Is an all-inclusive for us?

Old Sep 12th, 2006, 10:43 AM
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Is an all-inclusive for us?

I hope you all can tolerate my various vacation questions. There will likely be a lot of them over the next couple months as we weigh our various options, and I can't find a better place to get advice then a board where there are so many people with first-hand experience, so I thank you all for your help.

But I digress. I keep debating about an all-inclusive because my husband is a cheapo, and we usually end up arguing about money while on vacation. He isn't keen on the idea of an AI though, and I'm hesitant, for different reasons. Maybe someone can tell me if we should avoid them, or give one a shot.

We like going places where we can do things on our own. We're not into group activities. Of course, we've been on snorkeling trips which were groups, but if it's a tour of some part of the island, we'd rather go on our own and do things at our own pace. We didn't enjoy the cruise we took all that much. Mainly because we would have liked more time on the islands we visited, but also because we don't get into the dance contests and the stuff like that. We're loners, I guess you could say. We like our privacy. We're also picky about our food. We're by no means wealthy, so it's not like we've been to the best restaurants in the world, but I guess you could say we have champagne taste on a beer budget. And lastly, we don't want to be secluded to just our resort. We'd like to be able to explore and not fear for our safety.

FWIW, we are 30-32 and have an almost 2 year old, who will be staying home with Grandmom and Grandpop.

So, taking all that into consideration, should we avoid AI's, or give them a shot? Thanks for your help!
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Old Sep 12th, 2006, 11:00 AM
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I am no expert on all inclusive. As a matter of fact, I am yet to go to one. Although they do sound easy.

Since you are loners and like nice food, my answer would be no. But, there are many places that offer a meal plan with breakfast and dinner included. You are then chained to your resort for breakfast and dinner, but are free to explore for lunch. Since your meals are already covered, you can relax and enjoy your appetizer, meal and dessert. You can buy a bottle of liquor for your room and mix your own drinks for pre dinner cocktails. I personally like the funky drinks that cost a ton That drives my husband crazy!
Anyway, at the Reefs in Bermuda, you can do a meal plan like that and the food is excellent and the place is low-key and very pretty. You can be as lonely as you like
There are many places on Bermuda like that.
We prepaid our gourmet meal plan at the Atlantis in the Bahamas. Which was fun, but not the top of my list for repeat vacations. They did have a variety of restaurants to choose from to dine in. (and the food was excellent) Personally, between the two,I would rather go to Bermuda.
Marriott offers a meal plan at several of their hotels on different islands. This would offer variety dining under one roof. This would also be an all inclusive. I think they are called great escape getaways.
Anyway, you can get sort of all inclusive without staying at a place that is like a beaches or a sandals or a resort in mexico or the dominican republic. Many island resorts will offer their own sort of prepaid deal.
I do like that because you know what you are spending (for the most part) up front. This may help you get your nice food and your hubby know where he stands money-wise!
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Old Sep 12th, 2006, 11:02 AM
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Thanks so much! The only issue with Bermuda is that we'll be vacationing in Jan or Feb. Will it be too cold?
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Old Sep 12th, 2006, 11:08 AM
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My husband and I tried an AI resort (Sandals Ocho Rios) for the first time last year and didn't enjoy the experience. We also are "loners" and enjoy privacy. That was not a problem as most AI places offer lots of activities to do on your own. We were disappointed because we ended up spending most of our time secluded on the resort since they do not encourage you to explore other areas on your own. They did have a few off resort tours, but these were additional price and it was hard to plan our own activities out of the resort.
Also, while the food was abundant, it was not necessarily the best quality food and we definitely didn't eat/drink enough to make up for the AI price.
We definitely know now that we're not into the AI resorts and much prefer exploring on our own. Hope this helps and hope you have a great vacation whatever you decide!
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Old Sep 12th, 2006, 11:10 AM
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If budget is your biggest issue and you don't want to get into money discussions while on vacation, it might be good if you can find a "cheapo" AI package on an island that appeals to you, and then take the money you save on the package and put it towards car rental, a few daytrips or activities, and maybe a few meals outside the resort.

I'm not a fan of AI resorts for a number of reasons. But sometimes they offer deals that are entirely too enticing to pass over--if you worry about bickering over money issues whilst on vacation, it could help to go the AI route.

If budget isn't the main concern, then I agree girlonthego--you and your husband do not sound like folks who would enjoy the full AI experience. Pick an island and a hotel where you can stay under your budget but still have a wonderful time getting out to explore everything and to sample the many wonderful local foods of the Caribbean.
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Old Sep 12th, 2006, 11:13 AM
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Sometimes you know something, but it's just helpful to hear it from someone else. Thank you for your words of wisdom. I am thinking the AI is not for us. I was really into the idea of going to Costa Rica last year for our vacation, but we were afraid to go away for too long for our first extended trip away from baby, but now I want to go for at least a week, wherever we decide. Thanks again for your advice!
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Old Sep 12th, 2006, 11:25 AM
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Bermuda will be too cold unless you want to wait until around May!

paradisebymarriott.com is the website that shows which marriotts offer the allinclusive feature. We have been to the Aruba Marriott Stellaris. It is a very nice large scale/resort hotel. They had several restaurants to choose from. Aruba though has many wonderful restaurants and it would be a shame to restrict to the hotel.
The St.Thomas Frenchmen's reef would be a nice choice Marriott to do an all inclusive. It is also a large scale/resort hotel and you could visit St.John and the British Virgin Island's from there.
St.Kitt's has a brand new Marriott that offers the plan too.
The British Virgin Islands offer several resorts that would offer meals included.
Enjoy your week away from the baby and let us know where you decide!
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Old Sep 12th, 2006, 11:29 AM
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Thank you so much for the great recommendations! My husband has said that he wants to stay somewhere where we'll be pampered. LOL. Yet he doesn't like the prices of those places. We stayed at the Four Seasons in Maui for our honeymoon, and I think that's ruined us for a lot of other places. But that was a splurge for sure.
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Old Sep 12th, 2006, 11:46 AM
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We have done both types of vacation and we like all inclusives for these reasons.

> Because you basically will know what your vacation will cost before you leave home, so it is so much easier to budget for and so much more relaxing.

> Because you don't have to carry around money at the resort and you can lock your money away in your room safe (that usually is included) and only pull it out when you want to go shopping or book a tour, etc.

> Because you don't have to decide where will we eat breakfast, lunch or dinner each day or rent a car or take a taxi to get there.

> Because at most all inclusives, there are a la carte restaurants that are included, where you will be served, so it isn't all buffets.

> Because you can eat and drink to your hearts delight without having to think about money or the hotel bill tab at the end of your vacation. It is so nice to see $000.00 on you hotel tab after you had a wonderful vacation.

> Because you don't have to think, can I afford that glass of wine, that cocktail or that beer with your lunch or dinner, or whenever you want, just go ahead and order what you feel like when you feel like it.

> Because you can try all kinds of cocktails and not even think about the cost and if you don't like one, you don't have to drink it, but can keep trying them all till you do find one(s)that you do like.

> Because if you really want to go out and try lunch or dinner at a special restuarant off the resort, you can and will still come out ahead moneywise.

> Because food and drinks of all types can be expensive in the Caribbean and will all inclusive you don't have to worry about it.

> Because, not only is food and drinks included, but usually the entertainment, sports equipment, and activities are included, but it depends on which resort you go to so read on what is included with that resort.

> Because you can get some very good sell-offs on all inclusives, but do your homework first and research the resort(s) you are thinking of.

> Because you are not confined to the resort and can come and go as you please.

> Because some all inclusives will even pack a box lunch for you, if you are off the resort for the day and quite often it is included in the price or there will be a very minimal charge.

Of course, all inclusives are not for everyone, but they are growing in popularity and I think it is because of the freedom from thinking about money while away (we have enough of that at home) and because they are a very relaxing experience overall.

If you have never tried an all inclusive vacation, I say try one and see if you like it. If you don't, then next time you can go back to the pay as you go type of vacation, but you won't really know till you try one yourself.

Whatever you decide have a great vacation.
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Old Sep 12th, 2006, 01:09 PM
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The Marriott is a good idea. However, I think Curacao has the best Marriott I have ever been to. Although we did not do an AI option, we had friends that did. They still got a nice room and were treated well. The beach is very large there so you could certainly find your own space. This would be a great way to make the most of your vacation and still delve deeply into the island. It's a wonderful place to explore.
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Old Sep 14th, 2006, 12:22 PM
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I like an AI resort for the occasional trip. There are several now that are more upscale than most.

Have you read the reviews on LeBlanc in Cancun? I am not a big Cancun fan but this resort is where we ended up booking our honeymoon. I have friends - own a large agency and are very jaded - that came back simply raving about the place. I trust them to know my taste as it mirror theirs. Rates are VERY competive right now but set to increase significantly after January.

I have stayed at most of the Sandals properties and would classify them as three stars overall, with some being a bit nicer than others, but none enough to intrigue me to return.

Couple has nicer properties IMO.

I personally did not care for Half Moon, mostly because there were a lot of kids there and I avoid that while on vacation.

I have been to Peter Island as well and, while lovely, it was not my style. I prefer a bit more elegance in my evenings.

Just some random thoughts as I struggled with this decision for months before making a decision.
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Old Sep 14th, 2006, 12:27 PM
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Adding a few more thoughts:

I am athletic so a great gym, spa and safe place to run alone in the early mornings is important to me.

Also, when choosing an AI I am not one to stay on property. I like to get out and about. Le Blanc appeals because of the great level of service, food, rooms, but also because we can hop over to Cozumel for the day, or visit some ruins, or indulge in nightlife if the spirit moves us.

I like a lot of options when I am on vacation. Type AAA but appreciate relaxation as well.
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