Resort Island Vacation - Help

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Resort Island Vacation - Help

Postby Stupify » Tue Mar 22, 2011 5:26 am

My wife and I are planning to take vacation first week of May ( Apr30-May 08) and wanted to get suggestions on resort island. Around the American continent to avoid days of travel alone. It should be for around 4-7 days and must have plenty of things to do around the place to actually spend that much time. It should be a package deal with all inclusive (drinks - although I don't drink much), food (lot of variety; breakfast/lunch/dinner), spa (if possible), ... Think of this vacation as much of a honeymoon vacation that wasn't taken few years back.

EDIT: We are not a partying type of people and so the things that would interest us is activities, sightseeing and such...

PS I would be leaving from in and around Toronto (can go to Buffalo, USA, if needs be). I am avoiding cruise at the moment as I think wife might get sick due to the motion. I would like to avoid places with known crime zones.

Throw out any and all ideas - prices, sites, agencies, ...
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Re: Resort Island Vacation - Help

Postby Fuzz » Tue Mar 22, 2011 6:13 am

We really liked Cuba. It's a bit less super-delux but the people are very friendly, we always felt safe and the prices are great. Plus there are no Americans :P There are plenty of direct flights from Toronto, so you avoid transfers, which is nice. We found plenty to do there, Havana was a good day trip. Pretty much anything you book will be a package deal, with everything you asked for. The food isn't always the most fantastic, but it's not terrible. You should be able to get a 4-5 star for $2500ish-$3000. On a budget you could probably get a 3 star for $2000. Remember, its Cuba so a 3 star is probably as low as you want to go. Most deals are 7 days.

Hawaii was nice, but might be a bit of a long flight for 7 days. We didn't stay at any of the resorts, but I didn't really like the feeling of them. Very fancy schmancy.

What kind of traveller are you? You like to get away from the crowd, or stay in a fancy place? Hiking, outdoor treks?
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Re: Resort Island Vacation - Help

Postby Stupify » Tue Mar 22, 2011 6:53 am

kewl thanks Fuzz. As for the last set of your questions: i have edited my original post to indicate - not partying type and so more interested in activities, sightseeing and such...
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Re: Resort Island Vacation - Help

Postby clone » Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:19 am

I recommend Cuba, Turks & Caicos or the Bahamas, the reasons being Cuba is stable, Turks and Caicos has strong ties to Canada and the Bahamas because their economy is well managed.

all inclusive vacations are like a baseline if you've ever been on one before, be careful with the food it will be drastically different from what you are used to corn on pizza if you want to call it pizza, the water is suspect go bottled when you can and the food will be a little bland.

anyway you'll get all inclusive so long as you stay on the resort but the resorts while fun over time lose the luster given they are more oriented towards loading you up on drinks to have a good time, bring quite a bit of coin for the extras like the tours or the boat trips or for reef swimming or swimming with the sharks, one large positive I found was the tourists themselves, it was very easy to get along with others because everyone is really there to shed real life worries and just be laid back and have a good time which is what vacations are for.
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Re: Resort Island Vacation - Help

Postby Celt » Tue Mar 22, 2011 1:46 pm

The Maldives . . . you can find complete paradise, go scuba diving, go there while it's still above sea level (even if it is the other side of the world) . . .
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Re: Resort Island Vacation - Help

Postby Stupify » Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:33 pm

Celt Maldives would just be too far away and could potentially use up few days just in travel. Thanks nonetheless :)
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Re: Resort Island Vacation - Help

Postby Fuzz » Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:36 pm

St Maarten is supposed to be nice. I haven't been, but i have been to the Virgin Islands a few times and they are very nice.
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Re: Resort Island Vacation - Help

Postby Stupify » Wed Mar 23, 2011 5:59 am

i checked out local newspaper for deals and found most were still only advertising for April special - nothing for May yet.

the question i have is how did you guys book your vacation (online/flight centre/package dealers directly/someone else)? Did you get any insurance and with whom? What did you have to prepare in terms of travel - Visas/documentation/... How much cash do you think is sufficient for travel? Would you leave your luggage at the hotel with cash or carry with you all time - i guess this goes with the location and so do mention it? Also any heads up or pointers to keep in mind?

i have been on vacation before but was in a country i knew my way around and had relatives there. this would be my first time going somewhere i have not been and would be in for a total surprise.

Thanks everyone for all the suggestions and advise.
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Re: Resort Island Vacation - Help

Postby Fuzz » Wed Mar 23, 2011 6:12 am

You can usually find the best deals online. That being said, I often prefer booking with a travel agency. It is nice to have someone to call that isn't Expedia. My brother got really screwed by them once, and I had no problem on the same trip changing hotels. What I did though, was find a package online and got the agency to match it. I used travelcuts, but I don't think that matters to much.

My credit card offers great cancellation insurance, and my work plan covers health so I usually don't buy any. If yo don't have a fancy credit card, you may want to look at upgrading yours. You pay a yearly fee, but I find it pays itself with the insurance coverage, especially if you rent a car, and travel once a year.

Visa's depend on the country, you will just need to check on the Canada govt travel site to figure that out. You ma also want to go to a health travel clinic and see if you need any shots for the area you pick. Not totally necessary, but my friend got malaria once, and it took him out for 3 months.

For cash, I try to bring enough for the first few days. My credit card is my friend, because you don't have to worry as much about it. Just call your credit card company before you travel and let them know the dates, so they don't cancel it on you. You can use travellers cheques, but sometimes cashing them is a bit of a hassle. Bank machines are in most countries, but you will pay a service fee. But hey, its vacation. Be careful in Cuba, I think I had to get travellers cheques from one company that didn't have US operations, or something weird like that. If you go there, just google it.

Pretty much any hotel you go to will have safe's in the room. I always just leave my passport and most cash in it. Otherwise you can usually leave your passport at the front desk safe, but I only had to do that once. I always leave my luggage in the room. Typically the all inclusive resorts are away from the main town, and fairly secure. If you have a fancy camera, don't be flashing it around, then leaving it in your room. The safe's usually aren't big enough for an SLR, but compacts fit fine.
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Re: Resort Island Vacation - Help

Postby Stupify » Wed Mar 23, 2011 6:19 am

Nice Fuzz :) No fancy DSLRs cameras here just simple old compact ones.

That pretty much clears up a ton of stuff for me :) Just waiting for April to turn over and I start looking/booking my vacation. I will start dealing with credit cards too.
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Re: Resort Island Vacation - Help

Postby Stupify » Sun Apr 17, 2011 6:51 pm

So i have decided to head out to Cancun for a week - first week of May. Any feedback on it and any ideas for excursions there?
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Re: Resort Island Vacation - Help

Postby Fuzz » Tue Apr 19, 2011 4:58 am

We got married there. What hotel are you staying at?

If you like ruins, Chichen Itza is pretty cool. You can take the tour bus, but I wouldn't recommend it. To many people. We rented a car and drove out. It is almost all freeway, unless you miss the entrance on the way back, in which case prepare for backroads, towns with Mayans who don't speak English or Spanish, and speed bumps for 100km, because there are only 2 or 3 on ramps between the ruins and Cancun. But enough about our mistakes! We paid for a tour guide there, it wasn't to expensive. If you find a few others, you can do a small group. We saw the big bus tours, and it was chaos. Plus with a rental you can get their early before it gets HOT and leave whenever you are done. We went to a small nearby town for lunch.

Xel-Ha was alright:
http://www.xelha.com/

We did that as a bus trip, its about an hour. Its a bay of freshwater, with some OK snorkleing(the point where the fresh and saltwater mix is really cool), a tube ride down the river, rope swings etc. Its no Disneyland, but it was a decent way to spend a day.

gotta run to work, will add more later.
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Re: Resort Island Vacation - Help

Postby Stupify » Tue Apr 19, 2011 5:22 am

Hotel: OCEAN TURQUESA JST

Thanks Fuzz that's some very useful information.

What did you do when you found no English/Spanish?
Rental - can you drive with Canadian license? How much was it? Worth getting insurance? What about directions - was the tour guide helping you or the rental came with a driver?

I will be there for a week.
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Re: Resort Island Vacation - Help

Postby Fuzz » Tue Apr 19, 2011 5:53 am

Is the hotel the one here?
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source= ... 93011&z=12

I couldn't find that one in Cancun.

The only language issue occurred inland when we missed the freeway. Otherwise most people spoke enough english to get by. I'm not sure what the car cost, but for 5 of us it was cheaper than the bus tour. Canadian license was fine. We just looked at a map for directions, I think my dad asked at the rental company. When we got to Chichen Itza there were a few "guides' hanging around, I think he approached us. But he was Mayan and very knowledgeable. It is about a 2 hour drive each way, so if you don't drive much, keep that in mind.

The other fun thing we did was go to Isla Mujeres. You go to the north tip of the Cancun sandspit, then catch a ferry over. You can rent a golf cart to drive around the island, I think we got it for one or 2 hours. All day is probably a bit much. It was also one of the few places we found really awesome Mexican food. There are lots of 5-20 person bars/restaurants up the side streets, go to them. Awesome food.

I didn't have time, but my dad and brother went over to Cozumel which has awesome snorkeling if you are into that.

If you are into nightlife there is one huge club at the north end of the spit. It was pretty cool because it had a big open middle area, then layers around the outside. In the middle they had trapeze acts, and all sorts of action. I think there was a Spider Man performance, with then swinging all over the place. Good entertainment.

Most all inclusive hotels have a buffet or 2, then a few smaller restaurants that you need reservations at. The food is usually much better there, but you need to make reservations, and some items like Lobster often cost a bit that is not included. You will want to go to these restaurants to break up the buffet, but they usually require reservations at the front desk, and they fill up quick, so on your first or second day, be sure to book a few evenings.
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Re: Resort Island Vacation - Help

Postby Stupify » Tue Apr 19, 2011 6:47 am

Most likely that's the hotel - my agent found it. Now that I look at it there are some awful reviews - let's hope I don't end up with those issues. I don't plan to spend too much time in the hotel - mostly excursions and the beach and stuff. I definitely am looking forward to massages for both of us and spa for my wife.

I am not into the clubbing so I will pass.

In terms of food, what should I expect? Wife is a big Mexican food fan however veggie only. I expand on hers by chicken - not much seafood.

Again thanks man you are providing quite a bit of information and I have decided to print out your messages to make sure I know what I can do there in case i forget or am out of ideas :)
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Re: Resort Island Vacation - Help

Postby Cid » Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:07 am

Don't dismiss the club Fuzz mentioned so fast, if I am not mistaken it's called Coco Bongo, the show is really great, just buy the tickets in the afternoon as they are much cheaper and then get there early, get a table and enjoy the show, really entertaining.
I did not go to Xel-ha but went to Xcaret I don't know which one is better but I really liked Xcaret, there is a show at the end of the day if you go there be sure not to miss it.
Enjoy your vacations, you really picked a great place to go to, you won't regret it :)
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Re: Resort Island Vacation - Help

Postby Stupify » Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:08 am

Nice to hear Cid :) Thanks for your feedback too.
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Re: Resort Island Vacation - Help

Postby Fuzz » Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:32 am

Yes, it was Coco Bongo, and although it is a club, it is enjoyable in its own right as a show.
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Re: Resort Island Vacation - Help

Postby Cid » Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:44 pm

Forgot to mention snorkeling in a cave in Xcaret was great, takes some time to go through all of the park so get there early, lots of things to see, I think it is a little bit bigger and different concept than xel-ha is so better go to both hehe :)
and post pictures of the trip :D

By the way renting a car is a really good idea to go to any of these places, otherwise you have to go with the group, which is not so bad and is probably cheaper but you won't be able to decide what to do next, you are there on vacation not to keep a schedule, enjoy your trip again hehe
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Re: Resort Island Vacation - Help

Postby Stupify » Sat Apr 30, 2011 11:21 am

cya all in a week...
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