By Eileen Ogintz
Tribune Content Agency
Water slides, giant pools, white sandy beaches, kids’ clubs and plenty for grown-ups to do; all that and an environmental lesson or two.
A trip to the beach is a perfect summer getaway — and a bargain too. As long as you opt for a destination that’s off-season in summer — like the Caribbean or Arizona — you can have your pick of deals. You likely will score a cheaper airfare too: Book a flight-hotel package and you’ll save even more.
Club Med, for one, with more than 65 all-inclusive resorts, including the Caribbean, Mexico and one in Florida, is touting deeply discounted rates (starting at under $120 a night all-inclusive per person) , free golf and an air credit up to $300, depending on which resort you choose. For those with young kids, it’s a real bargain as kids under four are free. Take your pick of activities — everything from kite-surfing to flying from a trapeze to cooking classes.
You’ll find kids-free deals at the newly renovated Windjammer Landing Resort on St. Lucia, as well as rates that are 40 percent discounted with a “Sizzling Summer Sale” for all room categories on bookings made by Aug. 31, 2016 ( for travel through Dec. 20, 2016), plus a night free. Two kids, 2 and under, eat and stay free; rates start at under $200 a night.
Check out the Suite Summer offer at Azul Hotels by Karisma with more than 40 percent off at the all-inclusive resorts where you can choose a beachfront Jacuzzi swim-up suite or gather your family in a private oceanfront villa. Rates start at $164 per person. Ready for beach butler service? There are supervised daytime activities and clubs for teens, tweens and toddlers, allowing parents to enjoy luxuries such as cozy beach beds with beach butler service, adult pools, swim-up bars and Zen-inspired spas.
If you don’t care about kids’ clubs and the rest of all-inclusive amenities, consider Ocean Club Resorts in Turks and Caicos, located on the Grace Bay Beach, voted as the number one beach in the world by TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards this year. The resort offers children’s beach toys, cribs, pack-n-plays, high chairs, strollers, baby monitors and a complimentary Seafari program for kids to learn to identify island plants and animals (how many geckos do you see?). There are also full kitchens so you don’t need to corral the kids for every meal in a restaurant. Visit a conch farm and then make conch fritters. Rates start at under $200 a night.
What about the Zika virus? Obviously, if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, the experts say you should stay away from the Caribbean. How about Arizona? Sure it’s hot but the kids won’t want to get out of the water anyway at places like the AAA Five Diamond Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, which turns into a beach getaway with Sunset Beach, its sixth and largest pool, complete with 830 tons of white sand and comfy cabanas. Join the Summer Beach Party with Techno Glo pool parties, dive-in movies, the new four-story Aqua Flyer inflatable waterslide, the new Mermaid University and Swashbuckler Academy for kids 7 to 12, weekend fireworks and a terrific spa. The best part: The Sip, Savor and Sand package that starts from $179 per night with a $50 daily credit, May 1 –through September 10, 2016.
If pregnancy isn’t a consideration — Zika virus can cause devastating birth defects and is thought to be transmitted through sexual contact — pack lots of insect repellent and sunscreen and head for an island getaway. Many consider summer family season in the Caribbean and Mexico because prices are lower and there are many family amenities and deals.
In some cases, entire islands get into the act. Cayman Summer Splash offers a fifth night free at many popular resorts, including the Marriott Grand Cayman Beach Resort, $100 resort credit and the chance for the kids to attend Cayman Islands Sea School where the emphasis is on protecting marine life. You’ll find free admission at many attractions and discounts on everything from dining, attractions to transportation with the Caymankind Discount Card, only in summer.
The St. Lucia Rocks This Summer includes hotel discounts as much as 50 percent and extra savings on tours and attractions, including the Caribbean’s first open-water sports park, Splash Island Water Park, some as low as $1 for kids and $3 for adults. Ready to drive through a volcano?
You will find more ideas in the Taking the Kids 51 Great Ideas for your Best Summer Vacation Ever.
With the Mexican peso at an all-time low (between $15 to $17, per U.S. dollar), you’ll find your dollar will go a lot further. Gran Caribe Resort Cancun and Gran Porto Resort Playa del Carmen, two resorts under the Playa Hotel and Resort’s umbrella, are both offering up to 55 percent off, plus kids stay free all summer long! The Gran Porto Resort is on a secluded beach but within walking distance of the town’s pedestrian area of shops and restaurants. Kids will love the T-Zone and Oki Fun World, complete with a water park, mini golf, arts and crafts and more.
I love the Puerta Vallarta vibe, including all the taco trucks, galleries and, of course, the beaches — 26 miles worth! Also on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, Riviera Nayarit offers small towns to visit, fishing villages to explore and natural wonders to see, including some of the best bird-watching areas in the world, as well as all-inclusive resorts. Read my travel diaries about a visit there. A family itinerary may include a visit to a turtle camp. Nesting season is from June through December.
I bet you’re ready to pack. Just remember plenty of bug stuff!
© 2016 EILEEN OGINTZ
DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.