and room rates – good through the end of 2010 – start at just $183.75.

Every third night is free at Radisson St. Martin Resort, Marina & Spa.  Plus they’re also tossing in free daily breakfast and in-room internet.

Surprisingly, Tides Riviera Maya doesn’t seem to be suffering like the rest of the region.  The website lists only a 10% for stays booked 30 days in advance – a far cry from last year’s free airfare.

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holiday ho-ho-hotel deals

Since I just had two pretty fantastic – and unexpected – hotel experiences in both Rome and Costa Rica, I thought I would share some details on a few money-saving deals they have going on.  Just in case anyone’s got a spare bit of  dosh over the holidays and needs a splurge!

Rome Cavalieri Planetarium suite terrace

Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts has a winter escape offer valid now through March 31st which includes daily breakfast, and a $50 activity credit per consecutive two-night stay. For example, stay for two nights and get a $50 credit, stay four nights and receive a $100 credit, and so on. The credit can be used towards resort activities, spa treatments, and select dining venues within the hotel. Rates at Rome’s Cavalieri begin at 350 Euro, per room, per night, based on availability.  Or pony up for one of the Imperial floor rooms which start at 420 a night – it comes with access to the Imperial lounge, which has free computer access, a dedicated concierge, and a copious all-day spread of complimentary food and beverage that can more than make up for the  price increase. Plus, you can use that $50 credit towards any of the one-off experiences the hotel can arrange, like tooling around the city in your own Ferrari, a private visit to the Sistine Chapel, or even gladiator training. To book at the Rome Cavalieri, visit http://www.hiltonluxury.com/worldwide.

conchal-white-sand

Starting January 3rd and valid through April 30th, 2010, Paradisus Playa Conchal is offering a 4 night/5 day Spa Getaway Package which includes an in-room welcome gift, a 30-minute facial treatment per person, a private yoga class for two, and an 80-minute signature Shell Massage for each, plus free use of the wet areas and 15% any additional therapies at Ahuia Spa. I can’t recommend the Shell Massage enough:  Tiger Clams are filled with local beach sand, then warmed and used in the same way as hot stones.  The texture of the clamshell is slick however, so there’s no drag against your skin – making the massage that much more relaxing.  Prices per person, per night include all food and beverage as well as most activities, starting at $318 for a Junior Suite.  Opt for a Royal Service Suite – from $398 – and you get a butler, concierge, private pool, and a lounge with computer access and drinks & nibbles throughout the day.  Royal Service also gets you preferential seatings at the hotel’s restaurants, which always comes in handy.  Book the Getaway by calling the hotel directly at (506) 2654 4123 or by emailing [email protected]

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