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All Inclusive (Sandals possible) or Not? Please suggest

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All Inclusive (Sandals possible) or Not? Please suggest

Old Jan 6th, 2011, 10:14 AM
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All Inclusive (Sandals possible) or Not? Please suggest

Hi,

My fiance and I are trying to plan our honeymoon trip for last week of July and we are trying to find a place to go visit. I have never been to any of the resorts so I have absolutely no idea as to how the experience is (except for what Ive read on this side, trip advisor, expedia etc.).

With that said, we've decided a few of the specific resorts and this is all based on what I've read on different reviews, and a few of the friends visiting one of the locations (Bahamas).

So the choices so far are:

1) Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort - Bahamas (All Inclusive)
2) Sandals Grande - St. Lucia (All Inclusive)
3) Windsong Resort - Turks & Caicos (Not All Inclusive)

My first question is: Is All Inclusive at Bahamas really worth it? Including airfare and stay at the hotel, the total is approximately USD$5000. My budget was about $4000. I'd go for the basic activities like snorkeling, scuba diving etc. and would like eating at nice places. Apparently this AI incldudes all the water activities as well as dining. I'm not a drinker, so alcohol is not something i'm interested (doubt that matters though). Would it be better if I pick another hotel, book airfare separately and then select activites? Airfare and accomodation (at Sheraton) amounted to approximately $2800. I don't know how much good food + excursions cost so I can't decide whether $5K for AI is worth it?

Anyone has any ideas?

2) if AI is a good idea, the other option is St. Lucia, but it costs pretty much the same as Bahamas, so would you suggest St. Lucia or Bahamas? Which Sandals resort is better?

3) Besides AI, the other option is Turks and Caicos and staying at Windsong resort. I've read good reviews about it, but would you recommend that? What activities can I do there and any ideas on the cost?

Any advice would be highly appreciated!

Thanks!
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 11:37 AM
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SRB is a beautiful resort. Have been there 8 times. Yes it a little pricey,but you get what you pay for. $5000 How many nites do plan on staying. St Lucia is nice also. More to do in the Bahamas off resort. Same as Turks . Beautiful resort, beautiful island.If its just you and your spouse SRB will be perfect. Off shore private island is great. Any questions just ask. As far as Al I feel its well worth it. Just think about paying for 6 meals a day times how many days you are there. At Sandals you eat as much as you want when ever you want.Same goes with drinks.
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 12:51 PM
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I'm planning 7-nights, July 26 to Aug 1. I've been reading reviews on Trip Advisor, some are good and some are ofcourse bad.

Seeing that you've been there 8 times, I'm sure there is definitely something you like! Have a few more questions though:

- Do you usually book it through Sandals own website? I'm getting a lower quote through another 'vacation' website, but it says All Inclusive etc. so it would still include the same things?

- I'm thinking of 'Balmoral Honeymoon Grande Luxe Suite'. Have you stayed there? Any other room recommendations? Ofcourse not to blow the budget lol

- What about butler service? Makes a big difference?

- Lastly, with regards to the activities, does it include all the activities, like jet sking, snolkering etc?
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 03:17 PM
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could you share what other website you are looking at that is offering a lower price for the vacation? Read the small print not all vacations include transfer to and from the hotel and all taxes.
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 03:18 PM
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check out the secrets resorts very nice and all AI as well
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 03:19 PM
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I am not a fan of either of these Sandals properties. Since you are going in the summer, I would go to Turks & Caicos. The Windsong has stunning views. Something you tend to appreciate on your anniversary!
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 05:07 PM
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There is a new Sandals in the Bahamas is awesome! It's on Eluthera maybe - Exuma?? I forget - friends went and loved it - booked it again while there! I've been the to Grande in St. Lucia and it was very nice. I've also been to Sandals Antiqua and Beaches on Turks...haven't been to SRB but heard that was great too..If I had to choose I'd check out the new one - then SRB then St. Lucia - St. Lucia will be more expensive to fly into too.
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 05:17 PM
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Mysterylady the other website is www.redtag.ca. It says all inclusive but you are right, I can't tell what's included and whether it's the same as the one booked through Sandals. I'm guessing it would be the same.

Knowing, what activities etc are possible there? Have you been to Windsong? I don't think that's all inclusive but hows the hotel etc? And food options?
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Old Jan 7th, 2011, 02:54 AM
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AI in T&C are Club Med (dated but "active"), Beaches (very family oriented, from same company as Sandals) and Veranda (upscale, top shelf, but laid back)

Veranda has the nicest rooms.

In T&C there's an extra charge for motor sports-boat excursions, scuba etc. Snorkel you can walk to Coral Gardens. Jet Ski is not allowed on Grace Bay, and requires an upcharge.

Some Islands AI is worth it, T&C is not one of them. The AIs there are expensive, and you can stay at equal costs a nicer more upscale property. (In my opinion.) Now if you're a heavy drinker, or plan to "celebrate" enough, then it might be worth it.

Some islands are more geared to AIs, and get the crowds for it, which brings the price down. Those islands are Dominican Republic, Aruba, Jamaica, a couple in Bahamas, and then Mexico.
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Old Jan 7th, 2011, 02:59 AM
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Your time of year, there will be huge specials. In T&C, email the GM directly to see about specials, usually free nights and/or spa treatments, car rentals, etc-makes the trip even sweeter. Windsong is right in front of snorkeling.

Also check out West Bay Club and Turks and Caicos Club-also close to snorkeling. Again email GM about specials at that time. T&C Club is currently offering every other night free in January. West Bay Club last Summer offered 2 free nights with 7, rental car for a day, spa treatment and 40% off!
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Old Jan 7th, 2011, 06:01 AM
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We've been to the 2 Sandals properties that you are looking at and Turks & Cacios. Sandals is overpriced for what you get. The food we had at Sandals in St. Lucia we below average. For that much money it was a big disappointment. If you don't drink alcohol than an AI in general is not worth it at all. We didn't really care for Nassau. Not much to see and do off property. St. Lucia'a beauty is amazing. If you chose that Island, just go for a different resort.

From your criteria though, I would go with Turks and Caicos non AI. We did a jet ski tour there that was great. Alos went to Middle Caicos and a catamaran snorkle trip. Grace Bay Beach is stunning.

If your interested, check out our picture page:

http://community.webshots.com/user/kvrlvn
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Old Jan 7th, 2011, 06:51 AM
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Now I'm actually considering Turk and Caicos more.

Both Veranda and West Bay Club looks nice. From your experience, are they both close to the beach?

Veranda is AI? but there's still extra charge for some water activities (as mentioned above). That's not the case at Sandals though right?

West Bay Club is NOT AI correct? Any ideas how much is food expense per day and activites would cost?
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Old Jan 7th, 2011, 07:36 AM
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I have never seen any AI resort except Couples in Jamaica and the Palace resorts in Mexico include off property tours/excursions in their AI plan. I have never seen motorized water equipment included anywhere. Non-motorized, yes. Some resorts offer so-called free introductory scuba or golf, but read the fine lines as there are service charges and hidden fees, so it will not be "free".

What exactly are you looking for or wanting to do? I can tell you better if it is included in an AI plan or not. We've been to 14 AI resorts across the Caribbean and Mexico.

We did not do AI in T & C as the Veranda was not there when we went. We are total AI people and would have preferred it. However, again, if you don't drink alcohol it's not worth it. I would recommend getting a rental car. We regretted not doing that.
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Old Jan 7th, 2011, 08:07 AM
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KVR is correct, they have never included things like jet ski or motor boat excursions to other beaches/islands. They never include spa treatments or scuba either, other than intro course at the pool (so you're enticed to pay to scuba!) Snorkeling can be done off the beach easily from any above mentioned in T&C for free. It's roped off in the water in front of Coral Gardens resort, an easy walk. To snorkel the reef, you have to book an excursion for an upcharge.

All the resorts in T&C. mentioned are on gorgeous Grace Bay Beach, all the resorts are beachfront.

Sandals (Beaches in T&C) do charge for motor boat activities, such as reef snorkeling, exploring cays, jet ski are an outside the resort company, and does not take place in Grace Bay. Grace Bay also has banana boats and parasail, which are seperate from any resort.

Veranda is AI, is top self, includes non motor sports such as kayaks and hobbie cats, as does the Sandals chain. Veranda has top self alcohol included, Beaches is average stuff.

Beaches has a small water park with slides and surf "waves" and small lazy river. They have 16 restaurants. They have lots of activities such as yoga in the pool, kids clubs, xbox game room, shows, and Sesame Street characters.

Veranda is quiet and more romantic, the rooms are gorgeous, service is more intimate. It has background type live music at dinner, and 1 main restaurant, 1 lunch/casual restaurant.
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Old Jan 7th, 2011, 09:27 AM
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I'm really confused now
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Old Jan 7th, 2011, 10:33 AM
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So sorry, didn't mean to confuse you. Maybe if you list your top can not live without priorities and things you can take or leave, we can better help. Don't over think this either. You will not find everything you want in one trip unless you have disposable cash on hand. Every Island, every destination is different. They have their pluses and minuses. We went to many before we found our favorite. Some were great and some were not, but in all, we were glad we did the experience and have the memory.

We had our honeymoon in Cozumel, MX. That experience jump started us to start "Island/Destination Collecting". It's been 10 years now and we've been to some really great places.
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Old Jan 8th, 2011, 05:04 AM
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Sorry it took so long to answer. Heres the deal,Beaches is a famaily resort that allows children. If you are on your honeymoon I would recommend a couples style resort. There are a few things to do off resort in Nassau. Stuarts Cove for sharks, Power Boat Adventures is great.Check out their web site www.powerboatadevetures.com . As far as the food every once and while you get something you dont like. Big deal. Most people are not used to the menu items anyway. Check out the following web site tropictravelonine.com,there you will find plenty of info,pictures,forums from all over the place.As far as booking from a web site or direct from sandals. I would speak to sandals first, then a certified sandals travel agent. You can go for less than your budget. Sandals Exuma is beautiful,it used to be the Four Seasons Exuma. I cant talk $$$$ on this site, but I am also going to SRB in Aug for less than you are talking about.Anymore questions just ask.
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Old Jan 8th, 2011, 05:20 AM
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you asked about airfare. Here are my answers. Sandals can offer you a package with or without airfare. Do some searching yourself and you be surprised on whats out there. You can save on airfare by flying tuesday-thrusday. Find a good travel agent and you be on your way. Any chance you live in N.Y.
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Old Jan 9th, 2011, 07:08 PM
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Sorry KVR, it wasn't your fault that I'm confused. There's just so much information it's hard to decide lol

In terms of priority, there aren't many but the main include budget (not blow it out) at the same time stay at a nice resort, GOOD food and nice beach. Activites wise not much preference to be honest. Being my honeymoon, I'd like to have an amazing experience. That's about it.
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Old Jan 10th, 2011, 07:33 AM
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I agree with KVR . The beach at SRB is not real big. But the offshore island is great. The food is also very good. If you have checked out other travel forums you will always read about good and bad reviews. Dont let them scare you. I would like to say that I personally have never had a bad experience with any Sandals stay. Sandals Negril has a beautiful beach, as does Sandals Antiqua.
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