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Why are vacations so hard to plan???

Pgh, PA
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Why are vacations so hard to plan???

Ok. I got the urge to go all inclusive this year. I did Jamaica in 2002. I fell in love. I've wanted to go back every year since but it's not financially possible for me.

This year however, this year it will work out. Went to my friend/travel agent and discussed locations. I went with the idea that Jamaica was choice # 1 but was open to ideas of new places.

So, we decided Punta Cana might be the way to go. I've been reading and researching all over the PC forum, thought I picked a place, had some questions asked, sought the forum for answers then the bomb dropped: the man decided his heart is still in Jamaica just like mine! Ugh. Really though - there is nothing like a "ya mon" in the morning ;o)

I stayed at Sandals Royal Caribbean last time. I was thinking Sandals Montego Bay this time - for something just a tad different. It's expensive but from what I remember it was worth it.

If you had a choice of places to stay, we'll pretend like money isn't an issue (even though it is), where would it be? Would you stick wtih a Sandals? Are other resorts better/more with the $$? I can go with a family resort but would prefer adult only. There are 4 of us going. We want to live it up for a week, lots of alcohol (decent night life included), nice beach, decent pool, spa options (not super fancy-just massages and gotta get my hair done!), and pretty nice rooms are the requirements. I'm fairly flexible and can tell by pix/reviews if the place will suit us. All ideas/suggestions welcomed and much appreciated :o)

Thanks!!!

canada
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1. Re: Why are vacations so hard to plan???

Money is always a factor.

Personally we have never stayed at a Sandals Resort (way over priced from what I can see).

I'd suggest finding an online travel service and searching for the best deal.

Central Ohio
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for Negril, Port Antonio, Treasure Beach
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2. Re: Why are vacations so hard to plan???

I am not an AI person however I enjoyed Breezes Runaway Bay for a couple of days last year. It has the things you mention wanting....great beach, nice pool(s), spa, alcohol, and the food was pretty good too.

Northern Michigan
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for Petoskey, Michigan
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3. Re: Why are vacations so hard to plan???

ohliz is right on with Breezes Runaway Bay...sounds like a great fit for your group...and reasonably priced (cheap compared to Sandals). I too prefer non-AI, but if you're set on doing AI there are lots of great options other than Sandals For something a little more upscale (and quieter in terms of nightlife/partying) check out any of the Couples properties or maybe the Grand Lidos...I too have never been to Sandals as the price/value ratio seems off to me (nothing against Sandals, I hear they're wonderful). From what I understand, Couples (we've been to two of them) are at the same level as Sandals but usually seem to be a bit more reasonable price-wise. Any reason you really want to do AI?

Pgh, PA
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4. Re: Why are vacations so hard to plan???

Reason for AI? The men are alcoholics! Ok, I shouldn't joke about that. They aren't really. But they do drink a good vacation!!! The AI seems the best way to go and has worked for us in the past. The other couple, to the best of my knowledge, has never done a Caribbean vaca so I'd like to show them a good time without too much worry (carrying money etc).

When I went to Jamaica before I was clueless. I learned so much being there and now that I can most likely go back I'm so torn on where to go. I've done Sandals, it was trustworthy and seemed worth it to me but I don't have much experience so I'm sure there are better options out there.

I'm a big researcher-been checking out Couples, Beaches, Grand Lidos, Grand Palladium, The Caves, etc. I'd love to stay in Negril but I think that might be just a bit oo pricey for us.

Thanks for the suggestions so far - I'm looking into everything!

Northern Michigan
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for Petoskey, Michigan
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5. Re: Why are vacations so hard to plan???

Mandith,

Sounds like you're on the right track, keep doing what you're doing and you'll have a wonderful time! I'm glad to hear you're bringing some newbies to Jamaica, with your guidance, I'm sure they'll love it!

You mentioned Palladium, in all honesty, after Sandals I don't think you'd be happy with any of the Spanish chains (RIU, Palladium, Bahia, etc.) With most of these hotels, you could be in Mexico, DR, Jamaica...anywhere...there's very little local flavor and less personality.

Personally, I can't imagine anyone drinking more than our group of friends, and we manage to do fine with non-AI...if you're inclined at all, check out Catcha Falling Star out in the cliffs in Negril...totally different vibe than the beach...more chill, anything goes type of atmosphere. Personally I much prefer the cliffs. We stayed last year with four couples and it was definitely in the top three resorts we've stayed in. There are 2, two bedroom suites in the newer "condo" style building...this is where we stayed with another couple and it was just perfect...very reasonably priced for the accommodations (which include breakfast). I know you're looking for AI, but it might be something to consider if other options don't present themselves.

Indiana
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6. Re: Why are vacations so hard to plan???

You can usually get a heck of a deal on the Couples Secret Rendezvous...where they don't tell you which Couples resort you are going to until right before the trip.

If I were set on 4 stars + and wanted to spend as little as possible, that is probably the direction I would take.

I would stay at any of the Couples properties without hesitation.

I would also look into Breezes Runaway Bay, Sunset at the Palms, and Coyaba Resort in Mobay.

I would choose all of those over a Sandals...especially Sandals Mobay.

If I were to choose a Sandals, it would be Whitehouse...no question.

Boston,MA
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7. Re: Why are vacations so hard to plan???

We love Breezes Runaway Bay and the price is alot less than Sandals. Always alot of fun people!!

Pgh, PA
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8. Re: Why are vacations so hard to plan???

Thank you guys so much for your suggestions! I'm now more confused than before-but in a good way :o) I'm trying hard to determe just which one of these places we should go.

DHC - Catcha sounds/looks FANTASTIC and I'm pretty sure I will get there some day soon! However, I don't think that's the sort of thing the other couple will be expecting on their first Jamaican experience! I know they'd love it as much as I would-we are pretty easy going and enjoy anything really-to be safe though, I think we'll stick with a beach location this time just in case ;o)

I think we are going to do Couples. The Secret Rendezvous option might work out best in the end but I'm leaning towards CSA if we end up booking directly.

I am torn though. How everyone describes BRB makes me second guess the Couples option. My reason for picking Couples is it seems to lean more towards luxury than BRB--if I'm wrong please tell me!!!! I wish I had enough money to stay multiple weeks-each week in a different resort-so I can decide which one I like best! Oh well. There's always next time...and hopefully next time will be much sooner than 7 years!!

Thanks again for your help and any other suggestions/thoughts are surely welcome!!

Burlington, Canada
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9. Re: Why are vacations so hard to plan???

We spent 2 wonderful weeks at Swept Away this past January. We met a lot of people that have done the rounds of AI properties in jamaica. One couple had been to Sandals Whitehouse, Couples Negril, Swept Away, BRB and Hedo (when it first opened)

Naturally, I quizzed them constantly about all of the other resorts as we have only done Sandals Dunns and crappy week at Starfish (mind cramp on that one)

They like BRB but said the food at Couples (both CSA and Negril) was way way better. Also service and general vibe.

Another couple spent a week at Couples San Soucci last year then did a split this year between Couples Negril and Swept Away. They are now the most confused people on the planet for where to book next year! They loved all of them. We are betting they either do the secret rendezvous or Couples Tower Isle next year.

In a nutshell, everyone we talked to refused to return to Sandals after experiencing Couples.

Read the reviews on all of them and check out the Couples website and message board.

They just put a really good special on for the rest of the year that should price them way below Sandals too!

Good luck and remember the planning is half the fun of a vacation!

10. Re: Why are vacations so hard to plan???

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