Jan 3 nites

Jul 21st, 2008, 06:14 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jul 2008
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Jan 3 nites

Hi, I am hoping to travel to caribbean in January for a long weekend, leaving on a Thursday. Since my husband and I are leaving out of Boston the flights which best maximize our time away are flights to Turks and Caicos, Grand Cayman, St. Thomas, and Antigua. I left out St. John b/c the flight lands in St. Thomas at 220pm and from there we would have to get the ferry which would mean even more travel time.
We are looking for a nice hotel,on the ocean, restaurants, pool, water activities like water skiing, and snorkling. Nightlife is not important, just some nice dinners. Our budget is about $3000 for airfare, hotel, food, activities etc. This is a 10 year anniversary trip. We never travel anywhere and it is a big deal for us to get away! The sandals would be within our budget but I would like to try somewhere new. However, if we do try somewhere new and it is not as nice as Sandals, I do not want to keep hearing from my husband that "we should have went to Sandals". A few places that look like they might be nice are St. Thomas, the Ritz, but might be too expensive at $675. Grand Cayman Westin $390 a night seems within budget. Turks and Caicos, royal west indies resort, someone mentioned and it looks nice. It seems really inexpensive comparably speaking at $257 a night. Turks and Caicos was metioned quite a few times in posts but at $586 a night it might be too expensive. Same goes for Somerset at $600 per night. Bahamas would be perfect as far as a short flight and direct but I am afraid the weather will not be as warm as some of the other more southern islands. Does anyone have any ideas? What would you do? I know there are a lot of other islands but these ones at least have flights that get in around 2pm. Puerto Rico would also be good flight wise but from reading posts it does not seem like it has the beautiful beaches that the other islands have? Thanks.
LD
lauritraveler is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2008, 05:21 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
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If you don't travel overseas often, then I strongly advise you to go to a place that has beautiful weather but is most like the U.S. You will feel more comfortable in Grand Cayman or Providenciales (Turks & Caicos). THere are a lot of Turks experts on this board, so I'm not going to make a recommendation for lodging, but neither of these islands is strong on all-inclusive resorts, and our budget is a little slim. The Westin in Grand Cayman is a nice hotel, and if that's within your budget, that's what I'd recommend, though only if you can get a nonstop flight to Grand Cayman. FOr that short period of time, it's not worth it to make a connection.
doug_stallings is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2008, 07:52 AM
  #3  
 
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hi lauri, considering your budget the sandals on antigua might be the best choice. your other listed options will not include food or drinks or activities. island dining can be fairly pricey, not unlike fine dining in boston. cocktails may run $4-10 each.

on st. thomas you could look at wyndham sugar bay which is all-inclusive - but i don't know if it fits your budget. secret harbour is super nice and has a good restaurant/beach bar but no activities included.

royal west indies is on a nice section of gorgeous grace bay beach, and gets good reviews. dining on provo can be expensive but there are plenty of mid-range options as well. the sands is another possibility. the regent palms also has rooms in your price range. turks & caicos club is extremely nice and set a bit apart from the part of the beach where most of the resorts are. provo is one of my favorite places so of course i think you should go there.

grand cayman and t&c are known for good snorkeling. st. thomas is good. antigua not so much.

once you choose your island we can give you all sorts of specific advise on food and things to do w/out breaking the bank.
virginia is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2008, 06:40 AM
  #4  
 
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Hmmm...can you tell us a little more specifically about what you really liked about Sandals? Was it food quality? Selection? activities? Rooms? Service? Location? the Island? Unlimited bar drinks? All of the above? Some of us on this board really love Sandals while some of us think it's one of the biggest scams/jokes out there, so narrowing down what you liked about your particular Sandals would be helpful.

That is, do you just like the ease of traveling to an AI? Or were you at a spectacular beach with nice rooms that you loved but weren't as concerned about the food & drinks? Or did you just love everything about it and hope to recreate that experience?
ejcrowe is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2008, 05:46 PM
  #5  
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thank you to Doug, Virginia and ejcrowe, for taking time to respond. I appreciate the comments and tips. To answer ejcrowe's question about what we liked about Sandals, I guess it was the AI experience. It was nice waterskiing as much as we wanted all day, it was nice having unlimited drinks at the pool bar, nice dinners at a few different types of restaurants on site, unlimited snacks, etc. Years ago, we were at the Antigua property and the beach was nice-not amazing, the room was nice-not amazing. The service was good. This probably sounds weird but I enjoyed having everything right there and not having to leave the resort. I guess I enjoyed the AI experience and it just happened to be a Sandals. I would probably enjoy most AIs. Thanks again.
lauritraveler is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2008, 05:54 PM
  #6  
 
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Well, I guess this means that Grand Cayman and Turks & Caicos are out. You won't find any all-inclusive resorts on either of these islands (at least not what you are looking for ... Beaches T&C is too family-oriented, and Club Med too party-oriented).

If you liked Antigua, I think you'll find a wider range of all-inclusive resorts there than on any of these four islands. St. Thomas has only one (the Wyndham), and I think the beaches and other options are actually better for you on Antigua. So start shopping there and try to settle on something quickly. Right now, there are some good discounts, but airfares are on the way up ... way up for January.
doug_stallings is offline  
Jul 24th, 2008, 04:49 AM
  #7  
 
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I'm not sure if it would work for just a long weekend, but you might want to look at a consolidator or a place like Apple Vacations, which I've never used but I know is reputable. You might like an AI in the Dominican Republic. You'll get a lot of bang for your buck there, and I suspect that January from Boston you'd be able to catch a scheduled charter flight that is nonstop.

As I've never been to the DR, I can't help with anything more specific than that, but there are several upscale AIs there on lovely beaches that might be just perfect for you. Other will chime in with resort names for you to research.
ejcrowe is offline  
Jul 24th, 2008, 06:48 AM
  #8  
KVR
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
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I'll throw some AI properties out there for you to check. I'm more familar with AI's than flights to get there. Some may or may not be in your price range.

Jamaica - If you want want AI and a Sandals, Dunns River in Ocho Rios is considered one of the best. We've been to 2 Sandals and think that they are way overpriced for what they provide. You'll find better, much cheaper AI's in Mexico. Also look at the Couples Resorts, Grand Lido, Iberostar, Ritz-Carlton, and Half Moon.

Mexico - There are many very nice AI's around the Playa del Carmen area. The Royal Playa del Carmen, Secrets Capri, Royal Hidaway, Iberostar Grand Paraiso, and Aventura Spa Palace. There is also the Excellence Cancun, Excellence Playa Mujeres and The Royal Cancun. I feel all of these hotels have better amenties for the price than any Sandals.

We stayed at the Wyndam Sugar Bay on St. Thomas and it is nothing like a Sandals. They offer an AI plan, but it's not an AI hotel. We've also been to Grand Cayman and T & C. You will not find AI's there like in other places, but look at the Coral Gardens condos/hotel on T & C and see if it might fit what you are looking for. We thought it was quite expensive.

The Dominican Republic has many large mega AI hotels, but we've not found a good reason to go there. Check reviews and see if it's for you.
KVR is offline  
Jul 24th, 2008, 07:14 AM
  #9  
KVR
 
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It has come to my attention that the Marriott recently started an AI plan. However, I've looked on several booking sites and their offical website and couldn't find it. If your interested I would call them or a travel agent. When we went to Grand Cayman, we stayed at the Holiday Inn, which is now the Courtyard by Marriott. The HI had an AI plan, that we enjoyed, but it was nothing like what you'll get at an AI resort.
KVR is offline  
Jul 24th, 2008, 11:01 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
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The Reef Resort (Grand Cayman) has recently added an AI option.
luvtotravl is offline  
Jul 25th, 2008, 11:35 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
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if you don't want to leave the resort then i think dominican republic is an excellent idea. lots of ai's on beautiful beaches. lots of deals usually available to this island.
http://www.resortvacationstogo.com/R...d_Resorts.html
from their homepage you can click find a resort and search samana, la romana, etc.
or as ejcrowe mentioned applevacations should have deals to dm also.
or TNT vacations: http://www.tntvacations.com/AirHotelResult
they do charter flights out of boston which is quite convenient.
virginia is offline  

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