Friday, September 12, 2008

We LUV All-Inclusives this much...... be up at 5AM this morning after a few hours of sleep in order to re-book our vacation thanks to Hurricane Ike. Now, I am not going to complain or moan poor me in this post at all. There are people dead, dying, homeless in the Caribbean...and more unfortunately probably still to come as Hurricane Ike heads for the Texas and Mexico coastline.

We booked 8 nights at Beaches Turks and Caicos nearly a year ago. They always offer these awesome deals at the end of a calendar year for bookings done in the next year. And it only takes a few hundred dollar deposit to secure your reservation. This is our 2nd trip to a Beaches. The first was to Ochos Rios, Jamaica named Boscobel. This is our third with this entity as we honeymooned at Sandals Negril. And we have done a 4th via Couples Swept Away with 3 other couples as a 5yr anniversary/reunion. So yes, we love it and we keep coming back for more.

All-inclusives are not cheap...and they certainly are not for everyone. After getting married just after graduating college we wanted a honeymoon, but didn't want to be skipping breakfast to ensure we could afford dinner. As we started our family we again wanted this thought-less process...except with the munchkins in mind. I hate to see food wasted as much as the next person, but let's be many toddlers and preschoolers have eyes bigger than their stomachs? Or there are days our son loves a banana and a piece of toast for breakfast and what restaurant menu let's you do that? And in my selfish mind...if I am going to one of the best dive destinations in the world I want to be able to go....A LOT. And where else will my daughter have dance lessons with Sesame Street's Zoe and bake cookies with Cookie Monster.

So by the time you start adding all these things up...and then throw in childcare from 8AM-8PM for as long, short, or as many drop-ins as you want that $500-$700 a day doesn't seem to bad. Diving alone for my husband and I would easily cover a couple hundred of that each day. Then toss in premium drinks, snacks, numerous restaurants, activities...and NO TIPPING. Well, it is the reason we budget in a all inclusive vacation every 2-3 years. All our money is paid upfront and the only bit we bring along is for souvenirs and any incidentals getting to our destination. This is definitely something to consider if you are looking for an active vacation with diving, snorkeling, other water sports, good on-land amentities like gyms, classes, well as care for little ones. If you and your family just want to veg on the sand it may be more economical to do that elsewhere.

So back to the original....Turks and Caicos was hit by Ike as a Cat4 last week. We had heard that "Provo" was the least damaged, so we waited and waited and read all the forums and thought we were in the clear for our vaca scheduled in November. But last night we received an email they would be closed and we needed to rebook. And We LUV All-inclusives so much we had to rebook ourselves, 3 of the 4 grandparents, and some family friends who we have all sold on the idea and were joining us.

Here's some tips on re-booking. Be prepared and know your options. Pull your current flight, confirmation numbers, costs, etc...and have some flights for potential rebooking pulled. Ask the airlines if there is a policy in place to wave change fees due to the catastrophe. Our airline when all is said and done will have waived...$1800 in change fees and another $300 in crediting back frequent flyer miles. Some of us had travel insurance...some didn't. So some will recoup their ticket differentials they had to pay. Some of us will eat it. If you are traveling with a group and someone is willing to take responsibility for everyone that is best...this way all travel associates you are dealing with realize they are dealing with numerous bookings and hence lots of customers and revenue. And be first in line...we got the email after Beaches office hours and called and were up and on the phone when they opened at 5AM west coast time.

And my motto in any dealing as this is try to kill them with kindness. Lots of thank yous go a long way. In a situation such as these catastrophe they are dealing with many upset and angry people and if you are the one who is kind and makes that last angry call they got disappear you will be amazed at what it could get you.

We LUV All-Inclusives so much we have our entire entourage rebooked for 1 month later than originally planned and we are going to enjoy and support the economy of Turks and Caicos.

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