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Never done AI before

Southampton, United...
Level Contributor
21 posts
28 reviews
12 helpful votes
Never done AI before

Hello :)

As two couples (4 adults ranging from 26-30 yo) were looking at going on an All Inclusive holiday to somewhere across the water. Were in UK looking to go to either Mexico, Dominican Rep or Jamaica (or any other recommendations welcome?).

So we've never done AI before but would like to know what its like. We've only been self catering to the likes of Spain & Portugal and I'm guessing it'll be very different so I have lots of questions..:

Is there anything to do outside of the resorts?

Is it safe to leave the resorts?

Are there any good resorts with good water sports & activities?

Will we get bored of staying in the resort if we have to stay there all week (i.e if theres nothing outside of resort).

Are there any good day trips?

Are they expensive if there are?

I'm reading a lot of reviews about rocky beaches and lots of seaweed so it doesn't sound very nice to swim in the ocean which a nice beach is important to us.

Can anyone give me some recommendations/advice? Were probably looking to use a company like TUI, First Choice or Thomas Cook and looking at spending no more than £1000 each.

13 replies to this topic
1. Re: Never done AI before

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Removed on: 14 January 2019, 11:18
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Level Contributor
1,561 posts
2 reviews
9 helpful votes
2. Re: Never done AI before

An all inclusive.

Depends on what you are looking for! If you stay @ 1 of the Luxury Bahia you can stay at 1 play at 4. Lots to do as you can visit all 4 properties. Yes there is lots to do as excursions or just as an adventure in Mexico. Beware of your surroundings while traveling anywhere, Yes its safe to go off the property.

Most resorts offer non motorized water sports at no charge. Motorized there is a fee for. Most have many activities going on through the day & evening shows, these vary from resort to resort. Yes there are all day good excursions. No you will never get bored unless you want to be that way. Different areas, countries have different beaches. Some rocky some not, your travel agent should be able to help you there. Are far as suggestions from UK I am not sure about your carriers over there or how your pricing is, But if you want the Bahia Principe complex, its Thomson, All inclusive, is airfare, transfers between hotel & Airport, your hotel room plus all you can eat & drinks on the resort I hope I answered most. Remember you get what you pay for & take most reviews with a grain of salt! Punta Cana in Dominican has a good beach, Jamacia I cannot say I have found a great beach there,

Happy Travels!.

Edited: 28 February 2018, 22:04
Wigan, United...
Level Contributor
5,722 posts
80 reviews
123 helpful votes
3. Re: Never done AI before

I think that you may have a problem with your budget if you want to satisfy your requirements because as a general rule you get what you pay for.

Good resorts with good beaches and water sports included often cost more There is no reason that you should stay in the resort as you have travelled so far but trips are not cheap.

I believe that the seaweed problem is all over the area so no guarantee of a clean sea/beach.

i think you need to browse the brochures, select a few possible resorts and then read through a lot of TA reviews so have fun

Level Contributor
620 posts
19 reviews
10 helpful votes
4. Re: Never done AI before

We used to go AI quite frequently and found them to be good value, however; the price for AI properties seems to have passed what I see as good value any longer. If you want to lay on the beach and enjoy the beautiful scenery and company...it's a great option. If you want to experience a different culture and great local cuisine...it isn't very good. If you drink a lot of liquor (and I mean a lot), it can be a good value too.

The last deal that I found on an AI was a last minute deal with air.

We can find nice, small hotel for $35-$100/nt. Our food and beer costs averages between $50-75/day. An AI that we would be interested in is typically $225-$250 minimum.

Level Contributor
1,245 posts
129 reviews
103 helpful votes
5. Re: Never done AI before

The order I prefer is 1. Mexico, 2. Jamaica, then 3 DR

In Mexico I prefer Puerto Morelos then Playa and Cancun are tied.

There are tons of things to do outside the resorts and we've never felt unsafe. If you don't feel comfortable doing things on your own you can book tours.

Will you be bored at AI if there for a week? Not if you choose wisely. We do venture off resort a lot but I could happily stay on some resorts and take advantage of the activities they offer. We have chosen Ocean Riviera Paradise this year because they have a lot of activities and we won't have to leave much.

What you like to do determines where you should stay.

Saskatoon, Canada
Destination Expert
for Riviera Maya
Level Contributor
15,269 posts
60 reviews
127 helpful votes
6. Re: Never done AI before

You might want to consider Cuba, too- lots of Brits love Cuba. It's likely to be your best value by far- it's always the cheapest from Canada compared to the DR, Mexico and Jamaica, anyway.

I'd recommend a higher rated All Inclusive there so the food will be decent (these days it's much improved than in the past). if you go to Varadero you are closer to Havana to go on a day trip or two. But, the weather there might be not great Dec-Feb- so consider that.

You might want to choose Holguin instead, wonderful beaches and weather and places to explore in the area, and you can do a day trip to Santiago de Cuba, the second largest city in the country.

or Puerto Vallarta- many packages from the UK to there, I think. That is a great place to go non AI, too- but stay in the city.

Edited: 02 March 2018, 17:08
Level Contributor
104 posts
8 reviews
5 helpful votes
7. Re: Never done AI before

I like AI mostly so I can plan budget and pay before travel time. It helps to read reviews for place you are thinking about, check that place has what you want. Do tours, no rules that say you can't leave to explore local and plan ahead what is available. Because of seaweed in Playa and bombings this place would not be my first pick now until things shape up but other places in Mexico have decent AI choices and Punta Cana has lots of AI resorts.

Cliff Island, Maine
Level Contributor
3,444 posts
35 reviews
72 helpful votes
8. Re: Never done AI before

We love AI's. We normally choose larger ones as there is so much to see & do over a week's time. Palladiums are one of our favorites. of course AI's are not for everyone. For us though we like knowing that we can eat & drink pretty much anything we see on the resort. Room service, drinks brought to you on the beach, etc.

Dallas, Texas
Level Contributor
2,536 posts
51 reviews
72 helpful votes
9. Re: Never done AI before

My husband and I get bored to death about 2 days at an AI. We are on vacation but love to go explore and we are foodies so we love the local food.

If you want to leave the resort Jamaica is not the place. They have an advisory not to leave your resort. We stay in Cancun half the trip and then move to Playa. We take the ferry over to Isla of Mujeres and rent a golf cart one day. Market downtown Cancun. We will also visit Tulum and Akumel. If you love to explore Cancun/Playa is the place.

Edited: 04 March 2018, 03:06
Destination Expert
for Akumal, Riviera Maya, Cancun, Yucatan Peninsula
Level Contributor
26,223 posts
9 reviews
68 helpful votes
10. Re: Never done AI before

"If you want to leave the resort Jamaica is not the place. They have an advisory not to leave your resort."

I'm not sure who the "they' are that have this travel advisory about not leaving the resort but according to the US Department of State, Jamaica has the same advisory (level 2) as the UK, which is where the OP is from, and the same as Mexico.


With the utmost respect, I would say that the statement about not leaving the resort in Jamaica is simply not correct. In both Mexico and Jamaica (and the rest of the world, for that matter), you need to use a bit of common sense - don't flash wads of cash or expensive jewellery, don't get so drunk you're no longer aware of your surroundings and don't go walking down dark alleys late at night; you know, all the usual sorts of things.

To the OP, pretty much all AI resorts offer activities, entertainment and non-motorized water sports. Some AI resorts are in remote locations, so you'd need to take a taxi or other motorized transportation if you want to leave the resort. Other resorts are located in, or very close, to towns/cities. There's no way I can tell you whether or not you'd be bored being "stuck" on a resort all week as I don't know you.

All three destinations you've mentioned are VERY tourist oriented. All of them will offer excursions at varying price points - some worth every penny and some not so much. Again, without knowing you personally or what sort of things interest you, it's really hard to make any viable recommendations for things to do off-site

I have no idea if they'll appeal to you at all or if they're within your budget but, for starters, you could look at the resorts in Playacar, just south of Playa del Carmen. I don't know a whole lot about Jamaican resorts but Secrets in Montego Bay is lovely. The beach itself isn't great but the snorkelling there is very good. There's also a Riu Palace resort in Negril which is reknown for having great beaches.

Another approach you may wish to try would be to go online and/or look at some brochures and narrow down four or five resorts that are within your price range in all of Mexico, Dominican Republic and Jamaica and then go on the specific TA forums and ask for feedback on your choices.

Happy researching

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