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By Lena Katz

Mexico and Caribbean resort and hotel developers are going crazy with openings, revamps and new experiences lately. It seems like they’re all in competition to out-glam, over-option and underbid each other. It’s great news for vacationers, especially since short-haul travel is in a lot of our plans this summer.

Spas are no longer for the 18+ crowd … in fact, at Grand Velas All-Suite Resort in Nuevo Vallarta, there’s a whole program geared toward the "Please Mom, let me borrow your makeup" set. A special menu of 25-minute kiddie treatments includes the "Little Green Elf Facial" and scented "Malt Baths" in chocolate, vanilla or strawberry. Mommy and Me offerings include a "Princess Ritual," "Glamour Ritual" and "Dream Nails" — all with standard pampering for moms, and lots of sparkly stick-on stuff for little girls.

All-inclusive mini-chain Couples Resorts improves on a winning formula with the $4.5 million refurb of Couples Sans Souci. Updated décor and public facilities make this classic luxury all-inclusive even more appealing. A $15 million property-wide renovation of Couples Ochos Rios follows; the property is closed throughout the summer and fall.  Meanwhile the Couples manifesto remains the same: a "Chief Romance Officer" heads up the twosome-friendly staff; personalized romance novels are back for a second season; and an enhanced "Romance Rewards"  program caters toward Couples’ loyal repeat guests.

This winter, two popular hotels for weekend getaways — the San Juan Marriott Resort in Puerto Rico and Marina el Cid hotel in Cozumel — completed extensive renovations and expansions. The Marriott increased its numbers to 525 rooms and updated all of them with 36” flat-screen televisions, wireless Internet, and remodeled bathrooms with rain showers. The hotel also expanded on-site Stellaris Casino. Marina el Cid finished a $50 million expansion in January, adding 150 new suites and a convention center. This all-inclusive deluxe resort also has four restaurants, a 120-slip marina and a 13,000-square-foot spa.

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Lena Katz lives on the Left Coast and writes about tropical islands, beachclubs and food, but her heart belongs to NYC.

Tagged: Caribbean, Mexico

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