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TRAVEL Q&A

Kids and the Caribbean

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By Scott Vogel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 23, 2008

Q. We'd like to visit an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean and environs this summer and are looking for a resort that would keep a toddler happy and entertained while providing some rest for his parents. Do you have any suggestions?

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Meredith Larson, Silver Spring

A. If we could, first of all, let's have a moment of silence in honor of the couple willing to fly internationally with a toddler. Okay, two moments.

"I was just in Ixtapa, and the entire resort was full of families with toddlers," said Kate Moeller of Club Med ( http://www.clubmed.com, 888-932-2582), who wasn't having any of our skittishness. "And these were American families," not to be confused with the trailblazing French, who long ago refused to let les rugrats stand in the way of a good vacation. Moeller informed us that Club Med's Ixtapa Pacific reopened in December after a $20 million renovation and features a baby program offering kids their own personal chef, a wealth of entertainment options and a staff-guest ratio of 1 to 4. (Rates start at $1,899 per couple with one child younger than 2.) Another thought: the Club Med Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic. (Rates start at $2,999 per couple with one child younger than 2.)

"Can they travel in the fall?" wondered Cathy Decker, spokeswoman for Beaches ( http://www.beaches.com, 888-232-2437). "Parents of the preschool set are lucky. They can travel when the beaches are open but airports are less congested and the lines are shorter. And it's great for the little ones because the big kids are off the beach." Beaches Turks & Caicos, for instance, is offering big discounts in September and October, she said, as well as a new stage show featuring "Sesame Street" characters, parenting seminars for adults and child care by a group promisingly called Ultra Nannies. And, she says, "it's just 15 minutes from the airport." (Rates start at $4,828 in summer per couple with one child younger than 2; $2,586 in the fall.)

Decker, meanwhile, is soon to travel with her own post-toddlers to one of Beaches' three resorts in Jamaica. She called these "incredible kid destinations," which, besides being exactly what you'd expect a Beaches representative to say, is worth considering as a mantra, something you might intone over and over while chasing junior's Cheerios up and down the aisle.

I'm traveling to Portugal next month. Will there be anything to do? What about day trips outside Lisbon?

R. Sanchez, Washington

In Portugal in April, you'll be forced to endure balmy spring temperatures, relatively low hotel prices and uncrowded fado bars. But we'll try to help you make the best of it.

So will Miguel Carvalho of the Portuguese National Tourist Office ( http://www.visitportugal.com, 212-354-4403), who recommends such fare as the Lisbon Fish & Flavours festival in what is one of the fish culinary capitals of the world. From April 5-13, the city's best chefs will give demonstrations, tastings, even speeches on the subject, in the first year of this event ( http://www.peixemlisboa.com). Also, as of today, the Portuguese bullfighting season begins in earnest, lasting through October. And on April 25, you can celebrate the 1974 Carnation Revolution, when Portugal peacefully traded authoritarian for democratic rule.

Then there are day trips. Carvalho rhapsodized about the former fishing towns of Cascais and Estoril, both just 30 minutes west of Lisbon, not to mention the palaces, castles and wineries of Sintra, also nearby.

A few things worth leaving home for, no?

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


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