Top Beach Vacation Packagers
Giles Douglas, Flickr
1. Pleasant Holidays
Pleasant Holidays specializes in Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean and has been ferrying fugitives from the work-a-day world to beach destinations since the Eisenhower era. It's known for its "Hot Deals Packages," and currently that means some savings of up to $500 per booking as well as free Hertz car rentals, free hotel nights and more. In addition, for families considering Hawaii, kids fly for $150 off the regular price.
For Mexico, the Hot Deal sheet has a three-day getaway to Cancun with a stay at the all-inclusive Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort for a starting rate of $835 per person, including air and $500 in resort credits. Make it a seven-day vacation with non-stop flights on American from New York and the rate becomes $4,294 for two including taxes and fees, $1,500 in resort credits to be used on spa, golf and other interests, and a $238 slice of travel insurance.
How does that compare? A check for a similar package via Orbitz on the same dates from the same gateway and for the same hotel produces options that begin at $3,980 for two people for seven days, not including resort credits, trip insurance, or taxes and fees.
If you are looking for a more luxury vacation, Classic Vacations often works with high end properties in Mexico, Hawaii, and the Caribbean. You'll see names like Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, Fairmont and One&Only, on its list of accommodations in various destinations. The discounted (though not cheap) packages include a week in March at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands for $5,057 for two people, including roundtrip air from New York, seven nights at the Ritz, all taxes, plus a bottle of Champagne and a bowl of chocolate covered fruit. Make that the Hyatt Regency Curacao and the price drops to $3,843 for two people from New York, including a $200 food and beverage credit as well as an additional $200 personal credit each to be used however you wish. Extend the stay from seven to eight nights and the eighth night is free.
3. GoGo Worldwide Vacations
GoGo Vacations Worldwide sells its products through travel agents only, but makes it easy to locate an agent should an appealing place and price pop out (GoGo puts its muscle into hotel deals and lets travel agents handle the air travel). However, what GoGo can offer that most other wholesale vacation providers do not is cruising. Cruise specials can be as economical as a seven-day sail from New York to the Bahamas on the Norwegian Jewel for $449 per person, including up to a 4-category upgrade and a coupon booklet with $400 in savings.
4. Southwest Vacations
Southwest Vacations is great for last minute planners since they pair hot destinations to sudden fare drops. Naturally, most of these super saver escapes will be to Southwest Airline hot spots, such as Las Vegas and Orlando. Stay four nights at the MGM Grand in Vegas for about $430 per person, including air from Oakland, California. Seven nights in Orlando from Baltimore/Washington at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa with airfare from Baltimore costs $319 per person. And this is Southwest, so you'll also get no baggage fees, flexible air schedules, and low taxes and surcharges.
5. Delta Vacations
Delta Vacations runs vacation package specials to just about anywhere people travel: Asia, Europe and Africa included. But the easy warm weather beach deals are plentiful in Florida and the Caribbean. A week in Fort Lauderdale, including flights from New York, starts at about $530 per person. Or fly from Atlanta to Fort Myers with seven nights at the Outrigger Beach Resort for about $1,000 per person. Rather go to the Caribbean? A week at the beachfront Grand Melia Puerto Rico (which also has the largest lagoon-style pool on the island) starts at $1,150 per person including the flight from Atlanta and transfers once you arrive in San Juan.