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Help with finding an affordable all-inclusive in the Caribbean

Help with finding an affordable all-inclusive in the Caribbean

Old Jun 14th, 2011, 05:09 AM
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Help with finding an affordable all-inclusive in the Caribbean

Cliffnotes: Looking for a reasonably priced all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean. Prefer geographically diverse location over flat and arid, something that offers culture and exploration and nice beaches.
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My fiance and I are celebrating our marriage in November with a honeymoon trip to the Caribbean. She has been to Jamaica, and the Caymans but I have not been. Therefore, we're looking for somewhere new for the both of us.

We're looking to save money, and get the most out of our 5-6 days and would like to go the all-inclusive route.

We're not ones to lay on the beach all day, every day, we'd like an island that offers something to explore, and has cultural elements where we can socialize with the locals and learn a bit about the culture.

Scenery: This is HUGE. I have a huge appreciation for beautiful geographic locations and flat, low elevated islands just don't do it for me. I very much enjoy topographic contrast and mountainous regions. I want to do some exploring and enjoy the scenery. A flat island may get redundant and monotonous.

Beaches: Would love something with white sand and azure water, something that has decent snorkeling and things to explore. Not looking for the world's most beautiful beach, just something that is nice, and enjoyable and has warm, blue water.

Accommodations: AI is a must. 5-star cuisine isn't necessary, but something more than cafeteria fare is very much important. For reference, we just stayed at Dreams Resort in PVR and had a wonderful time. We prefer something a little more cultural, and less touristy, staying in a 20 story resort is less appealing than a beach side hut if you know what I mean. Accessibility to bars/restaurants outside of the resort would be nice but not a deal breaker. We like to explore if it's convenient and possible.

Accessibility: Something that is relatively easy to get in and out of is a plus. Something that requires 3 stops is very much not desirable, unless of course it's totally worth it.

Locations that have caught our attention:

Antigua & Barbuda

St. Lucia

Hopefully this gives you enough info to help guide us in choosing a magnificent trip. Thanks in advance!
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Old Jun 14th, 2011, 05:51 AM
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look at the ai's on the maya riviera coast (south of cancun to tulum). near playa del carmen will be best for you as you wish access to shopping, activities, good beaches, snorkeling. cancun is easy to fly to from almost everywhere. activities include: dive/snorkel, golf/tennis, fishing both deep sea or bonefishing, zip lines, cenotes & caves to explore, kayaking, atv jungle rides, 2 marine fun parks - xel-ha & xcaret, the sian ka'an biosphere to explore not to mention easy access to mayan ruins (coba, chichen itza, tulum)
lots of area info on locogringo.com
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Old Jun 14th, 2011, 07:06 AM
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Thanks for the reply. However, we just got back from Mexico (albeit the Pacific side) and aren't as intrigued. We've done the uber-tourist deal and while it's fun, it's just a bit too fast paced and forced feeling, maybe even artificial.

We'd really like to visit one of the many islands in the Caribbean and experience a more low-key, laid back experience in a country that offers more than just laying on the beach. Hence my mentioning of geographical contrast (i.e. something other than just a flat, arid island) Perhaps this is why St. Lucia caught my attention.
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Old Jun 14th, 2011, 07:28 AM
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you might want to give a price point as to what is reasonable for you. Since reasonable means something different to everyone plus the islands you have tagged are the more expensive islands. St. Lucia does sound like a good fit for what you are looking for they also have the piton peaks that you might be interested in seeing. We stayed at the Sandals resort in St. Lucia and enjoyed our trip. Good luck
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Old Jun 14th, 2011, 08:45 AM
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maya riv is Totally different from west coast cities.
st. lucia is what you want geographically, but is a hard island to get to (travel will take up a lot of your 5-6 days) and a hard island to get around. it is not known for snorkeling. has drive thru volcano, pitons, rainforest, zipline.
antigua is flat & has decent snorkeling. fairly expensive destination.
i know nothing about barbuda.
keeping time restraint in mind perhaps puerto rico would be a good choice. old city san juan has tons to see. el junque national rainforest has lots to see/do. cheap to fly to so might allow you to spend a bit more on hotel.
also negril, jamaica would be perfect but you said you don't want to go there.
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Old Jun 14th, 2011, 10:59 AM
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I think Virginia's suggestion of Puerto Rico is a good one! I am not sure where you are traveling from but you can get to San Juan on a direct flight from many major cities. As she said, there is a lot of history and culture to absorb at the forts and Old San Juan. You might also consider spending a couple of nights on the island of Culebra- good snorkeling and pretty beaches. You will not find any 5 star accommodations and I don't think there is anything AI but (depending on where you stay) you can easily walk around town and the restaurants and bars have very good and very inexpensive to moderately priced food and drink. The varied topography would meet your criteria as well.
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Old Jun 14th, 2011, 11:01 AM
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PS You can get a good overview on www.islaculebra.com
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Old Jun 14th, 2011, 11:32 AM
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Contrary to what a lot of people think, an AI isn't necessarily the best deal. The reason all those cheap AIs are so cheap is because they are ... well ... cheap. So you'll get not only no 5-star cuisine and accommodations but sometimes substandard fare.

Puerto Rico has no AI resorts of any kind (unless you want to pay $1,000 per night). So I don't think that's a realistic suggestion for you. Same goes for the BVI. There are very few AI resorts in the USVI. The Wyndham Sugar Bay on St. Thomas, which has a mediocre, smallish beach, comes to mind; Bolongo Bay does have an AI option, but I'm not sure St. Thomas is really what you're looking for. And on St. Croix, there's Divi Carina Bay, which might appeal to you.

I'd probably suggest you also not look at St. Lucia. Although it meets your requirements in most other respects, the island has no white-sand beaches or sparkling aquamarine water.

I think Antigua might be a better choice for you. It's a diverse island with beautiful beaches and some cheap resorts. Needless to say, as those who have suggested Negril will tell you, that meets all your requirements in terms of beach, atmosphere, geography, and even price. As does the Mayan Riviera ... which is really nothing at all like the Pacific side of Mexico. Barbados also has some AI options along the south coast that would be your style. Take a look at the Almond resort there.
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Old Jun 14th, 2011, 11:35 AM
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I agree with Virginia. Everything you stated you wanted you will find in the Rivera Maya of Mexico. The Pacific side of Mexico is totally different than the Caribbean side. We've been every year for the last 10 years and still haven't seen and done everything there is to do there. We went to PV once and though it was OK it wasn't a destination we would return to. Mexico will also give you way more bang for your buck than any of the Caribbean Islands. That area of Mexico also has the best AI resorts you will find anywhere. Look at The Royal Playa del Carmen, Secrets Maroma, El Dorado Maroma and the Iberostar Grand Paraiso. A few good steps above Dreams in PV.

I do not believe the PR has any AI hotels.

St. Lucia is a good choice also, but prepared to spend some money. I can get a lower to mid range AI hotel and air for 2 in Mexico for what I would pay for air alone to St. Lucia. Yes, St. Lucia is worth it if you're willing. We stayed at the Sandals Grande and it was so not worth the money to us. Limited AI choices in St. Lucia also.

Antigua and Barbuda are going to be flat, arid Islands.

What area of Jamaica did your fiance stay? Each area; Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Negril are quite different from each others with seperate things to see and do. Since it also fits your criteria, you may want to stay in a different area than she did.

Insisting on AI and non-flat Islands is going to limit your choices severally. We love AI hotels and have been to many.

If your interested we have all of our vacation pics at: http://community.webshots.com/user/kvrlvn
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Old Jun 14th, 2011, 12:16 PM
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Perhaps I wasn't clear in what I was suggesting about PR- I was saying that if you were willing to change your mind about all inclusive that you can get a lot of bang for your buck in some places in PR and get some of the other items you stressed as important. I do like the Riviera Maya area as well but think there are some good non-AI places there.
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Old Jun 14th, 2011, 01:45 PM
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Bookit.com

Cheapcaribbean.com

Best values usually

Dominican Republic Puntacana.com

Excellence property good there Hard Rock non AI but great prices

Luxurylink.com

St Lucia pricier more scenic

congrats!
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Old Jun 14th, 2011, 05:16 PM
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Thanks for all the very helpful and thorough responses. Our budget (if we went AI) would fall in the $4000-$5000 range for 5 or 6 days including the airfare. We will be traveling from Minneapolis.

For the record, we're not opposed to abandoning the idea of an all-inclusive, we just enjoy the ease, and carefreeness of it. If we can save money elsewhere, we have no qualms about staying in a non all-inclusive resort.

What's important to us is eating decent food and staying in a decent spot. As stated, we don't need 5-star service, food, etc. We're fairly easy to please.

I'm trying to be reasonable and don't want to come off as unreasonable. Of course I understand that you can't have it all, unless you have it ($$$) all.

Just looking for a place that's going to offer nice scenery, outside of beautiful beaches, and be less cliche-touristy and a little more cultural and authentic.

Decisions decisions.
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Old Jun 14th, 2011, 06:35 PM
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Can anyone provide some input on Bermuda?
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Old Jun 14th, 2011, 06:52 PM
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Anthony- I have never been to Bermuda so I have no input there but if you are still considering November for your trip I would think some others would have an opinion on that. I hope you find the perfect place.
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Old Jun 15th, 2011, 04:51 AM
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anthony,
I don't think Bermuda would fill your criteria. It is a small island, not much to do once you visit the historical areas.
I agree with those who have suggested the Riviera Maya. You can go zip lining, explore Mayan ruin, snorkel in cenotes, etc. There is a LOT to do besides "lay on the beach". Look into the smaller towns like Akumal which has beautiful beaches and great snorkeling.
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 08:21 AM
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I would check the Club Med website for last minute all inclusive vacations. They do a great job and with their summer discounts, you might get quite a bit for your money.
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 02:54 PM
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"Club Med website". I don't think so. Read the reviews on Trip Advisor first. Talk about scary. I personally would not spend my hard earned money at any of thier resorts, and we been to many AI's.
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 03:35 PM
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After tons of consideration and back and forth, we've come to the conclusion that what we're really concerned about is the resort or place we stay. We've looked at numerous destinations (including the Riviera Maya) and have deduced that we feel we can't go wrong anywhere in the Caribbean.

What we're really looking for is a low-key, all-inclusive resort or villa rental that offers privacy and relaxation and isn't over crowded and crazy. Does something like this exist in the $4500 price range? Ideally an all-inclusive villa would be idea.
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 04:09 PM
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My husband and I stayed at La Source spa resort in Greneda. It is all inclusive...everything is included...scuba, sailing, yoga, DAILY spa treatments....excellent wine selection and lovely meals. It isn't the usual buffet style meals like Club Med. Greneda is a very beautiful island as well. We found the cost to be good because we dive and the savings on that alone made it worth it. This is the web address: http://www.theamazingholiday.com/

There was a sister resort on St. Lucia, which is also a fabulous island. I don't remember the name though.....search around.
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 04:10 PM
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I remember now.... Le Sport. Here's the web address:
http://www.thebodyholiday.com/
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