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All inclusive or non all inclusive

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Destination Expert
for Varadero
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All inclusive or non all inclusive

I notice on this forum there appears to be more in favor of the non AI's and against the AI's. In my opinion the AI is the way to go .Most people have a budget when they go on vacation,and when you compare beachfront AI hotels to non AI's,you get more for your money going AI.(When you factor in convenience,airfare,transfers,food/drinks)Although I am an AI vacationer ,I still eat /drink at local restaurants several times during my vacation.

just my opinion ..........what's yours

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1. Re: All inclusive or non all inclusive

LOL here we go again:

The Canadian tour companies get a better deal in the area for AI.

Here is a breakdown of our Off Season trip the end of October 13:

The hotel that we stay at in Ixtapa Mexico........Las Brisas.......can be booked European Plan or All Inclusive.

Doing the math from Minnesota.........

Price point for us is as follows:

Room service breakfast every day. (not included in AI)

Beach food and drink service every afternoon.

Dinner at whatever Al A Carte restaurant is open that evening, every evening. (also not on AI for every evening)

And lastly all of the tipping that we do. (and yes folks, you should be tipping against what your meal would cost non AI)

So, that said, with a couple of off site dinners and lunches during

our last 8 night stay, at check-out we were at just about 850 U.S. for

the two of us, or 425 PP.

The up-charge to buy the AI package for that stay would have been just

over 1300 (or 650 PP) for us here in the U.S. and would not have

included the above that were noted, nor any of the tips.

That is where it comes out for us. Your mileage may differ.

P.S. While in the scope of things the price point may not seem that large? What we save pays for a good part of my fishing.


Saskatoon, Canada
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for Riviera Maya
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2. Re: All inclusive or non all inclusive

We do a mix of both, but we prefer non AI. We tend to only book AI packages when the cost is obviously a lot cheaper and an unbeatable deal- and then, depending on where it is located, still do many day trips away from the resort and eat many meals off the resort too.

In this area, we prefer non AI mainly because I prefer Zihua over Ixtapa...and there are no AIs in Zihua. We do not find it to be the case that it is a better deal to stay AI in general....it depends on many factors, mainly if you can get a good deal on airfare or not. Often we book Saskatoon-ZIH on WestJet and it is a direct, one-stop flight for an average of $750 each, then we book a condo for $100-$150 a night. Food and drinks budget about $100 CAD a day. So that is $3100. About the same as a similarly rated hotel. So, a wash, imo.

The reasons we like non AI and especially condos is the more spacious rooms with more amenities, no towel games, a more laid back atmosphere, more privacy and peace in general. We both get tired of buffet food too, and since we go for ten days or two weeks frequently, we especially get sick of it after a week. We don't ever cook on vacation, and we get maid service daily, usually.

We are childfree though....for families, especially with teens or kids who eat a lot, AI can be the best way to go. Also when we travel in larger groups we tend to choose AI, it's just logistically easier for everyone.

Vancouver BC
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for Vancouver
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3. Re: All inclusive or non all inclusive

There's a role for each. A.I.'s provide value while other venues get folks off their butts to experience what's around. A one week A.I. can be OK but for longer I'd prefer the variety of non. I once, on a spur of the moment, booked a cheap A.I. for a one weeker with no intention of using it for anything other than the room and non-stop flight. That worked out just fine. One thing about Ixtapa is there are no top drawer A.I.'s. The best is middle of the road compared to some other areas. Tough to stay at a Sandals and then Tesoro.

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4. Re: All inclusive or non all inclusive

I've said this many times before but it always bothers me when I read Ixtapa hotel reviews and the entire vacation experience seems to be judged by the quality of the buffet food through the AI plan. Especially when across the street or a cab ride away are some really great places to eat and in many cases, provide an immersion into Mexican culture. If people want to buy an AI plan and not use it 24/7, more power to you. That's certainly the best of all worlds.

British Columbia
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5. Re: All inclusive or non all inclusive

We've stayed at an AI before and it is not up our alley at all. I thought the food was only OK and hate buffets with a passion. Pools were always crowded, drinks watered down..It was all about getting our money's worth, seeing the same shows night after night - drinking and eating too much...Don't get me wrong - the service and staff was lovely but everything was so loud, so...much.

We love renting a condo, having the space, having our own quiet time in the evening...Tons of room in and around the pool, freedom to eat out whenever we want without thinking "well, we paid for all inclusive, might as well get our money's worth"...And when we do eat in, we eat like kings because groceries are so inexpensive in Mexico...Booze, too...

We love to immerse ourselves in culture, explore and get out and meet local people and eat in local establishments and while we'd likely still do a lot of that in an AI because that's what we are like (when we stayed at an AI in Cancun, people we met there told us that we'd seen more in a week than they had seen after coming back three times!), most of the people that we personally know who frequent those places rarely see much of actual Mexico on their own (relying on tours organized by the staff at their AI) outside of the resort.

It really is a personal preference.

Lake Ridge, Virginia
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6. Re: All inclusive or non all inclusive

I have two different scenarios, with kids and without kids. We have only ever stayed at Clubmed for AI with the kids and for all of the unlimited activities, food, smoothies, drinks and kids club for the three kids, I find AIs to be very cost effective, especially for budget purposes. We also have left the resorts and explored, which we plan on doing when we visit CM in Ixtapa in June. As far as when just my husband and I vacation, we much prefer to rent an apartment, and eat at local little dives (usually has the best food) we save a ton of $$ that way, and we can stick to a realistic budget. Kids are so much more expensive to travel with, especially at the ages mine are (17, 15 and 11) so when we are at an AI as a family, there are no surprises, as all is paid for. Just my 2 cents.

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7. Re: All inclusive or non all inclusive

I agree that from many Canadian cities AI is the cheapest. From Kelowna, BC where I live you can only fly direct to Ixtapa if you book an AI through a charter company. Sometimes you can book just the flight through the Charter company but many times for $300 more a person it will include the hotel and AI!!! Strange but that's how it works in Canada for some reason. You can book the "Hotel Irma" or "Villa Mexican" non-AI but those are the only choices and they are only $200 cheaper than Sunscapes, Barcelo, Azul etc. $1250 flight, hotel and AI to Barcelo and $1050 to "Villa Mexican"

I would love to book a condo but not without a direct flight. I have heard the Barcelo food is not that good but we will probably eat out 3-4 times anyway for dinner and I can always find something good for Breakfast and lunch. I think people base their reviews waaayyy too much on the food but to each their own. I will probably drink $200 worth of booze in the first few days, lol:)

I agree about the AI for families just for the activities and food.

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8. Re: All inclusive or non all inclusive

How does the room compare to the family suite at Sunscape? We fell in love with the 2 patio' s, ocean breezes, morning coffee watching the ocean..........would be difficult now to not have that.

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9. Re: All inclusive or non all inclusive

My understanding is that it is better for the local economy to not do the AI route. The money spent by tourists does a better cycle when staying at a locally owned hotel and eating in family run restaurants rather than at a chain. As far as saving money is concerned, you can eat real cheap in Zihua. Two years ago - lunch for 4 for six bucks at Carnitas Urupuan; dinner for five for $17 bucks at Ricomar. Plus it was real food and real tasty. Having stayed at an AI once, I regretted it almost immediately. Just a hog trough with crowded noisy pools. You did ask for my opinion ; )

blaine, mn
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10. Re: All inclusive or non all inclusive

We stayed in Zihua, non-AI, spent $500 for the week for two of us, for breakfast, midday chips/guac/pico/beer, dinner, a few dishes of ice cream and other cocktails - including tips.

Breakfasts were about $12-15 for 2 including tips, dinners were $35-45 for 2 including tips.

We ate really well, no bad food, some incredible, like breakfast at Banana's, coconut shrimp at Daniel's and molecajete at Bandido's.