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Top 10 All-Inclusive Vacation Destinations

Top 10 All-Inclusive Vacation Destinations

Any kind of “top 10” list is bound to be subjective. There’s no way around it. It is impossible to account for everyone’s tastes and address every possible variable of a vacation and a resort. However, the following “Top 10 All-Inclusive Vacation Destinations” turn up again and again in listings on the Internet and in travel magazines, too. To make sure you are making the right choice, you should talk to as many people as you can who have actually been to the resort you are considering.

The idea of all-inclusive vacations is not that old, but it has caught on like wildfire because it takes much of the worry out of trip planning. It is not likely you could put together a vacation package for less than the “all inclusives” charge, but not everyone goes this route to save money. The high-end resorts of the all-inclusive variety are pricey, but there are also some bargains to be bad if you do not expect five-star amenities at three- or four-star prices. The following are not in any particular order, but many are clustered in the Caribbean because of its longstanding popularity.

1. Goldeneye Resort, St. Mary, Jamaica: James Bond fans have made the Goldeneye a top pick in many resort listings. This Jamaican retreat was built by Bond novelist Ian Fleming in the 1950s and he is said to have written 14 of his “007” thrillers there. The “short report” on Goldeneye is that it is “a magical place” that provides simple luxury along with carefree, casual comfort. Many celebrities flock to this spot for the privacy, and Goldeneye’s main beach is clean, uncrowded and private with fluffy white sand and warm, crystalline waters. The 007 cachet, great privacy, good food and fabulous grounds combine to make Goldeneye a favorite all-inclusive resort.

2. Sandals Royal Bahamian, Bahamas: As a chain, the Sandals Resorts have been voted “World’s Best” for the past 10+ years by travel professionals worldwide. Many longtime travel agents, who should know, believe that Sandals does “all-inclusive” better than anyone, and they should – they invented it. Sandals does everything with an unsurpassed emphasis on quality, so it is by no means a “budget” destination. This particular Sandals resort – with its offshore island, eight restaurants, seven pools, valet service and Rolls-Royce airport shuttles – will meet the demands of the most discriminating travelers.

3. Sandals Antigua Resort & Spa, Antigua: Situated on Dickenson Bay, the island’s premier (and most famous) beach, this is the chain’s “romantic getaway.” It offers Caribbean village charm plus the refinement and luxury of a world-class, all-inclusive resort, and was voted the “World’s Leading Honeymoon Resort” for four straight years. Crystal clear air and winding paths welcome you to hidden hammocks for the happy twosome.

4. Secrets Excellence, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: Situated far from city crowds on a remote portion of Caribbean shoreline – in its own palm tree forest, no less – Secrets Excellence has everything from live stage shows, hot …

10 (almost) Free Travel Deals

10 (almost) Free Travel Deals

While you’re unlikely to get an all-expenses-paid trip unless you win a game show, you can still get portions your trip for free if you book certain promotions or take advantage of some alternative modes of travel. Here are my picks for top limited-time and long-term “free” travel deals worth checking out.

1. Kids Fly Free to French Polynesia

Never considered French Polynesia for family vacation? Maybe Air Tahiti Nui’s kids-fly-free deal will persuade you. When you book two adult Air Tahiti Nui fares from Los Angeles to French Polynesia from January 12 to May 31, 2009, you’ll get two free fares for kids ages 11 or younger. The deal is valid for flights to Papeete, Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Bora Bora, Rangiroa, Manihi, Tikehau, and Fakarava. Adult fares start at $1,428, including all taxes. You’ll still be responsible for paying taxes on the free children’s fares.

2. Organize a Group Tour, Travel for Free

If you organize a group of people to book a package tour together, many tour companies will allow you, the group leader, to travel for free. You can choose to accept the freebie or spread some savings out to everyone in your group. Either way, it’s a good deal. Each tour operator’s group tour policy varies a bit, but most require you to put together a group with at least 10 paying individuals before you’ll get a free spot.

For example, Grand Circle Tours, a company that runs trips geared towards mature travelers on six continents, lets a group leader travel for free with 10 paid travelers on river cruises or 16 paid travelers on land tours. Go Ahead Tours, a similar operator, gives two free spots for every group of 12 or more paying guests. Be sure to ask your tour company if they offer similar deals.

3. Pay for Three Nights, Get Seven at Club Med

Club Med’s recurring “Seven-Day Weekend” package is back, promising seven nights for the price of three at eight of its all-inclusive resorts. The deal is valid at family-friendly Club Meds in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Cancun and Ixtapa, Mexico; Sandpiper, Fla.; Caravelle, Guadeloupe; and Buccaneer’s Creek, Martinique; as well as adult-only Clubs Meds on Columbus Isle, Bahamas, and on Turks and Caicos. You must book by December 15 and travel by February 13 to take advantage of the promotion. Seven-Day Weekend prices range from $793 per person (normally $1,190) at the Sandpiper, Florida Club Med to $1,065 per person (normally $1,610) at the Buccaneer’s Creek, Martinque Club Med.

4. Free Weekend Rental Days From Hertz

Hertz knows the only the thing better than a weekend away is a three-day weekend away. The company makes it easier for renters to take longer weekend trips by offering the first day free when you rent a car for three or more weekend days, including a Saturday overnight. The deal applies to economy- through premium-class cars rented through March 31, 2009, in the U.S. and Canada, excluding Hawaii

5. Kids-Fly-and-Ski-Free Packages

For …