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Universities understand that the stress of midterms must be offset by a week of leisure, and it's a pity that "going on spring break" ends at graduation. But why not change that this year with a trip to Mexico? With the deals we found on hotels, vacation pacakages, and fun-in-the-sun activities — in both Cancun and Cabo! — you'll be making those vacation days from work worthwhile.
Before jetting off to spend time in the sand and surf of the Riviera Maya, we advise that you set your email vacation message on to simply read, "Cancun, baby!" This side of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula faces the Atlantic Ocean and is home to Mayan ruins, natural wonders, spas, shops, and your perfect vacation.
While Cancun has developed a reputation for catering to the booze-fueled bacchanals of college coeds, the area has a lot to offer those with different ideas of a good time. The city of Cancun falls away quickly if you travel north; you'll find virgin forests and pristine beaches. Here, stay in luxury on Playa Mujeres, a seaside community with some of the area's best hotels and hidden attractions like the ancient port city of "El Meco." We recommend a 2-night stay at the all-inclusive Beloved Hotel (from $316 per night, a low by $5; expires March 12). You can also get down to some serious relaxation with a 2-night all-inclusive stay for 2 at Cancun's Grand Oasis Palm (from $173.30 per night, a low by $8; expires March 22).
But why not venture south a bit, to a city where luxe resorts dot the coast? The Excellence Riviera Cancun (from $384 per night, a low by $6; expires April 2), pictured, is an all-inclusive, adults-only resort where guests stay in suites that boast mini-bars, marble bathrooms (with a jetted tub!), and private balconies. The luxury doesn't stop there. Guests also enjoy spa amenities, the resort's six pools, eight restaurants, and 10 bars. There's no better way to enjoy outdoor activities like kayaking and snorkeling, as well as nightly entertainment, than at this renowned hotel.
If you forgot to set your auto-response on email, you should dial in to the office and at least change your voicemail recording: "Caboooooo!" should do it; It's thoughtful to hint to your co-workers about that crazy good tan that you got while lounging along the Pacific coast in Cabo San Lucas, on the tip of Baja California.
Your holiday in Cabo will be filled with the peace and quite of small resort towns, and lies in stark contrast to the bustle of Cancun. Here, you'll enjoy the warm weather as you lounge on the beaches and watch the ships pass the impressive sea arch near the city's harbor, letting the rolling waves lull you to sleep.
Begin your vacation in Long Beach, CA, where a 7-night cruise for 2 on Carnival Cruise Lines (from $718, a low by $45; expires March 20) departs for Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. On your voyage, watch for whales at sea, and enjoy the ocean breeze as you stroll the decks between dining and sunning by the pool.
If you'd rather get there fast and then, well, take it slow, consider a 4-night flight and hotel package for 2 (from $1,198, a low by $136; expires March 13) with a stay at the Holiday Inn Resort Los Cabos. This cozy getaway is close to San Jose del Cabo and faces the Sea of Cortez, which divides Baja California from Mexico's mainland.
For many a weary worker on holiday, no vacation is complete without a spa day. Luckily, the all-inclusive beach resort of Riu Hotel in Cabo San Lucas (from $188, a low by $21; expires March 12) includes just that ... and more! Here you'll not only enjoy a $20 spa credit, but also great golf, and complimentary admission to the resort's nightclub.
Or if you really plan on making good use of your vacation days, book yourself a 3-night stay at the ME Cabo ($567, a low by at least $130; expires March 16) — a AAA four-diamond hotel — which was also rated among the top five trendiest hotels in Mexico by TripAdvisor. What's more luxe than two free 50-minute massages (worth $129 each), and 20% off food and beverages? ME Cabo combines chic luxury with its two-level lagoon pool and access to Cabo's only swimmable beach, Medano Beach.
If you want your away message to say you are recharging somewhere other than Mexico (although there are no places better, especially at these prices), check out our weekly roundup of the top travel deals for additional discounted flights, hotels, and vacation packages.
Front page photo credit: Best Destination Wedding