Sure, September travel to the Caribbean is often seen as a gamble, but with a small risk comes huge rewards. The start of fall marks the height of slow season in the region, mainly because it's back-to-school time in North America. There is a chance — albeit an incredibly small one — of hurricanes. But, if you are willing to roll the dice, you can score a truly luxurious escape. Here's how.
1. Live the caviar life on a cheeseburger budget.
"September is the time of year when you can spring for the five-star hotel that you couldn't afford in February," says Laura Sangster, founder of The Journey Group, a travel agency specializing in Caribbean getaways. "Generally speaking, rates can be as much as 40 percent less than high-season — and that's a big dip," says Sangster.
2. Ahhh … that's the sound of a childfree holiday.
"Maybe you can't afford the adults-only resort, but in September, you don't need to," says Kristi Mackedanz with the agency Travel Leaders. With kids returning to school, it's highly unlikely that an under-18 set will run loose at any resort, making just about any vacation adults only.
3. Keep that summer feeling going.
"The Caribbean in September is lovely — you typically have beautiful days without rain," says Becky Veith, owner of Becky Veith Travel, an agency associated with Travel Experts. "And, the ocean is warm after having been heated all summer."
4. Save up to 50 percent on a guaranteed adults-only getaway.
If you want to be assured an escape free of young ones, consider this deal offered through Becky Veith Travel: Secrets Resorts and Spas, with locations in Mexico, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica, is giving guests who book now through October 23 savings of up to 50 percent, plus up to $400 in resort coupons through The Fall Frenzy promotion.
5. Save $300 in the U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands, through their ongoing USVI Centennial Commemoration credit promotion, is offering a deeper discount on travel now through December 31, offering all visitors $300 in spending credit, good at 34 participating hotels including The Westin St. John Resort, The Ritz Carlton on St. Thomas and The Buccaneer on St. Croix.
6. Score big on the island of Nevis.
Sangster's agency is offering 50 percent off room rates at the Nisbet Plantation on Nevis. In the past, this old-world charmer has closed its doors in September, but this year has elected to stay open, offering stays starting at $165 per night, based on double occupancy, in a superior room.
7. You'll have the place to yourself.
September is the slowest month in the Caribbean — which many people see as a good thing. “Lower occupancy means you won’t be fighting over a pool lounge chair,” says Sangster.
8. But you will need resorts to be open.
You will need to do your homework. September is when many resorts shutter for a month of renovations, and the list of which properties close isn’t the same year to year. Another thing to keep in mind is that it’s also common for restaurants to shut down in September. So, if you’re a foodie, this might not be the best time to visit.
9. Do protect yourself.
One of the main reasons driving those September deals is hurricanes — which, statistically, are rare. But, of course, not impossible. “I encourage my clients to take the cancel-for-any-reason travel protection,” says Veith.
Of the hundreds of vacation plans she’s made over her 17 years as a travel agent, only twice has she had clients use the policy. But the peace of mind is well worth it.
She adds, “The tropical storms predicted a week out don’t often become hurricanes, but you can have five days of rain, which isn’t fun.”