The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare, five nights' accommodations, and transfers, from $1,399 per person—including taxes.
When: Through March 21, 2009.
Gateways: L.A.; add $281 for Denver, $315 for Houston, $324 for Seattle, $419 for Miami, $428 for Chicago, $459 for New York City; additional cities are available. All add-on charges are subject to change depending on departure date and availability at the time of booking.
The fine print: Based on Saturday departures and Sunday returns. Breakfast daily, all taxes (including air taxes and fees of $276), round-trip airport-resort transfers, and a welcome lei are also included. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $335. Read before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: No deadline; based on availability.
Contact: Sunspots International, 800/334-5623, sunspotsintl.com.
Why it's a deal: To evaluate the package price, consider how much you might pay to book the package elements on your own. According to a recent search on SideStep, the lowest round-trip fare between L.A. and Rarotonga departing in early November starts at $1,166 (Air New Zealand), including estimated taxes. And rooms at the Edgewater Resort and Spa start at $215 per night, or $537 per person for five nights. Compare a do-it-yourself total of at least $1,703 to the Sunspots package price of $1,399. You'll save more than $300 per person, plus the package covers your hotel taxes, transfers, and breakfast daily.
Trip details: The package includes round-trip airfare on an Air New Zealand carrier (about nine and a half hours from L.A.) and five nights' in a superior garden-view room at the 250-room Edgewater Resort and Spa, a five-minute drive from the airport. Each air-conditioned room has a private furnished balcony and standard amenities like a mini fridge, a TV, and complimentary beach towels.
The six-acre property boasts a fitness center, a health spa, a game room, an outdoor pool, and tennis courts. Guests can take advantage of the complimentary snorkeling gear to explore nearby reefs. Dining and entertainment options within the resort include laid-back Mal's Bar, the Spaghetti House for hearty Italian food, and the Brasserie for themed buffet-style dinners accompanied by dace performances.
There's also plenty to do beyond the resort, which is an eight minutes' drive from Avarua, Rarotonga's capital. Here you'll find an array of shops, restaurants, and cultural and historic attractions. To learn about the art and history of the archipelago, check out the National Museum of the Cook Islands, the Cook Islands Christian Church—a whitewashed structure built in 1855—the restored palace of Queen Makea Takau Ariki at Taputapuatea, and the Sir Geoffrey Henry National Cultural Center (also called Te Puna Korero).
Looking for souvenirs? Stop by the Beachcomber, a pearl and handicraft shop housed in a restored coral-block structure originally built in 1843 as a school for missionary children.
Upgrades start at $250 per person for five nights in a beachfront deluxe room or a VIP suite. You can extend your stay for an additional $120 per room per night, but be aware that altering the number of nights will cause the airfare to increase. For more tips on what to do in the area, visit the official tourism Web site for the Cooks.