If there's one thing that gets our attention quicker than a resort's lure of "kids stay free," it's a discount of 50 percent or better. Dreams Resorts, with 11 hotels in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, extended a version of its Winter Escapes deal into the spring and early summer (and then rolling it out again in the fall).
Under the deal, kids 12 and under stay free, and, thanks in part to a resort credit, the savings are advertised to be as much as 50 percent off regular rates.
The Dreams line of all-inclusive resorts look plenty family friendly, with a focus on activities and and rates that include all your basic meals and beverages, as well as admission to the kids' club.
We looked the closest at Baja-based Dreams Los Cabos, which boasts ocean views from every room and offers three pools (one just for kids), golf, a spa and a roster of activities that includes archery, beach volleyball, movies on the beach, soccer, yoga, "monster" chess and basketball, and even cooking and cocktail classes.
Its complimentary Explorer Club is for kids ages 3 to 12. With a minimum three-night stay, the Winter Escape package includes:
Lodging for two adults (normally starting at $481/night x 3 nights = $1,442 )
Kids 12 and under stay free (normally $73/child x 3 nights x 2 kids = $438)
$200 in resort credit, which can be used on spa treatments, special dining, and wine
We test-booked a three-night stay for a family of four in early June at the Dreams Los Cabos. If booked without the Winter Escape package, the stay would cost $1,880 for two adults and two children in a junior suite. For the same dates, we found a Winter Escape rate of $372 a night for a family of four in a junior suite, or 1,116 for the three-night stay -- a hefty 40 percent savings.
Then there's that $200 resort credit, which seems like such a great bonus until you try to use it. As it turns out, you can only cash it in for situations where you'll be spending a bundle, and rules abound.
For instance: You can use up to $100 worth of coupons at the spa, but only if you buy three separate treatments (a 50-minute massage starts at $125). Or you can use $60 in credit on "romantic dining" (a special dinner for two on the beach, normally $250) and $40 for wine (though you can only use it $10 at a time).
Deal or no deal? A great value, even if it doesn't quite live up to its promise of 50 percent savings. We hate that the $200 resort credit is a classic spend-to-save "gotcha." But even so, it's hard to complain about kids staying free at an all-inclusive.
The Kids Stay Free/Winter Escape deal is good for stays from May 1 through June 25 and again from Aug. 28 through Dec. 23. When booking online, look for the Winter Escape heading over rates, or mention the Kids Stay Free/Winter Escape deal when calling 866/237-3267.
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