Mexican Riviera offers top deals


You still might be able to snag some bargains this winter on trips to the Caribbean and Mexico, but the discounts being offered earlier this year are beginning to evaporate as the economy improves.

“There are a lot of bargains out there for winter 2010,” says Cricket Hile, leisure specialist at Travel Time Travel Agency in Lancaster. “The special rates are for next year, but a lot of the promotions are expiring before the end of 2009. It is difficult to say what will be extended or added.”

“As the economy improves, the high discounts we have seen in the past will slowly disappear as we get closer to the peak winter travel season,” says Barry Richcreek, co-owner of Richcreek Vacation Center in Lower Paxton Twp. “Most indicators suggest the travel industry has hit bottom. Travelers looking for bargains on winter and spring vacations should contact their travel agent now.”

For the Caribbean and Mexico, agents agree that the best deals this winter will be found in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and the Riviera Maya on Mexico’s Caribbean coast.

“Cancun, Riviera Maya and Dominican Republic continue to have very good pricing throughout next quarter,” says Margaret Richcreek, co-owner of Richcreek Vacation Center. “We are still seeing some bargains to the Cancun/Riviera Maya area, as well as the Punta Cana area of the Dominican Republic,” echoes Patricia Frye, manager at Boscov’s Travel Colonial Park.

For many years, Punta Cana and the Riviera Maya have been the places to go for bargain-hunting travelers, with Punta Cana offering the lowest prices and the Riviera Maya coming in second. However, Mexico’s tourism industry took a serious hit from news accounts of the H1N1 flu this year, and the Riviera Maya is now generally pricing lower than Punta Cana.

“Mexico is still recovering from the swine flu issues of the spring, so it’s offering the best values of all of the Caribbean destinations,” says Sally Black, founder of Vaca “But no worries: It’s great down there. I just returned home from my own vacation in the Riviera Maya.”

Gina Jimmink, marketing director for Liberty Travel-Harrisburg in Lower Paxton Twp., agrees. “In regards to best bargains for travel this winter to the Caribbean and Mexico, I would have to say Mexico by far is giving the best bang for the buck due to many misconceptions regarding the swine flu,” she says. “I highly recommend going to Riviera Maya. I was just there on an eight-night vacation, and I had an amazing time.”