In August 2010, two of my friends and I went to Temptations in Cancun. Yesterday, I got home from a 4 day trip to Secrets in Jamaica. These two trips are vastly different and not just because of the locations. They were both all inclusive, but totally different. We were so much more prepared for this trip, even though we booked it with less lead time than the Cancun trip. So, what was the difference?
First, we did more research. For Cancun, we found a deal and just went with it. Unfortunately, once we read the reviews and got to the resort, we realized why it was so cheap! One room’s phone didn’t work and didn’t have a hair dryer (which when we called, they didn’t bring), the other room’s toilet wouldn’t stop running and we had maintenance there at least once a day. When I went back to the room one day, the maid had opened the door to clean the room, but wasn’t in it. She left our room (and all our belongings!) exposed to anyone who walked by! When I called to complain, they didn’t care or even seem to think that was a problem. Oh – and it also used to be a swingers resort. Did I forget to mention that?? We found that out in reading the reviews – after we booked! Moral of the story – read the reviews!
And I know that I just said read the reviews, but don’t take them all to heart. Read just some of them. I usually read the best and the worst. Everyone has different tastes and some people will complain about anything. Seriously. In one review for Secrets a lady complained about the fact that they were denied entrance to a restaurant because her husband didn’t have long pants on. On the website and on the list of activities for the day, it clearly states that in certain restaurants, men are required to wear long pants. I guess you can complain if you don’t read, but then really isn’t that your own fault?? (I know – irony. I should’ve done some reading about the first hotel. I am realizing that as I am writing this that it is ironic. But hey, I learned right??)
Speaking of restaurants, when you are at an all-inclusive, make sure you check to see if you need to make reservations. At Temptations, you could make reservations a couple of days ahead of time. If you didn’t know that, then you had to go down to a building and wait in a line to see if there were any reservations left at the restaurant you wanted. If there weren’t, then you had to eat at the buffet. Considering that we were so ill prepared, I am sure you can guess where we ended up eating most nights! One night we were able to eat at one of the nicer restaurants. Very disappointing.
However, at Secrets. there were no reservations required. We could go to dinner whenever and wherever we wanted, with the exception of the hibachi. There were many options and we never had to wait in line, with the exception of once at breakfast. The wait was only ten minutes, so even that wasn’t terrible.
The next tip is about alcoholic beverages. While we learned a lot of “what not to dos” from the Temptations trip, we also learned some “to dos”. We got there and were drinking out of the little blue glasses. Then we looked around at the pool and saw a bunch of people drinking from water bottles. How smart is that?? Less refills – more pool time. (Even though we were at a pool with a swim up bar!) We bought (expensive) water bottles from the gift shop.
For this trip, we were more prepared – we brought 64 oz water bottles. The staff came around and refilled our cups with ice to keep them cold and only had to fill them twice a day! We tried different drinks and found the ones that we liked the best and filled our bottles with that!
My next tip is a money saver and a time saver! For this trip, we packed everything into two carry ons each. So, we didn’t have to pay to check bags and then we also didn’t have to wait for our luggage. We went through customs fairly quickly and were able to get to the hotel faster! Only pack what you need – and what fits into your carry on.
The last tip is to try booking a time share. That was also the difference between this trip and last. We used my friend’s time share. But, when people aren’t using theirs, they post them for sale on websites, like http://www.redweek.com or http://www.sellmytimesharenow.com. You can find some great deals on there, even last minute!
Each and every trip we learn a little more. I am becoming so much better at packing – I was able to bring everything in an overnight Vera Bradley bag and a Vera Wang Princess bag (that doubled as a beach bag) that wasn’t much bigger than most purses! Hopefully this gave you some tips for your next trip.
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