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Two Totally Different Trips: Barbados vs. Jamaica

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May 4th, 2012, 02:01 PM
  #1
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Two Totally Different Trips: Barbados vs. Jamaica

I need some advice about going at Christmas on a mother daughter trip (25 and 50 yrs) to the Carribean. I have spent about 20 hours of research on this and have narrowed it down to two very different vacations that we could do- and would love advice. Both trips come out to very similar prices when including food, airfare, and hotel.

1. Barbados

We would stay at Bougainvillea ( http://www.bougainvillearesort.com/ ). It is not all inclusive but we'd do a combination of buying drinks at the bar, making a little in our room, and going into the Gap for meals.

(Keep in mind this all my opinions from reading online- I know some of my ideas may be false- but you can only know so much from researching.)

Perks: more glamourous island in my opinion and we love that we could be off of the resort a lot checking out the locals & restaurants. love that most places seem to be owned by bajans. we hear the food options are great!

2. Negril, Jamaica

We would stay at Beaches ( http://www.beaches.com/main/ng/ng-home.cfm - which is the more family oriented chain by Sandals). It is all inclusive and includes all drinks, all activities (all watersports and a night time show/event every night), and all food at the restaurants on property.

Perks: We've done AI in the past and although we don't have a strong preference, there is something appealing about getting off the plane and not thinking as much- esp. about money. Love all of the included activities, the night time events, and of course the unlimited alcohol.

I feel torn because although I feel like Barbados would be slightly more unique, cultured, and sophisticated of a vacation in certain ways, but I also have heard that Sandals does Caribbean vacations really well- they truly cater to what most people would really love on a tropical vacation and they make it so relaxing and easy for the visitor. Sandals seems kind of like a summer camp for adults! With that said, I can't decide if it would make me sad that we couldn't explore the rest of the island like we could with Barbados.

I feel like I have two totally different trips here. Option 1 reminds me of our trip to Playa Linda in Aruba in 2010. Option 2 reminds me of our trip to the Solaris resort in Cancun in 2009. We loved both is the problem! Any final feedback on where to choose? Sorry for such a long post, but thought it was better to give all of the information if I'm imploring for everyone's advice.
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May 4th, 2012, 02:35 PM
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Have been to Negril and Ocho Rios. Have also stayed at 2 Sandals and been to many AI resorts. Unless you want to be inudated with little kids on your vacation, I would not recommend Beaches.

"but I also have heard that Sandals does Caribbean vacations really well- they truly cater to what most people would really love on a tropical vacation and they make it so relaxing and easy for the visitor."

In my opinion that is absolutely not true. Sandals is over rated and over priced. They cater to high budgets with low class food and amentities. I have stayed at 3 star hotels in Mexico with better food, service and amenities for a 1/3 of the price than what Sandals has ever offered.

We are going to Barbados this November. Staying at the Mango Bay AI in Holetown. I agree with your comment, as Barbados reminds us of Aruba also, which is one of my favorite Islands. Lots of things to see and do and good off property dining and activities.

Though we really liked Jamaica and would return, we feel a little restricted there as we need a taxi or driver to move around. We loved the Jewell Dunn's River resort in Ocho Rios, which was formally a Sandals. We felt they have sufficently upgraded the food, quality and service from Sandals, but the rooms are still a let down. I guess that's just a structral thing that can not be fixed.

I was surprised by your comment that Jamaica and Barbados came out about the same price. I am finding Barbados coming out to be alot more than Jamaica, but that might be because you are looking at Beaches.

I guess it depends on what you are looking for in a vacation as to which destination is more appealing since they are so very different.

Going at Christmas everything will be crowded. There are usually limitations on nights stayed and many options will book up early. If you can go the first or second week of December, you will find lower crowds and prices.
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May 4th, 2012, 02:42 PM
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Thank you so much for the information- it is very helpful! I have to say we're kids people and are not people that are bothered by other people's kids around (I think it enhances people watching!) so I think we would do okay at Beaches. As two single women (my mom is recently divorced) I think the idea of just seeing couples might be a little depressing, which is why we went more in the direction of beaches vs. sandals. We also considered Iberstar (or whatever it is called) in Montego Bay- might that be a better option for AI option

It sounds like you agree Barbados is a lot like Aruba - which is great for Barbados as we love Aruba. I also love the Barbados decorates for Christmas!

I'm not sure why the numbers come out so similar- 4,000.00 for 7 nights including the all inclusive at Beaches for 2 people- and 2,200.00 for just the room in Barbados for 2 people so we figure about 1800.00 for 2 people for food and drinks for the 7 days- we like to drink!! I should probably get some numbers on the other Jamaica resorts at Christmas time just to make sure we're not being hosed with the quote!

One difference I will point out is we'd have 2 beds in Jamaica vs. 1 in barbados.
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May 4th, 2012, 04:39 PM
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If you chose Jamaica, the Iberostar is the better hotel. However, Montego Bay is not the most preferred area to stay especially for the first time.

I'm thinking the price difference may also be that Beaches is AI and the Bougainvillea isn't. But, Beaches charges way more than other AI hotels, so I would check.

Look at the Mango Bay in Barbados. It's a small hotel that offers an AI plan. Not like an AI resort in Jamaica. Reviews are good on Trip Advisor. I don't care so much about the food than I do the drinks, which is why we like AI. There are restaurants within walking distance of the hotel. The best of both worlds.

Having been to Jamaica twice, I would say go with Barbados if you're looking for dining/activity opportunities and the ease of moving freely about.
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May 4th, 2012, 05:16 PM
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I love Negril, but I wouldn't go AI or stay at that particular resort. See the reviews and comments on the Trip Advisor forum as well as replies here. I don't know why you think you can't explore the island or leave your resort in Jamaica, that's simply not true.

From reading your post it really seems like you are much more interested and positive about Barbados.
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May 5th, 2012, 07:08 AM
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Well your analysis is pretty right on, so accolades there. However, Im surprised that your options are about the same price, what airport are you flying out of?
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May 5th, 2012, 02:13 PM
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Barbados has so much to see/do. We have been there 7 times as it has stolen our hearts andthe dining is a big part of that. It is a wonderful destination!
Jamaica is an easy flight. We have never done a Beaches, but we have done 6 of the Sandals, 2 of them on Jamaica. What is your experience with watersports? Are you truly going to use them? For instance, do you already know how to dive? If not, are you willing to take part of your vacation to learn? I thought I hear they now charge for this, so check that out. History has proven to me that the nightlife tends to be disappointing. The food, no matter which culture the restaurant comes from, isn't the best. The unlimited alcohol IS a plus if you enjoy drinking. You can always hire a driver and ask him to be your local guide so that you can see more of Jamaica.
Barbados and Aruba are like night and day. They are not alike. Aruba is comfortable for many people as it is so commercialized and transportation is easy. Barbados may be a cosmopolitan island but it is much, much more unique. I suspect that your research isn't giving you a clear idea of how expensive the island really is. There are more inexpensive places to eat, but I would hope you would limit them as the food in Barbados is exceptional.
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May 6th, 2012, 07:31 PM
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erp
 
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Hi--jumping on this chain with a question for Knowing. My husband and I are going to Barbados in July for 6 nights at the Hilton Barbados. I have never been there -- any suggestions; is it worth renting a car or visiting Grenada? Restaurant suggestions? Thanks
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May 7th, 2012, 08:01 AM
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Erp, you should post a new thread with your question so the people with the information can see it and respond.

We are going to Barbados in Nov. Not renting a car, but we chose Mango Bay which is within walking distance to many things. I read that the Hilton is kinda isolated.

We plan on using Chan Tours for a day trip to Grenada. They also go to St. Lucia and the Grenedines.

http://www.chantours.com/


I got great info at www.barbados.org.
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May 7th, 2012, 01:55 PM
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Having done both Barbados and Aruba (but not Jamaica) AND having stayed at the Bougainvillea back in May-June 2010, I would 100 percent, absolutely endorse Barbados.

First things first, if you're looking for an Arubian experience (nightlife, gambling, lots of Americans), then Barbados is absolutely not the place to be. As one of the larger Caribbean nations with its own economy and culture, Barbados is absolutely, 100 percent a unique experience. We loved the Bougainvillea for the price, the pool, and the beautiful beach. We also stayed at the Crane, and despite paying twice as much for our room, wished we had stayed our entire trip at the "Boug" instead. The only drawback to the Bougainvillea, in my opinion, is that there can occasionally be waves as opposed to the bath-like west coast of Barbados. That being said, for proximity to Oistins, the Gap, and the airport, one cannot beat the general area where Bouganvillea is.

I can't speak to Jamaica specifically (my father does missionary work there twice per year, so that's my experience with Jamaica), but based on my experience, you can't go wrong with Barbados. The only other island/country that we've visited that blew Barbados out of the water was St. Kitts and Nevis, which I'm pretty certain is the closest thing on this earth to paradise .

Good luck no matter what you choose.
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May 7th, 2012, 02:20 PM
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The Bougainvillea is a delightful hotel with the 'small hotel' feel whilst having a good selection of options, and is only a short walk along the beach from The Gap in one direction and, a little bit further, Oistins in the other direction. The staff there, especially on Reception and Guest Services, are very helpful. Do check out the reports on TripAdvisor.
@erp - there are many superb looking hotels on Barbados - The Hilton is most definitely NOT one of them. A big rectangular concrete monstrosity.
It may have superb facilities, I don't know, although that was what I was told by a Canadian who stayed at the Bougainvillea but attended a meeting at the Hilton.
I suppose one benefit to staying there is that from the inside you don't have to see the outside!
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May 8th, 2012, 05:50 PM
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Erp -
I think it is up to you whether or not you want to rent a car. You can always hire a driver to take you around. Additionally, the Hilton is close enough to many places that it is not expensive to take a cab out to dinner at night. The parking lot below at the Hilton is full of cabs and there is always a cab waiting right outside the door.
If the total amount of your vacation is six days, you will be happiest staying put on Barbados. There is much to do/see and you will want to spend some time at the pool/ beach as well.
You asked about restaurants. Champers is a MUST. To be seated over the water at night with incredible food makes it such a special place. Cafe Sol Mexican Grill is inexpensive and has some good tex mex and you can sit outside. The old place had a fire, so they have moved right to the main drag. I liked the old location better, but I still recommend it. If you go out to the west coast, the Terrace restaurant at Cobbler's Cove is good as is Cariba. And, if one of those nights you're in Barbados includes a Friday night, go to Oistens. I used to recommend The Cliff for a romantic dinner, but it's expensive. The ambiance is stunning, but after the first time I just don't feel the food is worth the price anymore.
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