TRAVEL Q&A

Mommy Breakers

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By Andrea Sachs
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 19, 2006

Q. Twenty moms are looking for an all-inclusive resort for next March where we can avoid the spring-break crowd but keep costs down. We're mainly focusing on the Caribbean. Any suggestions?

Gwen Meehan, Ashburn

A. To avoid spring-breakers, stay away from the Sun and Sin Belt. Among the red flags: The destination is easily accessible by car or plane, its hotel rates fit a ramen-and-Schlitz budget, and the town strings a "Welcome Spring Breakers" banner across Main Street. With that in mind, John Beach, owner of John Beach Travel (202-352-3752) in the District, says to steer clear of Florida's west and gulf coasts, Cancun and Cozumel in Mexico, Jamaica (from Montego Bay to Negril), the Bahamas and Corpus Christi, Tex.

For party-free zones, Beach says, "I would think the Cayman Islands would not welcome spring-breakers. They tend to attract more mature travelers and families." For example, a reservationist at the Spanish Bay Resort on Grand Cayman describes the all-inclusive as "sedate and quiet" and said spring-breakers "usually stay closer to town for the nightlife." Nightly rates for this spring start at $230 per person double, but you can arrange group rates for less. Info: 800-48-2DIVE, http://www.caymanresortsonline.com/spanishbay . Similarly, Turks and Caicos, which has a Beaches resort (888-BEACHES, http://www.beaches.com/ ) and Club Med (888-932-2582, http://www.clubmed.com/ ), is hardly keg central.

Though you might have to share some pool space with the college crowd, the Dominican Republic is blanketed with moderately priced all-inclusives, especially in Punta Cana and Puerto Plata. Check Travelzoo.com ( http://www.travelzoo.com/ ) and Fare Deals (800-347-7006, http://www.faredeal.com/ ) for packages from the D.C. area (many under $700). And if you don't mind a floating hotel, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cater to an older cruising crowd, says Beach. For prices, Cruise.com was showing 2006 Caribbean cruises from $299 per person double.

Finally, to completely avoid anyone in a Party U T-shirt, Beach points to Bermuda. "It may not be lying-on-the-beach weather, but it's a great place to be with friends." The Harmony Club (888-427-6664, http://www.harmonyclub.com/ ; for 2007, doubles with breakfast and dinner from $285), for one, requires "smart casual" attire at dinner. Slacks -- the perfect spring-breaker deterrent.

My husband would like to visit part of the Scottish whisky trail and some distilleries while we're traveling with our two young children. Any suggestions on where he can go while I entertain our children?

Petra Hall, Woodbridge

Scotland has two main whisky trails. The 70-mile Malt Whisky Trail in Speyside has more than 50 distilleries, with about a dozen (including Glenfiddich and Glenlivet) open regularly for tours and tastings. To the south, the Island of Islay offers 10 distilleries, but the drams are for more refined tastes. Of the two, Visit Britain spokesman Andrew Weir says Speyside is more family-friendly, because of its stunning Highlands scenery and its proximity to many kid-pleasing attractions.

Most of Speyside's whisky facilities allow children on the premises, just not in the production room. For example, at the Glen Grant Distillery and Garden, kids can tour its copper stills or opt to play in the facility's Victorian Woodland Garden. However, Weir says, "I would not recommend [the whisky tours] for very young children because the distilleries have very strong alcohol smells and there is a high educational content on the process of distilling whisky that might not be fun for kids."

For a home base, Aviemore is not far from the whisky trail and is noted for its outdoor activities, including alpine walks, biking, horseback riding and sledding. Loch Ness is also nearby, and you can take the kids on a high-tech boat ride in search of the elusive monster. Heading north, Inverness offers the Urquhart Castle, a theater with children's programs, Floral Hall (waterfalls, fish, flowers), dolphin-watching on Moray Firth and more.

While you're entertaining the kids, your husband can sign up for a guided tour that visits various distilleries. A number of companies plan Speyside tours, including Distillery Destinations (011-44-141-429-0762, http://www.whisky-tours.com/ ) and Caledonian Heritage Tours ( http://www.caledonian-heritage-tours.co.uk/ ).

For more information: Visit Britain, 800-462-2748, http://www.visitbritain.com/ or http://www.visitscotland.com/ , or Scotland's Malt Whisky Trail, http://www.maltwhiskytrail.com/ .

Send queries by e-mail (travelqa@ washpost.com), fax (202-912-3609) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Please include your name and home town.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company


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