Sun deals lure travellers south

When it comes to beaches, it really doesn't get any better than St. Maarten. ROBIN ROBINSON/QMI...

When it comes to beaches, it really doesn't get any better than St. Maarten. ROBIN ROBINSON/QMI Agency

ROBIN ROBINSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:31 AM ET

It's over. The sizzling summer of 2012 is giving way to cooler days, which has many of us thinking about southern getaways. Here are some ideas:

ARUBA

Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino invites music lovers to get funky with Chaka Khan. The Grammy-winner is a headliner at the island's annual Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival Oct. 5-6. The Funk It Up package includes lodging, two tickets for both nights of the festival, a "meet and greet" with Khan, two Chaka-tinis," and $10 casino match play per guest. Packages must be booked by Oct. 1 for stays Oct. 1-10. Rates start at $247 per person per night (double occupancy) with a minimum four-night stay. To reserve, go to RenaissanceAruba.com and use promo code ER7 or call 800-421-8188. For festival details, see caribbeanseajazz.com.

ST. MAARTEN

The Sunsational Savings deal -- available until Dec. 11 for travel until Dec. 18 -- includes rooms from $189 per night, fifth-night free, daily American breakfast for two and free upgrade at check-in if available. A daily $20 resort fee provides unlimited internet access for any number of devices in a guest room, a $20 spa credit, free local phone calls, access to sauna and steam rooms, Starbucks in-room coffee, some business services, 24-hour access to the fitness centre, and self parking for rental cars.

-- If you are planning a group trip for next year, a new reunion package offers savings on 25 rooms or more. The deal includes four nights' oceanfront accommodations for $449 per person (double occupancy), additional nights from $88 per person, daily buffet breakfast, welcome or farewell reception, Pirates buffet dinner with live dancers and fire show. The deal is good for stays between April 7 and Oct. 31, 2013.

To reserve, call 866-924-8703 or visit Westin.com/StMaarten.

TURKS AND CAICOS

The Venetian on Grace Bay has several packages this fall, including a book five nights, get two free deal for all room types through Dec. 19. Those who book a penthouse suite receive an additional 20% off. Located on Providenciales Island, the resort features an outdoor pool, lit tennis court, fitness centre, barbecue grills and concierge services. The one-to-three bedroom suites have living areas, en suite baths, and kitchens. See thevenetiangracebay.com.

BAHAMAS

-- Above par may be bad in golf but it's good for the wallets of Canadian guests of Treasure Cay Beach, Marina & Golf Resort in the Bahamas. Through Jan. 31, "Canadian" rates start at $95 per night for a standard room with no "book by" dates and no blackout dates during holidays. Meal plans are available from $60 per person per day. For those wanting to break par on the golf course, the resort's new GolftoberFest Weekend will bring a bit of Bavaria to the Bahamas Nov. 2-4. See treasurecay.com or call 954-252-7711 for details.

-- Adventurous types won't want to miss the chance to swim with sharks at Bimini Sands Resort & Marina. Located on South Bimini -- a mecca for scientists and videographers -- the resort is near the Bimini Biological Field Station -- aka "The Sharklab" -- and employs two former lab staffers to run a Shark Encounters program.

Marine biologists Katie Grudecki and Grant Johnson take guests out on a resort boat, drop anchor near a reef and throw "chum" overboard to attract up to two dozen Caribbean Reef Sharks, which range in size from 4-ft to 6-ft. The biologist give a talk on the crucial role the tooth creatures play in the ocean ecosystem, their reluctance to approach humans, and the importance of saving them from extinction. When the feeding is over, guests don snorkels and fins and swim with the sharks! See biminisands.com.

-- Who says a destination wedding is a no-frills event? The Cove, Atlantis, in the Bahamas elevates resort nuptials with a blowout package from $39,500 US.

The Love Your Life: Cove Wedding Escape includes prime beach wedding site, wedding-planner services, licence service with escort and transportation to the registrar's office, ceremony official, professional wedding day videography and photography, photo album and prints, thank-you cards, a $2,500 floral/decor credit, soloist for the ceremony, a welcome event with appetizers and open bar for 30 guests, reception for 30, $2,000 entertainment credit, a bride and groom VIP day, ocean-view suite for five nights, VIP check-in, private airport transfer, in room hair/make-up, couples massage, $1,000 resort credit, couples gift, and a certificate for a three-night return stay at The Cove to celebrate the one-year anniversary. See loveatlantis.com.


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