7 Tropical Resorts for Less
Save hundreds on weeklong, beachfront vacations
when traveling in the fall off-season
By Rebecca Matheson Ortiz
Occidental Hotels & Resorts
The following all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, Bahamas and on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica offer sandy stretches and sunny patios that help you hold on to that last bit of summer, even as the seasons change. They also make the cut for discount travel provider Vacations To Go's list of 100 best-selling resorts, with perks like frozen cocktails, meals enjoyed alfresco and water sports equipment covered in the upfront lodging rate.
So, extend that sun-kissed glow and keep that beach ball rolling just a little longer on a tropical escape this fall, before prices are significantly hiked up for the busy winter season. We've included sample rates available as we went to press, comparing weeklong stays in mid-October to similar vacations scheduled for mid-January. Prices cover two people in a room. To book your trip, call the resort specialists at Vacations To Go, (800) 998-6925, or browse our list of favorite properties here.
Royalton White Sands Montego Bay
Crowning the northern coast of Jamaica, Royalton White Sands Montego Bay is named for the neighboring resort city and shares its pristine, sugar-soft beaches and clear water. The rugged, mountainous terrain of Cockpit Country, known for dense forests and spelunking adventures, is visible from the hotel, providing a verdant backdrop.
This family-friendly, all-inclusive property has 352 guest rooms, eight acres of tropical gardens and 1,400 feet of private beach. The swim-up Dip & Sip bar edges one of two main pools, and a children's splash zone features swirling water slides and a play area for smaller kiddos. A rain shower and a balcony or terrace come with every room, and Wi-Fi is available resortwide.
Five on-site restaurants and a cafe can satisfy cravings for Japanese or Italian cuisine, a juicy steak or fresh, local dishes like jerk chicken, a flavorful Jamaican favorite with the zing of Scotch bonnet peppers and other spices. A kids club provides hours of fun for guests ages 4 to 12, so parents can indulge in a massage or facial (for an extra fee) at The Royal Spa.
Rates: Book a luxury room in October from $306 per night. You'll save nearly $145 over January's rates, which skyrocket to $450 per night.
Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe
The Atlantic Ocean brushes against the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Punta Cana, a resort area on the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic. Here, along the touted Bavaro Beach, Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe basks in the sun. Conveniently, the resort is roughly 10 miles from Punta Cana International Airport and flights are just a 2.5-hour jaunt from Miami.
Coconut palms line the hotel's private 1.2-mile stretch of sand and turquoise sea, which is calm thanks to the barrier created by the island's longest coral reef. Accommodations boast coffee machines and plush beds, so you'll spend your vacation well-rested and energized for activities like tennis, sailing, windsurfing and swimming in the property's four pools. Kids ages 3 to12 are welcome at the Barcy Club, but the entire family can enjoy on-site perks like laser tag, bowling or mini-golf for a minimal fee.
Eleven specialty restaurants entice diners with Spanish-style tapas, fresh seafood and more. Meanwhile, the resort's 1,400-seat theater showcases local talent through live dance and musical performances.
Rates: Deluxe rooms are priced from $201 in mid-October and $352 for January stays, making for $151 in daily savings for autumn guests.
Sugar Bay Resort and Spa
Topping the northeastern edge of St. Thomas, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Sugar Bay Resort and Spa is perched on a hilltop overlooking the sparkling Caribbean. The entire isle is only 32 square miles packed full of beauty and history, so guests are never far from top sites: a butterfly farm, the artists center at Tillett Gardens and the Skyride to Paradise Point, a gondola offering aerial views of the region.
The 297-room resort covers 31 acres with three freshwater pools, a secluded beach along Water Bay, a sports court and a fitness center with a studio for Pilates and yoga. Come together with friends, family and your fellow guests for daily iguana feedings, movies at the theater, karaoke, miniature golf or the weekly Carnival Night Explosion, with a stilt-walker, fire-eater and live band.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at the poolside Mangrove restaurant, and the Shima Bar provides sushi in the main lobby. For a fine dining experience, Chef's Tables offers a la carte selections from chef Ron Duprat.
Rates: A mountain-view room will run $355 per night for a weeklong October vacation, but that rate shoots to $497 per night in January.
Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica
Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica is tucked alongside Culebra Bay in Guanacaste, a province made popular by its vacation-ready spot on the Pacific side of the Central American country. The 202-suite, adults-only luxury resort expertly melds the brightly colored fabrics and soft wood tones of its decor with the lush gardens and welcoming tropical atmosphere of the region.
Guests are pampered with poolside and beachfront wait service as well as reservation-free dining options and top-shelf beverages. Pillow menus and iPod docking stations are available in each room for cozy evenings in, but group activities range from cooking lessons and Pilates classes to movies on the beach and theme nights, which include seaside parties, holiday celebrations and karaoke. Secrets Papagayo also benefits from its parent company's Unlimited Connectivity program, with free Wi-Fi throughout the resort, free calling to the U.S. and Canada and an up-to-date calendar of daily events available through the property's personalized app.
Rates: Bungalow suites with a tropical view start at $390 per night for an autumn stay, while winter rates rise to $562 per night.
Hotel Riu Palace Antillas
This resort is situated along 2-mile long Palm Beach on the northwestern side of Aruba, a Caribbean island less than 20 miles from the South American coastline. It's also beyond the reach of Hurricane Alley, both cooled by trade winds and warmed by year-round temperatures averaging in the 80s.
At the adults-only, 482-room Hotel Riu Palace Antillas, guests are greeted with a glass of cava, a Spanish sparkling wine, that's also made available at the breakfast buffet for morning mimosas. Other eateries include four a la carte options for dinner, with choices among Mexican, Italian, steakhouse and fusion fare; room service also is a popular option, being available 24 hours a day.
Palapa-style umbrellas shade beachgoers in between paddleboarding and snorkeling adventures in tranquil waters. Lounging by a resort pool can be done on an in-water sun bed, at a swim-up bar or upon a padded chaise with access to drink and snack service. After sunset, sample the on-site casino and take advantage of free admission and cocktails at the resort's nightclub.
Rates: Per-night rates for an ocean-view junior suite start at $463 in mid-October and $537 in mid-January.
Memories Grand Bahama Beach and Casino Resort
One of the westernmost links in the Bahamas chain, Grand Bahama Island is known for its underwater cavern system, three national parks and, of course, its azure waves. Memories Grand Bahama Beach and Casino Resort lies on the south side of the isle, near the lively cruise ship haven of Freeport.
Spread out over a half-mile of unblemished coastline, this 513-room gem offers top-notch amenities and a gourmet dining experience. It also covers golfers' green fees at the nearby 18-hole, Robert Trent Jones-designed Reef Club Golf Course. Seven bars and four restaurants offer local specialties and international foods and beverages, and an ice cream counter tempts the sweet tooth with sugary confections.
Bring the whole family to play at the splash pad playground, or drop off your brood at the kids club or teen lounge, outfitted with gaming consoles and Wi-Fi. A 35,000-square-foot casino has slot machines, poker and roulette. The pool is built around the tower of a former sugar mill, a nod to the country's agricultural heritage.
Rates: While a January stay can start at $366 per night, October rates drop to $221 per night.
Occidental Grand Cozumel Resort
Cozumel, Mexico, is an island famous for its dive sites off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Our resort pick is situated in a nature preserve along the southwestern seaside, approximately 12 miles from Cozumel International Airport. A short ferry ride allows access to the mainland and its Mayan ruins and underground caverns.
The hacienda-style, all-inclusive Occidental Grand Cozumel Resort has 251 guestrooms with stunning terraces or balconies proffering garden, mangrove or pool views. Grand buffets are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner while specialty restaurants plate a variety of Mexican, Mediterranean and Italian fare.
Aqua aerobics, water polo, scuba demos at the pool and more are included in the upfront rate. For an additional fee, certified divers can book excursions to the popular Palancar Reef and experience bioluminescent plankton on night dives, while those who want an intimate animal encounter have the opportunity to swim with dolphins.
Rates: Enjoy a $100 daily savings during a mid-October stay, with rates from $138. Deluxe rooms start at $238 per night for January bookings.
The information in this story was accurate at the time it was published in July/August 2016. Please visit Vacations To Go or call (800) 998-6925 for current rates and details.