Caribbean: A West Indian Summer

Caribbean: A West Indian Summer

Image credit: Beaches Resorts

It’s known for winter sun, but the Caribbean sparkles in summertime too, writes Jo Cooke

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Come summer, holidaymakers can take their pick of destinations. Those seeking guaranteed sun, with the obligatory sea and sand, only have to hop as far as Europe to get their fix. And if the British weather holds, staycations are also a good alternative.

Yet summer holidaymakers could be missing a trick by ruling out the Caribbean. Sure, it’s a tad warmer and they might get a few more showers (a good excuse to seek shelter with an extra cocktail in the bar, surely) but the weather – and the prices – might be better than they expect.

Here’s our guide to the pros and cons of going tropical for summer.

More bang for your buck

Summer is low season in the Caribbean, and as demand for accommodation falls, so do prices.

“Hotels lower their rates, sometimes by up to 50%, which means families can secure great deals, even at top hotels,” says Caribtours product manager Katherine Hobbs.

It’s also a good time for added value, such as one or two free nights, according to Helen Tabois, senior product and marketing manager at ITC Luxury Travel.

She says: “Our travel specialists always look to negotiate little extras such as a complimentary room upgrade or a spa treatment. Flights may be more expensive in school holiday periods, but not in early summer. If you’re not bound by school holidays, May and June are ideal to take advantage of lower air fares, too.”

Changes to Air Passenger Duty mean flying to the Caribbean with a family is cheaper this year.

Funway Holidays marketing executive Rebecca Evans says: “Many families will benefit from recent changes to APD. On economy flights, the cost of getting to the Caribbean has been reduced by £71 for under-12s.”

Weather watch

Hurricanes are an understandable cause for concern, but while the official season runs from June 1 to November 30, big storms are much less likely at the start of the season.

Western & Oriental’s head of product, David Pointer, says: “If they do occur, they often happen later in the year than the school summer holidays.”

And not all islands are equally vulnerable. Those in the south of the archipelago, such as Barbados and Aruba, lie outside the ‘hurricane belt’ and get hit only once every 20 and 28 years respectively.

It’s worth warning clients, though, that the weather is more humid at this time of year, and they are likely to experience sudden bursts of so-called ‘liquid sunshine’.

But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing: with temperatures in the high 20s, a quick shower can cool things down and provide a welcome break from the sun.

Escape the crowds

Another advantage to visiting during the summer is that there are fewer people with whom to share paradise, and even if there are more families travelling, it’s still nothing like as crowded as the Christmas to Easter period.

Caribtours’ Hobbs adds: “Travelling in low season also means that unlike many places in Europe, you won’t be fighting for a sunlounger by the pool or for the best spot on the beach. In fact, travel to some of the smaller Caribbean islands and you could have a whole beach to yourself.”

Family fun

Family in Turtle Beach pool

Many of the larger resorts have kids’ clubs and year-round activities, but in a bid to lure even more families to their shores, Caribbean hotels pull out all the stops in summer, adding treats for children of all ages.

Buccament Bay Resort on St Vincent offers a theatre school run by stars from the West End, or for aspiring athletes, complimentary sports coaching with high-profile names including Sally Gunnell, John Barnes and Lewis Moody scheduled to appear this year.

Barbadian resort Sandy Lane runs a Summer Sports Camp, with highlights including golf lessons, beach volleyball and five-a-side football. The BodyHoliday Resort in St Lucia is repeating its Well-Fit Families programme from July 12 to August 30, offering yoga, healthy cooking and sailing.

There is even something for literary-minded whippersnappers. Elite Island Resorts has arranged for children’s illustrators and storytellers from Puffin books to host workshops this summer.

They’ll be at St James’s Club and Villas, Antigua, from August 16-20, and for pre-school children, at St James’s Club Morgan Bay, Saint Lucia, from September 14-18. Activities will include drawing, reading, games and quizzes based on the stories. Events are free for all-inclusive guests.

Party time

Perhaps the most exciting added-value extras are the huge celebrations that take place in the summer months.

Hayes & Jarvis destination manager Samantha Fowler says: “July and August are carnival time for many islands, meaning there is a great buzz and plenty to get involved in.”

Carnival is, in effect, a giant, free party. The colourful and bombastic Bajan Crop Over, Spicemas Grenada and Antigua Carnival run from the end of July to the beginning of August. Expect live music events and street parades with dancers, acrobats and fire-eaters, all dressed in the most elaborate costumes.

Sample Product

Hayes & Jarvis offers seven nights’ room-only at the four-star Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort in Aruba from £4,899 for a family of four. The price includes flights from Heathrow and transfers, departing August 10.

Funway Holidays offers seven nights’ all-inclusive at Turtle Beach, Barbados, from £1,499 a person, based on a family of four sharing a Junior Suite Oceanview room. The price includes flights from Manchester and transfers, travelling from August 10-17.

Caribtours offers 7 nights from £1,849 per adult, children from £901, based on 2 adults and a child sharing a Two Bedroom Garden Villa with Plunge Pool on All Inclusive, including return scheduled flights, complimentary transfers and use of a lounge at Gatwick.

ITC Luxury Travel offer seven nights’ all-inclusive at Beaches Negril, Jamaica, from £6,799 for a family of four sharing a Grand Luxe Beachfront Room. The price includes flights and private transfers, and is based on an August 23 departure.

Seven nights with breakfast at True Blue Bay, Grenada, starts at £935 in August with Western & Oriental. The price is based on two sharing, including return flights and transfers.


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