More often adored for cold weather lures rather than hot weather tours, a summer holiday in the Caribbean is easy on the wallet and a great way to audition an island before spending the big bucks for a winter vacation. For a change of scenery, switch it up this year and head south where you’ll find cool breezes, uncrowded beaches and discounted stays at resorts.
The green islands of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique are rolling out the welcome mat with the #NextStopGrenada campaign chockablock with summer deals. “We introduced a new feature this year with the launching of the Summer Savings card with discounts on hotel nights, tours and restaurants,” said Francine Stewart, marketing manager, Grenada Tourism Authority.
Standouts include gratis nights at the upscale Spice Island Beach Resort and 40 per cent savings at the new Silversands Grenada. Festivals include the Carriacou Regatta August 2 to 5 and the spirited Spice Mas Carnival from August 11 and 12. — www.puregrenada.com/summerdeals
With weekly direct nonstop flights via Sunwing, a getaway to St. Maarten is a breeze. Departing Montreal every Thursday at 8 a.m., hotel packages are plenty like a stay at the family-friendly Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and the adjacent adults-only Sonesta Ocean Point; the largest all-inclusives on the island and the closest resorts to the Princess Juliana International Airport. Gratis entertainment runs the fun gamut from Vegas-style musicals, sax on the beach to gambling at the Casino Royale and street carnivals in Maho Village. — www.sonesta.com/stmaarten.
“Montrealers love St. Maarten for our sunny skies, great beaches and friendly islanders,” said Vergilio Hernandez, sales rep at the Sunwing desk in the lobby. “Although there is plenty to do at the resort, like watching the planes come in for a landing and enjoying a siesta by the pool, our guests also like catamaran sails and day trips to the neighbouring islands. — www.sunwing.ca/
Jamaica is on the summer A-list for affordable beds for heads and Sumfest; Caribbean’s biggest reggae festival from July 14 to 20. — www.reggaesumfest.com
Irie in Negril, Sunset at the Palms is an all-inclusive with rates starting at $152 per person (all prices USD), compared to $215 during high season. Fun all summer, ‘Jamaica-Rama ‘invites with barbecues on the beach, cocktail classes with the bartenders and lunch with the family of goats that live at the hotel. — www.thepalmsjamaica.com
More all-inclusive bargains at Jewel Dunn’s River Beach nearby the iconic waterfalls in Ocho Rios where nightly per person rates that include unlimited play at Runaway Bay Golf Club start at $137 compared to $196 during peak season. — www.jewelresorts.com/dunnsriver
Also in Ocho Rios, Moon Palace is a 704-room all-inclusive on the beach with rates starting at $264 with a gratis play and stay deal for kids. Families staying 5 to 8 nights get a generous $1,500 resort credit that buys spa treatments, catamaran sails and swims with the dolphins. — https://jamaica.moonpalace.com/en
Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa is a seaside all-inclusive with reasonable nightly rates and per person rates starting at $185 in July and $149 in August. www.jewelgrande.com/
For fans of mangoes, the summer is a fine time to visit Nevis across the channel from St. Kitts. From July 4 to 7, Mango and Food Festival salutes the juicy fruit with tastings, cooking lessons and bargains at a slew of resorts. — https://nevismangofest.com/
High above the Caribbean Sea in the shadow of Nevis Peak, Montpelier Plantation is offering nightly rates for mango lovers starting at $186 including breakfast. — www.montpeliernevis.com
The only beachfront plantation-turned-resort in the Caribbean, Nisbet Plantation Beach Club is dishing up nightly rates for Mango Festival fans starting at $185. — https://nisbetplantation.com/#/.
For the party hearty, Culturama celebrates the arts, music and culture of the island from July 25 to August 6.
With summer rates that give high season stays a run for its money, staying a few extra days in St. Lucia is easy on the bottom line. At swanky Jade Mountain, nightly rates for a sweet suite with an infinity pool and views of the twin Piton Peaks start at $1,165. During the winter, those same suites fetch $1,555. — www.jademountain.com
On Reduit Beach, Bay Gardens Beach Resort is dishing up a ‘Sizzling Summer Sale’ with gratis admission to the Splash Island Water Park. — www.baygardensresorts.com/
From baggage carousel to the beach, Coconut Bay is literally five minutes from the Hewanorra International Airport. With 250 rooms, 9 restaurants and 5 pools, all-inclusive nightly rates are one good deal starting at $211. Families staying 7 nights receive $1,000 in resort credits. — www.cbayresort.com
For twosomes with a penchant for plunge pools and butlers, Serenity at Coconut Bay is the adults-only all-inclusive sister resort with nightly rates that start at $332 per person. — www.serenityatcoconutbay.com
Stick around for Carnival in July and the Roots & Soul Festival from August 23 to 25. — www.stlucia.org/specials/summer-specials