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Riviera Maya air/resort, $879

Beat the spring-break crowd with an all-inclusive stay in the heart of the Riviera Maya (less than an hour's drive from Cancun), where you can explore rain forests, archaeological treasures, beaches, and underwater caves.
Image: A couple of tourists walk on the beach a in Playa del Carmen, south of Cancun, Mexico.
With the Occidental Gran Xcaret resort package, get round-trip airfare and five nights' accommodations at an all-inclusive resort, meals and theme-park admission, from $879 per person. Guillermo Arias / AP file

The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare, five nights' accommodations at an all-inclusive resort, meals, and theme-park admission, from $879 per person—plus taxes of about $95.

When: Through Jan. 31 and Apr. 1-30, 2008; add $90 for Feb.1-Mar. 31. Blackout dates are Feb. 16-23.

Gateways: Fort Lauderdale; add $155 for Chicago, New York, Philadelphia; $199 for Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City; additional cities are available.

The fine print: Hotel taxes, service fees, and a nonrefundable $99 administrative charge are included. The package covers all meals and beverages (including alcoholic ones) and a day pass to the eco-archaeological park Xcaret. Airport taxes and surcharges are an additional $95 per person. Weekend travel may require a surcharge. Round-trip airport-hotel transfers are not included, but can be added for $49 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $559 through Jan. 31 and $659 from Feb. 1 to Mar. 31. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: Jan. 20 for travel through Jan. 31; Feb. 21 for travel through Mar. 31; Apr. 20 for travel through Apr. 30.

Contact: Online Vacation Center, 800/780-9002,

Why it's a deal: In comparison, according to a recent search on Kayak, the lowest round-trip airfare between Fort Lauderdale and Cancun International Airport in late January is $250 (Spirit). For an additional $629, or about $126 per day, Online Vacation Center also covers a five-night stay, with all meals and beverages, plus the cost of admission to Xcaret, which is valued at $69.

Trip details: The Occidental Gran Xcaret resort package includes round-trip airfare on a major airline carrier, such as American, Mexicana, and Spirit, and five nights' accommodations at the Occidental Grand Xcaret, less than an hour south of Cancun International Airport and about 10 minutes from tourist hotspot Playa del Carmen.

The resort features a private beach on a secluded cove, winding river channels, and free-form pools. And it has 11 restaurants and 14 bars, so you're bound to find something to whet your appetite.

Occidental Grand stands out from your average beach resort partially thanks to ts next-door neighbor, Xcaret park. Take advantage of the complimentary admission pass to the park and spend a day exploring its natural treasures. For example, you can snorkel through ancient caves and underwater gardens, swim with dolphins, or go on a bay or reef "snuba" dive, which combines scuba-diving technology with the ease of snorkeling.

Land attractions within the park include Mayan village artifacts as well as wildlife, bird, and butterfly observatories. But if you prefer to relax, you can do so by taking a dip in a nature-made hot tub, created by waves in natural inlets.

There's plenty to explore beyond the resort, too, as the Riviera Maya, in the easternmost part of Mexico, is home to indigenous communities, archaeological treasures, 70 miles of white-sand beaches, and an ecological reserve.

Interested in extending your stay? Additional nights at the Occidental Grand Xcaret are $125 per person through Jan. 31. The nightly rate goes up to $149 per person for Feb. 2 to Mar. 31. For more tips on what to do in the area, visit Mexico's official tourism Web site.

The weather on the Yucatán Peninsula is sunny year-round, with an average high of 86 degrees Fahrenheit from January through March. Temperatures dip in the evenings to about 68 degrees, so be sure to pack a few sweaters with your sunglasses. Before you go, check the weather forecast and the exchange rate at .