Help me figure out my first all inclusive vacation...
January 18, 2018 1:27 PM   Subscribe

My best friend and I want to spend 3-4 days at an all-inclusive resort in March. We are picturing being warm, laying on a beach, drinks with umbrellas and good conversation/reading/doing-nothing. We are not picturing loud club-like environment or cruise-style planned activities. Difficulties: She is coming from Montreal and I'm coming from Boston. We have never done anything like this before. All previous travel done together or separately has involved more...effort/adventure. We want neither. (Please see aforementioned umbrella drinks and lounging.) Advice? Planning tips? Great ideas? Details and questions below.

Are there great websites for this that I should be looking at? I tried Kayak and Expedia but since I don't especially care about the destination so long as it is warm and not too far a flight, I found it cumbersome. Our dates are also pretty flexible but we would ideally like to do roughly Monday-Friday sometime in March.

Is there a way to screen for the wrong vibe? We are both in our mid-30s and looking for mellow relaxation and don't want to end up inadvertently on someone else's spring break trip.

How much of a problem will it be from a cost perspective that we are coming from two different countries? Is it a pipe dream to hope that there is some website that will allow us to look for prices to a single destination from two starting points? At the end of the day, I'm a bit less price sensitive than she is so the location being affordable from Montreal is the most important. I would like to stay below 1,200 on my end.

And the magic wand possibility: Does anyone have the perfect place for us to go, the perfect hotel for us to stay at, the perfect way for us to think this through, etc.?

We're really excited about this! Thanks in advance for any words of wisdom.
posted by jeszac to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I stayed here with some friends a couple years go. It was mellow, relaxing, there were no children, and there were plenty of drinks with umbrellas. I was in bed every night by 10, though there were options for nightlife for those who were interested. I think we booked through Cheap Caribbean.
posted by coppermoss at 1:43 PM on January 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My husband and I went to Excellence Playa Mujeres last March and really enjoyed it. It's an adults-only all inclusive. The beach and water is gorgeous, the alcohol is all top-shelf liquor, there are tons of on-site restaurant choices and the food is surprisingly good for AI, and the staff is totally dedicated to making the experience excellent for guests. We spent all day lounging by the beach or pool, with one day trip to Isla Mujeres. It was lovely.

note: some parts of the resort around the pool are loud and party-like but the resort is big enough that you can hang out elsewhere and not hear it at all. The club-level pool areas are also very very quiet (too quiet for us, actually).
posted by joan_holloway at 1:53 PM on January 18, 2018

I stayed at the RIU Palace in Montego Bay Jamaica. They have another, smaller pool off to the side that was quiet. My BFF and I spent pretty much the whole time over by that pool literally just lying there sometimes staring off into nothing for an hour. I also booked through Cheap Caribbean.

For flights it may be better for her to come to you and then you two travel together from/to Boston.

Cheap Caribbean is great at looking for flexible times and destinations.
posted by magnetsphere at 2:36 PM on January 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

I did this with a friend and found a great deal through Costco, if either of you has access.
posted by emkelley at 2:51 PM on January 18, 2018 is where I go to see what deals are out there without specific locations picked out already.
posted by jillithd at 2:55 PM on January 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I recommend the Finest, another resort by Excellence that was mentioned by joan_holloway. Finest is one that does allow children, however, in my opinion, the resort was not overrun by families when we were there in mid-summer when school was out. I gathered recommendations from friends and then went to a local travel agency office. The agent priced 2-3 resorts including airfare from my city. I continued my other research and was able to find a better deal online that the travel agent matched plus included nonstop versus connecting flights. I thought that going through an agency would make our opinion have more weight to the resort in terms of room assignment and any other requests we had while there. The agent was not very knowledgable about the resorts or local practices (like not converting money at the airport and avoiding ALL the hustlers at the Cancun airport). I would expect an agent to be more helpful about finding flights that converge for you from the two cities.
posted by RoadScholar at 4:00 PM on January 18, 2018

Best answer: I like the ITA Matrix flight search engine for these sorts of open-ended searches (you can't book through them, but that part's easy enough); it allows a number of nice features, including specifying flights in great detail, and searching for a broad area. I did a couple of searches like this one for a flight with a departure from Boston to somewhere within 1000 miles of Acapulco (ACA), then to Montreal with all flights nonstop and no airport changes allowed. (If you enter "ACA" as the destination, the nearby link allows you to select all airports within a variety of distances - in this case 1000 miles).

This identifies all airports in a broad region served directly from both Boston and Montreal. Acapulco is random, except located so that virtually all of Mexico and much of Central America is within 1000 miles; if you do the same search using airports within 1000 miles of Port-Au-Prince (PAP), virtually the entire Caribbean is also covered.

Using a couple of trial dates, it seems like the only three airports in sun destinations served directly from both your cities are Cancun, Montego Bay and Punta Cana.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:47 PM on January 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You go to Montreal and you both fly together to Cuba. Very different from the other suggestions but a unique and fascinating place.
posted by LarryC at 12:25 AM on January 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: This is all so helpful! Thank you all.
posted by jeszac at 5:48 AM on January 19, 2018

A positive vote for Club Med Ixtapa. I really want to go back! They do allow children—but they have kids clubs to entertain them. The food was really good, unlike other all-inclusive resorts I’ve been to. (Unfortunately, it’s sort of the wrong coast for you.)
posted by leahwrenn at 9:20 AM on January 19, 2018

I just came back from my first all-inclusive as a thirtysomething woman who just wanted to relax on the beach. It was great. I used Apple Vacations and tripadvisor to research good resorts, but wound up finding the best deal for the one I chose on

Your best bet for location will probably be Cancun or the nearby Maya Riviera since you can both get direct flights there. I just stayed at the Hyatt Ziva in Puerto Vallarta which was perfect for quiet lazing on the beach with frozen drinks (they even made onsite weddings close up shop at 9 so as to not disturb the guests) and there's one in Cancun as well. My room was so comfortable (I slept like a rock)! The pools were so lovely! The drinks just kept coming! It was great.
posted by lunasol at 1:40 PM on January 22, 2018

Response by poster: Thank you so much everyone. We're flying to Cancun but ultimately chose to staying at a BnB rather than an all inclusive. It's on the water in Puerto Morales. I'm so excited! Big thanks to Homeboy Trouble for helping us suss out which locations had flights from both Boston and Montreal.
posted by jeszac at 12:51 PM on January 23, 2018

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