Help me! I'm new at booking vacations!!

Old May 14th, 2010, 07:00 AM
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Help me! I'm new at booking vacations!!

Thanks ahead of time for any help and advice. My wife is gonna be 50 this year. After a nice party with family and friends, I was thinking about booking a 10 -14 day trip to an island in the carib. Now, ANY AND ALL previous trips were researched, planned and booked by my better half. I want this to be a surprise. And I am spinning my wheels.....just when I think I've found the perfect place, something comes along and bam! I'm starting over again.

So, were 50. Not dead, but I couldn't spend the whole time exploring mountains, either. I'm looking for decent amounts of activity BUT real nice beaches, nice hotels or villas, fishing, shopping (but we are NOT shopaholics.) I guess beautiful blue water, some fishing, some sights, and a real nice place to stay are the most important. I would be more inclined to "rough" it a bit than my wife....and this IS her present.
My budget? Since I've never seen what we've spent in the past, I really don't know what is a little or a lot (like I said, my wife always did this) I guess 5 grand apiece for air and hotel is cool. I really want this to be a nice time for her and I HAVE GOTTEN IT DOWN to 4 islands..........I think......... but I'm open to ANY advice.

In order of what sounds the best....Barbados, anguilla, st lucia, st kitts and grenada.....oh, thats five, sorry. Sorry if I sould totally lost, but I AM!! Any help from the experienced?? Thanks I appreciate it.

PS. We gone to Aruba and Hawaii only. Traveling was always so expensive...but things are much better and I would LOVE to travel regularly...The stories I read here truly sound wonderful...Thank you.

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gaba is offline  
Old May 14th, 2010, 07:21 AM
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You might want to check out the replies to my recent posting titled "Jumby Bay, Ladera, Caneel?". I am turning 50 in January and trying to decide where I want to wake up on the big day. That is wonderful that you are planning something special for your wife! After doing a lot of research I think I have it narrowed down to Jumby Bay or Caneel. We are also mainly interested in the beaches and good food/wine, maybe some snorkeling and easy hikes, but mostly just relaxing. Good luck with your planning!
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Old May 14th, 2010, 07:36 AM
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I think one important fact to know is how wedded you are to going snorkeling on your trip. The snorkeling quality varies alot among the islands you mentioned.
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Old May 14th, 2010, 07:41 AM
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$5K a piece - wow - that's a big budget! I'm more the frugal traveller

When is your wife's birthday? That could help people in their suggestions.
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Old May 14th, 2010, 09:04 AM
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of your selected islands i'd say barbados is pretty much right on target. if you like the idea of a villa it would be perfect. unlike some islands most barbados villas come with full staff. they cook 3 meals a day & clean. plenty of resorts to choose from if a villa is too much effort.
the island has plenty of activities, shopping, some gorgeous beaches, good for swimming, on the west coast (gibbs, mullins, peynes, sandy lane), fishing & some things like botanical gardens & a butterfly farm. also this island is fairly easy to get around unlike say st. luica which is quite large with not so easy to drive roads.
one our fodor regulars has been 25+ times and has a comprehensive report on this page:

to find npiazza's post click on her name
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Old May 14th, 2010, 09:22 AM
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You should know, of the islands you mentioned (Barbados, Anguilla, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Grenada) you'll find Anguilla has the best beaches (if by best you mean long strands of white sand lapped by calm bright torquoise waters) with Barbados and Grenada coming in second and third. The beaches on St. Kitts are just OK with darkish brown tinted sand and darkish steel blue waters. The beaches on St. Lucia are very dark gray to blackish (save one man-made white sand beach) and this make the water have a dark blue hue.

You'll find decent shopping on Barbados and St. Kitts while Grenada has some shops but it's not a shopping mecca. St. Lucia is also not noted for its shopping.

There's fishing and sightseeing available on all the islands.

Your budget of $10,000 for a 10 to 14 day trip for two is generous so you shouldn't have any difficulty finding accomodations that fit your budget on any of those islands.

You don't say where you are travelling from but that will affect the cost of your airfare and the time it takes to reach your destination. Depending on your country and city of origin you may find getting to some of the islands on your list will take a combination of one or more connecting flights and/or ferry rides. Sometimes the connections involve an overnight stopover while enroute to your final destination. If you let us know where you are coming from we could offer some advice on which island is easier for you to reach.
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Old May 14th, 2010, 03:33 PM
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Thank you so VERY much for taking the time to help me.

I am planning this for mid july of this year.

We are planning on leaving from, I don't know, hartford, ct, or boston or NYC.

All that research I did and NOT one of the things you guys told me I knew already! NOT ONE!!

So, maybe I should start from scratch. Someone at work told me Costa Rica is nice.....soooooooooo, I want to book by the middle of June. I guess I'm open to ANY place you guys think is ok, as long as there are crystal blue water and white beaches.....I am an blank page...........Thanks again!!
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Old May 15th, 2010, 04:15 AM
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oh gaba - it is overwhelming when you first start to research the islands. they are at once all alike and yet all completely different. i've never met an island i didn't like though, and i've been reading ppl's opinions on here for years and while there have been some travelers unhappy with their lodging, few are displeased with the island they choose.
july is considered low season so your budget should get you a very nice room or villa.
as i read your interests i'd eliminate st. kitts, st. lucia & grenada for this trip. costa rica might be fun as it offers both jungle and ocean experiences, but i still think barbados is perfect for your vacation.

if you type your destinations into the search box above it will change the page to just threads about that place so you can read through all sorts of information about just that one place. maybe jot down a few notes on places & hotels to look at.
if you want villa information google the island name with the words villa rental.
you can use any of the expedia like sites to get a list of available resorts on a given island w/price range. allows you to search multiple airline times, prices & routes at once.
none of your airports will require overnighting.
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Old May 15th, 2010, 09:16 AM
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The beaches in Barbados are magnificent. We've always enjoyed our vacations there. Many options for places to stay. In our opinion, we like the Hilton the best. We've never had a problem there. So many things to see/do on the island that you can do as much or as little as you like, but the choice will be yours.
And, aww you're being a good husband to support your wife as she hits the big 5-0. She is going to love the trip and will always remember turning 50 as a positive memory.
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Old May 15th, 2010, 01:17 PM
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We loved St Lucia. A great mix of beaches, rainforests, the pitons ... We just returned from a yacht charter to the grenadines & spend a couple days in Barbados pre-sailing. I was a little disappointed. However, we stayed in the southern part of the island (St Lawrence Gap area). I think the "nice" part of the island is the west side.

I've head the Turks are great as well. Happy planning!
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Old Jul 13th, 2010, 11:28 AM
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I cannot imagine a more perfect vacation than to see your wife's face when she enters Sheriva (a private villa with all the perks imaginable)in quiet, charming and friendly Anguilla, which is not only known for their magnificent beaches but it is replete with so many wonderful dining experiences from upscale to casual, you won't know which ones to choose from.
Sheriva in July will be able to offer you a really good deal.
You will have your own staff, your own infinity pool, hot tub and jacuzzi, your own gym, your own computer room, your own chef (Santiago), and housekeeper, full breakfasts of your choice and a staff so warm and friendly that you will weep when you leave them.
The villa is huge and it is all yours. You will face the most beautiful scene across the ocean with the lights of St. Martin shimmering in the distance.
You'll get your own golf cart to drive 1 block to the well-known Cap Juluca where you will get complete beach privileges on the arguably most beautiful beach, Maundays Bay, in all of Anguilla.
I sound like a commercial, don't I? And I do not work for the place either! I am simply an enthusiastic repeat visitor to this paradise.
Most people think it is too expensive for their purses but I tell you different.
Ask for their manager, Jeannine.
And just watch the look on your wife's face when she walks in that door!!
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