The best Caribbean bargains

Our expert answers readers' questions on island bargains, London flats, Costa del Sol classics and Florida fortunetellers.


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Donald D. Groff
April 15, 1999 1:48PM (UTC)

Could you please point us toward bargains for short Caribbean island
vacations?

Caribbean bargains come and go, depending on the time of year, airline
competition and weather patterns in the United States (warm winter equals more
deals).

The Caribbean has traditionally been uncoordinated when it comes to marketing
itself as a region, but in recent years there have been several efforts by
airlines (mostly American Airlines) to team up with dozens of hotels and
resorts to offer package deals during "slow" periods.

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When economizing, consider islands that have easy air access from where you
live (nonstop flights if possible), offer a wide range of lodging and are popular
enough to attract competing tour packagers.

A good source is TourScan,
a travel agency that books vacations in the
Caribbean, Bermuda and the Bahamas. Its search engine lets you designate Caribbean
islands, price range and special interests, then reveals resorts that offer
what you seek. Information is also available by phone at (800) 962-2080.

Also check the sites of different airlines, whose vacation branches often have
specials available: Try American, Continental and Air Jamaica.

While travel Web sites are a great place to go for tracking down Caribbean
packages, don't overlook the Sunday travel sections of major newspapers, which
often have mass-market deals that can't be beat. For print advertisements and
online offers alike, act quickly. The best deals
don't last long.

Among travel sites for locating Caribbean deals are: Expedia, Travelocity.com,
Preview Travel,
TheTrip.com,
Internet Travel Network,
Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel Online and
1Travel.com.

An excellent source for researching islands is a hefty new book, "Caribbean
Vacations: How to Create Your Own Tropical Adventure" (Moon Travel Handbooks,
1998), which is a primer to the various islands' highlights and lodging
possibilities.

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Also check out the Caribbean Tourism Organization site.

I am inquiring about a long-term (three- to six-month) flat rental in London or
environs. It is very difficult to evaluate the info. Can you help?

The most helpful single source you can find is a 96-page booklet
from the British Tourist Authority
called "Apartments in London."
It lists many properties, including "self-catering apartments,"
in many price ranges, beginning at less than $200 per week.
The booklet also lists U.S. agencies through which you can
find such lodging, as well as names and numbers for London
companies that let apartments. Phone (800) 462-2748 to order
the booklet.

If you locate an apartment through an agency, keep in mind
that the agency is getting a commission that you might be able to
save if you track down a place yourself. For many people, the
commission is well worth the time saved, but you might be able to
find your best deal by contacting the housing manager directly.

You can also find advertisements for London lodging in travel
publications such as International Travel News; you can also phone (800) 366-9192 for a sample issue.

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Do you have any info about Costa del Sol, Spain, specifically the area
around Fuengirola? What are the beaches like? Shopping? Food? Other?

Find a wealth of information on the region by going to Andalucia.com, then clicking on "The Costas" -- Costa del Sol, Costa
de Almeria, Costa Tropical and Costa de la Luz.

For Costa del Sol you'll find 13 towns listed with links, including
Fuengirola, whose description begins this way:

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"Fuengirola is probably most famous for its five miles of sandy beaches,
flanked by high-rise hotels and residential blocks of apartments with
magnificent views of the Mediterranean and sweeping coastline. A recent
landscaping drive by the local municipality has resulted in a wider promenade
and plenty of palm trees, interspersed with colorful flower beds and
additional seating ... The advantage of staying here is that it is a compact
seaside resort and town [with] an excellent selection of supermarkets and
competitively priced shops, as opposed to being restricted to the typical
gift shop strip with its imported shells and T-shirts."

Also worth checking is the Tourist Office of Spain site.

We are planning a trip to Florida and have heard of a town that is home
to a colony of seers and fortunetellers. Can you tell us where it is?

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You're probably referring to Cassadaga, a small north-central Florida town
founded as a retreat for a religious group called the Spiritualists, who came
from New York state. It was chartered as the Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist
Camp Meeting Association in 1894.

The members of the group practiced Spiritualism, which teaches that there is
life on a spirit plane after death, that there is a brotherhood of man and
that the living can communicate with and receive wisdom from the dead through
trained mediums. Many of the town's modest houses have signs hanging out front
designating this or that medium or spiritual advisor.

While scores of the residents have links to the Spiritualist group and would
cringe at being referred to as fortunetellers, the town's reputation has
drawn others who are happy to be called psychics, soothsayers or seers and
operate outside the core group.

Today the camp occupies 55 acres of rural real estate, located between Daytona
Beach and Orlando, about 14 miles north of Sanford. As a tourist attraction,
Cassadaga does not show up on the radar -- the state's official guide doesn't
mention it, nor do most guidebooks.

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Information can be obtained from Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp Bookstore &
Information Center, located in the Davis Building. The address is P.O. Box
319, 1112 Stevens St., Cassadaga, FL 32706, (904) 228-2880. The
information center does not have a Web site, although various Cassadaga sites
can be located with a search.

Most of the readers take appointments, and charge $35 to $60 for sessions that
can last from 30 minutes to an hour. During the camp's Mediums Nights and
Mediums Days, 15-minute readings are available in the Davis Building at lower
fees. Telephone for dates.


Donald D. Groff

Donald D. Groff has been dispensing travel advice for a decade for such publications as the Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsday, the Boston Globe and the Kansas City Star.

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