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THE GETAWAY: Seven Escapes to The Caribbean

C7 So here it is, mid-November, and I have friends who are already lamenting the onset of winter. Reminding them that winter is officially more than five weeks away only make matters worse. So for those freezing souls, here’s an idea. How about heading to the Caribbean for a quick fix of the sun, at prices that seem less than daunting?

The fact is that between Thanksgiving and December 14, you’ll find the sweet spot for Caribbean travel, a hidden low season before high season kicks in for the next five months. Those three weeks after Thanksgiving and before Christmas are when some of the best deals go begging in the Caribbean. The reasons are easy to discern. People are waiting to take a vacation later on in the winter, or they’re wrapped up in the holidays, or vacation is, frankly, the last thing on their minds.

So if you can drop everything and nail a decent airfare, you can expect discounted rates and enough sunshine to ease the prospect of a long winter. Here are seven getaways to look at.

BLISSFUL NEVIS, BEFORE GREENWICH ARRIVES

Four Seasons Resort Nevis (above) is one of the most popular resorts in the Caribbean, especially among the well-heeled golf crowd. But you can beat the Bear Stearns bunch to the beach by booking the "West Indian Summer" vacation package. You get a resort credit of up to US $100 per night and rates that start at $475 for a deluxe mountainside room, with a guaranteed upgrade to ocean accommodations at the time of booking. No minimum stay is required. And to get an idea of what kind of deal this is, that same room jumps to $695 ($1,000 at Christmas) in high season, with no upgrade or resort credit. The package is available from November 24 until December 14, 2007.

C8 PUERTO RICO ON A GUESTHOUSE BUDGET

One of the best things about Puerto Rico is that San Juan is served by nonstop flights from many parts of the United States. And for those who haven’t gotten it together to either obtain or renew a passport, bingo, you don’t need one to visit. At Wind Chimes Inn, located in the Condado area of San Juan, is a 22-room property in a restored Colonial villa that’s a short walk from the beach. It’s a low-key guest house, with terra cotta floors, 10 foot ceilings and small rooms that are comfortable, not fancy. Rates start at $75 per night for a standard queen, until December 15, 2007.

ALL-INCLUSIVE (LESS 35 PERCENT), ON ST LUCIAC6

Set among 12 acres of botanical gardens, East Winds Inn has one of the loveliest beaches in St. Lucia. There are 30 cottage-style rooms on the grounds and the cottages themselves are trimmed with gingerbread fretwork and topped with traditional Caribbean shingle tiles. East Winds is an all-inclusive, but it couldn’t be less like the large resorts that call themselves all-inclusives in the Caribbean. It’s small, for starters. It’s a place that’s about hiding away, offering low key elegance in a setting of tropical tranquillity. And hey, it’s the only Caribbean resort that has a Steinway grand piano, and expects its guests to dress in smart, casual clothes in the evening. If it sounds a little Ian Fleming-ish, okay. Rates start at $300 per person (based on double occupancy) and include all meals and selected wines. On December 21, they rise to $475 per person. So go now.

C1 ROOM AT THE INN ON ANGUILLA

Anguilla is an expensive island, so finding the eclectic 17-room Arawak Beach Inn is indeed a find. Rates right now are $155 per night (they shoot to $225 on January 3). The architecture is a tad peculiar: thatched roof candy-colored octagonal bungalows. But most studios and one bedrooms have views of the water. It’s a walk to the beach, but at these rates, that’s expected. The deal is good until December 21, 2007.

JAMAICA BREAKC5_2

No one expects a break at The Ritz, which is why this offer from The Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort, Rose Hall, Jamaica is especially appealing. And there are direct flights to Montego Bay to get you there. The Ritz’s Reconnect package has room rates from $299 per room per night, for a garden view room or ocean view suite (based on availability), daily breakfast for two at the Horizon restaurant and a $100 resort credit per night that can be used for recreation activities, dining and the Spa. It’s good through December 20, 2007.

C3 TURKS & CAICOS BEACHFRONT

The Turks & Caicos have long been lauded for their incredible beaches and the condo-style Alexandra Resort has an especially nice stretch of Grace Bay Beach, one of the finest in the world. Suites are either oceanfront or have an ocean view, and they feature fully equipped kitchens, duvets, Egyptian cotton linens and private balconies. The free-form swimming pool has the requisite swim-up bar, there’s a beachfront fitness center, and lighted tennis courts. The "Alexandra Super Saver" runs $800 for a superior ocean view studio for a five night stay. It’s good until December 15, 2007.

ST MAARTEN CALLINGC2

There are travelers who are loyal to the Westin brand, and many of them have given the nod (check Tripadvisor) to The Westin St. Maarten, Dawn Beach Resort & Spa. Yes, it’s big, a 317-room property on the south-eastern shore of St. Maarten, with a full spa, an infinity pool, fitness room, on-site casino and five oceanfront restaurants, including a sushi bar. And yes, those Heavenly Beds, which are pretty heavenly. What makes it more appealing is the Fall Special, with guest rooms from $149 through December 13, 2007. Ocean view rooms begin at $179 a night while ocean front rooms for $229 a night. Are you packing yet?

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