May 22, 2009

Think Christmas in May

Now that the weather is just starting to warm up in many parts of the country, it’s hard to think about winter travel planning. But if you are considering a tropical family getaway for Christmas, the time to plan is now. Despite the economic climate, holidays are still one of the most popular times for families to travel, and flights and hotels will continue to book up early.

However, families will find one change in their favor. In the past, a minimum 10 night stay was often required for travel late December through New Year's. But many resorts have relaxed this policy for 2009, which can make a holiday trip easier for families to manage this year.

Here are some great family resorts which are only requiring 7 night stays this holiday season:

Westin St. John Resort & Villas – This is a lush retreat for families who want to either “do it all, or do nothing at all.” Rent a jeep to explore the island, or hike and snorkel in Virgin Islands National Park. Or just relax on the 1,200-foot beach on calm Great Cruz Bay, featuring slides and trampoline rafts. Kids have plenty to do, either in the Westin Kids Clubhouse for ages 3-12, or the 1,200-square-foot teen center with air hockey, video games, foosball, and plasma TV. And the whole family can enjoy activities such as dive-in movies and beach volleyball.

Casa de Campo, Dominican Replublic This is one of the best family resorts in the Caribbean, offering a large variety of accommodations from luxury guestrooms to spacious villa homes. It’s great for family reunions because of the amazing variety of activities, including world renowned golf, tennis, watersports, fishing, cycling, and horseback riding. And parents of infants and toddlers will appreciate having a supervised children’s program and nanny services available.

Fairmont Mayakoba, Riviera Maya– Fairmont Resorts excel at family-friendly luxury, and this relatively new resort in the Riviera Maya is no exception, as my family recently discovered. (Read my trip report here.) Set amidst lush vegetation and canals on a safe swimming beach, the resort offers exceptional dining, fun pools for kids and adults, and spacious rooms and suites. Families wanting the ultimate in pampering and convenience can book beachfront bungalows with private pools and butler service.

Paradisus Playa Conchal – This all-inclusive, all-suite resort on 2,400 lush, beachfront acres in Costa Rica is paradise for families who love nature. The children’s program entertains kids up to age 12 (including babies!), and Family Concierge Suites include specialized amenities for families such as walkie-talkies and a Paradise Kidz Beach Kit. On-site activities include golf, eco-adventures, nightly shows, free cooking, dancing and fitness classes, and a casino.

Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman – They have arguably the best and most unique children’s program to be found, created in collaboration with sea legend Jean-Michel Cousteau. Kids age 4 to 18 can kayak through mangrove jungles, dive underwater in a submarine, learn to navigate by the stars, and practice digital photography. While the program is fully supervised by a well-trained staff, the experience is so spectacular parents often tag along. And everyone is pampered by the traditional Ritz-Carlton world-class service. (Other Ritz Carlton destinations with 7 night minimum stays are located in San Juan, Cancun, Jamaica, and St. Thomas)

St Regis Punta Mita
– This is one of the newest luxury resorts in Mexico, having just opened in November, 2008. The slogan here is "barefoot elegance," with every room offering Signature St. Regis Butler Service, outdoor showers and private terraces, and easy access to a white sand beach. Children are entertained in a bright, cheerful Kids Club, or can splash in the family pool or calm Banderas Bay. Golf, fishing, tennis, and excursions to local villages round out activities for the whole family.

Don't get left out in the cold! To get started planning a great family vacation for the holidays, or any time of year, contact Suzette Mack, Family Travel Specialist, at

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