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Small, cheap lodgings on tropical islands

  • Published Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010, at 12:03 a.m.
  • Updated Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010, at 1:50 a.m.

Savvy travelers have known for years that the various websites dealing with hostels actually are much broader in their listings. Go to London, in one such site, and you'll find countless cheap hotels that aren't hostels by a long shot — they are simply unpretentious bed-and-breakfasts hoping to attract ultra cost-conscious travelers.

What hasn't yet been widely recognized is that the same websites — Hostels.com, HostelBookers.com, Hostelworld.com, Hostels247.com and Hostelz.com — have quietly become some of the best places in which to find low- cost guesthouses on some of the more expensive islands of the Caribbean. I'm indebted to a short, offhand mention in a recent travel section of the New York Times for alerting me to the surprising current listings of low-cost bed-and-breakfasts in the write-ups of hostels in places like St. Barts, Nevis, Anguilla, Antigua, St. Thomas and other costly tropical islands.

The places I've found! They consist of very attractive small lodgings with two or three rooms for rent, and many of them are across the street from a public beach or within easy walking distance of one. Many of them charge as little as $50 a night per room (that's for two people), and all of them offer the means for a very low-cost Caribbean vacation. Since airfares to costly islands often are comparatively cheap, but accommodations out-of-sight, these homey guesthouses enable you to have a Caribbean vacation for very little money.

Examples? In the town of Vieux Fort, St. Lucia, the Villa Caribbean Dream rents for 32.94 euros per person. In the Noord section of Aruba, the Aruba Sunflower Villa rents for 26.20 euros per person per night. On the island of Bonaire, the Happy Holiday Homes rent for 44 euros. And you can find equally pleasant, fully as cheap and cheaper accommodations on numerous other islands.

Here, to repeat, is a device for enjoying an outstanding tropical vacation this winter.

As for flights, remember Mobissimo.com — a site known to very few travelers — whenever you're looking for a cheap airfare. It isn't that Mobissimo undercuts the other aggregator airfare search engines on a consistent basis; it doesn't. But its airfare results are frequently different from what turns up on the other search engines. And therein lies an opportunity. By remembering to run your airfare requirements through Mobissimo, you often will find, in my experience, a totally unexpected flight and airfare that is just perfect for your needs. Having failed to name Mobissimo as among the sites that you should always consult in buying airfares, I'm now ready to cry mea culpa.

Henceforth, when I need an airfare for either a domestic or international flight, I will consult Momondo.com, Mobissimo, Kayak.com and, if I have the time, Dohop.com, too. Several recent searches have convinced me that on occasion, Mobissimo will produce an airfare slightly under the level of the others. Not always, but occasionally.

Arthur Frommer is the pioneering founder of the Frommer's Travel Guide book series. He co-hosts the radio program "The Travel Show" with his travel correspondent daughter Pauline Frommer.

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