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Is spring break sold out? This is what it's like in Orlando, Cancun and Las Vegas

March 12, 2021
7 min read
Vegas strip
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"Crowds" is the first thing that comes to mind when you think "spring break." However, during the coronavirus pandemic, being in crowds is heavily discouraged. Therefore, this spring break will be different and unlike any we've experienced. Some people are opting for vacation home rentals where they can maintain social distance, while others are favoring road trips and visits to state and national parks.

But, for some, it's just not spring break without visiting places like Orlando, Las Vegas or Cancun. And, those destinations are still high on the list and busy right now.

With vaccinations becoming more available, confidence in travel is gaining. Of course, it's still important to remain vigilant since COVID-19 continues to be a serious threat. International hotels (including points hotels) have started to offer on-site testing to make a return to the U.S. more convenient, while domestic hotels and destinations have continued to follow their pandemic safety policies.

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Here's what three major spring break destinations will look like this year.

Orlando theme parks are heavily booked

(Photo courtesy of Disney Parks)

Theme park enthusiasts can still look to visit Orlando this spring break as both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort are open. The regional destination has a health and safety program called “Safer, Stronger, Together," a campaign that asks visitors to follow certain practices like hand washing, social distancing, and mask-wearing.

Disney World bookings appear strong (given the parks' capacity restrictions) for the rest of the month and into April for spring break and locals on holiday. The booking calendar, shown below, displays only limited availability.

According to Daryl Cronk, senior director of Market Research & Insights at Visit Orlando, “Orlando has seen a rise in visitors and bookings as a result of increased vaccinations and decreased travel restrictions around the country.

Disney's theme park reservation system is sold out for many dates in March. (Screenshot courtesy of Disney)

“We believe a reasonable estimate for spring break this year would mirror occupancy from Christmas/New Year's Eve, which was around 50%,” says Cronk. The destination reports that the spring break time period last year (the two weeks around Easter) were the lowest points of the year at 12.5 % occupancy.

Both theme parks have their own COVID-19 policies in place for spring break visitors. Universal Orlando has pandemic policies for staff that include mask-wearing, social distancing and temperature checks before coming on-site, while Disney World has measures that include enhanced cleaning, social distancing and reduced contact where possible.

Is it possible to take a beach break in Cancun?

Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort and Spa (Photo courtesy of Choice Hotels)

If you're looking to head south to Cancun for a bit of sea and sand, then entry will be easier following the easing restrictions ahead of spring break. The Quintana Roo government (which includes the state of Cancun) announced on its Twitter account recently that it is raising capacity limits from 30% to 60% at hotels, restaurants and beaches.

Visiting Cancun is also easy as you do not need a negative COVID-19 test to enter. However, when your spring break vacation is over, it is important to note that the U.S. requires international travelers to get tested before returning. The test must be taken three days before your departure for the states.

"We offer a complimentary COVID-19 antigen test to guests staying at least three nights," says Jonathan Urban, director of sales and marketing for SLS Cancun. The property is not alone in offering on-site COVID-19 testing, as most properties in Cancun are offering the same.

Here is a partial list of the properties that are offering on-site COVID-19 testing:

  • SLS Cancun
  • JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa
  • Marriott Cancun Resort
  • Live Aqua Beach Resort Cancun
  • Secrets Riviera Cancun
  • Secrets the Vine Cancun
  • Grand Fiesta Americana
  • Coral Beach Cancun All-Inclusive Spa Resort
  • Fiesta Americana Condesa Cancun All Inclusive
  • Fiesta Americana Cancun Villas
  • Planet Hollywood Beach Resort Cancun
  • The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa
  • Hard Rock Hotel Cancun, Garza Blanca Cancun
  • Villa del Palmar Cancun
  • Hyatt Ziva Cancun
  • Hyatt Zilara Cancun
  • Grand Residences Riviera Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Mexico
  • Dreams Vista Cancun Golf & Spa Resort

It is important to note that not all properties offer complimentary testing; some have fees. For example, Grand Residences Riviera Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Mexico, has on-site testing starting at $92 per guest, where the Hyatt Ziva Cancun offers complimentary antigen tests, but it costs $29 for a PCR test.

That feeling of holding your breath for your results? I felt that way on my recent return trip from the Caribbean, where you can't help wonder what happens if you or your travel companion tests positive on departure.

Related: What happens if you test positive for COVID-19 and can’t fly back to the US?

It is important to check with the resort to see what type of quarantine or extended stay provisions are available. For example, according to Dean Sullivan, vice president of marketing and communications, Playa Hotels & Resorts, "The Extended Stay Protection at Hyatt Ziva Cancun provides accommodations at no additional charge for up to 14 nights for guests who cannot complete their travel due to test-related reasons.”

Related: This Bahamas resort offers free quarantine and private-jet flights to guests who get COVID-19

Las Vegas lights up for spring breakers

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

The pandemic hit most destinations and travel industries quite hard, and Las Vegas is no exception. In 2020, Las Vegas experienced its lowest visitor volume since 1989, with only 19 million guests, down 55.2% from 2019.

However, many businesses and casinos in Las Vegas are welcoming people looking for a place to spring break. According to Casino.org, Circa Resort owner Derek Stevens says his March bookings are soaring, most likely due to confidence in the vaccinations happening across the country.

MGM Resorts, which includes several properties like Bellagio, MGM Grand and ARIA, are welcoming visitors as usual with their Seven-Point Safety Plan that includes mask-wearing, temperature checks, social distancing and enhanced sanitation measures.

Bottom line

Following CDC guidelines while traveling domestically or internationally is key to a healthy and safe spring break experience during the pandemic. Some of those guidelines include wearing masks, social distancing as much as possible and avoiding crowded areas. And, for the time being, those guidelines still apply if you've had one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccination.

Featured image by Getty Images/Westend61
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases