Tourism has come to a grinding halt on St. Martin, Anguilla, Dominica, Puerto Rico and other islands severely damaged by hurricanes Irma and Maria. So what do you do if you have been planning a trip to one of these places?
Marcia Bader of Landow Travel in Baldwin notes that large resort companies including Beaches and Sandals, have been quick to offer affected customers alternatives, including moving an already booked vacation to a future date or switching the reservation to an open resort within the chain. If you haven’t yet reserved rooms, Bader advises to do so immediately.
Islands including Jamaica, the Caymans, Aruba and Curaçao are open for business but already seeing increased bookings. “Because there are no rooms in Puerto Rico and St. Martin, rooms in Jamaica and Aruba are going to sell out that much more quickly,” says Bader. Or a traveler could consider going a little bit farther afield to tropical resorts in Central America. Here are seven options.
If you’ve ever been wracked with envy at the sight of a family on vacation with their very own nanny, plan a trip to the all-inclusive Franklyn D. Resort and Spa on Runaway Bay in Saint Ann Parish, where a personal nanny is one of the amenities included in the price of your stay. From 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (nighttime nannying is extra), your nanny will be available to accompany you to the beach or entertain your kids when you want to play golf or get a massage. She will also keep your room tidy and stock the refrigerator. In addition, there are group activities (cooking classes, tie dyeing, treasure hunts, bike trips) organized for different age groups, a 100-foot water slice, and a treehouse stocked with ice cream. Water sports include snorkeling, kayaking, and glass-bottom boat rides. Four restaurants, a disco (with special early hours for kids and preteens), a gym, and a spa round out the offerings. Rooms start at $350 per night per adult (kids age 15 and younger stay free).
INFO Franklin D. Resort and Spa, Runaway Bay, Saint Ann Parish; 876-973-4124, fdrholidays.com
Check into the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman for a deluxe beach break. Luxurious amenities include Blue by Eric Ripert, the Caribbean’s only AAA Five Diamond restaurant, a Greg Norman 9-hole golf course and a La Prairie spa. Kids are not forgotten at the Ritz. The Ambassadors of the Environment program helps young guests interact with their surroundings, with classes in snorkeling, island cuisine and traditional arts and crafts. Starfish Cay is the resort’s interactive underwater playground for children.
The Sea Floor Submarine Adventure is a tour of Cayman’s underwater marine park in a sightseeing sub. Rooms start at $439 per night, and the longer you stay, the better the deals, valid through Dec. 17: 10 percent off for four nights, 15 percent off for five, 20 percent off for six and 25 percent off for seven.
INFO Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, Seven Mile Beach; 345-943-9000, ritzcarlton.com
Fifteen miles off the Venezuela coast, an area that has rarely been hit by hurricanes, Aruba may be more appealing during hurricane season. For fine dining, shopping and gambling a high-rise hotel can’t be beat. But peace and quiet can be hard to find. The Renaissance Ocean Suites, a family-friendly part of the larger Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino in the lively and picturesque capital, Oranjestad, has a solution to this problem: its own private island, a complimentary water taxi ride away, for escaping the crowds. There are two beaches, one for adults only (where flamingos casually stroll) and one for families, both with lounge chairs, towels and soft, white sand. Spa Cove is a small inlet with a private wading area where you can get a massage. A full water sports program on the island includes snorkeling, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, and sailing. Rooms start at $225 a night.
INFO Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino, L.G. Smith Boulevard 82, Oranjestad; 297-583-6000, renaissancearubaresortandcasino.com
The Santa Barbara Golf and Beach Resort offers families plenty of space and a wide variety of activities. Sprawling over 2,000 acres are an on-site dive center; a tennis center with lessons, clinics and tournaments; a Pete Dye golf course and miles of hiking and biking trails. There are two beaches, two resort pools and four resort restaurants. Seaside and stand-up paddleboard yoga classes are offered. Shuttle service to nearby Willemstad — whose Dutch Colonial center is a UNESCO World Heritage site — means you don’t even have to rent a car to sightsee. A kids’ camp with daily activities for children ages 3 to 12 ensure that parents have some relaxation time. A family getaway package includes 50 percent off an adjoining room. Book a trip on the website, and $5 a night will be donated to Caribbean relief efforts.
INFO Santa Barbara Golf and Beach Resort, Porta Blancu, Newport; 844-288-2124, santabarbararesortcuracao.com
With hundreds of Mayan archaeological sites, rain forest wildlife and the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, Belize is a vacation destination for adventurers. The Jaguar Reef Lodge offers the usual beach resort perks: ocean-view rooms (and two-bedroom suites for families), a full service spa and a pool with a swim-up Tiki bar. In addition, it has a full menu of adventure trips outside the resort that take advantage of Belize’s natural and cultural attractions. When you tire of sitting on the beach, you can go snorkeling, zip-lining, bird watching and tubing. You can hike some Mayan ruins, horseback ride through the jungle, explore caves or visit a cacao farm. Through April 30, 2018 (excluding Dec. 21 to Jan. 4.), the Viva resort group is offering eight days/seven nights at any Belize property or combination of properties (they also have a rain forest lodge and two other beach hotels). The deal includes all meals along with four adventure tours of your choice and starts at $2,261 for adults, $659 for children under 11.
INFO Jaguar Reef Lodge and Spa, Sitee River Road, Hopkins; 888-822-2442, vivabelize.com/jaguar-reef
Long Island surfing enthusiasts seeking a winter getaway might consider Rancho Santana, a 2,700-acre resort with private rental villas and the luxurious Inn at Rancho Santana. On the property’s five beaches, steady offshore breezes combine with a well-angled coastline to turn swells into world-class surf breaks. Private, group and family surf lessons are offered along with board rentals. Coves with gentler waves are used for stand-up paddle boarding. Landlubbers can explore the coast on horseback with a Rancho Santana Stables guide. A Kids’ Club offers monkey and turtle excursions, cooking classes, and Nicaraguan arts and crafts. Private day and nighttime baby-sitting can be arranged. Dining options range from a beachside taqueria, a small plates and tapas restaurant on an outdoor terrace, and fine farm-to-table dining at the resort’s signature restaurant, La Finca y El Mar. Rooms at the Inn start at $285 per night. Villas, many with private pools, are surprisingly affordable starting at $300 per night.
INFO Rancho Santana, Comarca Limon No. 1, Carretera Las Salinas, Tola; 310-299-7550, ranchosantana.com
Sure, there are massive all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica, but if you are going to travel to a place that’s famous for its natural beauty and abundance of wildlife, why not choose a family-friendly beach hotel with a focus on the environment? La Paloma Lodge on Drake Bay checks off all of the boxes. This family-owned compound offers one-, two-, and three-bedroom ranchos, little air-conditioned tree houses perched above the Pacific.
Rooms have private balconies and / or hammocks where you can enjoy cool ocean breezes. A pool is on the premises, the beach is a short walk away and the hotel dock on the Agujitas River is the launching point for kayaks, which can be paddled down to the ocean. Whale watching, scuba diving, sport fishing and zip-lining canopy tours can all be arranged. All meals are included, and special family rates are available year-round on request. A three-night package starts at $930 per person, with 30 percent off for children age 12 and under sharing a room with two adults.
INFO La Paloma Lodge, Drake Bay, Puntarenas; 303-719-8305, lapalomalodge.com