Although many San Diego residents naturally choose Hawaii as a vacation destination because of its relative proximity and their familiarity with its culture, a variety of all-inclusive packages is making the possibility of their vacationing in the Caribbean an attractive and affordable alternative.
Lured by white-sand beaches, warm, clear and tranquil seas, a plethora of aquatic sports, deep-sea fishing, golf, casinos and a fascinating melange of cuisine, cultures and languages, more and more San Diegans each year are eschewing the Hawaiian Islands in favor of visits to the more-exotic, non-U.S. destinations in the Caribbean, from the Bahamas to Barbados.
According to the San Diego Regional Airport Authority, more than 14 times the number of flights depart from San Diego to Hawaii than from San Diego to the Caribbean. But that doesn’t mean that San Diegans are oblivious to the many travel bargains available to Caribbean destinations.
“San Diego residents are roughly seven percent of our active database today,” said Katie Riguzzi, Public Relations Manager for Club Med North America. “They could be traveling more than once a year, but have traveled at least once in the past three years. California is an important market for Club Med, representing 20 percent of our active database.”
Riguzzi said California residents have easy access to Club Med’s resorts via quick flights from several international airports.
According to Riguzzi, 24 percent of guests in 2010 at Cancun, Yucatan, Mexico came from California, the highest percentage of visitors from the Golden State at any of Club Med’s properties in the Caribbean.
Also popular among Californians, she said, are Club Med Turkoise, Turks & Caicos, where 16 percent of guests in 2010 came from California; Club Med Columbus Isle in The Bahamas, where 14 percent of guests in 2010 came from California; and Club Med Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic, where Californians accounted for10 percent of guests in 2010.
Club Med offers all-inclusive travel packages – many including round-trip airfare, accommodations and meals – from San Diego to “family-friendly” resorts in Cancun, Guadeloupe (La Caravelle) and the Dominican Republic, as well as to resorts in the Bahamas (Columbus Isle) and Martinique (Buccaneer’s Creek), which are better-suited to couples. Also in the Bahamas, Club Med Turkoise, Turks & Caicos is popular with singles.
Visitors to the company’s Web site (www.clubmed.us) can get the cost of specific packages and itineraries and make online reservations. Riguzzi said each of Club Med’s Caribbean destinations offer golf on amazing courses, with the exception of Columbus Isle. Pricing can vary greatly. At Punta Cana, for example, 7-night stays begin at $1064 per person, based on double occupancy in a standard room and exclusive of transportation.
When all is said and done, the all-inclusive pricing can often make surprisingly realistic for San Diegans the possibility of a vacation “with an accent” to a vibrant island nation in the Caribbean…even in comparison to the nearby and more-frequented Hawaiian Islands. ####