AI or non-AI... not sure which way to go


Apr 13th, 2012, 07:31 AM
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AI or non-AI... not sure which way to go

I'm trying to plan a trip for my husband and me for late May/early June - to either the Carribean, Mexico, Costa Rico or Belize. Is AI the way to go or should I be exploring the option of staying in a place that is not all inclusive? I was thinking an AI would be more cost effective. But maybe not?

My budget is $2500 - $3000, including airfare from DC. I'd like to stay for at least 5 days.
mebekb is offline  
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Apr 13th, 2012, 08:10 AM
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It really depends on what you're looking for. It sounds like you're in the early planning stages. My husband and I like both AI's and non-AI's depending where we are going. Well, actually he almost always prefers AI's! I think maybe first you should narrow down where you would like to go. For us, when we go to Mexico, we always go AI. It's not everyone's preference, but we enjoy the AI benefits. The resorts are very nice and we enjoy having everything prepaid. We always look for places that have many restaurant options and stay somewhere in Riviera Maya and not Cancun. You can easily find something in your price range for 5 days or more. I'd look at Trip Advisor for reviews. I also like AI's in the Caribbean for the most part as compared to non-AI's. I've found though that the quality isn't usually as nice as the ones in Mexico for the same price.

When we've gone to Costa Rica or Belize, we have never stayed at an AI. Costa Rica has a few, but generally we like to get out more, try local restaurants and spend more time out and about in the country. Belize doesn't have any AI's that I'm aware of. There may be some resorts with package deals that include meals, but not AI's. I think you'll find that the airfare to Costa Rica and Belize may be more expensive. We often fly out of DC and I've been price shopping and haven't found good rates yet this year to Belize.

Right now there are some good deals on to Mexico and the Caribbean.
ShellD is offline  
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Apr 13th, 2012, 08:20 AM
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We're the same as Shell - we don't do AIs in Costa Rica or Belize. It's fun to get out and explore new places, and I don't want to be obligated to eat where we're staying. We're not big drinkers either, so we're not going to get our money's worth for having alcohol included. In Mexico, I'd consider going AI. We've done it in the Caribbean when we were fairly isolated, and in that instance it was convenient. The food at some AIs can be pretty bad though, so I'd read the reviews of the places where you're interested in staying. If a property is isolated and the food gets good reviews, an AI could work.
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Apr 13th, 2012, 08:50 AM
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Regarding the food...definitely look for places with multiple restaurants and a la carte as well as buffets. We learned this fairly quickly. My husband is a chef and he's pretty hard to please and when we go to an AI, he usually is able to find some pretty decent meals. They're not the same quality as US fine dining most times, but if you look around you will be able to find good meals. I just don't go with the expectations that the food will be wonderful - but it's usually pretty good!
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Apr 13th, 2012, 09:18 AM
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I only know Mexico. I think the AI or not decision is more about what overall experience you want to have, not only the cost. I also think it depends the location of your resort.

I love Puerto Vallarta and stay right in town. There are literally hundreds of great restaurants, all price ranges. I stay at a regular Mexican local-style hotel. I wouldn't personally really care for the "resort" experience at all. I like to be out and about and feel a part of things.

Doesn't mean there's anything wrong with going to an All-Inclusive, or that it might not be the best choice for you in certain situations (isolated locations as mentioned above).
suze is offline  
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Apr 15th, 2012, 05:18 AM
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Only a couple of all inclusives in Belize, and, they are small properties, little resemblance to the large resorts along the Caribbean in Mexico.

I'm with Suze, I just don't care for resorts, whether they're all inclusive or not. Much prefer smaller properties. Usually less than 20 rooms.

I'd pick the destination first. What do you want to see/do on your trip?
JeanH is offline  
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Apr 17th, 2012, 04:47 AM
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I agree, I would try to narrow your destination down first. There are some fantastic all-inclusive resorts in Riviera Maya, but it all depends what you are looking for.

The thing that I always recommend about all-inclusive resorts is that when you have paid for your accommodation then you don't have to worry about taking a large amount of spending money with you, you can just relax and enjoy your vacation.

You can find out some useful information about all inclusive options at:
S3AN9 is offline  
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Apr 17th, 2012, 06:41 AM
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Choosing an AI wouldn't do it for me. I travel to experience the culture and the landscape of a place and to explore and adventure out, not to eat all my meals at a place that caters to tourists. I like my trips to be safe but a little wild and to do things that most folks don't do, at least a few times each trip. Plus the research/planning is part of the fun for me. Loads of photos, blogs, and travelogues below if you'd like to check them out. Happy planning!
hopefulist is online now  
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Apr 17th, 2012, 07:16 AM
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I seldom do AI unless in a isolated location where eating out is difficult.
For instance when I stayed out on Baja Sur's East Cape I was 20 miles away from a restaurant other than the resort.
Other than that I love exploring towns finding great local gems.
PS Also as I do not drink AI is a bit of a waste price ways for me.
Stewbear is offline  
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Apr 23rd, 2012, 07:57 AM
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My friend wrote a blog topic about this exact question here:

For me it comes down to is the trip with a big group? If yes, AI definitely, no worries about how to split the check, plenty of drinks, etc.

If it's just me and the lady, non AI, I like checking out the local cuisine and authentic restaurants around.
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