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Just Say “No” to Staycations

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We get it. Staycations are a great way to save on money and cut down on travel time. During the tough times of the economy, staycations were a necessity as people counted their pennies and cut financial corners where they could. But good news! Those days are behind us and the economy is at its healthiest in a long time. There’s no need to stay at home when a beach vacation is an option again.

So why would anyone opt for a staycation? There’s plenty of rationalizations we can make for staying behind, but with a few of the most common ones debunked, you’ll be packing your bags for the beach quicker than you can say “what should we do this weekend?”

Myth #1: Staycations let you learn about your hometown.

The thinking goes: You can act like a tourist in your hometown and try things you never get around to doing. You can eat at that great new restaurant, or make time to relax at your local spa.

Reality: That sounds great but what if your town doesn’t have a spa (or a decent quality one, at least)? Or worse, there’s not a whole lot to do? It’s not like those restaurants, parks, or museums are going anywhere. You live in this city. You can check them out over the course of a few weekends on your own time rather than packed together in some arbitrarily chosen schedule.

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And one thing that happens on staycations is that your regular life seeps back in. You’re out trying to enjoy your local museum, but then you remember that you have to run by the office to pick something up. Or you notice that your floor needs a quick sweep and mop. Or, gee, my books really need reorganizing. Suddenly, you’re doing chores at home. Not exactly a vacation!

It’s better to go somewhere where you know there’s a spa, like Secrets Aura Cozumel and there’s no chance of accidentally cleaning out your garage.

Myth #2: We'll save money. 

The thinking goes: If I stay at home and do the touristy things here, I’ll save on all that travel money.

Reality: Being a tourist in your hometown may not be quite the money saver you’d expect. If you take in a ballgame, for example, the drinks, food, and tickets will still cost you. Museums charge for entry, and fancy dinners tend to be pricey no matter the location. In the end you’ll pay a lot more during a staycation than you initially thought.

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However, if you book an all-inclusive deal like the one available at Villa del Palmar Cancun Luxury Beach Resort & Spa, the price of food, drinks, and entertainment are built into the overall price. You’ll get the ticket and forget about having to carry your wallet around with you everywhere you go! The price is fixed and you’ll have a clear idea of your vacation budget.

Myth #3: Vacation planning takes a lot of work.

The thinking goes: Visiting a new place means having to research, plan, and travel. No thanks!

Reality: Well, there’s no sugarcoating air travel. But that’s hardly a reason to never see the world. Having to take your shoes off in a security line may be a tad annoying, but it’s just a tiny bump in the road toward a real vacation filled with new experiences and memories. And doesn’t your city have awful traffic, anyway? That’s no vacation!

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The good news is we’re willing to simplify the planning part. If you take advantage of our Seas the Deal offer, you’ll get a 4-5 sun-rated resort at a 3-4 sun-rated price and we’ll handle all the details. You sit back and get ready to take advantage of a top-notch all-inclusive resort, as we work hard to solidify the perfect option for you. Does it get any better than that?

So, a staycation every once in a while sounds good . . . but not as good as a margarita on a sunny beach! Don't you agree?

Brittany Innes is Manager of Social Media at CheapCaribbean.com. She's a travel junkie with a passion for trying new things and being spontaneous. 

The Best Beach for Your Budget

Believe it not, there’s a white sandy beach and empty chair with your name on it. There’s a hotel bartender longing to concoct his signature beverage just for you. And there’s even plenty of cool breezes and warm sunshine that’s just drying to wrap around you. So what are you waiting for? A trip to the beach is calling…and the good news is you’ve got plenty of options, no matter your budget. Here are a few suggestions of fabulous vacations that will accustom every pocketbook.

Quick Weekend Getaways Under $700

Sometimes the perfect vacations are ones that happen spur-of-the-moment and allow you jet set out of town for a few days. That’s what a great weekend getaway is all about. And you’d be surprised to find out that a lot of these fab getaways run under $700 per person.

The first favorite of ours is 4.5-star Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun in Riviera Maya. This luxury resort offers Unlimited-Luxury® all-inclusive, which includes in-pool lounges, adult-only pool access, premium-stoked bars and seven five-star gourmet restaurants. Don’t worry; this feature comes standard at this 496-guest room resort tucked perfectly on 5,000 feet of the whitest sands and bluest waters in Mexico. Even better, three-night getaways start at $519 per person.

Cheap Riviera Maya Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

Another nice quick getaway option comes to you from sunny Montego Bay, Jamaica.  Holiday Inn Sunspree Montego Bay is THE place if you’re looking for somewhere to spend some good quality time together. Better yet, kids stay and eat free here. This all-inclusive beachfront property comes complete with a half-mile, sugar-sand beach, Kidspree Vacation Club, Sol Mer Spa and adults-only swim up bar. With something for everyone, five-night getaways start at $599 per person (not including the kiddos who stay and eat free).

Just the Vacation You Had in Mind Under $1000

Vacations are supposed to be just that – vacations. You shouldn’t have to stress over all the details. That’s why these recommendations have it all and include airfare, food & beverage, as well as accommodations. Any of these great getaways should run you around $1000 per person and make it even more of an excuse for you to get away…

Punta Cana is the premiere hot spot in the DR and that means it’s surely not lacking. That’s the case for the all-inclusive, adult-only Barcelo Bavaro Beach. Indulge in the scrumptious gourmet dining options, hang out at the Bohio pool bar during the day and head over to Disco Bavaro for dancing and entertainment or see a Las-Vegas inspired show at Gran Teatro Bavaro at night. Prices start at $819 per person for four nights. And one extra perk – you’ll have access to its’ sister property, Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe, making it feel like two vacations in one.

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In Mexico, the Iberostar Paraiso Maya is known for having it all. Located on the Playa Paraiso beach in Riviera Maya, this breathtaking resort is fully equipped with five pools, including one indoor pool and a Mayan palace-style wave pool, as well as a lazy river made perfect for floating.

Cheap Punta Cana Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

There’s Lucy's Miniclub for the kids and there’s also a “dine around” program, which allows you to venture to all the sister hotels’ restaurants and bars for limitless all-inclusive options. Five magnificent nights here begin at $869 for August through October 2013 travel.

Go Ahead…The Vacation You Deserve Under $1500

There’s no denying you work hard and deserve a serious break. So why not take the ultimate break with a luxury, top-notch vacation? With a starting price point under $1500 per person, one of our luxury favorites will be the best escape you’ve had to date.

Le Blanc Spa Resort is the 2012 Conde Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice for a reason. It’s also been recognized as an esteemed AAA Five Diamond Resort for 2013, which is awarded based on service & staff. This resort lies along a 250-yeard beach of powdery white sand on Cancun Island’s eastern shore. Because you’re so deserving of a treat, stop by the spa which offers a full menu of treatments, 24 indoor and outdoor treatment rooms and five outdoor couples suites, making it the perfect indulgence for you and your sweetie.

Luxury Cancun Vacations on a Budget from CheapCaribbean.com

With ample gourmet dining options, evening entertainment and even better service, you’ll enter such a state of relaxation you might never want to leave. And with travel dates through August, prices start at $1499 per person.

If you still want to shop around for the right vacation for you, make sure you take advantage of our Beach Budget Finder, which can be found on the right-hand side of our homepage. It’s the perfect tool to build the vacation of your dreams.

And if you haven’t yet, be sure to help support CheapCaribbean.com in the Business Journals’ Social Madness Competition. The winning team will receive a $10,000 donation to the charity of their choice and we’re hoping to give that to Make-A-Wish. You can vote every day through June 17th here.

Prices may vary and price points are based on Ft. Lauderdale, FL departures. 

Five Fiesta Vacations You Won’t Want to Miss

Would it surprise you to know that the U.S. celebrates Cinco de Mayo more so than Mexico? Unless you call Puebla (the city where the Mexican army defeated the French on the fifth of May) home, the likelihood that you’ll find a slew of designated Cinco de Mayo festivities in Mexico isn’t high. But that’s okay; we’ll argue you don’t need an excuse to party in paradise. And what’s better than an ice-cold cerveza, some clear blue waters and some serious rest & relaxation to ring in this holiday?

Let’s start the party in Playa del Carmen. This Mexican hot spot is known for its stellar beaches and even spicier nightlife. Our pick here is 5-star THE ROYAL Playa del Carmen. Not only will you be submersed in luxury during your stay here, but you’re also mere steps from Playa del Carmen’s famed Fifth Avenue. This area of Playa del Carmen is home to plenty of hip nightspots and trendy cafes, making it the ideal area to put on your dancing shoes and party all night long.

Playa del Carmen Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

Don’t worry; your days spent at THE ROYAL will be full of numerous all-inclusive dining options, sunbathing at both of the enormous freshwater swimming pools with built-in Jacuzzis, hanging out at the in-pool lounges and lively swim-up bar, and maybe even a tennis match on the rooftop tennis court.

Puerto Rico is the next party spot we’d recommend. With plenty of options for nightlife and even more things to do and places to see during the day, El San Juan Resort & Casino is an ideal home-away-from-home. Located in the city’s fashionable Isla Verde district, stop in at the resorts’ Club BRAVA nightclub or if you’re feeling like rattling Lucky Lady, hit the slots at the 13,000-sq-ft El San Juan Casino.

Puerto Rico Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

When you’re not busy perusing around the 15 acres of hotel grounds, including pools and beach, plan a day trip to Casa Bacardi, the famous rum factory in Old San Juan. You’ll learn all about the history of sugar cane in the Caribbean, as well as the origins of rum making. And, of course, there are plenty of free samples to go around.

Ready to rock? We are too. That’s why your next vacation party spot should be hosted at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana. This Dominican Republic hot spot was recently named a 2013 AAA Four Diamond hotel and is the first all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel in the world. This resort does everything big, offering 13 restaurants, seven bars and 15 pools. As the sun goes down, stop into the 45,000-sq-ft, Vegas-style casino or grab bottle service at Oro Nightclub, open daily from 11pm – 3am.

Punta Cana Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

And if you’re all about thinking ahead, make plans to attend the Enrique Iglesias Concert on July 23. Tickets can be purchased at the hotel. Your party options are endless here and with a hotel that embraces a rock ’n’ roll attitude, we can’t think of a better place to party hardy.

Another destination known for it’s great nightlife and “party in paradise” attitude is Los Cabos. And why not live it up in Cabo at Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach, All Suites Resort & Spa. This resort has five free-form swimming pools, five Jacuzzis, endless amounts of shady loungers and six swim-up bars, making your days spent poolside unforgettable. And when you’re looking for a beach that’s straight out of a magazine, catch the complimentary shuttle that takes you to Pueblo Bonito’s sister resort on Medano Beach, the perfect setting for continuing the party vibe. When night falls, dress up for one of the resorts’ themed dinners and have a nightcap at the ocean-view terrace of The Lobby Bar.

Los Cabos Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

And since you’ll be busy partying the day away, reward yourself at the Spa at Sunset Beach. This resort spa was named the “#1 Top Hotel Spa in Mexico” and among the “Top 10 Hotel Spas in Mexico, Central and South America” by Travel + Leisure. We recommend the Honey Sugar Glow, where an exclusive formula of crystallized honey hydrates, exfoliates and soothes the skin.

Our fifth and final recommendation for a good, quality place to party is on an island that’s name says it all. Riu Palace Paradise Island is the Bahamas resort that rests on three miles of satiny sand and crystal clear waters making it a true island of paradise.  If you love feeling like a VIP, plan your next trip to this 24-hour all-inclusive spot equipped with a long list of some of our favorite amenities.

Bahamas Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

Hang by the Romanesque pool and Jacuzzi or grab a bite at one of the five delicious dining options. And as nighttime approaches, head next door to the Atlantis Casino and end the night groovin’ at one of four bars, including the Sports Bar open 24 hours a day. Live like the Bahamians do at this Paradise Island must-stay.

So as you might agree, partying can mean a little something different to everyone. Whether you’re looking for iconic nightlife or simply want to waste the day away with a cold one in your hand, celebrate Cinco de Mayo the right way this year – in the Caribbean or Mexico!

Bottoms Up! Signature Vacation Drinks You Have to Try

Sun, sand and a cold drink in your hand – three necessities while on your beach getaway. Here at CheapCaribbean.com, we do our best to provide the sun and sand, all with great deals…but the drink, that’s up to you. Have no fear…we’re here with a few of our island favorites to try on your next vacation.

If the Mexico beaches are where you plan on spending your vacation, we suggest you sip fresh made sangria or better yet, ask your resort bartender what’s his or her favorite. On our most recent trip to Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun, we asked for a specialty and our bartender suggested their famous Havana Lights Cocktail. They even shared the recipe with us, incase you want to give this drink a try at home before you go.

  • Three-fourths oz. light rum
  • Three-fourths oz. coconut rum
  • Three-fourths cup pineapple juice
  • Half oz. melon liquor
  • A few drops of grenadine syrup

Mix and shake the first three ingredients, then pour into a cocktail glass. Add a few drops of grenadine and then finish the drink off with a splash of melon liquor. Garnish with your favorite fruit and enjoy!

Resort Drink Recipes at Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun from CheapCaribbean.com

Grab a happy hour snack and drink at Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun's beachside cafe.

If you’d rather leave it up to the professionals, make plans to stay at Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun. You can also enjoy Unlimited-Luxury® which comes standard at this adults-only resort and promises kayaking, cooking demos, tequila tastings, floor concierges and Vegas-style shows. If this doesn’t sound like a beach bum’s dream, we’re not sure what does.

In Jamaica, you’ll find lots of drinks featuring rum, as it’s one of the island’s favorites. And while there’s lots of drink options on your Jamaican vacation, we asked our devote beach goers what was their favorite and the results are in. It was a tie between a Dirty Banana and Rum Punch – both island signatures.

Resort Drinks from Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa from CheapCaribbean.com

You don't even have to leave the ocean to get a refill at Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa.

Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa is a couple’s retreat, perfect for giving both of these favorites a try. This all-inclusive resort is fully equipped with top-quality liquor and five bars, including a swim up bar, making it virtually impossible not to ask a bartender for one of these sip-savoring signatures. Parked right on Seven Mile Beach, this Sandals resort earned a coveted Five Star Diamond Award for their top-notch service. And don’t worry, there’s seven restaurants, nightly entertainment and even a Piano Bar to make your Jamaican vacation one you’ll never forget.

Dreaming of the powdery white sands and crystal clear waters in Aruba? We are too. That’s why we recommend a luxury Aruba getaway to Occidental Grand Aruba, fully equipped with high-end all-inclusive, upgrade options, and of course, ice cold signature cocktails.

Aruba Drinks at Occidental Grand from CheapCaribbean.com

Dive up to one of the swim up bars and ask for your favorite drink at Occidental Grand Aruba.

Picture yourself sprawled out on a beach lounger while one of Occidental’s staff brings you a mouth-watering, hard-to-resist concoction. Our suggestion on what you should order? An Aruba Chi Chi. This drink is sweet and refreshing as it lends itself in similarity to a pina colada. Made with vodka, coconut, pineapple and ice, an Aruba Chi Chi is the perfect companion to a day spent on the beach.

So now that you have some of our favorites, tell us yours. Also, if you're looking for more drink recommendations, be sure to check out our website with even more options. Cheers, beach goers! 

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.