Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Caribbean Islands (
-   -   Need affordable ideas for family reunion (

drako Aug 1st, 2011 08:16 AM

Need affordable ideas for family reunion
We are in the planning stages of researching possible locations for a large family group to get together and relax. It will be a group of 8-10 adults and 7-10 kids ages 2-14. We want to do this on a budget but prices I have been finding online for a week in November seems way out of reach. Are there recommended sites to book a large group and recommended destinations? We don't want to do Mexico (cancun/riviera maya) since most of us have been there. I know Dominican Republic and Jamaica are affordable destinations. We would prefer an all-inclusive to avoid going out to dinner off site with so many children. Paying over $1000 for a 2 year old seems a bit high to me (granted I know airfare is included in that but seems high).

Any advice in finding a trip last minute for November and how to get a good deal?

doug_stallings Aug 1st, 2011 08:32 AM

Depending on where you are going, the cheapest alternatives will be Jamaica or the DR. Mexico is by far the cheapest of the alternatives, but you're resisting going there again. You already know all this, so I'm not entirely sure what you're asking for. It's going to be expensive regardless since you are going to the Caribbean and will have to pay airfare, which is really high this year (it's not going to be magically cheap, either ... it's still going to cost you about $500 per person for airfare or more). A cheaper alternative might be to go to something like Club Med in Florida, where you can save on airfare.

You might do a lot better by renting a giant fully-staffed villa on the north shore of the Dominican Republic; you might be surprised at how affordable this can be in the off-season of early November, when it's still hurricane season---some of these villas have as many as 8 bedrooms. This would be, effectively, all-inclusive, but it wouldn't have myriad organized activities for kids, though you'd be able to have all your meals cooked.

There are a lot of cheap, mediocre all-inclusive resorts in Antigua, but airfare there is usually more expensive than to either Jamaica or the DR. And there are some cheaper resorts in the Bahamas (both on Cable Beach and on Grand Bahama), where it may be cheaper to fly, and where you might find discounted rates in November. Just avoid Atlantis. It's really expensive.

But just because a resort is all-inclusive doesn't make it a good value or even cheaper than a non-AI hotel. Unless you're doing a lot of drinking, it's often cheaper to stay in a nice, regular resort that has a variety of restaurants on-site or nearby.

And children often stay at these resorts for free (at AI resorts, they are also usually staying at a greatly reduced rate or even for free if sharing a room with their parents), so I don't think you're talking about a place that would cost $1,000 for a week for a two-year-old. The two-year-old would likely have to pay only for airfare. The 14-year old would likely pay half-price for the resort (if staying in the same room as the parents).

I don't know where you're coming from (and that matters), but the best deals are usually offered through travel agents that make bulk bookings at the best prices for both airfare and resorts (airport transfers are usually included in these packages). Outside of the Eastern Seaboard, the best deals are usually through companies like Apple Vacations that arrange their own charter flights to the DR and Mexico.

If you're looking for a nice place to go, the Club Med in the DR is nice, and it's on a great beach. It's next to the Puntacana Resort, which is not AI but often a good value.

drako Aug 1st, 2011 08:40 AM

Where would I go about finding a fully staffed villa in DR for rent?

Also, I have been going to online sites such as expedia, orbitz, travelocity, cheap carribean etc. and that is where I was getting the $1200 for the two yr old. I haven't had luck finding kids stay and eat free for the AI's that I have been searching...that's why I decided to post here. Maybe my best bet is to contact a travel agent. We would be leaving the NE either newark or philadelphia. Thanks for the pointers.

virginia Aug 1st, 2011 09:00 AM

look at

how about a cruise? if that would interest you
major deals if you use the 90 day ticker from above page, but they're only listing through oct 31 for now & you must give them an email address to access the list.
also, as it is hurricane season the ship has the option to change the ports they visit if there is a storm or if an island has had major recent damage. this is bad if you were just dying to go to 'that' island but good in that the cruise line will keep you out of stormy areas

doug_stallings Aug 1st, 2011 09:21 AM

We recommend several villa alternatives in our DR book. Try to start your search with North Coast Management, a professional villa rental manager in the DR. They have an extensive range of villa options, mostly in gated communities, including one giant villa with a staff of eight. Taking all 8 bedrooms costs $1,800 per night, but divided by 8 that's not so much per night ... around $150 per person, which is comparable to a nice AI resort. If that's out of your price range, there are other options. Lots of AI resorts offer kids-free promotions in the off-season, and you'd be best served by talking to a knowledgable travel agent.

I'd start with Apple Vacations rather than a more generalist web site like Expedia or Travelocity. They are specialists in the DR and often offer the best prices. Their packages can include flights.

But if you are leaving from Philly or EWR, I think Virginia's suggestion of a cruise would be a good one. There are good family-oriented cruises to the Caribbean leaving from NJ and NYC, and then you won't have to pay for expensive airfare.

virginia Aug 1st, 2011 09:26 AM

some good/reputable/well known villa companies:


found this house on the north coast:
i've never been on dr so can't personally recommend this particular house but i have looked at literally 100's of villas in the islands & this house looks good. pool looks huge. house looks nice. fully staffed. it says it's on the cliff 20' above the beach with steps down to it - potential issue for very small kids?

hope this helps

shirleyk Aug 1st, 2011 11:15 AM

Take a look at the Tamarjin in Aruba. Kids stay and eat free, so you would only have to pay for the airfare for the kids. Fly mid week if possible for the best airfare.

qwovadis Aug 1st, 2011 03:16 PM Climate guides

Unless you like lots of rain

the not unfrequent hurricane/storm

November Carib visit not wise

If you must go for Aruba out of the storm belt

Personally find best deals on big Villas on the Kohala Coast

on Hawi Plantation House - Hawi [#86193]7BR+/6BA (Sleeps 14-17) From $800/nt US Dollars

is just an example of what you might find grocery your food

even have a chef to prepare it and save over expensive meals

and AIs save a tonne what most families I know do...

Very low rain on lots to do and

fairly cheap direct air LAX Kona 4 hours...

Happy Hunting,

qwovadis Aug 1st, 2011 03:31 PM

Keeping in mind Doug's excellent point on air costs might also
consider great cost effective villas you can drive to...

FL AL Gulf Coast white beach wonderful place from $500/nt at

also have a look around SeaGrove Beach close to great deals on super white beaches

you can drive to and save thousands on air cost...

drako Aug 1st, 2011 05:43 PM

Thanks for all the feedback. Other suggestions most welcome. I have been to the caribbean in late november with no problems and beautiful weather. Hawaii is not an option since we are on the east coast (too many small children to consider).

Late November is when we are considering so we do have the thanksgiving crowds and prices to deal with. I think late November is the tail end of hurricane season, isn't it? I know storms can surge at any time. Maybe pushing it to December is better???

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:20 PM.