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Suggestions for place to celebrate big birthday

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I need a place to go with spouse, two 20-something daughters and their boyfriends during the first week of January 2010. Thinking about Club Med or similar with activities for the older and younger sets. Would like a place with intrinsic interest rather than a generic resort that could be anywhere.

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    You have to go to St Martin! The best caribbean island. Over 100 nationalities live there, it's the gourmet capital of the Caribbean, beaches, interesting local life... I would recommend a small hotel such as l'esplanade. This guide has been very usfeul to us: http://www.st-martin-maarten.con

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    a few questions to be able to offer any useful advice.
    all inclusive required? regular resort? condo/villa?
    into nightlife (dancing, casino, bar scene)?
    which activities interest your family? golf/tennis, ziplines, snorkel/dive, shopping, beachcombing, fishing (bone or deep sea), tour historical sights
    willing to rent a car
    lush hilly island like bvi's or arid island like turks & caicos?
    specific budget (way too much money for me might be drop in the bucket for you) fyi: new years eve week is uber high season for rates. also some resorts require 2 wk stay to cover xmas & new years.)
    how concerned about dining are you? really want high end fancy food, want to eat "caribbean" style, or if there's food we're happy?
    departure airport and how much travel time you're willing to use. (it can require 2-3 flts a/or a boat ride to get some places.)
    now about 'intrinsic interest'. that & club med don't go in the same sentence for me, nor do any all inclusives. the surroundings look different but a club med is a club med. obviously there are native islanders on each island i personally like meeeting the locals and find staying in a villa encourages that. that said some islands have a strong personality - jamaica, grenada, st. lucia maya riviera coast, many have a decidly american (grand cayman, st. thomas) or europeon (st. martin, barbados) influence.
    how do you feel about being around a lot of families with children?

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    Thank you, Virginia, for your interest and detailed questions.

    I'd like an all-inclusive place so I'd know how much it would cost, rather than being open-ended, and also so I could treat my daughters and their guys to everything. I hope to limit it $10,000 for the 6 of us, but that may not be enough.

    I'm not sure how a villa or condo rental might would work. Is that what the English call "self-catering?" We have stayed at small resorts in Italy and Greece that provided two meals. Something like that might work for us.

    We have to go the first week in January because that's when my birthday occurs. We would leave on January 3 from any of the 3 New York airports, non-stop if possible. I'd like to minimize the number of flights. Four nights would be best for us, but as you say, some places wannt a week of longer. One of my girls has to be back to get ready for law school by the end of that week.

    As for activities, ziplines, snorkel/dive, shopping, beachcombing, hiking and touring historical sights sound good. The younger set would probably like some nightlife. We are willing to rent a car or sign up for excursions.

    We'd like beautiful scenery of course, whether arid or lush. I'm not sure what you mean by eating Carribean. We don't mind being with families with children.

    I have been to Club Med in Guadaloupe,and to Jamaica, St. Martin, and Cozumel, all many years ago, before recent development, which may have spoiled them. When I went to Cozumel, there was no Cancun, we flew to Merida. I also went to Isla Mujeres on a ferry with livestock. Riviera and Maya don't go in the same sentence for me. But now we need a warm place to celebrate and create good memories.

    Maybe I'm wrong about this, but Club Med seemed less fancy and pretentious than Atlantis, for example. We also speak French and would enjoy the opportunity to use it.

    I hope this is enough information to generate suggestions.

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    re condos/villas: some villas are completely independent - you have to shop, clean, cook, etc - trade off is complete privacy. some villas come with staff. this could be a weekly cleaning lady or daily cleaning, pool/yard workers and a cook. you'll find many houses with staff on jamaica, maya riviera coast (mex made up the name not me so...???), barbados.
    condo's are normally self-catering and are everywhere. there are some very nice beachfront 'condo resorts' on provo in turks & caicos. look like regular hotels, with common areas, pool, restaurant/bar, some activities but all rooms have kitchen, living area and separate bedroom(s). thus you have the option to make coffee and enjoy on your own deck or go down to the restaurant - note no meals are included in price.

    as you'll travel in jan i'd personally stay away from bahamas & turks & caicos. air temps not hot (78-82) and water temps too cool for extended swim/snorkel. i like temps to be upper 80's and will stay in the water for hours on end if possible.

    regarding changes since your last carib travel. well i can't even imagine cancun without the airport and huge hotel zone. it must have been wonderful. as i understand it another airport is underway just west of tulum. i have stayed near tulum and not gone to isla, but hear from friends that you can get there without livestock encounters these days.
    i do think mex would be a good option for your family. they have more activities in close proximity available than any island except possibly jamaica. as well, you might expect to get most bang for buck in mex. look at the iberostar and riu resorts - both easily in your price range a location near playa del carman would be best. pdc has lots of fun nightlife and very fun duty free shopping. it is near all the things you want to do. for details on the area look at locogringo.com
    easy nonstop jfk to cun.

    i'm just guessing now, but would assume least changes would be on guadaloupe. there is still a club med there if you don't mind going somewhere you've already been. also a club med on martinique which should give you a chance to speak some french. have not been on either island so don't know much about activities or resorts there.

    bvi/usvi don't have much historical touring, shopping or activities except water sports - except on st. thomas which is a very busy americanized island. st. t has 1 ai -wyndham sugar bay & it's not near anything. on st. thomas i would only stay at secret harbour which is a condo style with restaurant & bar on site.
    st. john would have hiking in the national park & good snorkel. no real nightlife. most ppl rent villas on st. john or stay at wonderful caneel bay resort.

    hopefully some other folks will jump in here with info on gaudaloupe & martinque a/or other islands and resorts for you to look at.

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