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Package Deals: A Closer Look

"Passion in Paradise" Package

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private pool Grenada

Private Swimming Pool Suite at Spice Island Resort in Grenada.

(c) Spice Island Resort.
The nice thing about booking a package deal is that you get lots more at a resort than just a room to sleep in.

Many destinations tempt travelers with a list of activities and amenities so extensive that a couple couldn't possibly take advantage of them all in a month's time.

That's why it's important to examine these deals closely. Don't get overwhelmed; and keep in mind that quality counts more than quantity.

If a place offers something you don't want, well then, who needs it?

Just because it's included "free" doesn't mean that its cost isn't factored into the "all-in-one" price. For example, a couple who drinks very little may do better without a meal plan that includes all they can drink. Or a couple who loves to jet ski -- which is an expensive sport -- should pick a place where that's included at no extra cost.

Let's look at a honeymoon package that recently crossed my desk -- and read between the lines.

The resort offered an eight day/seven night "Passion in Paradise" package that provided:

1. A suite featuring a private patio, swimming pool, double Jacuzzi bath, and a spacious bedroom with king-size bed.

Your guide thinks: This is great. If you're like me and love the water, then the idea of having a private outdoor swimming pool with its own private patio plus an indoor Jacuzzi for two would be like heaven on earth. Few resorts offer something like this -- and if the idea of bathing au naturel appeals, you may not want to look much further.

2. Tropical fruit basket, flowers in your room, and a chilled bottle of sparkling wine upon arrival.

Your guide thinks: As far as I'm concerned, receiving such goodies is an inalienable right of every honeymooner.

3. A basket of spice-scented body oils, aromatic teas, and cooling aloe vera picked fresh from the resort's on-property garden.

Your guide thinks: Nice. Sensual. The fact that the basket's filled with local aphrodisiacal pleasures says to me this resort is tuned into its environment. The fact that they're giving away free aloe vera tells me that if you're not careful, you'll get badly burned by the hot sun.

4. Complimentary room service. Candlelight dinners can be served on your private patio.

Your guide thinks: A wonderful amenity, when you just don't feel like getting dressed for dinner. Or at all.

5. Meals and drinks (excluding wine and Champagne).

Your guide thinks: I like that meals are included, because island restaurants tend to be extremely expensive. I also like that wine and Champagne cost extra. As a general rule, when spirits are included free, they tend to be cheap brands. This way, if you want to drink, you choose what you like from the wine list.

6. Guests in pool suites have their own sauna and a lounge area with CD stereo and cable TV .

Your guide thinks: There's really not a lot to do on this island, so you're going to need some entertainment. I'd like it even better if a DVD player and DVD library were included.

7. Free two-hour-long sunset cruise with complimentary drinks and snacks.

Your guide thinks: This is one of those things that sounds nice in the brochure -- and probably is -- but I know myself: When I'm on vacation, I usually end up not taking advantage of this type of activity (especially if an island has a casino!) Bottom line: I'd rather the package cost less and we could purchase this as an option if we really wanted it.

8. One massage each, non-powered watersports, bicycles, tennis, and use of the fitness center.

Your guide thinks: It's always nice to know there's something other than the beach and pool to occupy you during the day. Even if you never get to it. Re tennis: A resort that's really sports-oriented will offer instruction as well as facilities. Re: Bicycling: If I were planning on that, I would inquire what type of bikes are supplied, what condition they're in, and whether the paths are marked trails on the property, unmarked, lanes in local traffic, and whether the terrain is hilly or flat. (Then I'd take a nap.) When it comes to fitness centers, my personal opinion is that they're unnecessary at a resort that has outdoor alternatives to indoor sweating.

9. Taxes and service charges included.

Your guide thinks: Yes!

ANALYSIS: Overall, "Passion in Paradise" sounds like a terrific package: I love the idea of a private pool, the candlelight dinners a deux, the Jacuzzi for me and my sweetie. Since we don't drink much or go in for land sports, this would more than fill our requirements. But that's us.

What sports activities, setting, amenities, meal plan, and features appeal most to you in planning a honeymoon? Once you identify the features that truly matter, look for a resort that includes as many of them as possible in a total package rate.

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