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Mainland Escapes Now an Affordable Option

Jan. 31, 2007 — Now just might be the time to escape the winter crowds with a trip to the mainland.
American Airlines Wednesday announced a slew of sales to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico that put the airfare for a weekend jaunt to Miami into the affordable range. The base fare is $228 round-trip from St. Thomas and St. Croix, with taxes bringing the price to $272.
You must book by Feb. 14 for outbound travel through March 27 with a return by March 29. Fares can vary depending on flight selection.
Alas, New York 's JFK Airport is not included on the list of sale fares.
And Spirit Airlines offered an $8 fare each way from St. Thomas to Fort Lauderdale if you travel March 3, 26, 25, or 30. Travel on any Monday through Thursday from Feb. 6 to May 23, and the fare will rise to $88 each way. Of course, you'll have to ante up extra money for the taxes. Spirit's bargains go fast, so it's best to jump on them when you see them.
"That's a promotional fare and gets them lots of ink," V.I. Hotel and Tourism Association President Beverly Nicholson Doty said Wednesday of the $8 Spirit fare.
Nicholson Doty was recently name to the post of tourism commissioner but is still currently on the job at the association.
She said that the American sale couldn't come at a better time because it will help hoteliers move last-minute inventory.
And she said the snowy weather in the northeast will encourage people to take advantage of the sale.
"It's getting cold," she said.
She said it was particularly helpful because of the recent press about the need for a passport to return to the United States from a Caribbean vacation. Although the Virgin Islands is exempt from that requirement because of its status as a U.S. territory, many people erroneously thought the territory was included.
The association launched a campaign about six weeks ago to make sure the word got out.
Nicholson Doty said she was delighted to see that American made note of the "no passport required" message at the top of its sale fare announcement.
She said that the territory had no play in pushing American to have a sale. "This has more to do with their need to push business," she said.
She and Vicki Locke at The Buccaneer Hotel said they were delighted to see St. Croix included on the list since it was a rare occurrence.
"I hope more people will consider St. Croix now that we're more affordable," Locke said.
She said that while the Buccaneer is fully booked for most of the next month, there are some vacancies that need filling in. She said she hopes the sale will help bring the hotel to full occupancy.
Bob Carmody at Maho Bay Camps on St. John said that he plans to put the American airfare sale in the resort's frequent newsletter.
"That's a great bargain," he said of the Miami fare.
He said that he's always glad when something like the sale comes along because it gives him a reason to put out a newsletter.
Carmody said that sending out the newsletter is good marketing because it keeps Maho Bay in the forefront of people's minds.
"It's just another way of saying 'Come on down,'" Carmody said.
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