Post-Covid travel: Lazy Caribbean style
January 28, 2021 7:06 AM   Subscribe

Post-Covid travel: Lazy Caribbean style. Need your recommendations!

After all this is over and done with (whenever that is), I want to go to an adults-only, budget but not shitty, all-inclusive beach resort in the Caribbean somewhere. I’ve only ever planned my own trips, staying in Airbnbs and putting together my own itineraries seeing art and architecture and history, so I don’t even know where to begin looking into this kind of trip. I really want to avoid spring break-type spots or family/children spots as I am a childfree woman approaching 40 who will likely be traveling with a platonic friend the same age (so two double beds, not a romantic suite). I just want to lie on a nice beach, take a dip in the pool with a cocktail, and not have to plan where to go to dinner every night. No desire for dancing or casinos or live entertainment or anything other than pure relaxation. Cruises, though, are definitely a no for me.

I have a flight voucher for non-stop out of Newark or LaGuardia, so looking basically anywhere near a major airport in the Caribbean/coast of Mexico that is reasonably safe and maybe has SOME stuff to do outside the resort. By ‘to-do’ I mean pretty nature stuff or cool historical stuff, but not the main point of this trip, and not a must-have. I’ve been to San Juan Puerto Rico once and dug it and wouldn’t mind returning if that’s the best option but that trip was definitely more plan-as-you-go winging it, and never checked out any of the big beach-front hotel-type places.

Where do I even start to look? Are reviews on tripadvisor even legit? I’ve never used it. Or is there another good website that is a starting point for people on a budget? Do you have any of your own recommendations? Just googling stuff sends me to ads and sponsored articles and I don’t know what’s good.

I speak enough Spanish to get by if that matters, but no other languages. Thanks in advance!
posted by greta simone to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
One of my coworkers swears by the grand riveira maya resort

When my family travels, we typically go to aruba. Fewer all-inclusives, but it's very modern and has industry and isn't an island or community that 100% relies on tourists. Perfect weather. If you wanted to go rustic, an airbnb on Aruba would be an amazing trip.
posted by bbqturtle at 7:20 AM on January 28, 2021

One thing to note: pre-and-post covid status of resorts and places are sometimes going to be wildly different, like everything else. This applies to the validity of the pre-covid reviews too! I would read local news, "expat" news of the places you're going to closer to the time.
posted by lalochezia at 7:33 AM on January 28, 2021

We are on the east coast, too, and have been to Jamaica many times. It is a very easy non-stop flight. We have only done all-inclusive, which are not necessarily budget, but there are often ways to get good deals. It is nice not to have to worry about money while you are there or where you will eat. There are plenty of adults-only resorts, and the service has always been excellent. Typically we do not do outside excursions, but there are some we have done that are fun. Most places have also added double beds since we started going 30 years ago, recognizing that not everyone is traveling these days with a romantic partner. is a popular site for deals

We have also done Deal of Fortune through that site where you commit to going, but you do not know which of 3-4 similar rated resorts you get until a week before you go. It worked out well for us both times since we wanted a certain vacation type, not tied to an exact resort. We paid so much less than the other guests.
posted by maxg94 at 8:00 AM on January 28, 2021

I've been to 3 different all-inclusives in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and I recommend Iberostar Selection Bavaro. I've been there twice and would return again. Here is why:

1. They have plenty of palapas on the beach. These provide solid shade so you can spend all day lazing at the beach, which I find a lot more relaxing than at the pool. I walked the beach and looked at many other resorts, and not all of them have these. To me, they are a must. You can also find great shady spots by the pool.

2. Many other resorts looked a lot more crowded.

3. This place is not adults only, but they have a kids' pool and they seem to congregate there. I'm a child-free early 40s female as well, and did not want to be in a place over-run with children, and this resort met my tranquility criteria. Adults-only resorts tend to be more expensive.

4. One of the main (to me) things! This resort is not a huge multi-story building with elevators. It consists of free-standing 2-story villas, nestled among beautiful, beautiful gardens. It feels a lot more relaxing and intimate because of this. From what I've seen, this is pretty unique for the area.

5. It's not a huge resort where you need to be hopping on golf-carts to get around. Everything is within comfortable walking distance. Again, this gives it a more relaxing and intimate vibe.

6. There is a local crafts market walking distance along the beach, if you are interested in this sort of thing. Be ready to be hassled and bargain, which can be kind of fun, but can be annoying, depending on your mind-set.

7. The beach gets cleaned from seaweed every morning, which is not true for every resort there. Speaking of beach, it's long and gorgeous. You can walk for miles and look at all other resorts along the shore. It felt safe to walk.

8. This is probably true for every all-inclusive in Punta Cana - the staff is incredibly friendly and welcoming. I prefer to be left alone on vacation, and they will not bother you with endless games etc. if that's not your thing, but at the same time you can feel their joy and care, and it was very comforting and relaxing for me.

9. Of course you can book all kinds of excursions when you are there. And of course they have several restaurants to pick from every night, although you might want to book them upon arrival.

10. I felt this was a great value for the money. Bring lots of small bills and tip the staff. They work incredibly hard to make all guests happy.

11. There is a small coffee shop at this resort. The coffee is of great quality, and also included. My favorite morning routine was to walk there after breakfast and grab a cup of latte, walk straight to the bar and add some Baileys ;) and walk to the beach and enjoy this drink while watching the waves and the beach goers. Highly recommend.

TripAdvisor review can be very helpful! Just keep in mind that some people cannot be happy no matter where they are or what they do.
posted by LakeDream at 9:25 AM on January 28, 2021 [14 favorites]

I went to Club Med's Turkoise, which is an all-inclusive budget resort for ADULTS ONLY in Turks and Caicos. It was nothing fancy, but it had what I needed - pretty good food, daily snorkeling trips, drinks included and best of all, location on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Grace Bay. I went in 2019 and spent $1200 including airfare from PHL for 4 nights including tips for a SINGLE ROOM.

Did I say NO KIDS?

Every day, I did a snorkel trip, laid in the shade by the pool or floated in that gorgeous ocean water, ate and drank and most of all, just relaxed. One day I scratched off a bucket list item - spending the morning on a horseback ride into the ocean. It was glorious and so fun. I wasn't really into any of the group activities, though one night I went to a pretty entertaining show put on by local staff. I basically was in my room by 7:00 PM every night and read or watched a downloaded movie on my iPad. It was exactly what I wanted and needed. Sun, fun, sleep.
posted by HeyAllie at 10:56 AM on January 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

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