Conch shell craft, or coconut palm weaving?
At the kids club at the Somerset on Grace Bay in Turks and Caicos, teacher Kaye-Ann Irving-Rigby runs a complimentary program for kids as young as 3 – even if there is just one child in house – where they’ll do crafts with conch shells, weave coconut palms, read local stories and play with toys on the spectacular beach. Maybe they’ll play beach volleyball, Irving-Rigby said.
You’ll find deals like this all around the Caribbean this summer, whether you want to gather the extended family at a villa, an all-inclusive (kids stay free at the all-inclusive Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa in Montego Bay where adult rates start at just $139 per night) or rent a condo from www.homeaway.com. (A two- or three-bedroom unit in the U.S. Virgin Islands can be had for just $239 a night – nearly $100 less than in winter; one in Puerto Rico can be had for even less.)
You can likely find a deal at a high-end resort you can’t afford in winter. (The ultra deluxe Viceroy Anguilla is touting a second room at half price and other discounts.) Hopefully, flights will be less expensive too – Cheapflights.com reports Caribbean airfares drop as much as 12 percent in summer with the best deals to San Juan, St. Thomas and Montego Bay. You might be able to find a flight-hotel deal from Jet Blue, which has increased flights to the Caribbean and also from Southwest, which started service to Mexico City and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic on Tuesday.
Yes, it’s likely to be a little warmer than in winter, but the trade winds will keep you all comfortable. Be mindful that the Caribbean hurricane season officially runs from June through November, though more hurricanes strike in late summer and fall. Consider travel insurance, just in case. Of course, bad weather can derail a beach vacation wherever you go, but that shouldn’t keep you home when there are so many tempting offers like these:
• St. Maarten hotels and resorts are offering rates up to 35 percent off, and in some cases more. The Summit Resort is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a special $40 per guest per night rate (kids under 12 are free). Princess Heights Luxury Boutique Condo Hotel offers a free rental car, as long as you book with the hotel directly. Rates start at just $139.
• Saint Lucia is famous for its beaches, rain forest and even a drive-in volcano and has got island-wide savings that include free nights, discounts over 50 percent and additional savings on activities from zip-lining to catamaran sunset cruises. The St. James Club Morgan Bay is all inclusive and has rates discounted 40 percent on three night or longer stays. The kids’ program starts at age 2, while water sports, including water-skiing, wake-boarding, banana boats, sailing, kayaking and snorkeling are all included.
• Leave your passport at home and opt for the U.S. Virgin Islands, which has just launched a Virgin Islands Nice campaign that allows you to save a minimum of $500 on a stay of five or more nights at resorts on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John, which is home to the wonderful Virgin Islands National Park. TYou get the first night free, a $200 instant credit and $300 in certificates to be redeemed at restaurants, shops, spas and more.
• Fly down the water slides at Puerto Rico’s El Conquistador Resort with the Summer Splash Package that includes passes for a family of four to Coqui Water Park, the resort’s state-of-the-art aquatic playground, plus a $50 resort credit per night. Use the resort credit for golf or Mommy & Me or Daddy & Me spa treatments. Try new Foot Golf – kick a soccer ball into a cup with as few kicks as possible. Rates start at $199 a night – $80 less than in winter.
(Wherever you’re traveling with teens this summer, encourage them to enter the Family Travel Forum Teen Travel Writing Scholarship contest. They could win $1,000 for an essay with photos or video on a trip they’ve taken in the last five years, or at the very least get some practice for those college admission essays. Entries are accepted until July 27.)