Labor Day travel: Barbados

If you’re still thinking about how to spend Labor Day, how about saying goodbye to summer with one last beach trip? You know not much happens in the office during the last week of summer, so why not make Labor Day a little longer? The island of Barbados offers a good-value promotion starting September 1st, a perfect excuse to recharge on a Caribbean beach before fall sets in. Previously called Best of Barbados, the Fall for Barbados deal includes airfare and hotel for a week with free breakfast daily, one free car rental day when you book three days or more, and up to $300 airfare credit per booking. They also throw in a 25% discount card on restaurants and some deals on activities. Prices around Labor Day start at $1,100 per person for 5 nights in an all-inclusive or $650 per person for 7 nights at a standard hotel (I calculated from New York, other cities might be higher or lower).

I took my first trip to the Caribbean with this deal in 2008, and not being an all-inclusive resort-type of traveler, I booked the independent boutique Silver Point Hotel. The hotel is nicely located in a residential area with plenty of rum shops and small restaurants within walking distance, served well-priced and actually decent food (contrasted with the expensive and mediocre food served at certain American chain hotels), and the staff was friendly and helpful. In 2008, I paid around $750 per person for the week of Labor Day with airfare and found it available for $777 in 2010. The previous deal had also included a $200 debit card to be used anywhere on the island, but the current promotion still represents a good savings. I calculated the hotel and airfare separately for the same dates and it worked out to over $400 more per person without the package.

The package is government-subsidized in an effort to increase tourism during hurricane season, though Barbados is one of the few Caribbean islands outside the hurricane belt and hasn’t suffered a major storm in over 50 years. You may encounter a few rainy days in September, a good time to explore the travel nerdy Concorde Experience, check out a historical house, or just hunker down in a rum shop. Barbados is a former British colony and remains a high-brow but laid-back destination with a nice balance of beach, nature, and culture.

Full details: Book by August 31st for travel September 1 – December 18, 2010. You have to stay a minimum of either 5 nights at an all-inclusive or 7 nights at other hotels. You can book through a travel agent or online through Orbitz and the like, full partner list here.