Help, do I want an AI? I don't know

Old Jan 8th, 2007, 09:51 AM
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Help, do I want an AI? I don't know

Family with 3 teens looking for a week on a great beach with pool time, snokling, access to water activies, great food, beach walks and possibly activities for quiet (type) teens. My husband and I do not like large Disney crowds, but feel that our kids might like something bigger then what we are attracted to.
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Old Jan 8th, 2007, 10:01 AM
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Country?
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Old Jan 8th, 2007, 10:21 AM
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Sorry I accidently sent this to be posted before editing. We would like to go to the Mayan Riviera in Mexico.
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Old Jan 8th, 2007, 10:40 AM
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The thing is that even the *best* AI resorts are a notch below standard hotels, which are a notch below what you'd get if you seek out the most distinctive local restaurants.

Great food and AI are generally incompatabile.

HOWEVER, that doesn't always matter.

If your tastes find Lubys cafeterias acceptable back home, you'll be fine at an AI, since most of them have cafeteria quality food, but often glitzed up and very nicely presented.

Often too, the AIs offer *extremely* limited drink selections. I stayed at a Barcelo resort a few months ago. The *only* beer available was Sol. If all you ever drink back home is Bud Light or Corona, then Sol is perfectly acceptable. But if you know the difference between a decent beer and a schlock beer, then it's not.

Same thing with the rums, tequilas, etc. If you think Jose Cuervo and Bacardi are "top shelf" brands, you'll be fine with AI. But if you know the difference between good and mass market, you won't.

It's all a matter of quality and expectations.

By the way, while *I* happen to detest almost all AI resorts, my kids think they're the greatest thing since individually wrapped, single-slice American processed cheese-like imitation food substance.

Your mileage can indeed vary.
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Old Jan 8th, 2007, 11:17 AM
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Well I would respectfully disagree with TioGringo's assessment of AIs. Those statements may be true to some extent for the lower end of the AI scale but if you choose to stay at the upper end you will find food and drinks and accomodations that are as good or better than any major hotel chain. However, as Tio points out, everyone has preferences and some people think all AIs are crap. Sadly, many people spread this as gospel even though they have never stayed in an AI. I think that if you choose a good 4 star or above resort (as rated by a reputable travel vendor not the hotel itself) it would be a good deal for your family. One thing we do insist on when we are picking an AI is that it MUST have ala carte dining available - we refuse to stay anywhere that only has buffet service for all meals. For breakfast or lunch we can do a buffet some of the time but we really want/need the sit down, order from the menu, and be waited on experience.

We also are pretty picky on the room, and want it to have a safe, a stocked minibar and a coffee maker. Most do but not all.

That is my 2 pesos worth......
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Old Jan 8th, 2007, 12:08 PM
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Any AI recommendations for Playa de Carmen? Preferably on the beach.
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Old Jan 8th, 2007, 12:58 PM
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Another consideration going AI in PDC, if you want to be on the beach I think you're better off staying at one of the smaller nonAI's. Unless you pay big bucks for an ocean front room at an AI, you'll have a pretty good walk to the beach. There are several really nice hotels (NonAI) right on the beach that are @$100/night. I doubt you can get right on the beach anywhere in Playacar for anything close to that.

Personally I completely agree w/Tio. I think he's given you pretty good advice. No matter how "good" the food is at an AI, it will simply not compare to the quality and variety available to you outside Playacar. Period.
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Old Jan 8th, 2007, 05:45 PM
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And...a big part of the fun of Playa is walking around town and choosing from among the many appealing restaurants. All the all inclusives in PDC are located in Playacar, which is either a very long walk or a cab ride away...
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Old Jan 8th, 2007, 10:04 PM
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Hi, Thanks for gettting my head straight, I now know that I can not stay in an AI. So, I guess I need a small hotel ideally on/near beach, walking distance to getting something to eat, 17 year ols son eats a ton!! plenty of available water activities that we can do easily, shade and chairs for the beach as well as a cool vibe that makes it all worth it. Oh ya, clean hotel with great maid service. I know this is not PC but its my vacation too, and if I wanted to sweep sand all day I could stay at home.
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Old Jan 9th, 2007, 06:37 AM
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Playa Maya or Hotel Fusion. I'll be at PM for my second time in March. Also check out www.playadelcarmen for great info. If you book hotels thru this site you get a free Playa deal card good for lots of discounts.
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Old Jan 9th, 2007, 07:09 AM
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The best place in PDC IMHO is the Gran Porto Real. They are both AI and EP, but with three teens I think AI is the way to go. Food is good, particularly by AI standards. If you drink, you will get your money's worth as well, but it is about $50 USD per person per day for AI.

Now we love the Porto Real because it is on a great beach, just a quarter mile along the beach from the town square, 3 blocks from 5th Ave where all the restaurants and night life are. We had a European Plan and found some great restaurants. In fact I am heading down there next week and hope the shrimp taco stand we loved is still there.

So for staff, food, location, beach, pool, and amenities, we really like the Gran Porto Real.

Have a great time!
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Old Jan 9th, 2007, 07:14 AM
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Oh, one more thing. You can book excursions from the hotel as well - snorkel, scuba, etc. However, you can rent a car yourself and some snorkel gear then head down the coast toward Tulum. For snorkeling you can stop a Xel Ha or Xaret (a bit touristy), or Akumal/Ya Kul (or is it Yal Ku) where there is a great low key snorkelling spot. There is a nice bar on the beach in Akumal and I think you can snorkel in the cove there as well.

Best of luck!
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Old Jan 9th, 2007, 12:10 PM
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I think that with teenagers, an AI is the way to go. Seems they are never hungry at the same time of day that adults are, and with an AI, they can get snacks and meals most anytime of day. And they can drink as much pop as they want. I guess it depends upon your budget, I like to have everything paid for up front. I have always been happy with the food everywhere I have gone, and I would consider myself a middle budget traveler

Have you looked into Cozumel? It is a bit quieter and less built up than Mayan Riviera, with wonderful snorkeling. The "downtown" looks to be pretty lively and interesting if you like that sort of stuff.

AI's also have organized activities with recreation directors which are fun for teens - water volleyball, water polo, beach volleyball, and a variety of other things.
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