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horatio Oct 15th, 2006 05:49 AM

Your opinion on all inclusives?
Have only been to one..years ago at the Jolly Beach. I mean is this not the easiest way to go in the Caribbean if taking along to young adults(21 and 24)? Trying to find a warmer place to head to for the first week in January. Don't want to have to worry about food/intestinal issues which seems to be the topic with Cuba or the DR. Besides, weatherwise I don't think that is far south enough. Feedback? Opinions?

JeanH Oct 15th, 2006 06:00 AM

I think it depends on where you're going. I've only been to Havana in Cuba, and definitely agree that it probably isn't warm enough in January.

If you're head to the developed tourist areas of the Dominican Republic, La Romana or Punta Cana, you really don't have much choice other than the all-inclusives.

We were in Cancun in January a few years ago, and it was darn chilly at night, jackets and jeans. Warm enough for shorts in the daytime, but I had no desire to get wet.

I read somewhere you need to get below latitude 17degrees to assure warmth in January.

For that reason, among others, our last few Janaury trips have been to Grenada, St. Kitts, Nevis, and Panama.

I've never been to an all inclusive, the entire concept doesn't appeal, I can see the attraction with teens, who seem to want food all the time. Your young adults are older, what are their thoughts?

horatio Oct 15th, 2006 07:19 AM

Well my 21 one year old thinks it would be good..I mean, we would pay of course, so all is good...and with him at uni and going into the working world in may be our last chance..and well, our daughter, we don't know yet..I am sure if her boyfriend comes, she will be happy. Last year we researched it and it would of costed 10,000 for the 4 of us at Almond Beach in Barbados and we decided not to spend the money...

ejcrowe Oct 15th, 2006 07:34 AM

Well, I am overall not a fan of all-inclusives, especially large chain-resorts, where the money goes into the pockets of the foreign owners and very little into the local economy. But admittedly I have that beef with any large corporation, not just all-inclusive resorts, and just in the Caribbean.

But aside from that more political standpoint, the quality overall at every single one of the non-AI places I've stayed trumps the quality of the very few AI places I've sampled. Most AI places tend to emphasize quantity over quality. As you point out,however, if you're traveling with teens or with folks who like to party & drink, quantity becomes more important.

Though there have been a few exceptions in my travels, when I go to another country, I want to get out & explore. I want to rent a car and see the place, sample local food, try out different restaurants, go to the market, take day trips, etc. While you're clearly not required to stay put at an AI, many people choose to because they don't want to "pay twice" for any meals, drinks, activities, etc. And I see the point, to a degree. If one chooses an AI to cut down on cost or to stay within a strict budget, then it is hard to justify spending extra money outside the resort.

I guess the bottom line for me is when I have the time and money to plan ahead for a vacation, I do not and would not choose an AI. If, however, I had the choice of visiting the Caribbean & staying at an AI, or not visiting the Caribbean at all, I would definitely choose the AI.

For last minute trips (especially during high season) and holidays, sometimes the AI travel packages are the only affordable options. When my husband decided last month that he wanted to get away for the US Thanksgiving holiday this year, we didn't have a large budget. I spent about 2 weeks trying to find cheap airfare someplace so that we could put together our own vacation. I couldn't find anything in our budget other than an AI package. We ended up booking it because the price was so low and it was on an island we've wanted to visit anyway. So we'll devote part of the money we saved by booking this package to renting a car and exploring the island, having at least one and possibly two special meals outside the resort.

vinceygirl Oct 15th, 2006 08:42 AM

Have you given any thought to a cruise? There are any number of lines to choose from. My personal preference is Windjammer because it is so casual and visits islands usually not offered on the mainstream cruises. I receive flyers from AAA, and e-mails from Travelocity, Orbitz, and travelzoo with the latest available trips for the coming months. St. Maarten/Martin, St. Kitts, Nevis are fine for January travel as is anything further south such as St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Grenada.

schmerl Oct 15th, 2006 10:38 AM

I think for a family vacation with a 21 and 24 year old, an all inclusive would be great. I just went to my second all inclusive this past Christmans. It was SO relaxing to jut sit back and not ever have to take out a wallet (except to tip which was lur choice). You can always leave the resort and explore the island all you want. If you don't want to explore, there are plenty of acitivites throughout the day right at the resort.
We were at the Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar in Mexcico's Riviera Maya and loved it. As I said, we were there for Christmas, so it was the end of Dec. The weather was great. Sunny and warm. There were a couple nights when I had to put on a light sweater.
Jamaica also has a lot of all inclusive resorts.

KVR Oct 15th, 2006 09:01 PM

We happen to be a fan of AI and only go AI if it's availalbe. Actually, there are really 2 types of AI properties. Resorts that specifically cater AI like Sandals, Couples, Breezes, Super clubs, Beaches, RIU, etc. and then hotels that offer an AI plan like Wyndham and Holiday Inn, etc. just to name a few. True AI resorts can be found in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Jamaica, Bahamas and the DR. Hotels that offer AI plans we've found in Aruba, St. Thomas, Grand Cayman, Antigua and St. Lucia.

We've found that the major AI resorts that cater to the masses are hit and miss with food quality. The best AI we ever stayed at was at the Holiday Inn in Grand Cayman. Since their resturants also were open to the public and not exclusivly for their guests, they had more of an incentative for quality.

One mis-conception I've seen is people think if you stay at an AI resort your just stuck there and they don't explore the Island. That may be true for some if that is the type of vacation they want. We are very active on vacation and hardly spend anytime at the resort we chose. We use the AI feature mainly for breakfast and drinks. We will eat dome dinners at the Resort and some off property. Lunches are usually provided by the tours we sign up for.

With the age of your travelers and wanting AI, look at Cancun or Playa del Carmen. Many very nice affordable resorts with lots of things to see and do off property. We've gone in November and weather was good. January should be fine.

Knowing Oct 16th, 2006 01:44 PM

We've done both AI's and non AI's. The AI's used to be a good idea for us when our schedules were so crazy that all we wanted was time together to get up in the morning and eat our meals on the property and try some new foods that we weren't going to pay an arm and a leg for and then discover we didn't like them. At th AI's, we've made friends from all over the country over the years that we still travel with and we go and visit them and they come and visit us. We've never had that happen to us at a non-AI. We've also felt better about enjoying the nightlife a little later and found that oftentimes the staff is very highly attentive. We've had good food at many of the AI's and some of the best spa's have been at the AI'S. But, if we are going to an island that is known for wonderful multi-course dinners, we'll do a non-AI. It really can depend on where you are going.

toughguy_jd Oct 16th, 2006 04:54 PM

After staying at both AI's and hotels on the European plan in the Caribbean I would have to say it really depends on what you want out of your vacation.

If you wish to immerse youself into a particular countries food, music, customs, history and culture, then staying at a hotel and exploring the island on at your own speed would be the ticket. You are not tied by any financial concerns (meals, drinks, entertainment that you have already paid for)to the property where you are staying and have far more ability to plan, pick, and choose your meals and activities while there. Your hotel may be smaller and more luxurious than an AI.Your activies are solely by your design and at your own pace.

With that being said I do believe that there are plenty of reasons to stay at an All-Inclusive. First off many go on vacation to get away and relax. The whole idea of their vacation may be to just lay on a beach all day and drink margaritas, and I think none of us would beget someone the simple pleasure of relaxing. I know some travel purists will argue why even go out of the country to just lay on a beach or sleep by the pool, but why not. In some cases money may be an issue and when you book an AI you know your expenses up front. Some AI's I have stayed at had far superior rooms to European plan hotels that I have stayed. Much depends on the age of the hotel/resort, the island it is on, and quite a few other factors. Plus nothing forces you to stay exclusively on an AI's grounds. you can book tours, eat out, do whatever you want.

As I stated my wife and I have stayed and vacationed both ways. Most time we have stayed at AI's we have taken tours, ate dinners off the resort, and traveled without much regard. We build in the cost of the vacation anything additional and stay on the grounds a few days. I do not think I am alone in using an AI as launching pad to a wider exploration of my destination.

I also wanted to comment ejcrowe's comments about foreign ownership being bad to the local economy. I would disagree that they do little for the local economys. The employees are local, the craftsmen are predominately local, food generally local, alcohol many times brewed or distilled on the island. Taxes are paid to the goverment. I wonder if the AI was not there where many of the employees and support people would make up the difference. Cabbies, tour operators, local farmers, you name it benefit from a 300 to 1000 room AI being there, spending not only the resorts money but the tourists also.

Enjoy your vacation no matter what you decide and where you decide to stay.

Snubes Oct 16th, 2006 06:17 PM

It also depends on how big of a eater and drinker you are. Couple of drink during the day at pool bar, couple before and during the diner can add up, multiply by all drinkers in your party and for 7 days at $3-4 for a beer and $6-7 frozen foo-foo drink can add up to some bucks.

SAnParis Oct 17th, 2006 04:42 AM

I am not a Resort fan, nor an A/I fan. Find a cool cottage or villa somewhere. I wouldn't want to be 'trapped' into an A/I, personnally. You've spent the $$, so now you fell obligated to get your moneys worth. All the while missing great local cuisine & adventures.

ejcrowe Oct 17th, 2006 04:53 AM

tough-guy, I don't necessarily disagree with you. It's true that a large, foreign-owned hotel employs many local people and in that way it contributes to the economy. But based on my admittedly limited research of large chain resorts like Marriott, Hilton, or even Sandals, these places frequently bring in foreigners for the management positions, which keeps a glass ceiling of sorts over the locals' heads. They don't pay anything resembling the minimum wage here in the US for most employees, claiming that the 10% service charge gets distributed evenly among guests. And instead of contracting locally for fresh produce, fresh seafood, etc, most of their food is imported from foreign interests.

And while they do pay local taxes, the profits for these large chains don't get re-invested in the island's economy--they go back to the parent corporation.

And these large resorts have the power to buy up beachfront property that locals cannot afford. So locals who might have once had the means to open a small beach bar or restaurant have now been priced out of the competition.

And now we're totally off-topic for opinions on all-inclusives. Sorry, horatio!

caribtraveler Oct 17th, 2006 05:54 AM

We've done about 3 AIs but we tend to avoid them. We just love going out to restaurants while travelling.
However, I think AIs are great in a country that is not known for good food/restaurants. They're also perfect if you want to stick to a budget and not worry about how much you're spending during the vacation. I think they're a waste of money if you're a difficult/picky eater and/or eat or drink (not just alcohol) very little.

tivertonhouse Oct 17th, 2006 03:37 PM

Having lived, travelled and booked guests in the Caribbean for 20 years,
all-inclusives are like a first-day
bus tour of a foreign city/artificial, yet reassuring. Since you've already
done Jolly Beach, a destination-centric
AI on Antigua (been there), and have 2 adults, the DR would be a redundant choice -- and the winds on the Punta Cana coast let alone the North Coast are
bloody cold in January. Cold fronts come
through from the North American continent in January so any island's
north coast is hound to be colder than its south. With 2 20s, I'd go adventuresome and do Buzios in Brazil, 3 hours north of Rio. Or closer, Playa del Carmen, 2 hours south of Cancun
(see Hotel del Seo and Hotel Basico, both with a South Beach/Miami hip factor
the 20s would cotton to...)

tivertonhouse Oct 17th, 2006 03:44 PM

Most AIa, btw, do very little for the local economy and few offer more to locals than indentured servitude.

AnikaKay Oct 17th, 2006 05:02 PM

I had the choice between an AI and not for my trip this fall. I calculated the cost of the AI was $140 per day per person AFTER the cost of the room. I like to have a drink, but could I eat and drink $140 worth every day?

It also depends on how you want to spend your money. For every $7 bar drink, I could have several purchased from the local market. If you are OK spending this for one drink and like the convenience - do it.

If you want more for your money, pay as you go.

I'm not cheap. I just want more.

Little_Man Oct 17th, 2006 07:51 PM

At an Al, sure, you can have all the margaritas you want, but unless you're a raging alcoholic how many can you really drink?
I can only drink a couple at most, and I'd like that drink or two on vacation to be something really delicious, not a from some corn syrupy technicolor yellow mix.

schmerl Oct 18th, 2006 03:09 AM

Don't know where you've been, but the drinks I've had at Ai's are all made from scratch---even with fresh fruit.

ParrotMom Oct 18th, 2006 05:33 AM

Now that we are older and go during the winter to the D.R... most resorts are set off fromthe "action".. it's good not to have to start worrying about ...where are we going to eat for supper...and being overcharged because are tourists.. In Mexico, i.e. Cancun, there are so many places.. that as long as a resort has a place to have breakfast that's fine.. I'm tired of people saying that they have "intestinal troubles" in the D.R... we are going back to this particular resort for the 5th time.. and have been to their sister resorts in the D.R. and have NEVER HAD A problem.. It's the fruit based drinks, especially those with coconut bases that does it every time..

tivertonhouse Oct 18th, 2006 08:31 AM

While unwashed fruit in fruit drinks and coconut may be blamed by some for
intestinal problems in the DR, the more likely culprit is lack of good sanitation/hygenic food handling. Unlike Parrott Mom, I've had water/food based problems on 7 trips to the DR, one of but hardly the only reason I'd never go back.

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