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Hot Winter Getaways

As you shiver in front of your fireplace this winter, there are some hot getaway choices out there for every budget. According to local travel agents, Mexico offers all the best you expect from Hawaii, without the exorbitant cost or crowding. Pam Pingle of Holiday Travel in Medford sings the praises of Ixtapa, Mexico (pronounced eeks-tah-pah). She says: "Lovely beaches, the warmth of the sun and the people will charm your socks off!" Tourists have not quite discovered this gem as yet, so prices are low and you have a chance to really immerse yourself in Mexican culture. Although Ixtapa is relatively young, old Zihuatanejo (pronounced see-wah-tah-NAY-ho) is only three miles away. Both villages are located about 140 miles northwest of Acapulco.

Zihuatanejo has the old-fashioned charm of traditional Mexican culture. Fishermen founded the town and fishing continues as a way of life. If sport fishing appeals to you, Zihuatanejo is your place. The center of the town is traditional where rough-hewn paving stones make up the narrow streets and walking is the preferred mode of transport. Mariachis and other musicians serenade you on the beaches and at the restaurants. Prices vary and are negotiable for most everything in Mexico, so try your hand at bargaining.

Michael Console of Jackson Travel Agency Inc. in Medford says the best place to really indulge yourself is in a spa. "They are everywhere, from the major resorts to the mountain retreats. You can go for a couple of days or a week or more. All manner of treatments are available, from massages to body wraps to facials. It's a great way to rejuvenate." Michael suggests booking your spa treatments before you go to be sure you'll get what you want and know in advance what it will cost. Prices will vary according to treatments and destinations.

Another hot Mexican destination is Cabo San Lucas, located at the tip of Baja, California. Many three to five star-rated hotels and resorts offer packages for less than $400 for a family of four, often including all taxes plus other special goodies, such as spa treatments, golf and fine dining. You can surf the web, or your travel agent can help you find a package that suits your wants and needs.

Cruises are always hot, and the Caribbean is a great choice for lovers, especially the all-inclusive "Sandals" resorts. They not only cater to honeymooners, you can actually get married there. Prices are all over the place, but do keep in mind that your travel agent can sometimes find wonderful last minute specials for you. Unsold rooms or cabins make no money for proprietors, so it is in their interest to fill that space, often at deeply discounted rates.

Closer to home, San Diego has a lot to offer. The city is home to many cruise ships offering all kinds of adventures. You will also find casinos, spectacular beaches and parks, spa and golf vacation packages, a warm climate and a world-famous zoo. The Travel Channel has named San Diego's Coronado Beach one of the 10 best beaches in America.

Hotel packages often include admission to San Diego's many attractions, and the city teems with interesting diversions. At Legoland, for instance, you can try your hand at the Knights' Tournament, a daring new attraction that combines robotic technology with legendary medieval times activities. Guests become knights in training as they board one of six passenger-carrying robotic arms for thrill rides during which they choose the experience and intensity while challenging a medieval dragon. The unique robotic coaster attraction delivers twists, turns and fun for the entire family.

You can choose to escape the chill by flying away to Mexico or sailing away on a Caribbean cruise. Or maybe you'll choose to stay a little closer to home. In any case, you will find plenty of choices in your quest to find a hot getaway this winter.

Hot Winter Getaways