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Has anyone been on an all-inclusive (AI) vacation? If so, could you please share your advice and tidbits?

I have been entrusted with looking for a package for ourselves (me and my wife) and 2 of her friends. They have been through a lot the past year so I want to make sure we got the best bang for our bucks and to have our bases covered. The departure date will be next January or February and our budget is approx. $1,500 per, all in. We are simply looking to unwind and have a few drinks and to partake in a few activities like deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, or visiting a Mayan ruin, if possible.

My preliminary research have yielded 3 resorts with good reviews: the Gran Bahia Coba in Mexico, the Royal Playa Del Carmen also in Mexico and the Gran Bahia Principe Bavaro in the Dominican Republic.

Thanks.
 

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Has anyone been on an all-inclusive (AI) vacation? If so, could you please share your advice and tidbits?

I have been entrusted with looking for a package for ourselves (me and my wife) and 2 of her friends. They have been through a lot the past year so I want to make sure we got the best bang for our bucks and to have our bases covered. The departure date will be next January or February and our budget is approx. $1,500 per, all in. We are simply looking to unwind and have a few drinks and to partake in a few activities like deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, or visiting a Mayan ruin, if possible.

My preliminary research have yielded 3 resorts with good reviews: the Gran Bahia Coba in Mexico, the Royal Playa Del Carmen also in Mexico and the Gran Bahia Principe Bavaro in the Dominican Republic.

Thanks.
We took an AI vacation last year in Jamaica during the Christmas break. IIRC, we paid around $1,200 per, all in. The only other expense was miscellaneous tips. We thoroughly enjoyed it even with three little children. As long as you remember to pack your sunscreen, flip flops and swim wear, you are all set :)
 

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We took an AI vacation last year in Jamaica during the Christmas break. IIRC, we paid around $1,200 per, all in. The only other expense was miscellaneous tips. We thoroughly enjoyed it even with three little children. As long as you remember to pack your sunscreen, flip flops and swim wear, you are all set :)
Did you have to pay $1200 for each kid?
 

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I'd go to an adult only resort as the other ones are more crowded and noisy. Check tripadvisor.com for reviews and pick a resort rated in top 10 (for the whole region) that is within your budget.
 

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Be sure to check whether or not "a few drinks" will be included in the package price, as sometimes alcohol is NOT included (especially on cruises).

You should also assume that the excursions: fishing, snorkeling etc will not be included in the package price.
 

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In a report by a cruise director, he said that they break even on the cruise from the tickets and make all their profit on the extras: exhorbitant internet rates, booze, shore excursions, the casino et al.
 

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what are the sites or booking agencies do you guys use?
i'm also looking to book an all inclusive resort for the jan - feb timeframe as well.
i've never booked anything like this before.
what are the things to look for and watch out for when booking?

thanks
 

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is there an easy way to identify kid-friendly locations and resorts?
I'm looking for a location and resort that has lots of activities for kids.
I have a 4 and a 6 yr. olds.
canadiancapitalist, what was the resort name in Jamaica that you went with the kids?
 

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Most AI resorts are great for kids. Activities usually center on the pool.

Just make sure they don't specify adults-only.
 

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I have been to Gran Bahia Principe Bavaro in the Dominican Republic. Highly recommend it. When the resorts say AI everything is included, unlike on cruises where you have to pay for booze. This resort is not adults only, but it does have an adults only section as well. I remember that the chicken from the beach grill tasted like swiss chalet, and that there was a shipwrecked off of the coast nearby, so that was a good landmark for walking along the beach.

My fav sites for reviews are tripadvisor, mentioned below, the pictures tell me more than the reviews. Although the reviews will give you more info about day trips and such.

As a generalization, I wouldn't want to stay at a AI resort, that was less than 4star, especially if I am booking for others too. So I think you are on the right track. Again as a generalization, Cuba will be the cheapest, but you get what you pay for, the food there is not as good. I have found Mexico and DR to have good food considering you are visiting a 3rd world country.

Personally, I would be ok with burgers and fries for a week, as long as the drinks are cold and the weather good. B/c lets face it, we go for the great weather.

Not sure on the other resorts, but I am sure that you can end up doing the Bahia Principe for under $1500pp. Also as a tip, alot of the search engines www.exitnow.ca, have an option to pick + or - 1 day. So if you need to leave on a weekend, for a 1 week trip select a Saturday departure, and you can normally find a Friday evening or Sunday morning departure for cheaper, than the Saturday to Saturday trip at the same resort.

The company that you travel with, (eg Sunwing) will have a info session the day after you land, at your resort, and will go over all sorts of day trips and options for excursions, providing photos, booklets whatever you need to make your decision.

If you have any other questions about the resort, that don't get answered on trip advisor, you can pm me.
 

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is there an easy way to identify kid-friendly locations and resorts?
I'm looking for a location and resort that has lots of activities for kids.
I have a 4 and a 6 yr. olds.
canadiancapitalist, what was the resort name in Jamaica that you went with the kids?
Sunset Beach, Montego Bay. There were plenty of families with little children.

http://www.sunsetbeachresort.com/
 

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My girlfriend and I went to Costa Rica in November for ~$4,000 (for both of us, all-inclusive, tips and activities included).

You mention wanting to do different activities. In my experience, most of the activities will cost you extra on top of the fees.

If you have a bit of extra money, Costa Rica is well worth it. Over a week long stay, we went snorkeling in the ocean, took a tour of a national park/nature preserve, horseback riding through the mountains, and a zipline trip above the tree tops.

Only downside is that we were on a remote part of the country on the Pacific ocean, and nobody spoke English. The other tourists were all from South America or Germany, so making friends was difficult. That may or may not appeal to you :)
 

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I looked at the pics of the other resorts online. They all look top notch.

If you go to the one in Playa del Carmen, make the effort to go for a day trip to Tulum. I thought it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever scene.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks for the feedback everyone. I will continue to shop around based on the sites you recommend.

@Viflux: I would love to do Costa Rica or Belize (I wanted to visit that place after seeing Apocalypto!) but my impression and research show that for AI, it might be better to stick with Mexico, DR or Jamaica, especially for the night-life and the booze. Costa Rica is wonderful for adventure...there's no question about it...

@Cal: I have also been to Tulum as part of an earlier cruise. It's gorgeous, especially the beach.
 

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Has anyone been on an all-inclusive (AI) vacation? If so, could you please share your advice and tidbits?

I have been entrusted with looking for a package for ourselves (me and my wife) and 2 of her friends. They have been through a lot the past year so I want to make sure we got the best bang for our bucks and to have our bases covered. The departure date will be next January or February and our budget is approx. $1,500 per, all in. We are simply looking to unwind and have a few drinks and to partake in a few activities like deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, or visiting a Mayan ruin, if possible.

My preliminary research have yielded 3 resorts with good reviews: the Gran Bahia Coba in Mexico, the Royal Playa Del Carmen also in Mexico and the Gran Bahia Principe Bavaro in the Dominican Republic.

Thanks.
A lot depends on one factor: How much do you drink?

For a real beach adventure, I'd recommend the Maldives or Thailand.
 

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Has anyone here booked a vacation through 411travelbuys.ca? I'm looking to get out of town ASAP and avoid the Christmas chaos. Their last minute deals section looks too good to be true... so I'm a little fearful that its not true!

If anyone has ever booked a vacation through this site, I'd really appreciate if you can share your experience!

http://411travelbuys.ca/
 
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