So here's the deal, my husband and I are from Los Angeles, CA and are looking to take a 6-7 night vacation in literally... WAIT FOR IT... A week. That's right, we are looking to go on vacation next week (May 2nd-9th). I know it's last minute but frankly I've been able to find some pretty decent deals and I just got word that I am starting back at work and this is the only time it looks like we'll be able to go.
With that said, here is what we're looking for...
My husband and I are 32 and 34. Super young at heart. No kids (but that is one of the major things we hope to accomplish during this trip... Baby-making.) So romance and fun are highly important.
We enjoy extremely social, hip places with young, fun, people, a place that may have a DJ by the pool playing current music, but still luxurious. (Luxury on a budget... A great room is high on our list of priorities.)
Put it like this, our favorite places to go when we vacation are South Beach, Palm Springs and Vegas. We LOVE South Beach and when we've gone we did a large suite at the Sagamore overlooking the ocean! We went last Memorial weekend and stayed at the Venetian and went to Rehab, and Tao Beach for the pool parties. And when we're in Palm Springs although we love the decor and landscaping of the Parker hotel we prefer people watching in a huge balcony suite at the Riviera overlooking the main pool where there's more action, despite the nicer rooms at the Parker. So hopefully that gives you a hint of what kind of people we are... Extremely social with champagne taste on a slightly higher than beer budget (FYI, our budget is between 2k - 3k for flight and accomodations).
With that said, the goal of this trip is not really to party but to relax in a cool, fun setting. Doesn't need to be a major party-spot, but at the same time we don't want the island to go dead at 8pm, leaving us with nothing to do. We want somewhere hot, on the beach, where we can lay out all day on a great lounge chair and umbrella, sipping margaritas, or in a cabana or bed on the beach or pool. A place that doesn't feel overly stuffy, but DEFINITELY a place with vibe, atmosphere and that still feels like we're out of the country. We haven't taken a big vacation since we did a cruise a few years back: Miami, Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas and I hated it... (I loved Miami and the destinations but the boat was waaaay too confining and not nearly fabulous enough). We want to do activities like jet-skiing, parasailing, renting scooters, swimming with dolphins, but no backpacking or hiking. We're not big adventurers.
Of course we have to keep in mind weather because I know a lot of these places are in their rainy season but we don't mind a brief moment of showers so long as it's hot and the sun comes back out for the majority of the day, so we can get our lounge on. So I've been going back and forth with the following places...
Jamaica: I was almost completely convinced that Negril or Ocho Rios was the place for us, until my sister warned me, "DO NOT GO." She said she went to Ocho Rios and Kingston (duh, why did she go there?) She said she would never return without security on hand to protect her. She said she was told not to leave her resort, which she didn't obviously obey because she wanted to enjoy the local vibe and cuisine and she said it felt unsafe and the vendors and "drug dealers" were unbelievably aggressive. I don't want to be subjected to "having" to stay at the resort the whole time. I've also heard there are police with guns at the beaches. At this point I don't know what to think. I've seen some beautiful, beautiful places in both negril and montego bay and I can't seem to put this spot out of my mind. Hotels I've been coveting are: the couples resorts (unfortunately couples negril is booked), sandals whitehouse, Roundhill hotel and Villas. Where's the best place for luxury, price and nightlife? And is it really that unsafe?
Barbados: Have heard great things about it, but for the type of accomodations we like (ie. Sandy Lane, which is no where near our budget) I wonder if it's out of our price range. Been looking at "The Crane Resort and Residences" and Hilton Barbados, but not sure either are going to give us that youthful cool, luxurious, vibe we like.
Punta Cana: Found some AWESOME all inclusive deals, and gorgeous looking hotels, but I keep hearing that you can NOT leave your resort for safety reasons and I wonder if we'll start feeling bored and confined after a few days. Not sure it's the fun, cool vibe we like. (hear it's kind of boring at night) Also heard you have to wrestle people or wake up at the crack of dawn if you want a spot on a lounger. Hotels I've been looking at: Paradisus, Iberostar, The Reserve at Paradisus. (Is Punta Cana the best city to go in DR?)
San Juan, Puerto Rico: A BIG contender so far. The prices seem right. I hear it's pretty safe. I've heard from several people it's extremely lively and social like we like. Just not sure it will offer the type of luxury and beach lounging we like. (Also, is San Juan the happening city for vacationers?) Hotels I'm considering: The Ritz Carlton, El San Juan Hotel and Casino, the 'W' retreat and spa (looks right up our alley with vibe and luxury, the only problem is I've read it's really far from all the action and that is not good!)
Cabo: Frankly, I'm kind of scared of Mexico right now and not really sure about the weather. But some of the accomodations look great! Also heard you can't really do beach lounging-- it's more about the pools, right? It's super close to Calfiornia which I like, but wonder if this will give us the vibe or weather we're looking for. Hotels I've considered: Cabo Azul, Me Melia, Riu Palace all inclusive, the ridge luxury villas at la playa
Aruba: Although I hear the weather is great year round, I keep hearing it's just like being in the US. I can't find a single luxury hotel and I hear it's hell trying to get a palapa or a lounger.
Maui or Kauai: And finally.... Hawaii. I've been to Waikiki (Hilton Hawaaian village) when I was much younger and loved it. But don't want to go anywhere where I've been before. Plus everyone keeps telling me Honolulu and Waikiki are just like being in the states. Although Maui and Kauai look beautiful I've heard these are the most dead/boring places -- everything apparently shuts down early and all there is to do is daytime activities. With that said I know it offers that great beach and beauty. Plus I'm concerned about how expensive food and activities will be since I know hawaii is so expensive.
I know I've been long winded and I'm sorry, but I'm so desperate and confused I would SOOOOOO appreciate ANY and all feedback advice and suggestions you wonderful people out there in FODORS land could offer. Any additional hotel suggestions and even destination suggestions are more than welcome!! Wish me luck... Heaven knows, I'll need it!
JAMAICA VS. CABO, PUERTO RICO, AND HAWAII? HELP PLEASE!!
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