Overwhelmed young adult... any help?

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Mar 10th, 2008, 09:10 PM
  #1
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Overwhelmed young adult... any help?

Hello,

I'm a 22-year old looking to go to an all-inclusive resort somewhere in the Caribbean for Dec 2008, with my girlfriend. Looking to spend between 1000-1500 each. There are so many destinations, we are really having trouble narrowing it down.

For peace of mind she does not want Mexico or Jamaica, and she went to Cuba before so does not want that either. I haven't ever gone south, so I have no experience in such matters.

Can anyone give some tips on what might be suitable? We're looking for an all-inclusive resort. Not too wild and crazy, but something with a nice beach and decent amenities, we're not looking to go far off the resort (for security and financial reasons), but we are looking for things to do besides beach by day drink at night.

Also... would it be advisable to wait and hope for some good last minute deals, or will the price not drop very much since it is a peak period (or will there be any left even?)

Thanks!
Chris
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Mar 11th, 2008, 06:00 AM
  #2
 
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With that kind of budget you'd have to go in early December, not over the holidays when the prices really soar. And you've eliminated two out of the three most economical locations, which leaves you with the Dominican Republic. I know next to nothing about that country other than it is chock full of all inclusives, but other folks will be able to chime in here. But since you say "peace of mind" is essential, being in the DR might not cut it, either, with so many wild reports of drinking the bad water. Why does she eliminate Jamaica & Mexico?
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Mar 11th, 2008, 06:14 AM
  #3
 
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I completely agree with ejcrowe on this. The best-value places are in Mexico and the Dominican Republic ... but particularly in Mexico; Jamaica (particularly Negril for younger adults) is a close third. But you might also take a look at Antigua. The resorts in your price range there aren't that great, but there are some good values, though the cheaper places draw a very hard-partying and drinking British crowd.

Prices are unlikely to drop if you wait a long time; in fact, they are likely to go up. So there is an advantage in booking now if you are planning to book an air/hotel package. If you have miles or plan to book your airfare separately, then you can do much, much better by choosing a modest non-all-inclusive resort. And then you don't need to worry about booking the resort for a few months; book the airfare as soon as you find an affordable fare to your destination of choice.

If your budget INCLUDES airfares, then I think you really have to choose the DR or Mexico and will have no other choices in that price range if you really want to go to an AI. Riu resorts are typically the cheapest places in any of these destinations; Iberostar are a step up but might not be in your price range.

There are many more affordable things to see and do off-resort in Cancun/Cozumel/Riviera Maya than in the other places. However, if you were to go to a NON-AI property in an otherwise expensive island like Barbados (staying in The Gap), then you can get around very easily by bus and see a lot of the island and save a lot of money.
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Mar 11th, 2008, 08:38 AM
  #4
KVR
 
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I have to agree also. The best inexpensive AI hotels are in Mexico; Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya and Cancun. Jamaica and the DR also have good AI properties to fit all budgets. You've really narrowed your destinations by eliminating the best options.

I agree also, if you're going in December, I hope it's not around the holidays as prices will double over Christmas/New Years. The best prices for December is the first 2 weeks.

You might look at the Beach Club Colony on Grand Cayman. The hotel is scheduled to close at the end of the year, so check carefully if your interested. Also the Reef Resort on Grand Cayman has recently gone AI. Not sure if it will fit your budget or not.

Also, the Holiday Inn on Aruba. We did 7 nights AI for $3,000 total with air. The AI option really wasn't that great though.

We also did the Wyndham Sugar Bay AI on St. Thomas for around $3,000 total with air a few years back. Check the Bolonga Beach hotel also.

Barbados has a few AI hotels, but with air, not sure you'll make it under $3,000, and it's a really long flight from the states.

The only hotel on Antigua that would fit a $3,000 budget that I found was the Jolly Beach Resort. Read the reviews. It's a huge hotel. Some people liked it and some didn't. Do not get the Supersaver room. It's the size of a small cruise ship cabin.

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Mar 11th, 2008, 02:50 PM
  #5
 
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We booked one week at an AI in the Dominican at the end of January/first week of Feb this year at almost $1500 each ($CDN, including taxes, flying from western Canada... I think the package was something like $1297 before taxes). This was the lower end of the range for Punta Cana/Bavaro Beach (gorgeous beach!)

We were undecided about going and only finally booked three days before we departed; I had been checking for a few weeks, and prices did not get cheaper - in fact, we were quite limited in our price range by the time we booked.... all that was left were the a very few lower end resorts or higher end ones.... nothing in the middle. I can see in retrospect that we *should* have booked about at least a week before, when there still was quite a bit to choose from. Of course, we went in high season, and if you go in early December, it may be cheaper.
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Mar 11th, 2008, 02:52 PM
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Sorry, I should have been more specific - $1297 was the lower end of the price range for so-called "four star" properties. (In Canada, they'd be 2.5 to 3 stars max.)
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Mar 11th, 2008, 06:16 PM
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Update:
I've talked to my girlfriend some more, and Mexico has been thrown back into the hat. So any tips/debate offered between DR and Mexico would be greatly appreciated, as it seems to be a choice between those two.
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Mar 11th, 2008, 06:54 PM
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I agree that you ought to look at Mexico- check into resorts people recommend to you in the Playa del Carmen area (I am not an AI fan so I can't help there) so you can go to Tulum to see the ruins, maybe to Cozumel for a day trip, etc. and some nightlife -or whatever amount you want- in Playa. I have not been to Jamaica and although others rave, my husband says when he was there a couple of times before we were married that they were told it was not safe to leave the resort. I don't know if that has changed but if that is why your girlfriend is concerned about safety, I did not feel unsafe in Mexico (although it certainly has its share of crime, it just was not an omnipresent concern)- just be smart and careful but I don't think you are "trapped there" in your resort as I have heard others describe other places.
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Mar 11th, 2008, 07:21 PM
  #9
KVR
 
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If your now interested in Mexico, look at the Royal Playa del Carmen. It's an adult's only AI. Very nice rooms, good service, good food. Within walking distance to 5th Avenue for shopping, restaurants, bars and entertainment. Also close to several off property excursions including Mayan Ruins, water eco parks, ATV's, horseback riding, snorkeling, cenotes, a day trip to Cozumel, etc., and should meet the budget you stated.

You can find more mid-ranged budget friendly AI resorts in Cancun. We chose the Oasis Viva for April. Less than $2,000 with air for 7 nights. We enjoy the nighlife in Cancun more than Playa. The Oasis chain has 9 hotels that would fit your budget and critiera. The RIU chain in Cancun and Playa should also fit.

Also look at the El Cozumeleno in Cozumel. Cozumel is a very nice, laid back Island and a good introduction to Mexico for the 1st timer. Great snorkeling.

The big difference between Mexico and the DR. In the DR going off the resort is not recommended unless you are on a scheduled tour. Also, most resorts are huge mega AI complexes geared for families/kids.

We've been to Mexico several times and are returning in April. I don't understand why you would think it's not a safe destination.
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Mar 11th, 2008, 07:23 PM
  #10
 
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It is not unsafe to leave a resort in any of these places, but Mexico has the best value of any of the destinations. For your age range, I think you should look at places in Cancun. Take a look at the article in the NY Times this past weekend about a small hotel in Cancun to get a sense of what kinds of places are available.
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