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St. Thomas air/hotel, from $852

Spend a week at a resort on St. Thomas, one of the three U.S. Virgin Islands—a first-rate destination for sailing, scuba diving, and duty-free shopping.
Image: Blackbeard Castle
Check out  in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, home of the famous pirate. When you book the trip, you'll get round-trip airfare, seven nights' hotel, airport-hotel transfers, a $100 resort credit (good for dining) and a $100 Visa gift card per room.Martin Lie

The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare, seven nights' hotel accommodations, airport-hotel transfers, a $100 resort credit (good for dining) and a $100 Visa gift card per room, from $852 per person—plus an estimated $67 in taxes.

When: Depart Saturdays, Sept. 13-Oct. 11, 2008.

Gateways: Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa; add $110 for Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, D.C., Detroit, Myrtle Beach, New York City.

The fine print: Does not include airport taxes and fees of about $67 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is about $510. Up to two kids under 12 can stay in the room for free; there is a $95 fee per child ages 13-17. Includes hotel taxes, airport-hotel transfers, a $100 resort credit (good for dining) per room, and a $100 Visa gift card per room, redeemable at local restaurants and retail outlets. A passport isn't required to enter St. Thomas, but you will need a driver's license or another form of photo I.D. with proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: July 20, 2008.

Contact: Spirit Vacations, 800/617-3325,

Why it's a deal: A recent Kayak search produced a $397 flight between Fort Lauderdale and St. Thomas on US Airways in mid-September. When you add in the average room rate at the resort for September ($175 per night, not including hotel taxes or fees), the cost when booking separately would be about $1,009 per person. By booking the Spirit Vacations package instead, you'll save $90 on the cost of airfare and accommodations, plus you get airport transfers, the $100 resort credit, the $100 Visa gift card, and hotel taxes included.

Trip details: When you book the St. Thomas Beach trip, you'll fly on Spirit Airlines to the island, where you'll be picked up for the seven-mile ride to the resort. You'll check in to the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort & Spa, your base for the seven-night stay. The 294-room resort has a private white-sand beach and plenty of activities, such as miniature golf, tennis, snorkeling, kayaking, and windsurfing. There are also three swimming pools and a waterfall.

Charlotte Amalie, the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands, is the closest city to the resort (about 10 miles to the west). In addition to a sophisticated dining and nightlife scene, the bustling city has a reputation as the duty-free shopping mecca of the Caribbean.

You can take a break at the Seven Arches Museum, which has stunning views of the Caribbean. The museum is a classic example of the area's 18th-century Danish West Indian architecture and focuses on daily island life during that time period. You can also check out Blackbeard's Castle, home of the famous pirate.

If you want to explore further afield, you can rent a car from the airport or from the rental-car desk in the resort lobby. It's just a 15-minute drive to the 18-hole Mahogany Run Golf Course. You can also catch the interisland ferry and explore the two other U.S. Virgin Islands, St. John and St. Croix.

It's always summer on St. Thomas; even in September and October, temperatures will be in the mid-80s. These are two of the rainiest months of the year, so expect short bursts of showers in the early morning or at night. You can also expect lots of cruise-boat traffic and tourists—St. Thomas is the busiest of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Spirit Vacations isn't the only source of bargains for St. Thomas. If you're looking for a hotel deal, get a fourth night free at participating hotels on the USVI when you book the Sizzlin' Summer Sampler. You'll also receive a $100 gift card, a $50 to $100 resort credit, and coupons for tours. The 21 participating hotels range from $119 per room per night (at the Beachcomber Hotel on St. Thomas) to $400.

When: Aug. 16-Oct. 31, 2008.

Book by: Oct. 15, 2008.

Details: Does not include tax or other fees.

Contact: There are many tour operators participating; see for details.

For more tips on what to do, visit St. Thomas's official tourism site.