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So Long Summer, Hello Beach: CheapCaribbean.com’s Winter Travel List

As Labor Day comes and goes in the next few days, we’re not only celebrating the hard working folks of our nation, but it also signifies the end of summer and beginning of the fall and winter months. The kiddos are back in school, the leaves begin to change and the temperature begins to fall - this means it’s time to start thinking about where you'll be headed when looking to trade in the cold for warm beaches and fun in the sun. The best winter travel deals await you at CheapCaribbean.com.

Be the First: Breathless Punta Cana, Opening November 15th 2013. 

How does it sound to be one of the first to stay at this brand new all-inclusive, adults-only resort? Scheduled to open on November 15th 2013, Breathless Punta Cana is the perfect place to spend some quality time with the sun and sand. This 4.5-star resort features Unlimited Luxury®, meaning you can expect unlimited top-shelf brand beverages and spirits, 24-hour room service and numerous daily activities, among other things.

2013 Winter Travel - Breathless Punta Cana - CheapCaribbean.com

Spend your days bouncing back and forth between the 700 yards of picturesque Punta Cana beach and the five swimming pools, including an expansive infinity main pool, two quiet pools and two xhale club pools. You can also schedule a customized spa service at the Breathless world-class spa. And when it’s time for dinner, may we suggest one of 12 restaurants, such as Lebanese cuisine at Kibbeh or Sofrito for Latin Criollo cuisine. It’ll really heat up after dinner where you can enjoy one of the eight bars and clubs at the resort, including MartinOX, a cigar club and oxygen club or After Dark, the theater bar that opens up after dinner. So mark your calendars and start counting down the days to the Grand Opening celebration of Breathless Punta Cana.

Have it All: Iberostar Paraiso Lindo Resort, Rivera Maya

As the season begins to change and you’re slowly starting to layer an extra sweater or jacket on your outfit, there’s no denying that the cold is on its way. And while we may all welcome it with open arms after the heat of the summer, it won’t take long to realize we belong on a beach. So when it’s time to grab the whole family or a big group and jet away, look to Iberostar Paraiso Lindo Resort.

2013 Winter Travel Deal - Iberostar Pariso Lindo - Cheap Caribbean

Resting perfectly on a mile-long strip of beach in beautiful Riviera Maya, this all-inclusive, 4.5-star haven has something to offer for every member of your group. Use the currents of the Lazy River to take you around to all of the resort’s five sparkling pools. After you’ve floated in an inner tube down the Lazy River, test your agility in Riviera Maya’s only wave pool. Don’t forget you’ve got the Playa Paraiso Beach calling your name too. For the golfers in the group, schedule a round at the Playa Paraiso Golf Course followed up by a relaxing massage or spa treatment at Iberostar Lindo’s 32,000-sq-ft spa.

As hunger approaches, try some Cajun flare at Jambalaya’s or Italian bites at La Laguna. With up to 23 different dining options, it’s safe to say that your time spent at Iberostar Paraiso Lindo will never be boring. And when you’re looking for some nightlife, have an after dinner drink at the Lobby Bar before heading off to the theatre which offers live, nightly shows and entertainment that’s appropriate for the whole family.

Do it Right: InterContinental San Juan, Puerto Rico

One of our next favorites for holiday travel calls the island of Puerto Rico home. The InterContinental San Juan is the perfect vacay if you’re looking for something luxurious, adventurous and most of all – budget friendly.

In addition to being a great winter travel deal, this resort is an AAA Four-Diamond resort, meaning you can expect the highest level of service and even finer accommodations. Located only five minutes from the airport and on Isla Verde Beach, InterContinental San Juan is pretty much calling your name. Jump in the large, lagoon-style pool to cool off and order a refreshing signature cocktail from the swim-up bar.

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After a delectable dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House or any of the other four restaurants, you’ve got to get out and experience the city that is San Juan. Get warmed up with a quick hand of blackjack at the resort casino and then take to the sizzling San Juan club and bar scene, all within walking distance from your hotel. Oh and don’t forget Puerto Rico doesn’t require a passport for U.S. travelers, making it that much easier to get to during this winter travel season.

So don’t stress as the cool wind of fall and winter approach. We’ve got you covered with some of the best places to escape to when you’re looking for the sun. Find a full list of the best 2013 winter travel deals at CheapCaribbean.com. And be sure to tell us where you’re headed this season in the comments below. Happy End of Summer!

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?

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.

Aruba Vacations from Cheapcaribbean.com

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!

Fun for the Whole Family!

There are many types of vacations people can take. Some prefer adventure; some prefer ultimate romance, while others want to make a vacation a family event. The Caribbean and Mexico are perfect places to plan a fun-filled family vacation. If you're looking to bring the whole crew, check out some of these family friendly suggestions.

The Bahamas: Paradise for Everyone

The islands that make up the Bahamas each have their own unique flavor but still all offer a sense of Caribbean life and culture - a great combo when bringing everyone along. Specifically, Paradise Island has all the amenities a family would want or need. A great budget-friendly option for accommodations on Paradise Island is Comfort Suits Paradise Island.

Paradise Island Bahamas Family Fun Vacation from Cheapcaribbean.com

Comfort Suites Paradise Island doesn't sacrifice amenities but still is easy on the pocketbook.

Not only will you find a pool lagoon tucked in the tropical paradise that is Paradise Island, a swim up bar to satisfy the adults thirst, dining options and free breakfast buffet, but children 12 and under stay free. Yep, you read that correctly. If your family has kiddos under the age of 12, they can stay here at no charge. Another great feature to this resort is its easy access to Atlantis, the mega resort on this island. At Comfort Suites Paradise Island, you get free access to the lagoons, lazy-river, pools, casino, waterslides and beach of Atlantis. And don't forget Aquaventure, a 141-acre water park with a kids' water-play fort. This Bahamian dream brings all the adventure your family is looking for but keeps your wallet under wraps - sounds like a perfect family vacation to us!

Cancun's Classic Family Getaway

Cancun is known for its crystal clear beaches and fun atmosphere. This destination became one of the first Mexican tourist locales years ago, meaning Cancun has what it takes to build the perfect family friendly getaway. With a long list of excursions and tons of resorts plucked onto the coast, Cancun is sure not to disappoint. A great family inspired resort here is the Oasis Cancun.

Oasis Cancun Family Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

Hang with the kiddos at the free-form resort pool. Be sure to swim over to the waterfalls and have a ball.

Oasis Cancun is one of Cancun's first all-inclusive resorts and offers 959 air-conditioned guestrooms in different buildings shaped like Mayan pyramids. This grand resort has something for everyone. With a resort style pool, three swim up bars and a resort marina equipped with paddleboats and kayaks, your days here will be filled with fun in the sun. In the evening, check out one of the live shows or venture to the Up and Down Disco. There's even a nine-hole, par-3 golf course if you're up for a friendly game of golf. There's also easy access to some of Cancun's most splendid excursions, like the Mayan pyramids at Chicen Itza or take a fun zip lining tour. Bottom line is the Oasis Cancun is a Cancun classic well equipped to offer your entire family a vacation they'll never forget.

Dominican Republic: A Fresh Take on Family Fun

The Dominican Republic has always been a beautiful Caribbean destination, but in recent years has gained more popularity as a tourist destination. The main parts of this destination have silky sandy beaches and great all-inclusive resorts, making it a great choice when planning the next family vacation. One of our family vacay picks for the Dominican Republic is Riu Palace Punta Cana.

Punta Cana Dominican Republic Family Vacation from Cheapcaribbean.com

Let the kids hang out in the pool while you swim up to the bar for a quick cocktail.

Located on Arena Gorda beach, Riu Palace Punta Cana has a whole lot of resort to offer. You'll be 150 ft. from the beach with full all-inclusive access to some of the other Riu resorts in this complex, which packs multiple vacations in one. Lounge in a beach recliner while the kids play in the children's pool and poolside drink service accommodates your every need. If you're in the hunt for a little alone time for you and your significant other, let the kiddos hang out at Riu Palace Punta Cana's supervised kid's club, while you take advantage relaxing spa. Don't worry, there's a playground, tennis court and complimentary scuba lesson to satisfy all your vacation urges. And remember...with access to other Riu resorts in the complex you take advantage of their bars and late night hangouts if you're out on a date night.

Gone are the days of having to stress about what will everyone do on the next vacation. No need to question if there will be something that everyone will enjoy. By picking one of these family friendly resorts, you can truly unwind and let everyone have a little bit of fun. After all, family vacations can account for some of the best memories. Start planning yours now!