Aruba, Jamaica, Ooohh we wanna take ya...to the Caribbean for $125/night. Okay, we know those aren’t the exact lyrics, but it’s true: We did some research so we could give you the deets on the best budget picks in the Caribbean this time of year. The price: $125/night. The dates: November 1st through 8th. And we’re off!
Renovated in 2010, the Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort is bright and modern, if a bit plain. The lush garden setting sits alongside a nine-hole golf course and is across the street from the beach. There are three distinct dining options, free nightly entertainment at neighboring hotels, a kid’s club, and two large outdoor pools. We know it doesn’t quite make the $125/night budget, but it’s still a solid deal. And if you’re not sold, check out the Tropicana Aruba Resort & Casino for $116/night — and we’re positive you’ll be fine with the $23/night upgrade.
With a beautiful location on Negril’s Seven Mile Beach, a pool overlooking the ocean, and clean, comfortable rooms, the Negril Tree House Resort attracts families, couples, and groups. Though there are few on-site amenities, there are many dining and entertainment options nearby. Plus a sizable buffet breakfast, yoga classes, and free WiFi in the common areas are included with the price of your room, significantly adding to the value.
The sprawling Grand Lucayan property sits on a lovely stretch of white sand beach on Grand Bahama Island. It is centrally located near Port Lucaya and is across the street from the busy Port Lucaya Marketplace. Hotel grounds are scenic, with immaculately kept amenities, and three exceptional pools. There are eight on-site restaurants, but guests complain that some shut down in the off season. But hey, for $98 a night, this place is an outright steal.
One of few budget hotels in Provodenciales, the Ports of Call Resort is a small boutique with a great location, modern decor, bright, clean rooms, and a dedicated beach space. Though it’s not directly on Grace Bay Beach, the hotel offers a free shuttle service, or guests can simply make the five-minute “trek” across the street. Ports of Call has on-site laundry, a business center, a gym, free parking, and free WiFi. It is popular with families because of its kid-friendly features (playground, daily activities, etc), but poolside happy hour and karaoke attract other travelers as well.
Let’s face it, when it comes to Caribbean vacations, St. Lucia is not exactly cheap. So yes, we were disappointed to learn that our budget pick, the Fond Doux Holiday Plantation, is currently asking for an over-our-budget price of $144/night. But our disappointment quickly turned to elation when we saw what Jade Mountain is charging (a whopping $1,100/night). Guests at the Fond Doux will be pleasantly surprised with the property’s lush surroundings, organic farm-to-table restaurants, and 11 free standing bungalows, each with charmingly bright Caribbean decor. However, the hotel is not on the beach, and there is no in-room TV, Wi-Fi, or air-conditioning.
For a budget chain hotel, the Doubletree by Hilton San Juan is surprisingly sleek, modern, and comfortable. Its large rooms, free Wi-Fi, tropical pool area, and four diverse dining options make up for its off-the-beach location and distance from popular tourist spots. Plus, its neighborhood of Condado is known for its laid-back attitude, upscale shopping and dining, and beautiful (if a bit crowded) beaches.
Like many of Punta Cana’s mega resorts, IFA Bavaro Village Resort & Spa is an all-inclusive. This means $125/night includes meals, non-motorized water sports, top-notch spa treatments, and a multitude of entertainment options. However, guests can expect numerous sales pitches throughout their stay, miscellaneous charges, and a lack of a la carte dining options. It should also be noted that this resort, while family friendly, is very popular with spring breakers. So unless you’ve been dying to relive your college days, steer clear during peak spring break months (late February-early April). Visiting during the off-season, like during our dates in November, will also guarantee this lower-than-usual rates.
With two beautiful beaches, an oceanfront pool, and a lively on-site restaurant and bar, the Flamingo Beach Resort is quite the bargain for $100/night. Sure, the beach gets a little crowded with non-guests and some aspects of the hotel are a bit dated, but the huge, condo-style units (all rooms come standard with full size kitchens) and manicured grounds offset some of the lackluster details.
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