Top five off-peak destinations for fall 2006

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Canoeing at Myakka River State Park (Photo: Sarasota Conventions and Visitors Bureau)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on August 24, 2006. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: Barbados, destination, Jamaica, Jessica Labrencis, low season, Panama, Sarasota, seasonality, shoulder season, Taos, vacation package.

At SmarterTravel.com, we've long been believers in traveling off-peak; that is, visiting a destination during its slower tourist season. This summer, travelers have suffered expensive airfares and crowded planes, but according to recent reports, they will get some reprieve for fall travel. A handful of airlines including American, Continental, Delta, and United recently cut prices on hundreds of routes for fall travel, lowering prices by four to eight percent.

There are plenty of airfare, vacation, and hotel deals to be found all around the world for post-Labor Day travel, particularly in the U.S., Caribbean, and Central America. Plus, many of these destinations offer unique autumn festivals and events.

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Our top five picks for off-peak travel this fall are Barbados; Jamaica; Panama; Sarasota; and Taos.

Barbados

The most easterly of the Caribbean islands, Barbados is known as "Little England." English, complete with British accents, is widely spoken among native Bajans, but Barbados also has a West Indian flair. The island has been spared from recent hurricanes, making it an ideal vacation spot during the Caribbean's stormy season.

The miles of beaches on the island's tranquil Caribbean and wilder Atlantic coasts draw many of Barbados' visitors. Coral reefs surround Barbados, making watersports like snorkeling, diving, and "snuba" (a mix of the two) popular pursuits.

Other attractions include Barbados' botanical gardens, forests, and wildlife.

Rum is also big business in Barbados, and tours and tastings are available at the Mount Gay, Foursquare, and Malibu distilleries. Banks Brewery also offers tours and beer tastings.

The Barbados Tourism Authority is offering "Best of Barbados" off-peak season deals for weeklong stays. The deals include $200 to $300 off airfare, free hotel stays, attractions discounts, and kids stay-and-eat-free offers. US Airways Vacations currently has a similar promotion, with airfare, accommodations, and attractions deals.

Barbados is a three-hour, 40-minute flight from Miami, and is served by several U.S. carriers including American, Delta, and US Airways. Air Jamaica also serves Barbados, and sometimes offers sale fares from the U.S.

I searched for hotel rates in Barbados to see how much you can save by traveling in the off-peak fall season and found savings of up to $58 per night.

Room type Hotel Off-peak rate Peak rate
King bed, partial ocean view The New Edgewater $78 (April 15 to December 14, 2006) $102 (December 15, 2006, to May 14, 2007)
Two-person studio Allamanda Beach Hotel $137 (April 16 to December 12, 2006) $197 (December 16, 2005, to April 15, 2006)
Studio apartment Coral Mist Beach Hotel $102 (April 16 to December 15, 2006) $170 (December 16, 2006, to April 15, 2007)

For more information about Barbados, check VisitBardados.org.

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