Travel

Big family trip planning for Christmas 2021?

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  • Dec 18th, 2020 4:16 pm
[OP]
Newbie
Mar 2, 2014
10 posts
5 upvotes
HAMILTON

Big family trip planning for Christmas 2021?

Hey all,

Me and my extended family want to do an all-inclusive resort next year. We're thinking Punta Cana or something like that? Some of us have kids, some of us have more money than others. What's the best way to do this? Should I just work with one of the websites? Or can I get a better deal by doing it all on my own? What's wrong with deciding on a resort and everyone figuring out their own way there and what room they want?

Appreciate your help!
17 replies
Deal Addict
Jul 14, 2006
2366 posts
3228 upvotes
"Hey everyone, I've booked my family into <resort> for <dates>. I booked through <site>. If you'd like to join us please make your own booking when you can."
Deal Addict
Dec 12, 2010
2088 posts
569 upvotes
Toronto
One thing that 2020 has taught me is that you can't plan so far ahead especially a trip. I hope to go away next year but I feel it will be planned and booked quite close to when I actually go.
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Nov 6, 2010
9240 posts
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I would probably just book everything individual; nobody wants to have that awkward "you owe me money" conversation. Also, if any family is flying out of a different town it'll make things easier to book separate.

What you could do is once everyone's booked you can call the hotel and ask to be put in rooms near one another.
Deal Guru
May 9, 2007
10129 posts
3153 upvotes
Vancouver Island, BC
I recognize that the following may not be practical for some (many?) people, but it might be practical for some.

First, it is possible to avoid the Christmas period it is likely to be far more cost effective to go in January. At many tropical destinations, Christmas is the absolutely most expensive time. Then there is a lull in business during the two or three weeks after New Year’s Day. Then it gets busy again by the last week of January. (Some people go on vacation for Christmas. Others, who “have to” get away in winter get over the holiday season, but can’t get through to March, so February is busy.)

Yeah, people say, but the kids are in school in January. Arrange with the school for them to get January work before Christmas break. Tell the kids that they have to get it done over Christmas if they want to come to the tropical vacation when their friends have to go to school. It can be a pretty good motivator.)

Next, consider whether you really want an all-inclusive. I have stayed in them and in nearby hotels in the same area. An all-inclusive is convenient but constraining. One week of going to the same on-site restaurants can get tedious. Yes, alcohol drinks are included, but it turns out that many people quickly learn that they don’t get as much value of that as they thought. Others do “get the value” of unlimited alcohol, resulting in problems for others.

In any case, alcohol in some of these places is very inexpensive. I recently bought three one-litre bottles of Bacardi Añejo for M$466, or under C$30. I bought a dozen Tecate beer for M$129 or under C$8.25.

You are close to the US border. If the border reopens, you might want to explore a US package. Several years ago I had business dealings with the general manager of a hotel in a large Mexican hotel chain. I asked him about the significant price differential in the same package vacations for Canadians and Americans. This is what he told me.

Hotels track all of the in-hotel spending from each room. He said that Americans spend much more in hotel restaurants and shops than Canadians.

Hotels don’t generally sell vacation packages. They sell blocks of rooms to “travel wholesalers” who are then committed to pay for the rooms whether or not they are “retailed” to an occupant.

Hotels offer lower room rates to American travel wholesalers than Canadian wholesalers because the hotel predicts they will get additional profits from Americans’ in-hotel spending.

(Apparently Canadians are more likely to experience nearby restaurants and shop at local shops wile Americans are less likely to do so.)

So you might be able to get lower package vacation prices out of Buffalo than out of southern Ontario.
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." Upton Sinclair

Our house is on fire.” Greta Thunberg
Deal Guru
May 9, 2007
10129 posts
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Vancouver Island, BC
uber_shnitz wrote: I would probably just book everything individual; nobody wants to have that awkward "you owe me money" conversation. Also, if any family is flying out of a different town it'll make things easier to book separate.

What you could do is once everyone's booked you can call the hotel and ask to be put in rooms near one another.
Or far away from each other. Face With Tears Of Joy
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." Upton Sinclair

Our house is on fire.” Greta Thunberg
Sr. Member
User avatar
Jan 14, 2007
568 posts
189 upvotes
GTA North
amiss85 wrote: Hey all,

Me and my extended family want to do an all-inclusive resort next year. We're thinking Punta Cana or something like that? Some of us have kids, some of us have more money than others. What's the best way to do this? Should I just work with one of the websites? Or can I get a better deal by doing it all on my own? What's wrong with deciding on a resort and everyone figuring out their own way there and what room they want?

Appreciate your help!
My advise is use a travel agent so when things don't go exactly as planned you have someone in your corner to help

Last year we did Cancun, Dec 28 to Jan 4,
3 families (6 parents, 8 "18-24yr" kids and 2 15-17yr "kids"

Barcelo Resort Mayan which is huge (25 minute walk end to end - I know because I walked it at least twice daily). Booked all families to be in same complex 5 months in advance though CAA travel. First family arrives (6 people) and complex is full and they are asked to move new adults only complex but since one kid is under 18, resort comes up with 3 rooms (one ocean view which was to be 3). Second family arrives (4 people) and same thing happens but since one kid is 15 they find two rooms (non ocean view) to accomodate. We show up late in the day and my sister is waiting at front desk to guide us through the problems she has dealt with. Our family of 6 (all over 18) can't be accommodated at the same complex we were booked at but since all of us are adults we end up at the brand new Adults only complex on the opposite side of the resort but get 3 ocean view rooms (should have only been 1). Win in my books. No little kids and wristband to anywhere on resort plus the upscale restaurants and ability to make reservations for more people

We had the CAA rep working to try to get everything worked out but in the end not much could be done about location due to the time of year and a full resort. Ended up with some perks but the headaches were much less than if we would have booked ourselves and had to deal with this during our vacations. Travel agent can also work with each family for payments, flights etc as we were coming from various places (Calgary Ottawa and Toronto)
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Mar 21, 2010
5604 posts
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Toronto
My advice would be don't be the planner. Share what you want to do for your family, and if you don't hear strenuous objections from other families, go ahead and do it. I would not want to be the middleman for everyone. What happens if some form of COVID is still around and different people have different attitudes towards it? You don't want to be trying to recoup money from someone who decided not to go. You do you, and if others want to do the same, they will too. That way everyone is responsible for their own plans and no one feels coerced into doing something they don't really want to.

I know for me, for these kinds of vacations I don't want to be doing 100% of everything with everyone and being next door to everyone etc. I'd be a little annoyed if that all was decided by someone who was thinking about how awesome it would be if we were all together just like when we were kids, at the same time I wouldn't want to ruin the vibe by opting out. It's much cleaner to just let each person handle their own plans.
[OP]
Newbie
Mar 2, 2014
10 posts
5 upvotes
HAMILTON
@mexicanuck Do you have a recommendation for a non all-inclusive resort that will accommodate a large group like this?
[OP]
Newbie
Mar 2, 2014
10 posts
5 upvotes
HAMILTON
@IMHIP2 Thanks for that point of view. That's the kind of thing I was curious about.
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User avatar
Sep 6, 2002
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Vancouver
MexiCanuck wrote: I recognize that the following may not be practical for some (many?) people, but it might be practical for some.

First, it is possible to avoid the Christmas period it is likely to be far more cost effective to go in January. At many tropical destinations, Christmas is the absolutely most expensive time. Then there is a lull in business during the two or three weeks after New Year’s Day. Then it gets busy again by the last week of January. (Some people go on vacation for Christmas. Others, who “have to” get away in winter get over the holiday season, but can’t get through to March, so February is busy.)

Yeah, people say, but the kids are in school in January. Arrange with the school for them to get January work before Christmas break. Tell the kids that they have to get it done over Christmas if they want to come to the tropical vacation when their friends have to go to school. It can be a pretty good motivator.)

Next, consider whether you really want an all-inclusive. I have stayed in them and in nearby hotels in the same area. An all-inclusive is convenient but constraining. One week of going to the same on-site restaurants can get tedious. Yes, alcohol drinks are included, but it turns out that many people quickly learn that they don’t get as much value of that as they thought. Others do “get the value” of unlimited alcohol, resulting in problems for others.

In any case, alcohol in some of these places is very inexpensive. I recently bought three one-litre bottles of Bacardi Añejo for M$466, or under C$30. I bought a dozen Tecate beer for M$129 or under C$8.25.

You are close to the US border. If the border reopens, you might want to explore a US package. Several years ago I had business dealings with the general manager of a hotel in a large Mexican hotel chain. I asked him about the significant price differential in the same package vacations for Canadians and Americans. This is what he told me.

Hotels track all of the in-hotel spending from each room. He said that Americans spend much more in hotel restaurants and shops than Canadians.

Hotels don’t generally sell vacation packages. They sell blocks of rooms to “travel wholesalers” who are then committed to pay for the rooms whether or not they are “retailed” to an occupant.

Hotels offer lower room rates to American travel wholesalers than Canadian wholesalers because the hotel predicts they will get additional profits from Americans’ in-hotel spending.

(Apparently Canadians are more likely to experience nearby restaurants and shop at local shops wile Americans are less likely to do so.)

So you might be able to get lower package vacation prices out of Buffalo than out of southern Ontario.
My parents did the all inclusive during non prime time to save money and made me do my work ahead. Only thing is caution is if you have an only child or wide gaps there may not be many or any other kids to hang out with at the resort. Luckily i buddied up with some of the nicer employees who found me cute and had a good time but certainly when we travelled prime I’d meet other kids and the parents would become friends and less work entertaining us.
Autocorrect sucks
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Jul 26, 2007
1420 posts
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13inches wrote: "Hey everyone, I've booked my family into <resort> for <dates>. I booked through <site>. If you'd like to join us please make your own booking when you can."
best advice there is.

don't count on anyone to be committal. I'm sure there will (fairly) be a lot of shyness to travel internationally (I still think there will be a fair amount of restrictions/measures in place worldwide even if everything goes to plan and like 60% of the population or whatever gets a vaccine), hell, a lot of people are not going to be financially stable for a good while either.
Deal Guru
May 9, 2007
10129 posts
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Vancouver Island, BC
amiss85 wrote: @mexicanuck Do you have a recommendation for a non all-inclusive resort that will accommodate a large group like this?
We don’t really know how big the group is... maybe you don’t. The information we have is, “Me and my extended family want to do an all-inclusive resort next year. We're thinking Punta Cana or something like that? Some of us have kids...”. That could be 10 people or 30 people.

But that’s not important for this question. At this point it seems that you don’t have a specific location. That isn’t a bad thing, but it is a factor in decision making. If you had a specific location, you could narrow your specific choices. In this instance, the location doesn’t matter, giving you opportunity to shop prices as the specific location apparently doesn’t matter.

Resort hotels can be in very different general environments. For example:

Manzanillo is a city with a significant commercial and transportation economy. It pre-existed tourism but has tourism. It would exist without tourism.

Cancún is a huge tourism destination that exists for tourism. Before tourism there was little infrastructure. Cancún itself and the nearby tourism area have probably 40,000+ hotel rooms. Without tourism it would collapse.

Ixtapa is a mini, mini, Cancún. It was created for tourism, but is maybe one-tenth the size of Cancún.

Then there are very small places, like Troncones, that give visitors a comfortable vacation while experiencing rural Mexico.
Home to about 600 permanent residents of mainly fishermen, farmers, and ranchers, Troncones has also become one of Mexico's favorite beachfront eco-resorts. But don't look for high-rise hotels, shopping centers or discoteques here. The area of Troncones from south of the village north to the neighboring village of Majahua is dotted with small guest inns, vacation homes, bungalows, and Bed & Breakfasts interspersed with various seafood restaurants and low-key beach clubs.
https://www.troncones.com.mx/

I am partial to Troncones but I own a home there, but I recognize that each of the above kinds of vacation experiences can be very enjoyable. I have a friend with a timeshare at the Moon Palace in Cancún. It has over 2,400 rooms. I would not enjoy that. He has visited Troncones and found it too small and laidback for his ideal vacation.

In any case, I suggest against trying to organize this as an “independent traveller”. Negotiating and arranging independent travel for a family of three or four can be challenging at the best of times. These are not the best of times and your group is much larger.

I suggest working with a travel agent who can identify your interests, price range, dates, etc. and who will have access to wholesale prices.
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." Upton Sinclair

Our house is on fire.” Greta Thunberg
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Jan 17, 2009
3089 posts
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Toronto, Ontario
Manatus wrote: My advice would be don't be the planner. Share what you want to do for your family, and if you don't hear strenuous objections from other families, go ahead and do it. I would not want to be the middleman for everyone. What happens if some form of COVID is still around and different people have different attitudes towards it? You don't want to be trying to recoup money from someone who decided not to go. You do you, and if others want to do the same, they will too. That way everyone is responsible for their own plans and no one feels coerced into doing something they don't really want to.

I know for me, for these kinds of vacations I don't want to be doing 100% of everything with everyone and being next door to everyone etc. I'd be a little annoyed if that all was decided by someone who was thinking about how awesome it would be if we were all together just like when we were kids, at the same time I wouldn't want to ruin the vibe by opting out. It's much cleaner to just let each person handle their own plans.
Seriously, being the planner is the worst. I've done it for groups of friends/family before and is a ton of work and ridiculously time consuming. If everything goes well you get a "thanks". For anything and everything that goes wrong, it'll be at least partially your fault. Most friends/family are understanding, but the few that aren't make it not worth the headache. I would only do it if I was unemployed and bored.
Deal Guru
May 9, 2007
10129 posts
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Vancouver Island, BC
Ecsta wrote: Seriously, being the planner is the worst. I've done it for groups of friends/family before and is a ton of work and ridiculously time consuming. If everything goes well you get a "thanks". For anything and everything that goes wrong, it'll be at least partially your fault. Most friends/family are understanding, but the few that aren't make it not worth the headache. I would only do it if I was unemployed and bored.
A friend of mine has a timeshare at an all-inclusive resort hotel. All-inclusive includes all drinks.

He organized a group of about 20 couples and singles in their mid-30s to early 50s for a week at the resort. They were mostly pretty carefree types and they all enjoyed a few drinks together from time to time.

He was not working at the time and he said that organizing it was a lot of work.

A lot of work.

One of the things he discovered after they got there was that one of the people didn’t just “enjoy a few drinks from time to time”. They were, in fact, a serious alcoholic. Others had known the person for years and knew they liked to drink, but had no idea.

With access to pre-paid alcohol the person was unrestrained and the disorder became very apparent. The person was seriously impaired shortly after arrival. My friend had to arrange a return flight to Canada for the person within a few days of arrival.

I had second hand experience with a work group vacation. (I wasn’t there.)

A couple of the people canoed to a nearby island. People who stayed behind checked in on them using binoculars. At one point they couldn’t see the woman and couldn’t figure why the guy was doing push-ups on the beach. It turned out they weren’t push-ups and that she was under him. They were not married to each other and soon, neither of them were married at all. :(

Group vacations can be wonderful, but they are fraught with potential for unfortunate outcomes.
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." Upton Sinclair

Our house is on fire.” Greta Thunberg
Deal Addict
Jan 17, 2009
3089 posts
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Toronto, Ontario
MexiCanuck wrote: A friend of mine has a timeshare at an all-inclusive resort hotel. All-inclusive includes all drinks.

He organized a group of about 20 couples and singles in their mid-30s to early 50s for a week at the resort. They were mostly pretty carefree types and they all enjoyed a few drinks together from time to time.

He was not working at the time and he said that organizing it was a lot of work.

A lot of work.

One of the things he discovered after they got there was that one of the people didn’t just “enjoy a few drinks from time to time”. They were, in fact, a serious alcoholic. Others had known the person for years and knew they liked to drink, but had no idea.

With access to pre-paid alcohol the person was unrestrained and the disorder became very apparent. The person was seriously impaired shortly after arrival. My friend had to arrange a return flight to Canada for the person within a few days of arrival.

I had second hand experience with a work group vacation. (I wasn’t there.)

A couple of the people canoed to a nearby island. People who stayed behind checked in on them using binoculars. At one point they couldn’t see the woman and couldn’t figure why the guy was doing push-ups on the beach. It turned out they weren’t push-ups and that she was under him. They were not married to each other and soon, neither of them were married at all. :(

Group vacations can be wonderful, but they are fraught with potential for unfortunate outcomes.
Yep... anyone suggesting it's easy has obviously never done it before lol. I've planned a bunch of trips for my circle of friends... For up to 4 people its not that bad, but anything more than 5 becomes stressful. My friend organized a group trip for about 20 of us to go to South America together and to be frank it was a nightmare and caused a lot of arguments in our circle (who have known each other since childhood - we are very very close friends). Additionally some people are way more frugal than others, so $1000 to some people is a lot more money than $1000 to others, so by collecting the money everyone has different expectations of what they should get out of it.

I used to be a full time event planner organizing consumer events for 10,000+ attendees, and having to coordinate travel/accommodation for our performers and it was a huuuuge PITA. Especially when ego's and budgets get thrown in the mix.
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Nov 6, 2010
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EastGTARedFlagger wrote: This is ridiculous... even if your entire group is vaccinated you might still be prevented from travelling for years...

https://globalnews.ca/news/7525384/coro ... ns-canada/

So we'll be prisoners in our own country forever? We just became North Korea.
You realize this isn't Canada's decision but likely other countries'? Canada can't physically stop you from going anywhere, just that other countries can deny you entry if you're not vaccinated (or they deem their population isn't vaccinated enough for tourism to resume).

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