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Secrets vs Sandals vs Couples - All Inclusive Help for a First Timer!

Hi! The hubs and I are interested in taking an all inclusive tropical vacation, but have no idea where to start. We've spent the last 2 years paying off debt due to both needing tumor surgeries the same year. Mine was cancerous, but it was caught very early. We want to take a vacation to celebrate life, and it's a second chance at a first honeymoon since our original honeymoon plans had to be scrapped at the last minute. This was almost 4 years ago. I'm a workaholic so the need to really be away from the local scene is huge for me. We're willing to splurge a little more since we figure this is going to be a once in a lifetime trip, but we want the best value. I'm looking for suggestions of which all-inclusive to try since the Secrets, Sandals and Couples reviews I've seen on the Internet has made my head spin, so I thought why not try here? Below is our "Ultimate WISH List," not "must haves," so we know some compromising will be necessary, and we're flexible. (I'm not super-Internet savvy, so please try not to use abbreviations, I can't figure them out. If it has a * we'd prefer not to give it up if we don't have to. BUDGET: We're looking at 10 days, preferably 14, since we figure 2 will be a wash solely dedicated to traveling. Again, I'm a workaholic. I've haven't taken a vacation longer than 6-7 days since I was a kid. I need longer than 7 days to really "get away," especially if 2 full days are wasted on a plane and travel. I hate flying, so will definitely be worn out after all of that traveling. We're from Seattle, so we know travel will be longer for us, and we're willing to travel farther for a good resort, but I don't want to feel like our trip was shortened due to air travel and any additional traveling to get to/from resort. Anything less than $5K including airfare would be preferable, but again, we're willing to be flexible for the best value. LOCATION: - Tropical*: We're from Seattle, so we want a WARM place! - Adult only resort*: my husband is a teacher, and combined we have 12 nieces and nephews. Although we love the kiddies, we want this to be a honeymoon re-do, and some time to reconnect away from munchkins. - Good beaches for walking and romantic strolls*. The hubs likes to walk to unwind from the day, so nice beaches are preferable. - ALL inclusive. What do I mean? Adult drinks. I like to have a good time, ha ha. We've done cruises, but hated that drinks weren't included and had to budget separately, if we ended up with a drink at all. Also, I think if someone is paying more for an all inclusive, it should really mean ALL inclusive. This also means fun activities. We love adventure and new experiences! We want to try so many things! All water sports, ATV's, horseback riding, zip lines, etc., you name it! Preferred if this was ALL inclusive in price too. We won't travel outside of the resort much, unless it's for included activities. Once we're there, we're THERE. FOOD: I'm a foodie, but not a food snob. I'm just as ok with a McD burger as I am with lobster. I like to try local fare if possible. The hubby likes to eat whatever I make, ha ha, so he's good with anything. We'd like a large variety of places to eat so we're not bored while we're there, but it doesn't have to be 5 stars every time. Again, once we're there, we're THERE. NIGHTLIFE: The hubs is (barely) 30 and I'm 29. We love most music. The option of dancing and music, probably not every night, but we like the option of it periodically if the mood strikes us. We're still a young couple and like to have good, clean fun. Especially after the last 2 years, we want to make sure we don't forget to play hard for as much as we work hard. Some time to socialize, dance, merriment, etc. is important to us. ROOM: - Privacy*: The room will be our safe haven from everyone when not doing activities. I unwind with a good book and quiet. So a place where you don't hear the neighbors through the wall, or have people walking by is key for us. (Not counting room service or "butler service," if included.) - Free WiFi*: We're techies, so free wifi would be preferred to keep on touch with our families, when we want to. (I promise, NOT to work!) Hubs actually has online businesses and will need to keep in touch periodically. - Private Pool: Not a must, but definitely preferred at a not so high price tag. We like our privacy and would love to just swim on our own and not in front of the entire resort every time. - 24-hr room service. On occasion, there will be meals where we won't want to go out, instead wanting to stay in together. (Remember, this will be our safe haven and my reading space.) Looking forward to your responses, hopefully I'm not totally asking for the moon here!

Re: Secrets vs Sandals vs Couples - All Inclusive Help for a First Timer!

  • Costa Rica might work well for you you can fly into Liberia or San Juan. You might have a tough time with 5k for 2 weeks in most places. You didn't say when you want to travel. Have you visited allinclusiveoutlet.com or trip advisor?
    Friday, December 28 2012. The day I had emergency appendix surgery in Mexico and quit smoking. Proof that everything has a good side!! DH and I are happily child-free!! No due date or toddler tickers here!! my read shelf:
    Alison's book recommendations, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf) 
  • k8bug1k8bug1 member
    Fourth Anniversary First Comment
    edited February 2014
    Thanks! I have tried those sites, but reviews for each resort are all conflicting, and thought I'd try this community. Again, price is flexible as we want good value. I've never done one, so wasn't sure of actual price.
  • k8bug1 said:
    Thanks! I have tried those sites, but reviews for each resort are all conflicting, and thought I'd try this community. Again, price is flexible as we want good value. I've never done one, so wasn't sure of actual price.

    Regarding the reviews on the travel websites - unless there is an overwhelming amount of negative reviews vs the positive ones, I would take those maybe with a grain of salt. Only because one person's dealbreaker for a resort might not be such a big deal for another person. When I was booking my honeymoon, I had some reservations too when I saw some of the negative reviews, but there were over 1000+ positive ones vs the 50 or so negatives. Some of the complaints were the long waits or slow service in the restaurants. My H & I at one time lived in Spain and were used to having dinner at 9-10pm, so not being able to get a table in the restaurants until 8pm wasn't such a huge deal for us. Some of the complaints were valid, but the ratio of those vs the positive reviews - we figured it wouldn't be a huge deal and we would just have our guard up in case we encountered anything funky (like trying to get roped into a time share presentation).

    We stayed at Secrets Capri, btw....which was awesome. It was our first time going to an all inclusive and we had such a nice time - we are considering going back for our 'babymoon' or to another Secrets resort somewhere else (possibly Jamaica). I've heard good things about Sandals as well. Not familiar with Couples resorts though....


  • k8bug1 said:

    Thanks! I have tried those sites, but reviews for each resort are all conflicting, and thought I'd try this community. Again, price is flexible as we want good value. I've never done one, so wasn't sure of actual price.



    Regarding the reviews on the travel websites - unless there is an overwhelming amount of negative reviews vs the positive ones, I would take those maybe with a grain of salt. Only because one person's dealbreaker for a resort might not be such a big deal for another person. When I was booking my honeymoon, I had some reservations too when I saw some of the negative reviews, but there were over 1000+ positive ones vs the 50 or so negatives. Some of the complaints were the long waits or slow service in the restaurants. My H & I at one time lived in Spain and were used to having dinner at 9-10pm, so not being able to get a table in the restaurants until 8pm wasn't such a huge deal for us. Some of the complaints were valid, but the ratio of those vs the positive reviews - we figured it wouldn't be a huge deal and we would just have our guard up in case we encountered anything funky (like trying to get roped into a time share presentation).


    Agree with all of this.
    That being said, we've been to three Sandals (head for number 4 in a week)and have yet to have a negative experiance. Aside from food poisoning in Antigua (it could happen anywhere and I don't blame the resort).
    I have reviews and pics in the link above my siggy pic.

    Our Website

    Kristi and Kerry June 21,2008
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