Ready to build the biggest sandcastle ever? Maybe you'd rather jump some waves with the kids or read that novel on the beach while they're happily engaged elsewhere.
This summer, if you are willing to fly, you may find a better deal in the Caribbean or even Hawaii than in traditional beach resort towns like Newport, R.I., or Cape Cod, Mass. In fact, when Travelocity named summer's Top 10 family destinations, after Orlando, they included Cancun and Puerta Vallerta, the Hawaiian Islands, the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos and the Dominican Republic.
Travelocity spokesman Genevieve Brown says rates can be as much 50 percent less than last winter. "And that doesn't even include value adds like upgrades and resort credits," she said, noting that the Caribbean has some of the most aggressive offers.
For example, The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas (www.ritzcarlton.com) touts "Reconnect," which includes breakfast and a $100 daily resort credit, rates starting at $359 a night (at least $200 less than in winter) and even a kids' sailing and windsurfing camp. Look for deals starting at $250 a night, plus a resort credit of up to $400 at the brand-new Grand Solmar (www.solmar.com) on the beach in Cabo San Lucas with lower rates at its sister properties next door. Families will like the mini kitchens and the location that's within walking distance to everything.
"People need to take advantage to offset the rising cost of gas and airfare wherever they're headed," she said.
Look for deals at upscale Caribbean resorts from www.perfectescapes.com.
Travelzoo Senior Editor Gabe Saglie notes that Hawaii, which typically isn't known for summer deals, can be a bargain this year, as it tries to recoup from the hit it took from the drop in Japanese tourists following the earthquake and tsunami. Early predictions state tourism to Hawaii is expected to fall by 45 percent as a result. "All of a sudden it is much more affordable than we expect," he said.
For example, the newly renovated Kauai Marriott Resort's (kids will love the pool complex) Free for All deal includes free golf for the kids, discounts on food, room upgrades and more for just $259 a night. (Visit www.kauaimarriott.com and enter promotional code FLP.)
Maui's newest luxury resort, Honua Kai Resort & Spa (www.honuakaimaui.com) on 38 oceanfront acres slashed 35 percent off their rates and threw in a fifth night free at the all-suite resort where families can spread out and eat some of their meals in their suites.
There are plenty of condo deals, too, like up to 40 percent off at Aston properties (www.astonhotels.com), which offer resort amenities and kids programs.
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