Dominican Republic

Vacations So Bright, You Gotta Wear Shades

If you’re on vacation, no one has to convince you to enjoy yourself. And if that vacation finds you lounging by a Caribbean or Mexico beach, we’d all agree that you’ve probably hit the jackpot. This week throw on your favorite shades and start packing your bags, as we outline a few places that we consider “vacation gold.”

The DR’s vacation hot spot: Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus

La Romana in the Dominican Republic is home to white, powdery sands, turquoise waters and sky high palm trees, making it the perfect setting for the vacation of a lifetime. And why not stay at the #1 rated resort in the Bayahibe area? That’s why we’d suggest Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus for your well-deserved getaway.

A winner of TripAdvisor’s 2011 Traveler’s Choice Award, Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus has something to offer everyone. For the water enthusiast, the onsite Dressel Divers International Diving Center has several excursions a day, seven days a week, to multiple diving locations. For guests looking to spend more time on shore, you can opt to divide your time between the shady, thatched huts on the shore or one of the three resort pools, including a 20-person, cool-water spa.

Dominican Republic vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

And when you’re looking for nourishment, stop by the El Faro Beach Bar or main pool’s swim-up bar. There are a total of seven restaurants and two bars, all featured on the all-inclusive option here.

Live Like the Rich & Famous: Crane Resort and Residences

Crane Beach is known for its powdery pink sands and sparkling waters, making it a true must-visit beach. Crane Beach was named “One of the 10 Best Beaches in the World,” by Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, in addition to “Top 50 Places to Go Before You Die,” by BBC’s Holiday Programme. So when we say this a must-visit beach, we really mean it.

The Crane Resort and Residences is the place to stay when you’re looking to take it all in on this iconic beach. From the moment you arrive, the resort’s management and staff will go above and beyond to make sure your vacation is everything you’ve hoped for - just one of the many reasons this resort’s staff has been given the AAA designation.

Barbados Beach Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

When you’re not busy perusing the pink, sparkly sands of this beach, hang out at any of the infinity edge private pools or the individual plunge pools that are unique to all two-bedroom residences on the upper floors of the resort. When it’s time to eat, take advantage of the kitchen or kitchenette that comes standard in all 146 suites or venture to try one of the five restaurants, which have been twice nominated by Zagat as best food in Barbados. There’s no denying that your trip to Crane Beach in Barbados will give you that flashy taste of lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Cancun’s Trendiest Beach Buzz 

Our next favorite for the ultimate beach getaway comes to us from the hotel zone in Cancun. Secrets the Vine is the newest hotspot in the Cancun/Riviera Maya area and sure isn’t lacking on the beach luxury.

This adult-only hot spot comes fully equipped with Ultimate Luxury® amenities, including premium drinks, food and even the Secrets Spa by Pevonia. This 12,580 sq. ft. spa offers a huge range of massages and beauty treatments, plus 12 indoor massage spa suites and two couples’ suites.

Cancun Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

Spend your days on a cozy sun lounger under shady umbrellas or lounge by one of the three infinity pools, which include tanning decks and an outdoor Jacuzzi. Don’t worry; full-service pool staff is on call to make sure your glass never goes empty. As nighttime falls, explore one of the seven on-site restaurants, including Mediterranean and Latin cuisines. And after dinner, venture to the open-air theater, or take in some live music provided every night of the week. It’s no surprise this exclusive Cancun hotspot is an absolute must when planning your rockin’ beach vacation.

So as you can see the recipe for the ultimate beach vacation requires just a few things – the beach, some fun in the sun, and of course – you. So grab your favorite pair of shades and prepare for the vacation of a lifetime at any of these fine beach destinations, or share your favorites with us below. Party on!

Spark the Flame: Getaways to Rekindle the Romance

We’re all about love. In fact, it’s safe to say we’re in love with love. And when you throw in a picture-perfect backdrop to match, it makes love that much sweeter, doesn’t it? So this week, we’re celebrating the love birds out there with our top picks for romantic getaways.

Whether you’re a honeymooner, celebrating an anniversary or just two people who want to escape for a little romance, the Caribbean & Mexico make for perfect places to do just that. Our first fave sits on the iconic Seven Mile Beach and has 4.5 stars of incredible luxury.

Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort is a five-story and 273 guestroom resort that recently underwent a $15-million renovation, making it an updated and perfect place to spend your vacation time. Grab a mai tai at the poolside Sol Bar with your sweetie or take a dip in the 85-foot beachfront pool that calls this resort home. Couples also love the hot tub or a romantic stroll in the lagoon-style courtyard fully equipped with lush greenery.

Grand Cayman Islands Romantic Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

The location of the hotel on Seven Mile Beach makes it one of the best beaches in the Caribbean, with warm water and a reef perfect for snorkeling just a couple feet of shore. There are also endless amounts of activities with scuba diving, windsurfing and sailing easily accessible to all couples.  Of course a romantic getaway wouldn’t be complete without a customized couples treatment at La Mer Spa. The Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort is the perfect mix of adventure and romance, all set on one of the most famous beaches in the Caribbean.

Now, how about a resort that truly celebrates couples? Couples Sans Souci is 35 beachfront acres of Jamaican cliffside dedicated to nothing but couples. It has also recently been voted the number one spa hotel in the Caribbean by Travel + Leisure, making it a romantic oasis that's perfect for celebrating love, no matter the occasion.

Jamaica Romantic Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

Here at Couples Sans Souci, your days can be spent in the private coves and curative mineral pool with hidden mineral grottos. Stop by the swim-up bar for an island cocktail or eat at one of five restaurants serving everything from authentic jerk chicken to stuffed shrimps at Casanova. With all the superb all-inclusive options at this resort, you’ll never go hungry or thirsty. Don’t forget to plan a trip with your honey and visit Dunn’s River Falls and then finish up the day with a peppermint-sea-twist body treatment, the perfect end to an adventurous day with the love of your life.

Grab your guy or gal and head to Punta Cana for a little DR romance. At Excellence Punta Cana, you can enjoy some adult-only paradise. Venture down to the Dominican Republic beach and grab a daybed where you and your honey can truly unwind in the Caribbean sun. The pool is home to submerged lounge chairs and a swim up bar, so you’ll never have to leave that water.

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Excellence Punta Cana is also home to a 1991.47 ft. jogging track, a full schedule of activities like yoga and the full-service Mille Spa. Arrive early for your appointment at Mille Spa and relax in the Swedish saunas, steam rooms and refreshing cold-plunge pools, and then be transported to a state of utter relaxation with a couples massage.

Dinner plans consist of a torch-lit dinner for two on the beach. As the night comes to an end, retire to your colonial-style suite, fully equipped with an in-room Jacuzzi. And by upgrading to the Excellence Club, you can enjoy Bulgari toiletries and a maxed-out mini bar and room service menu. This adult-only resort will help you and your partner come home feeling refreshed, clear-headed and stronger than ever.

So as you can probably agree, celebrating your love on a quiet beach may be just what you and yours truly need. Whether you’re a newlywed just beginning your journey or looking to commiserate the many wonderful years you’ve shared with your significant other, we strongly suggest a trip to paradise to celebrate it all. Who doesn’t love love right?

Perfect Your Swing: The Best Caribbean & Mexico Golf Resorts

Do you live for putting greens and perfecting your golf swing? Are you busy trying for your next ace? Whether you’re a self-proclaimed or nationally acclaimed golf pro, what’s better than top-notch golf courses and even better rated beaches, all in one. In honor of Golfer’s Day on April 10th, here are a few of our top picks for Caribbean & Mexico golf courses.

Puerto Rico is known for more than just its stunning beach views and Latin vibe. Golf courses in Puerto Rico come highly recommended and that couldn’t be truer for Trump International Golf Club at Gran Melia Golf Resort.

Guests at Gran Melia Golf Resort can tee off at one of two 18-hole championship courses, designed by PGA winner Tom Kite. With putting greens to the left and iconic views of the Atlantic Ocean and El Yunque to the right, this course and resort is an avid golfer’s dream.

Gran Melia Golf Resort in Puerto Rico by CheapCaribbean.com

With views so beautiful on this course, it'll be hard to focus on your golf game.

After a long day on the course, go for a dip in the 335-ft, oceanfront, lagoon-style pool, fully equipped with a swim up bar serving ice cold cocktails to help you celebrate your below par game. When it’s time to eat, choose from Italian, sushi or Puerto Rican fare at any of the five restaurants on-site. Mentally prepare yourself for next day’s golf game with a nightcap at The Avenue Bar, one of the many happening nighttime spots at Gran Melia Golf Resort.

The next of our favorite golf resorts comes from La Romana in the Dominican Republic. Caribbean Travel + Life has named the three Pete-Dye-designed golf courses here, “Top Caribbean Golf Courses”. In addition, Casa de Campo La Romana is a 7000-acre resort located on a quarter-mile of beach dotted with lush greens and palm trees.

Casa de Campo Golf Resort in the Dominican Republic from CheapCaribbean.com

The three golf courses found at Casa de Campo are just as beautiful as they are well-known for the course themselves.

Often called a “mini-country” unto itself, Caso de Campo La Romana includes one of Latin America’s only principal polo complexes, three golf courses, a shooting club, an equestrian center, a marina village and a replication of a 16-century Italian village above a river gorge. Schedule a round of golf at Dye Fore, Teeth of the Dog or Links – the three legendary courses here, designed by Pete Dye himself.

After spending the day in a golfer’s paradise, make sure to take advantage of another feature here – upper and lower deck pools with swim up bars, as well as fourteen other pools scattered around the resort. End your day with an authentic meal prepared with local ingredients from one of several resort restaurants. Your Dominican Republic vacation can’t be beat with a stay at Casa de Campo La Romana.

If you’re looking for a resort that not only offers superb golf courses, but also promises a vacation the whole family will enjoy look no further than Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa. The Cinnamon Hill Golf Course that’s home to this resort has been listed as a top course in Jamaica by Golf Digest. 

Hilton Rose Hall Golf Resort in Jamaica by CheapCaribbean.com

Please the entire family with this Jamaican resort with something for everyone.

Not only will the adults enjoy a round at Cinnamon Hill, the kids will get a kick out of the new Sugar Mills Water Park, or Kidz Club and Teen Zone if the parents need a few hours on their own. There’s even an all-inclusive package that includes snorkeling, kayaking, windsailing and 1,000 feet of beach, perfect for all members of the family. As mealtime approaches, chose from one of four resort restaurants with menu items sure to please even the pickiest of eaters. There’s no denying that your next family vacay would be a win for everyone if spent at Hilton’s Rose Hall Resort & Spa.

So now that you’re in the know on where to go for the best golf vacations in the Caribbean & Mexico, it may not be a bad idea to perfect your back swing before you jet away. If you’ve got a favorite golf resort of your own, be sure to comment and let us know!

 

The Perks of All-Inclusive by Chris Gray Faust

The Perks of All-Inclusive 

By Chris Gray Faust, Chris Around the World

Chris Around the World Guest Blogs for Cheapcaribbean.com

My husband and I have different ideas of a perfect vacation. While I have no problem being on the go, he prefers to stay in one place, where he can relax and have everything that he needs at his fingertips.

Blame it on today’s job requirements: Many professionals and executives work 24/7, it seems. While smartphones have made it easy to stay in touch, no matter where you are, they have also increased our working hours. The result? When Don pries himself away from his inbox, he needs to truly unplug.

That’s where luxury all-inclusives come in. USA TODAY has noted that resorts where all of the extras are included are on the rise, particularly in the Caribbean and Mexico. It’s been a popular choice during the recession, when travelers preferred to know the price of their holiday up front, paying one bill instead of many. And while these resorts were once favored by budget travelers, maybe used luxury instead of high end properties have gotten into the act, adding spas, private plunge pools and butler service.

On her trip to Jamaica’s IBEROSTAR Grand, for example, USAT’s reporter, Kitty Bean Yancey, found that her gratis butler would unpack her suitcase, bring her a special pillow, make dinner reservations and uncork her wine. Even within her room category, which she described as the least expensive (at around $300 a day in January), 24-hour room service and a stocked minibar were also included, as well as all meals at the resort’s four restaurants.

Travel + Leisure says that the biggest improvements at all-inclusives is the food (important to foodies like my husband and I). Says writer Ann Shields: “Buffet lines haven’t disappeared entirely, but resorts are recognizing that showcasing fresh ingredients and local cuisine will lure guests with more refined palates.”

Shields’ article also notes that cheesy group events have fallen by the wayside – again, important to someone like Don who just wants to chillax without having to take part in a “meet and greet.”  “Resorts are one-upping each other with an ever-expanding roster of diversions: golf, tennis, ziplines, kids’ clubs, snorkeling trips, Spanish lessons, beachfront climbing walls, kayaking, and trapeze instruction,” Shields writes. “Even lazing on the beach has received an upgrade.”

And how. I noticed on CheapCaribbean.com that the Sivory Hotel in Punta Cana, within the Dominican Republic, has submerged padded loungers in their infinity pool, so you can stay cool and still order a rum drink.  A pina colada poured poolside? Perfection!

The AAA Four-Diamond resort, part of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, also has all-inclusive dining at its three restaurants. Considered one of the best restaurants on the island, Gourmond has an 8,000-bottle wine cellar, and Tau has fresh sushi. While spa services are extra, the rate includes weekly cooking classes, kayaking, snorkeling and access to the steam room and sauna.  Plus, Wi-Fi is complimentary (although I might not tell Don that if I want him to stop working).

I think I feel a sun break coming on.

Make Family Travel Fun this Year

What beach should you take the family to this year? Where should you stay? What fun things should you make sure to see? These are all natural questions you ask yourself when planning for your family vacation. This year take the whole gang somewhere that has something for everyone - adults can relax, children can play and everyone will come home feeling happy and connected.

The Caribbean and Mexico tend to be great places for families and here's a few destinations you'll want to check out as you're making that dream a reality this year.

Jamaica - Fun for the Whole Family

What could scream family fun more than pearly white-sanded beaches, crystal clear waters and an island spirit that you'll never want to leave? Jamaica is the perfect destination for the whole family. A stay at a resort like Holiday Inn Sunspree Montego Bay is the best compliment to a vacation packed with memories you'll never forget.

Jamaica Vacations from Cheapcaribbean.com

Grab a drink by the pool while the kids play at the Kidspree Vacation Club!

This beachfront property comes complete with a half-mile, sugar-sand beach perfect for soaking up the rays. It features great activities for kids of all ages too. Mom and dad can appreciate that one of the two pools, with a swim-up bar, is for adults only, while the kids are rockin' it up in the Kidspree Vacation Club. We also suggest that parents try out the honey-ginger body scrub at Sol Mer Spa and Salon.

Never go hungry with six different restaurants that offer everything from Italian to the traditional Caribbean island fare at Sea Breeze. Once you've appealed to your appetite, it's time to make plans for the trip. A stop at Dunn's River Falls is an absolute must. Dunn's River Falls is known worldwide as one of Jamaica's natural treasures and features thundering falls, hiking tours and scenic views - perfect for plenty of great family photo ops.

Aruba - the Most Unique Family Vacay Yet

If you're looking for a family trip that might be a first for everyone on the trip or want a spot that's not the standard family destination, Aruba is a great option. Home to plenty of great all-inclusive vacations, Aruba has it all for one low price. One of our favorites when booking accommodations here is Divi Aruba All Inclusive.

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After checking out the Divi Winds Sports Center or taking a Zumba class with the family, stop by the main pool for some relaxation.

This resort has a little something for everyone. Be sure to check out the Divi Wind Sports Center, an oceanfront fitness center with a 30-foot rock-climbing wall on the beach. You can also spend your days windsurfing, kayaking or snorkeling. Don't worry, there are bikes in all sizes, tennis courts, beach Olympics and amazing brick-oven pizzas at Pizza per Tutti. There's even a disco for kids and a casino for adults. Or if you want to kick back with a frosty Aruba ariba rum punch and lounge by one of the three freshwater pools, that's okay too. We won't tell. We promise.

Dominican Republic - the Place No One Will Want to Leave

Even though Christopher Columbus was the first to visit the Dominican Republic ages ago, the DR is a spot that's gained some serious popularity in the past few years. It's typically fairly easy to get to and offers miles of golden sands and bold, blue waters at nearly the perfect temperature. One of our favorites places to stay while visiting Puerto Plata, an especially family friendly part of the Dominican, is Lifestyle Tropical Beach Resort & Spa.

Dominican Republic Vacations from Cheapcaribbean.com

Lifestyle Tropical Beach Resort will make the family vacation one no one will forget.

One of the best all-inclusive family resorts around, it offers 1.5 miles of golden sands on the Amber Coast that sets the stage for complimentary access to snorkeling, boogie boarding, kayaking and the perfect tan. There are dance lessons, tennis, volleyball and a cool Kid's Club. The resort's pools offer a designated quiet pool or a main pool with a cool volleyball net and waterfalls, so every member of the family can take a dive. With all you'll save thanks to 24-hour food and beverage service, why not pop for a day at the spa or a round of golf the nearby courses?

While planning your family getaway to the DR, be sure to make time for a trip to 27 Charcos. Located on the Northern Corridor mountain range, Mother Nature has crafted 27 stunning pools etched out of limestone. Experience these impressive waterfalls and pools with the entire family, making for a perfect day spent in the Dominican Republic.

Dominican Republic Excursions from Cheapcaribbean.com

One of the many stunning waterfalls you'll find at 27 Charcos.

There's no denying that you want your family vacation to be one full of memories and great quality time that everyone will enjoy. This year you don't have to chose one feature or destination over the other. With our top family vacation picks, every member of your family will have some fun, so much so, you might never want to leave!