group of friends/couples in late twenies

Old May 2nd, 2012, 11:27 AM
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group of friends/couples in late twenies

A group of 8/10 friends (some couples/some singles) and I are planning on taking a trip in mid to late November. Most have us have done the Mexico thing (Cancun, Playa Del Carmen) several times so we were looking to go to the Caribbean to try something new. None of us have ever been. We are a group that likes to spend most of our days on the beach or at the pool and then go out for dinner and a bar after. We really aren't looking to do much sight seeing or any outdoor excursions. We want to drink, eat and relax. At first I was thinking of going the AI route and then going somewhere off site for dinner at night because from my experience AI's don't have the best food and that is a must for my boyfriend. He likes to be able to go out to a nice dinner when we are on vacation. But from what I'm seeing I don't know if there is an island that encompasses both (AI and great restaurants).

Here's my wishlist:
-great beaches and water, great food and restaurants, some nightlife, safety

I was thinking maybe Turks and Caicos, Grand Caymen?? Don't really want to travel to Aruba (flight time). Pretty much open to anywhere though. Thanks for any help!
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Old May 2nd, 2012, 11:29 AM
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*late twenties, oops
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Old May 2nd, 2012, 12:20 PM
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You are sending mixed signals - the draw of AI's is that you get all your meals. Most people don't go AI and have their dinner (the most expensive meal) "off resort".

Are you asking which AI's have a variety of restaurants? Or are you OK with payig the AI price but still paying for "off resort" dinners?

In order to steer you in the right direction it would help if you gee of some idea of your budget and how long a trip you are planning on that budget.

There are very few, if any, AI's in the Turks & Caicos - those that are there are very expensive. Same with Grand Cayman.

Lots of AI's in the Dominican Republic, so start your search there.
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Old May 2nd, 2012, 12:48 PM
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"Most people don't go AI and have their dinner (the most expensive meal) "off resort"."

We do. On many of our AI vacations. Have done 14 AI's to date and doing another one in November.

"are you OK with payig the AI price but still paying for "off resort" dinners?"

I have done so many times. You get the best of both worlds.

Now, for clarification it was dependant on how much I paid for the hotel and if there were actually good inexpensive resturants off the resort within a reason able distance.

Have done this in Mexico many times in 10 trips, St. Thomas, and Aruba.

Though you said you didn't want to do the distance to Aruba, that would be what I would have suggested. The Radisson sometimes offers a meal/drink credit of up to $200. We did the Holiday Inn and added on the AI plan at the last minute and got it for $450 for 2 people. Regular price was $,1000 for 2. Totally worth the price for breakfast, drinks, some lunches and then we went to some of the fabulous resturants for dinner.

Turks and Caicos and Grand Cayman are excelleant choices for a vacation, but food and drinks are very expensive. We did AI in Grand Cayman at the Holiday Inn, which isn't there anymore, and it so worth it. The food was actually very good. We did not do AI in T & C as there were only 2 choices when we went. I would have preferred AI as you really need to rent a car to get to the various restaurants.

I have found that hotels that offer an AI plan choice over all inclusives have the better food. As not all guests paid for that service, but they are eating the same meals. High end AI resorts, except Sandals, has the better food.

Look at the Wyndhams and the Marriotts. They have AI plans over all inclusives.

We are going to Barbados in November staying at the Mango Bay AI. The hotel gets very good reviews for thier food in TA reviews and the forums. The hotel is within walking distance to several bars and resturants, which we will try out as part of our vacation experience. Even though we pay for an AI hotel, we budget as part of our overall vacation funds, to try the local cuisine and bars. We don't hole up in AI resorts. It's a common misconception especially from people who do not do AI vacations.
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Old May 2nd, 2012, 12:58 PM
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Sorry. I'll try and explain a little better. Depending on the price of the plan, we were thinking AI for the benefits of breakfast, lunch and drinks poolside. And then if our group wanted to stay for dinner they could, but if some of us wanted to go and have dinner off resort a few nights we could do that too. Basically we have a larger group so I was hoping everyone could get what they wanted, which is nearly impossible I know.

Maybe we don't need AI at all? Our last trip was to Miami and we were shocked by the price of drinks ($24 for a frozen drink poolside at our hotel!). So if prices are anything like that or even close, I thought maybe the cost of the AI would still be less than paying to eat two meals and for drinks poolside all day.

No budget worked up just yet. I don't want to say money is not an option, but I'd like to narrow down my search to a few islands and then look and see what I'm willing to pay.
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Old May 2nd, 2012, 01:13 PM
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Look at the price of an AI hotel vs. a non AI hotel in whatever destination you want to go to. My limitation is if I can get an AI option for $800 or less than just a regular hotel, than I go AI. (That excludes Mexico or Jamaica because I will only go AI there.) It usually costs us $1,000 - $1,500 to eat/drink no AI (in our experience) and that means watching how many drinks we consume.

I've never seen $24 for a cocktail. The highest I've seen was $12 - $15.

Here's a list of AI resorts in the Caribbean:

http://www.caribbeanallinclusive.com...ve_resorts.cfm
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Old May 2nd, 2012, 02:40 PM
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i suggest you look into negril, jamaica. some ai's on the beach. you can also walk to various restaurants along the beach. perfect for 20somethings.
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Old May 4th, 2012, 07:25 PM
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I have been to the Grand Palladium in Montego Bay. not bad at all. Going to the Rose Hall Hilton in Montego Bay over the July 4th week. It has good reviews especially for the on premises restaurants. Both are AI.
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Old May 5th, 2012, 08:46 PM
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I went with a group of friends to Negril Jamaica. It was a fantastic!

We were 13 people (6 couples and me!). We stayed on the Cliffs, spent the days lounging around the pool, cliffs, or ocean. Some days to town or the beach. Sometimes we ate meals as one large group, like meeting for dinner at Ivan's, sometimes split up into smaller groups or couples alone to do an activity or diferent interests.

The 7-mile beach in Negril is great. Montego Bay is an easy airport (then it's a 90 min ride but plenty of cheap shuttles going that route). And all kinds of hotels and resorts, both all-inclusive or not.
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