Post # 1
My husband and I had to delay our honeymoon because I didn’t have vacation time – we just got married on Saturday. We’re aiming for our honeymoon/vacation/whatever you want to call it to take place sometime in either late December (over New Years) or early January – about a week, at an all inclusive, in a TBD location in the carribbean/mexico. We’ve only ever traveled domestically together, and any time I’ve traveled internationally it’s always been “buy a plane ticket, then figure out the rest” style (or my parents booked everything), so we have no idea what the protocol is for booking an AI.
<br />Is it better to go through a travel agency? How far in advanced should we contact them? When should we plan on booking? Do we put all of the money down, or just part of it? We’re planning on spending around $3k, and have airline miles to cover flights (from PHL) – is that reasonable? Is it better to book flights through the resort, or seperately? Would it be better to wait and get something on cheap carribbean or some other site (do you recommend another site)? What about airport transfers? Is that usually included?<br /><br />Obviously I have no idea what we’re doing here. Help?
Post # 2
for all inclusives its pretty easy to book because its one stop shopping… I think that $3K will definitely cover a week stay in most places (usually rates are between $500 for lower end to $1500+/ per person for more luxury amenities). I ususally use travelocity to check the reviews as they can really vary. I would decide whats important to you — amazing beach? tons of activities? good food? super lux and romantic? adults only? many resorts have different focus and being at a “disney” kid/family focused resort for your honeymoon might not make up for the awesome price……
the price will depend on the actual resort brand (like Grand Melia, RIU, Sandals etc), the room you choose (ocean front being more expensive than “garden” some have their own pools etc) and the dates will effect things (christmas/NYE week usually being the most expensive)
generally getting a “package” with flight is cheapest (over all) because you get a discount but if you have the miles it probably will even out since the flight is “free” so I would use that before paying for it. As for transportation to/from airport it just depends – I would look at all the fine print. I generally like to book my own because when I get in I want to get in a car and go not have to wait for 10 other flights to land and all those people to get their luggage etc (again check fine print bc sometimes you get a “private” or almost private transport)
Post # 3
I would not book through a travel agent. It is very rare that they can match any of the deals you can find online.
The best deals are usually found the week before you depart. Also typically found through cheap carribean or sell off vacations or any amalgamate site. The rates are usually including hotel, so you may not be able to use your miles to book a package. You can book directly through the resorts for just the AI part. But I would do your investigations as to which is cheaper.
Typically you have to pay all the money up front, barring any excursions you go on, which you book through the resort while you are there.
Airport transfers are typically included in the price. One thing I look at is the distance from the airport to the resort. The last thing I want after the flight is a 2 hour bus ride.
Also do not stress about what resort, they are all almost all the same. They all have the same ammenities. (Obviously within a class, a 2 star won’t be the same as a 5. But all 5’s will be the same).
Post # 4
andielovesj: Most travel agents will price match online deals, ours did our 2 week Cuba honeymoon for £300 less than the cheapest online price, with added extras too since it was our honeymoon!
I would definitely go in to a travel agent. they can tailor make exactly what you need to suit your budget, and also give you ideas and advice since you’re not sure where you’d like to go, online booking is convenient but not necessarily cheaper and you really need to know exact dates and where you’re going otherwise you won’t get far online.
Post # 5
- Wedding: February 2013 - Mansion House at the MD Zoo
We went to Excellence Playa Mujeres (which I very highly recommend) in October and just booked through the resort. They use a 3rd party for the actual financial stuff, but it was very easy to do. I think there was a way to use airline miles, but not sure since we weren’t doing that. Like PPs said, I would recommend pricing it out both ways because sometimes the packages are cheaper. Also really really recommend (at least in Cancun, where we were) paying for a private airport transfer. We booked one separately from the resort for like $30 (as opposed to $100 through the resort) and it was well worth it. The last thing you want after a long flight–or in a rush to get to the airport–is to be stopping at a bunch of different resorts picking up and dropping off other people.
Also second the rec for cheap carribbean.
Post # 6
We usually book through a travel agent. I just feel safer booking international trips through them because they are always there if anything goes wrong. If you book online, there is no one to fall back on if there are problems. We always book with Liberty Travel (I think there area a bunch in the Philly area). What we really like about booking with them is you can go online to any travel sites and if you print out the itinerary, they will do a complete price match to what you found online. So if you find a cheaper price online, its all yours! They usually like you pay in full on a credit card when you book. But I just make sure I have lots of free space on a card and then pay the card down. If you book online, you have to pay in full anyway.
As for costs, we are actually only about 2 hours north of Philly. When we go away, we almost always go to Riviera Maya in Mexico and stay at Excellence Riviera Cancun. We’ve been there 3 times and its always AMAZING. We honeymooned at Excellence Playa Mujeres, but there is just something about ERC that we like so much more. Our trips there are usually Sunday – Saturday, so almost a week. We have never paid more than $3200 for the whole thing, including airfare and airport transfers when you get to Mexico. We normally leave from our local airport and take the 30 minute flight to Philly, then connect in PHL. Also if you decide to go to Mexico, I recommend getting tranfers through Olympus Travel. They are awesome and are located in almost every resort. They will also handle any off resort trips you want to take and they total handle your return transfers back to the airport. The cost of the transfers is separate but cheap….Olympus is only about $40 or so per person for round trip transfer.
Post # 7
Different resorts probably have different requirements, but my FI booked our all inclusive honeymoon through Couples Resorts in Jamaica. They have a “love away” plan that’s like layaway. You put down a deposit and then pay towards your total each month (minimum of 100 dollars). We booked straight through the resort because we felt more comfortable this time around. We booked flights and 6 nights for around 4k. The plane tickets were around 1k, so the Couples resorts are definitely in your budget. I suggest you look into them if you haven’t already. Wherever you decide to go, I would book pretty quickly since that time of year is a peak season.
Post # 8
StL.Ashley: I have always used itravel2000.com for booking all inclusives. You pay the whole works up front, and it includes flights, accommodations and meals.
Post # 9
We booked online at Sandals and found absolutly nothing wrong with the experience. I booked our own flights because it turned out to be cheaper to do it that way and because I had a credit from a prior flight that needed to be used. It actually worked out really well. The resort runs on customer service, so we had no problems the entire time. They contacted us via e-mail before our trip, and the airport transfers worked really well, and were very visable. I don’t know if we could save money booking through an agent, but I’m very hands on, and it would have driven me batty to not have the kind of control I did by booking everything personally.
Post # 10
When booking vacations out of the country we always use a travel agency. It makes things so much easier. We use Liberty Travel and the way they work is you have to pay for airfare upfront and put a down payment on the resort (usually $100 a person). The remaining balance is due approx. 3 months before the trip.
We did an all inclusive resort in Cancun Mexico for our honeymoon and I absolutely LOVED it. The resort is adults only called Le Blanc Spa & Resort. The food, drinks, rooms, spa, beach, pools ALL amazing. I cannot wait to go back!
Post # 11
I don’t mean to steal the thread, but I figured it might be good a good question for OP as well. I was just on iTravel2000 looking at the vacation deals to Punta Cana (first one I clicked) and I clicked on a package that is for two weeks from now, the price per person was dirt cheap. But on the next screen that showed the total cost, the taxes were MORE than the per person cost. The taxes total came to around $200 more.
What does the tax include? Is this normal? The total cost was still incredibly cheap, but I just found it odd that the taxes were higher than the per person cost.
Post # 12
Wow, thanks for all the information everyone! There are liberry travels everywhere- I suppose we could always stop in to see one and not necessarily book with them. When I did AIs with my parents we always stayed at RIU properties, which were fine- I think the first one they booked through a TA and after that they just DIYed. I really just needs someone’s help narrowing down an area.
Our priorities are adults-only or at least not a huge amount of kids, not too far from an airport (maybe an hour?), and a nice beach. We’re beach people over pool people any day. Also, a little bit of nearby culture, but not a lot- we’d probably only do one or two excursions. And I’ve been to Jamaica twice recently and am not interested in going back.
Post # 13
I always just book online through a discount travel site like RedTag. You will require payment upfront in full by credit card.
Unless I’m booking a more complicated trip (like multi-destination Europe), I find there is no use to a travel agent. My sister and I tried to book a last-minute vacation last year and the TA was of no use. She could not get better rates than online and could not (or at least did not) reserve seats for us, so we actually lost out on a few trip options.
Hubby and I find a resort we like, find a great rate and book online. The online price should indicate that hotel, food, drinks and transfers are included. Easy peasy.
Post # 14
Also, check out tripadvisor.ca for great information on All Inclusive resorts, including super helpful reviews. I ALWAYS look at this site before booking anything.
I find that there are huge discrepancies between resorts rated at same-level star ratings, so if I’m paying for 5 star, I want to make sure I’m getting 5 star.
Good luck and have fun!
Post # 15
StL.Ashley: If you choose the week over New Years, you can expect the cost to be much higher. This is one of the highest demand vacation weeks of the year. You will get much better deals in January which is a lower travel month.
You will also probably have better luck getting a flight using your airmiles in January.