Budget

Best Winter Travel Deals

by Brook Wilkinson

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS

Rule of thumb: Rent a villa. In addition to benefiting from the great rates available this season, you'll get more privacy than you would at a resort, and you'll save a little more cash by having some meals at home. And keep in mind that it's always worth trying to negotiate with a villa owner on price. If you see a place you love that's just a little out of your budget, tell the owner what you've got to spend; a vacant villa earns them nothing.

Why here?: Traveling to the Caribbean is getting to be more of a hassle—remember the good old days when you didn't need a passport? In the U.S. Virgin Islands, you still don't. Plus, you won't have to exchange any currency, and your cell phone will work just like at home.

Best bang for your buck: On laid-back St. John, the greenest island in the U.S. triumvirate, the three-bedroom Beit Hawa villa costs $3,500 per week during the upcoming high season, which starts January 6, 2009. Find enough friends to fill the place and each couple will pay only $167 per night. By comparison, rooms at the only two resorts on the island, Caneel Bay and the Westin St. John, start at $509. The house sits 50 feet above the beach, and the master bedroom has an outdoor shower. For a little more glitz, try neighboring St. Thomas. It's always a party at the Ocean Cliff Villa, which has six bedrooms and costs $6,300 per week through February, or $150 per night for each bedroom. In February, you're likely to spot migrating whales through the living room's picture windows. Both villas—and dozens more—are available through the Blue Escapes rental agency.

Blue Escapes
Tel: 800 556 4801

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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