Get Off That Beach Chair!

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The Bitter End Yacht Club.
The Bitter End Yacht Club.

The fat cats are history. Today’s upmarket travelers stay in fightin’ trim on vacation: exercising, improving that swing, and pushing their limits. They sleep well at night because they’ve played hard, not because they’re soused. Two of the three resorts recommended here are the 800-pound gorillas of Caribbean sport, but the third may surprise you. Hey, why not? Surprises can be fun—even more fun than a tennis clinic under a blazing sun.

the bitter end yacht club, bvi
This Virgin Gorda resort’s 100-plus water craft include not just beachboats (e.g. Hobie Cats, Lasers), windsurfing gear, and SUP paddleboards, etc., but also keeled boats (e.g. Hunter 216s) and motorized Boston Whalers that guests on the Classic package can use at no extra charge. The Classic package also includes meals, snorkeling trips and blue-water excursions to nearby islands, sunset sails, regattas, and an Introduction to Sailing course that this sometime sailor found quite helpful. Additional-fee options include sailing certification courses, diving, fishing, and kite-surfing. Try naming one resort in the Caribbean or anywhere else that can match the Bitter End’s water sports program.

If you know where you’re going you can walk around the far end of the resort and, on the other side of a peninsula, get to Biras Creek (now closed), but otherwise, The Bitter End Yacht Club feels like a private island resort. There’s a new beach bar and, with the North Sound Suites removed from current inventory, 48 rooms in bungalows that evoke nautical design.

Classic package rates start at $472 per couple ($800 in January), an exceptional value considering all the complimentary water sports, activities, and meals. The hotel offers agent rates of 50 percent off rack, excluding holidays.

casa de campo, dominican republic
No matter how much golf, tennis, and water sports other resorts offer, this classic property has more—more variety, and also more quality. For example, golf here means the Jim McLean Golf School and 90(!) holes designed by Pete Dye, including one of the top courses in the world, Teeth of the Dog. Tennis anyone? Casa de Campo has 13 Har-tru courts, kayaks, Hobie Cats, sailing lessons, snorkeling, fishing charters, and a Kidz in Casa camp to keep the children active.

Not only is there an equestrian center, but a polo facility—and with three polo fields. Those pops you hear in the distance? The sport-shooting center. If your clients have any energy left after all this, I guess they could work out in the spa’s large fitness center, but maybe they should just see their doctor.

Casa de Campo is so huge that guests use golf carts to get around, so listing the room, suite, and villa categories here would be like trying to name every city in Europe. Suffice it to say that there are accommodations at almost every price point, from $195 ($484 in January); all rooms come with free WiFi, use of the fitness center, and golf carts. The Casa Complete Supplement ($215) is a good value for active guests: It includes meals and drinks, a round of skeet or trap shooting, and unlimited horseback riding, tennis, and non-motorized water sports. The basic commission is 10 percent, but agents who have a relationship with Casa de Campo may earn more. The resort offers agents rates from $140, double occupancy (subject to availability) including full American breakfast.

Casa de Campo in the DR offers horseback riding.
Casa de Campo in the DR offers horseback riding.

san juan marriott resort and stellaris casino, puerto rico
Here’s your counter-intuitive pick for active travelers: a high-rise known for its location in the gentrified Condado neighborhood associated with restaurants, nightclubs, casinos, and easy access to Old San Juan. However, when my bride and I wanted to celebrate our 25th anniversary with fine cuisine, cultural sights, and the great outdoors, we picked this resort.

Here’s why: The San Juan Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino offers guests a full schedule of optional activities (from $53) every day of the week. These include horseback riding, ATV riding, nature walks in El Yunque National Forest, hikes to waterfalls, visits to caves, and a canopy tour. On our own, we rented stand-up paddleboards one day in Condado Lagoon, made friends with a manatee, and had such a good time that we did it again two days later. Another day we took a taxi to Pinones Reserve (15-20 miles to the east), which has spectacular beaches for every mood as well as community-run facilities that rent bicycles and kayaks. We did both, peddling past beaches that range from raging to calm surf and paddling the channels of a mangrove swamp rich in bird life. Pinones attracts food trucks, too, so we also exercised our taste buds.

The renovations of 18 months ago give the Marriott’s rooms an airier look than mere numbers (from 250 sq. ft.) might imply. Ocean View rooms with balconies start at $209 ($349 in January); a larger, Ocean View corner room costs about $70 more. In addition to basic commissions, Marriott has a Marriott Hotel Excellence course that earns agents Fam-Tastic certificates redeemable for discounted rates (starting at $44) at more than 4,000 hotels, and a newsletter with other incentives.

contact information
The Bitter End Yacht Club: (800) 872-2392;
Casa de Campo: (855) 877-3643;
San Juan Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino: (787) 722-7000; or