all-inclusive suggestions?

Apr 4th, 2006, 06:09 PM
  #1  
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all-inclusive suggestions?

Hi there. New to this site, but we're planning a vacation for next year, and are trying to narrow down choices. (2 adults, 2 17 year old girls) We just returned from St. Lucia and loved it, however we would like something a little closer or more direct to fly into from Boston. We also loved Jamaica last year.

Prefer an all-inclusive, simply because it's easier for everything to be...well, included. As far as the type of island...really just gorgeous beaches. White sand, beautiful CLEAR water (water in St. Lucia wasn't very clear) So far we've looked into Antigua and Turks&Caicos, and are definitely leaning towards Antigua.

Any and all suggestions, whether or not they match the above description, are welcome
comebackdamon18 is offline  
Apr 5th, 2006, 08:34 AM
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How about Paradisus Punta Cana in the D.R.? Absolutely amazing beaches, wonderful resort & service, 11 restaurants to choose from.
LisaS
Lisa1271 is offline  
Apr 5th, 2006, 10:13 AM
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We have been to antigua three times & it was lovely We went to blue Waters & galley bay, which were wonderful, but probably a bit quiet for teenagers! Have you been on the Antigua & Barbuda travel forum on Geographia.com. i am sure that would help Have a great holiday.
DianeC is offline  
Apr 5th, 2006, 01:21 PM
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Thanks for the suggestion Lisa1271! The Domincan Republic never even crossed my mind, I completely forgot about it. I'll definitely look into it, that resort sounds fantastic! Thank you again.



DianeC, ironically enough, those are the two resorts we were looking at in Antigua! I definitely picked up that Galley Bay would be too quiet (our daughter wouldn't mind, she likes peace and quiet, but our niece is far more adventurous.) Thanks for the help! One more thing..how are the beaches at Blue Waters?
comebackdamon18 is offline  
Apr 6th, 2006, 04:28 AM
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Blue Waters is a very nice resort, but it is definitely one whose average age skews fairly high--probably averages around 40. There won't be many teenagers and young adults there. (Same as Galley Bay, as you know.) Beaches at BW are very nice, if somewhat small. The place is overall quite isolated.

It really depends on how much you'd like to cater to your tastes vs. the 17 year olds. Cocobay is fairly chic and in a nice location just up from Jolly Beach Resort that might suit all of your needs. Jolly Beach will be the place with the most young people, but also the most families with small children, as it's very much a budget place. The beach there, however, is undeniably beautiful.

I love Antigua and have gone back there several times over the past few years. I always stay at Long Bay hotel, but I don't think it's right for you.
ejcrowe is offline  
Apr 6th, 2006, 05:09 AM
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re turks and caicos. no ai's except club med or beaches. girls are too young for club, too old for beaches. beautiful island, very quiet. most hotels are condo style but all have good restaurants attached. direct flights available
st. thomas is an easy flight from boston. the wyndham sugar bay is an ai, has a nice beach, good snorkeling, bar/burger grill by the pool/restaurant. one could easily just hang on the beach while other was parasailing or jet skiing etc... also direct flights.
water in the usvi and bvi normally has good clarity.
no direct flights to dominican republic.
would you consider the mayan riviera coast of mexico. i have no specific thoughts, but most hotels there are ai. there are 5 paradisus between cancun and cozumel. have friends who take their teens to a different ai on mex coast every year so if this appeals i can easily find out which resorts they have enjoyed the most.
virginia is offline  
Apr 6th, 2006, 07:33 AM
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Check out Sunscape Resorts, especially Sunscape The Beach Punta Cana. Newer resorts, excellent pricing and gets great feedback and return visits from my clients. They are sister resorts to Dreams and Secrets Excellence.

Best Regards,
Julia
juliaelzie is offline  
Apr 7th, 2006, 12:45 PM
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thank you all for the suggestions


ejcrowe, especially thanks for all the Antigua info. it's the island i'd say we're most interested in, and one of our 17 year olds would honestly probably prefer quiet, somewhat isolated settings. the other one, however, gets bored very easily. regarding Jolly Bay, have you been there/does it get good reviews? same question for Cocobay?


virginia, all your information has been very helpful! we've read Beaches has a beautiful beach, however...sounds way too chaotic for us. do you happen to know anything about Coral Gardens? from what we found on the website, although they aren't an all-inclusive resort, they do offer an AI package. we've looked into the wyndham on st thomas, having loved the wyndham in jamaica. the only thing we don't love...the 99 step descent to the beach. what about..bolongo bay? travel agent mentioned it...we've read kind of not-so-fantastic things about it, however. while we'd probably prefer a direct flight, as long as it doesn't include the chaotic 8 hour travel that st. lucia was, we'll take any bordering-on-quick flight. mayan riviera sounds very nice, we'd love to hear more about it.

juliaelzie, sounds wonderful! we'll look into it!


thank you all for your help so far!
comebackdamon18 is offline  
Apr 7th, 2006, 12:56 PM
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I would stay St. James Club in Antigua. Just visited in October and thought it was perfect for a family with older children. Accommodations are villa like, grounds are beautiful, beach and water are to die for. Highly recommend it.
troptrav419 is offline  
Apr 7th, 2006, 01:29 PM
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Hi, comebackdamon. No, I can't help you with actual information about either Cocobay or Jolly Beach. I've visited both whilst out on an island tour. I really like the look of Cocobay a lot -- the rooms are really small cottages, which offers more privacy and has less of a resort feel. I'm not really a fan of all-inclusives, but if I had to stay at one on Antigua, I would definitely consider this one.

Jolly Beach is a horse of a different color. It's one of the largest resort complexes in the entire Caribbean, and really, you could enter there and not have to leave until the trip home. It's huge and fairly self-sufficient, what with the grocery store, helipad, golf course, casino, all right there. It's a huge hotel and the rooms don't get very high marks, but the beach there really is stunning. Long and wide, nearly white sand, and gorgeous blue water in several shades.
There would definitely be more action here, and more young people for your daughter and niece to make friends with. It's also in the budget range for price, so if you stayed there you would have money left over to spend on nice daytrips or doing some shopping.

Can you give us an idea of your niece's idea of adventuresomeness? Would learning how to windsurf, doing some snorkeling, and taking an eco-tour satisfy her? And then some shopping downtown? And maybe a party at sunset on Sunday night at Shirley's Heights? If so, you really could stay just about anywhere on the island that looks good to YOU, because all of these things will be available no matter where you stay.

IF she and the rest of your group will be happy with those kinds of activities, pick a place on the island that looks good to you--you're the adult and presumably paying for it all. If you can give me a bit more of an idea of what you're looking for (other than AI with a nice beach), I can give you more feedback about suggestions to stay, eat, where to play, etc.
ejcrowe is offline  
Apr 8th, 2006, 04:12 AM
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hi again, coral gardens is a mid size hotel. coyaba, their restaurant, gets very high marks for fine dining and they have a small beach grill/restaurant. some of the best snorkeling on provo is directly in front of the hotel. the blding is not all that attractive but i hear the suites are large and Very nice. huge decks. there are opportunities to parasail, windsurf and banana boat as well along grace bay beach, but honestly i'm not sure cg/provo would be my first choice if i were taking teens unless they were divers. also there are just too many great places to eat on provo and it would seem a shame to restrict yourself. (go there without them next year??)
oh those steps. yes, the sugar bay steps are well - steps. there is a little shuttle thing every 15 mins. once you have gone down for the day they pretty much have everything you would need. i saw alot of young people there and the set up is condusive to them meeting and gathering. it is also quite near coki world which is a very cool marine park that both girls would enjoy.
i have only driven by bolongo. but by reputation it is midsize, family owned and operated, kind of known as a party spot but girls are not old enough to drink...and i would be concerned that the crowd would be just that much older than they are to cause issues.
have e'd friend for mex ideas. she is actually there now so may respond soon or not til she gets home. in the mean time you might go on the latin am board and ask for thoughts.
virginia is offline  
Apr 8th, 2006, 11:34 AM
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hi again, everyone. once again, thanks for all the advice you've provided.


ejcrowe, the activities you've decribed really are very well suited to my niece's sense of "adventure," or just taking a break from relaxing in the sun. we did a day trip by boat in st. lucia and it was enjoyable for everyone, but i don't think the nature/ecology part pleased her or my daughter. they enjoyed the scenery and snorkeling, but not the volcano. shopping downtown however is something they'd both love. we thought about heading into rodney bay for a day in st. lucia, and even castries, but didn't like the looks of castries, and weren't quite sure about rb. people we were with on the way to the airport, however, stayed right in rodney bay and went out around the town every night. so, a resort not necessarily right in downtown, but close enough to it for a quick ride over would be perfect. is the downtown in antigua safe/comfortable for tourists to go into? looking at cocobay and jolly beach, while the beach at jolly beach looks absolutely gorgeous, it seems far too big, especially from what you've described. it also seems like it might be hectic, and our room could end up being quite a walk from the beach. i think we'd like something smaller in size. what about the st james club that toptrav14 mentioned? i've read somewhat mixed reviews on it. i think we'd really love to go to antigua, it looks beautiful, so i greatly appreciate all your help thus far.


virgina, why not turks and caicos? i'm just curious, really, that's all. we've heard from a coworker that it's on the quiet side. as far as going out to eat and what not, we're all for going out for a day or 2 to sample the local flavor, as long as we think it's safe, which is why we didn't in st. lucia or jamaica. regarding the wyndham in st. thomas, did you stay there? if so, any more info you have on it would be great! thanks for the help!


one more quick thing, kind of slipped my mind. any thoughts/info/advice/suggestions on grand cayman?
comebackdamon18 is offline  
Apr 8th, 2006, 12:27 PM
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hello again--

I really don't know St. James's Club very well, have only driven through the property. It has an eviable location on the south coast, with wilder waves along the coast and a very calm sheltered bay with a sandy shore. It's as close as anywhere else on the island to the English Harbour area, which is one of the hotspots on the island as far as beach bars, shops, restaurants, etc. Based on what I've read of it, the cost is a little high for the value, but I have no real experience there. It's smaller than Jolly Harbour and much bigger than Cocobay.

Dickenson Bay is the other hotspot location and is the most built up on the island, where the Sandals and one of the Rex resorts are located. There's also the Antiguan Village, which while not AI, might be a good value for your group--it's condo style accommodations, so you could save money on room & board. DIckenson is also a convenient area to stay in because the large catamarans for daysails will pick you right at your beach there for trip, rather than having you go to them.

St. John's is a pleasure for me to walk through and I have always felt safe there. I've not been there in the evenings, but that's by chance, not design. I wouldn't go on days when cruise ships are in port, as it would be a madhouse. There are the usual dutyfree luxury stores, the tourist places for t-shirts and souvenirs, and then if you walk a block or two inland from the quay, you'll start seeing the places where Antiguans shop. I really like the little map & book shop there.

It's worth a stroll up to the cathedral of St. John to see the churchyard and the interior, which feels quite cool even at midday because it is lined with dark pine wood, to enable it to withstand earthquakes more readily.

I also like the small but lovingly put together Museum of Antigua & Barbuda. The exhibits are few but they give a nice idea of Antigua history. There's a small giftshop there with local items like pottery and cookbooks.

If you're going in the November-May time period, check out Harmony Hall, a wonderful restaurant only open for lunch. It's built on an old sugar plantation and the sugar mill has been revamped as a very nice little bar. There's an art gallery and small gift shop on site. Price of lunch (very expensive, but best food on the island IMO) gains you access to offshore Green Island for sunning and swimming via their small boat. You can really make a full day of it, as it's on the far east coast.

Most of the good snorkeling in Antigua is on the east side or offshore, so if your group wants to snorkel on a regular basis, you might want to consider staying at Long Bay Hotel or Grand Pineapple Beach. Long Bay has the MAP meal plan, with taxes & service charge included while Grand Pineapple is a full AI. Both offer a nice array of watersports--kayaking, snorkeling, sunfish, etc.

Didn't think to ask earlier what your price range is per night and when you're traveling...
ejcrowe is offline  
Apr 8th, 2006, 12:43 PM
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thank you again for the information, it's really helpful. we're traveling february of 07, school vacation week, so middle-end of february, sometime around the 20th. as far as price range, i'm not sure on a specific amount. the hotels you, along with the others, have mentioned are all in our ideal price range. we'd like to be near some sort of town to (safely) go in and shop for a little, as to avoid buying last minute souvenirs at the airport. you've mentioned st. john's is safe..are english harbour and dickenson bay, as well? you mentioned that you always stay at long bay in an earlier post, but also said you don't think it's right for us...could you give a little insight? and thanks again for all the information you've provided us with.
comebackdamon18 is offline  
Apr 8th, 2006, 01:44 PM
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Well, let me see if I can elaborate on what I was saying...I've never been in St. John's at night, only by day, but I did feel very safe whilst there. I'm not sure that very much is open in the evenings, however, so I don't know if it would be relatively safe or not if it's pretty deserted. Most tourist action at night is relegated to the hotels and various beach bars. I would also feel perfectly safe in English Harbour or Dickenson Bay areas in the evenings.

Dickenson Bay is about a 10-15 minute ride to St. John's. English Harbour is a little longer--more like 30 minutes. But Antigua is fairly spread out that way. When we get out in a car, we expect rides of about 30 minutes to get anywhere from Long Bay. I did mention at first that it might not be for you because of your niece's desire for action. But if watersports and a little shopping constitute her sense of adventure, really anywhere on the island would be suitable for you. Long Bay is fairly secluded on the northeastern point of the island--it's very old Caribbean in feel, with no tv, no telephones, no a/c. I've been there with teens and children who enjoyed it, but I know for certain that other teens and children would find it a bit quiet and/or dull compared to other resorts (some adults would, too, for that matter). I think it all depends on one's vacation style.

ejcrowe is offline  
Apr 10th, 2006, 11:36 AM
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hi again - i really do love provo. grace bay beach is stunningly beautiful to me. it is a very quiet island though. which is why i suspect it might not be active enough for your niece or even your daughter. i was just there for 2 weeks and didn't see more than 3 kids in their age range, and it doesn't have the ai you are hoping to find. it is a fabulous place to go to read on the beach, totally relax, be romantic; or scuba. it is as safe an island as you will find and we regularly drove around at night with no concern. you might take a look at royal west indies, ocean club west or the sands. in feb it could be a smidge cooler than other islands.
i did not stay at sugar bay. i was at secret harbour and attended a wedding at sb. most of wedding party stayed at wyndham so i was there often. i did not find it to be at all unclean or unkempt. their beach is wide but not long for taking walks, and they do actively bring in cruise ship crowds, which def overcrowds the area. there were alot of young ppl around. the rooms were nice but nothing special. the lobby was quite grand with large marble central staircase and a couple shops. they have a small area with slot machines which seemed quite popular. the restaruant food was good not great. the beach bar burgers were excellent.
still waiting e from friend in mex... and i do think you should consider this. she has told me that the ai's there offer numerous restaurants, tons of teen stuff, and a myriad of possible activities: horseback, atv or jeep tours in the jungle, all known water sports, great marine parks, day trips to tulum to see the mayan ruin (the girls Will enjoy this), snorkeling, trips to the chakanaub reef etc., plus beautiful beaches. around playa del carmen or south is supposed to be best as opposed to cancun/cozumel which would be a zoo. and you can def fly direct from logan. you might even find a charter through TNT and save money.
virginia is offline  
Apr 10th, 2006, 01:23 PM
  #17  
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hi virginia, thanks for all the info. although turks and caicos sounds lovely, based on what you and others we know have said, it's probably too quiet, so i think we'll rule it out.
will definitely look more into mexico, probably playa del carmen, as we have friends going there in a few days staying at an ai.
thanks for the help!
comebackdamon18 is offline  

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