Q I want to bring my family to an all-inclusive resort during spring break, but don't want to hassle with getting expedited passports. Any suggestions?
A You definitely have options, especially because you can travel to U.S. territories, such as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with only a certified copy of your birth certificate or adoption papers.
Travel reporter Jim Buchta, just back from Orlando and Puerto Rico, shared a few ideas from those locales. Nickelodeon Suites Resort in Orlando "functions much like an all-inclusive because many of its lodging packages include meals at nearly 10 onsite restaurants and lounges," and it has two top-notch water parks. Also, the Caribe Hilton in Puerto Rico, which sometimes offers all-inclusive packages, is close to Old San Juan, "but has its own beach, a kids' pool and other amenities that will make you feel far, far away," he reports.
Renata Faeth of AAA Minneapolis recommends three resorts on the island of St. Thomas (a U.S. Virgin Island; see story on G1) that offer all-inclusive options: Frenchman's Reef, Bolongo Bay Beach Resort and Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort, which has kayaking, snorkeling, mini-golf and a kids' club.
I found only one truly all-inclusive mainland option: Sandpiper in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The family-friendly Club Med has golf, a half-pipe skate park and beach volleyball but no ocean (its beach is on a river; the Atlantic is a 20-minute drive away).
NOW OPENFun for special-needs kids
Last week, San Antonio, Texas, opened an amusement park with a unique mission: to create a play space for individuals with special needs. Billed as the world's first ultra-accessible family fun park, Morgan's Wonderland covers 25 acres. Special-needs children "have an opportunity to do things they've never done before, like ride in a swing or a carousel or sit with their family in a train," said founder/philanthropist Gordon Hartman. An off-road adventure ride allows children to cruise around a rock-strewn track; the Jeep-like vehicles can accommodate wheelchairs and feature such innovations as sensors that protect passengers with neck problems. Other attractions include swings (three equipped for wheelchairs), a pirate-themed island and the Garden Sanctuary, a calming space with art and piped-in music. The $32 million park, which was inspired by Hartman's special-needs teenage daughter, is free to all special-needs guests; others pay $5. Reservations required (1-210-637-3434; www.morganswonderland.com).
AIRLINE UPDATEThe money seats
With the easing of an 18-month global slump in first-class and business-class travel, Delta Air Lines is hoping that seats which recline flat into beds will help win back their most profitable customers. American Airlines, meanwhile, is wooing fliers with Asian-fusion appetizers. Filling seats at the front of airplane cabins is pivotal to U.S. airlines' efforts to return to profitability in 2010. Business fliers are prized because they typically pay the highest prices and take to the air more often. December's 1.7 percent increase in premium bookings was the first for the global industry since May 2008, the International Air Transport Association trade group said. While those passengers made up only 7.7 percent of 2009's overseas total, they produced 26 percent of the revenue on those flights.
SIDEROADSNew London, Wis., goes Irish
The Minnesota Police Pipe Band, along with other bagpipe-and-drum bands, floats and clowns, will march at 1 p.m. Saturday during the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in New London, Wis., which is temporarily renamed New Dublin. Local businesses will offer daily food specials, a Finnegan's wake and other family entertainment throughout the week. Also on Saturday, Irish Fest, held under the Big Top from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., will feature food, fun and music by Switchback and Rising Gael. Admission to Irish Fest is $5 (1-920-982-5822; www.newdublin.com).
COLLEEN A. COLES