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misslindsey Oct 3rd, 2012 11:02 AM

need help with prospective vacation: on the cheap
My boyfriend will be footing the bill on this trip. I have tried and tried to suggest mexico but he adamently refuses, why? I have no idea. I may be able to convince him to go to puerto rico. Where else would you suggest we go? I am not entirely sure of the budget...I am guessing total for accomodations and airfare we will have about $3500-3800? Yes, i realize that is NOTHING nowadays when it comes to vacation. but, i did it last year in jamaica for under $ it will happen?? #don'tcrushmydreams. Id like to go to an AI simply for the "at ease, stress-free" atmosphere. I really hate worrying about money on vacation. So, to add that to the equation, does anyone have a resort suggestion that they really liked? I feel i set my standards too high because of jamaica because Couples Sans Souci had a lot of little really nice touches that made it really great (a ton of booze in the room, included in the cost. no major bug issues. room was very spacey. and the best....NO KIDS) the only destination i am really not interested in is costa rica. I. need. clear. blue. water.


KVR Oct 3rd, 2012 11:29 AM

For that budget you can probably do many AI's in the Caribbean. I have for around $3,000. However, the accomendations, food quailty and perks were NOTHING compared to what you got at San Souci or resorts you'll find in Mexico or the DR.

I would suggest a different AI in a different part of Jamaica. We loved the Jewell Dunns River in Ocho Rios or try Couples Negril, the Iberostar ot Secrets in Montego Bay. All adult only AI's.

Puerto Rico does not have AI resorts. There are a few hotels that offer some kind of an AI plan, but nothing like what is offered in Mexico, Jamaica or the DR.

My other suggestion is the DR. Lots of AI resorts there comparable to Jamaica and priced about the same also. Look at the Majestic or Excellance. Both adult only AI's.

Here is a list of AI resorts in the Caribbean. They are noted to be audlt/couples/family.

dontcallmecass Oct 3rd, 2012 11:30 AM

$3500-$3800 is hardly doing a vacation “on the cheap”. That is a pretty large budget and you can most definitely get 4 star accommodations for at least a week with that budget (which you already have done before in Jamaica).

I was going to actually suggest Jamaica since you said you wanted to go AI, but since you have such a large budget (and have already been to Jamaica) there are plenty of other options for you. I would look at Aruba, St. Maarten/Saint Martin, Barbados and St. Lucia. Those islands are much more expensive than Jamaica, but your budget is still pretty big so I am sure you could find some packages. The water/geography is nicest in St. Lucia, I think.

A vacation to Mexico/The Dominican Republic would be MUCH cheaper (you can def get a week for under $3k) but the water is not potable in either location.

suze Oct 3rd, 2012 11:46 AM

I agree, that's not on the cheap at all. That's a generous budget even for the Caribbean. Although why I opened this thread was coming to suggest Mexico, because you get so much more bang for your buck there than in the Caribbean.

misslindsey Oct 3rd, 2012 11:51 AM

KVR, thank you for the website, it is a very good resource. Does punta cana have any like, jungle-type landscape near by?

dontcallmecass, I need to find out where you're finding your vacation price quotes from, because i am having the hardest time finding a vacation in our price range that is not in the DR, jamaica, or mexico. I am willing to go to the DR, but i would LOVE to go to like grenada or turks n caicos. I know turks is waaaay outta my price range, but ya know...dreams. if i REALLY got my fantasy vacation, id like to go to Tanzania. but airfare alone...WHEW!

KVR Oct 3rd, 2012 12:04 PM

St. Lucia does not have clear blue water. The topography is absolutely beautiful. Not sure you can get an AI there for that budget as air is very expensive to get there if you don't find a sale.

I have been looking for an AI in Barbados for over a year now and can not find anything decent or well recommended under $4, 000 for a 6 night trip. The AI's there are definately sub-par compared to Mexico, Jamaica and the DR. Many are condo units with meals and drinks included. Meals are set times with no in between snacks except afternoon tea. I've about crossed this destination off my list as it is really expensive AI or not.

Though I loved Aruba and we did the AI plan at the Holiday Inn for $3,000 air and hotel for 7 nights, it was only worth it for drinks. Aruba has too many really great restaurants and bars and going AI there is really not recommended. The RUI and Occidential are the only AI resorts comparable to Mexico, Jamaica or DR and both are family friendly.

There are only 2 AI's in St. Martin that I am aware of and they are family friendly. Also, nothing like the AI's in Mexico, Jamaica or DR.

This is why we keep going to Mexico. Have been going since 2000 and returning again in December. I have been to many Caribbean Islands and I have yet to find accomendations and prices comparable to what we get in Mexico or Jamaica. The DR is the only exception, but I do not care for that destination.

misslindsey Oct 3rd, 2012 12:08 PM

If only i could get my boyfriend on board, id like to go to cozumel or tulum....but i highly suspect that is not an option. what are your thoughts on grenada? i am looking at the Grenadian by rex resorts, i can't tell if the resort is worth it. trip advisor helps alot, but pictures can only go so far.

KVR Oct 3rd, 2012 12:10 PM

misslindsey, you can go to T & C with that budget if you give up the AI. We stayed at the Sibbone and did 7 nights for $2,700 air and hotel. Rent a car and go to some of the less expensive restaurants. You could probably do the entire trip for $3,800.

I wish I could go to Grenada. From my area I'm looking at $4,000+ for air and a non AI hotel.

dontcallmecass Oct 3rd, 2012 12:15 PM

Misslindsey - Where are you coming from, what months are you looking to go on vacation and how long do you want to stay. These are all factors.

dontcallmecass Oct 3rd, 2012 12:22 PM

I agree that many of the limited AI's in Barbados / Aruba / St. Lucia are subpar compared to the high end AI’s in Jamaica/MX/DR but those islands aren’t AI based islands (and with reason). Those islands are generally much safer than the other 3 and most have better infrastructure / potable water. You get more for your money in Jamaica/MX/DR due to their limitations…especially in DR.

The DR has beautiful resorts, but imo you are extremely contained to your resort (especially if you are in Punta Cana). The AI resorts in Barbados and Aruba may not be as luxurious, but you have so much more freedom to get out and about and explore the island on your own. In fact, my favorite island destination is a non AI destination – Bermuda. Although, I do thoroughly enjoy the AI experience in Jamaica as well (little more freedom to be out and about than in the DR imo).

misslindsey Oct 3rd, 2012 12:31 PM

we are flying out of philadelphia. Want to stay at least 7 days. now the when is the question boyfriend does graduate school online and has few breaks. he has one break in january (too expensive to go then, and too cold down there for us) i have spring break in march but he has school i believe. I am really hoping he has a break or willing to put stuff off in may, because i want to start an internship in june.

Sunfish2017 Oct 3rd, 2012 12:32 PM

St-Maarten. Sonesta Maho or Sonesta Great Bay! Beautiful beaches, lots to do there. The resorts may not be 5 star but the island of St.Maarten-St-Martin more than makes up for it.

dontcallmecass Oct 3rd, 2012 12:45 PM

The thing that is going to keep the price up is the airfare! What I do is I go to hotwire and do a flexible date search for the destination I am interested in. So if you want to go in May, just do a flexible date search (for whatever destination you want) and set it for a 7 day trip in May. It will give you a monthly outline with the airfare for each day you could leave…so a 7 day trip leaving on 5/1 may be $400.00 and a 7 day trip for 5/7 may be $302.00. At that point, I look for packages that coordinate with the cheapest flights. It is a tedious process but it is helpful in the long run! Also, I have found the BEST deals to be on Funjet ( You also have an option to do a payment plan with them, so that is nice.

I just did a search for a 7 day Barbados trip in May and got the Almond Casaurina Beach Resort – All Inclusive for under $3300.00

KVR Oct 3rd, 2012 01:09 PM

If you can go the 2nd or 3rd week of May you can usually find better deals. We have gone around the 19th a couple of times because the prices are good.

"I just did a search for a 7 day Barbados trip in May and got the Almond Casaurina Beach Resort – All Inclusive for under $3300.00"

Not from my departure point. I could never get that price. I checked and I'm getting $6,135. I so need to move. Also, read the reviews on TA. Not very favorable and it's not adult's only. I would not spend my hard earned money at that hotel.

With regard to your question eariler about the Rex Resorts. There is one on Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua and Grenada. The are considered a lower end AI resort. Read the reviews before making a decision.

I used to use Fun Jet, but found better deals with Orbitz, Travelocity or Expedia. Also look a, and

dontcallmecass Oct 3rd, 2012 01:18 PM

Also, and

Over $6,000.00?!! That is crazy! Where are you coming from? I always fly out of Newark/NYC and flights/packages are quite comparable to the OP's (Philly).

suze Oct 3rd, 2012 01:27 PM

I have been to Jamaica, Dominican Republic, and Mexico all. I disagree about the comments about safety. You can travel independently any of those places, you don't have to feel limited to staying behind the gates of an All-Inclusive resort.

I know this is off-topic and won't side track this thread but I just hate seeing comments like <<much safer than the other 3 and most have better infrastructure / potable water>>.

Akumal, Tulum or Cozumel would absolutely fit the bill here, if the boyfriend wasn't so set against it.

dontcallmecass Oct 3rd, 2012 02:15 PM

I suppose you misinterpreted my comment. Let me clarify, the crime rate is indeed much higher in DR/Jamaica/MX than it is in Barbados/Aruba/ETC. The latter are more expensive islands and are generally safer islands and pricing correlates with those statistics.

I didn't say that they were not safe to go travel independently. I was highlighting the fact that the price of each destination correlates with things such as crime level/infrastructure; it does.

With that said, the last time I went to Jamaica we stayed in Montego Bay and had no problems with safety at all and left the resort many times. I am not one to stay behind the walls of an all inclusive resort.

However, To me The DR (Punta Cana) is the one location where you sort of are contained to the resort. Not because of safety but because imo there is not much to do (there is no real downtown to walk around or whatever). Puerto Plata is much better for getting around and about, but the beach is not as nice.

dontcallmecass Oct 3rd, 2012 02:17 PM

Sorry, I should have said "statistically safer" above.

KVR Oct 3rd, 2012 02:51 PM

"Where are you coming from?"

I live in the middle of nowhere Texas. I always pay higher airfare than most because I don't live in a city with an international airport. I have to first fly to Houston or Dallas before we can get anywhere, which is why flying to Mexico is so much cheaper than the Carribean. However, we have been to several Caribbean islands. Some AI vacations and some not. During my research, I have found, at least for us, Barbados to be overly expensive and their AI hotels sub par. I've had it on my list for awhile, but I've about given it up for Costa Rica instead if I'm going to spend that kind of money. At least I'll get to see 3 areas for the same price.

Some of us do take great offense to inaccurate info posted about Mexico. It's a great and safe destination and people who avoid it because of media hype and scared tourists who believe that garbage is missing out on a great and inexpensive destination, which is really really sad. :)

I do agree with your comments regarding the DR though.

dontcallmecass Oct 3rd, 2012 05:38 PM

Well, I do love Mexico. I have been there quite a few times because my step dad/brother are Mexican. Unfortunately, I have never been to the beach/Caribbean side. :(

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