Saturday, August 22, 2020

The Battle Between Choosing A Cruise VS All Inclusive Resort

Those potential customers, friends and foes alike - every person that travels or dreams of traveling - at one point or another, is faced with the following question -

Do I want to take a Cruise or go to an All Inclusive Resort? 

Heck, some don't even think of either! Or, something totally different.

There really is NO wrong answer here. It is all about preference and being informed on what each is defined as, what's included or not included, and how each works. It is also about knowing who you are. Knowing yourself and your travel companions, above all. And then comes the decision-maker part of you. A Travel Advisor cannot help you make your decision but they can present what they know and offer the best matches based on what they know. I will always try to foster a close relationship with my customers so that I can provide them with the very best advice and support!

Oh yeah and don't forget the all too common question of - What does each option (or any option for that matter) cost per person?  Either way you go, there will inevitably be a cost for the trip of some kind. However each option varies and this will be discussed in this article.

People are thinking in terms of - Is travel within my budget? 

Some want to know how to get the best bang for their buck. So I ask this, why are you NOT using a Travel Advisor ? Ok so onto the rest of the article...

It's not uncommon for folks to wonder what they can and cannot afford when they wish to travel somewhere. People often misalign themselves into thinking they cannot afford to travel anywhere! Yet they are out buying alcohol, smoking cigarettes, going out to eat every other night, buying things they really do not need (and some things they find out they never should have bought in the first place).  Yet, they WANT to travel. Travel will happen if it's something you really want.

Some folks whom have never traveled, they're either really curious or the idea of traveling is daunting, or now with Covid times hitting, they are scared to travel. Some are just plain homebodies and don't give a hoot!  They absolutely abhor getting on a plane in the wee morning hours just to get to a place as early as possible in order to make the most of their vacation. They hate getting home late so they can stay as late as possible extending their vacation just a little bit longer. And depending upon where they are flying to those flight times can vary. Sometimes, I find the whole 'let's put the whole travel bit out of our minds" business a comical ignorance only because folks can limit themselves. They are misinformed all about travel and do not care to learn otherwise. They do not care to learn of the possibilities and know they can have things their way (within reason). Maybe that is just the Travel Consultant part of my thinking. For, I love to travel and cannot see myself doing anything different in my lifetime. Instead of drinking, buying drugs or cigarettes, travel IS my vice of choice. My habit.  So, I'll try not to judge too harshly if you are one of the above types of people. It's totally OK.  If you are reading this article then you ARE curious and thinking about it regardless of any vices you may have. You want to become informed and educated. You want an experienced individual to tell you all about it. You're in the right place. So, I applaud you!!

People aren't taking advantage of the possibilities that ANY TYPE OF TRAVEL IS POSSIBLE. Especially right now with COVID-times. I'm sorry but it IS possible. Even right now. And you can afford to travel if it is on your bucket list.  While no, you may not ever be able to afford Maldives flying from Maine to Male for example (unless it's the one and done trip of a lifetime...and you are willing to make major sacrifices or you have an unlimited income). You get the idea. For all intents and purposes you CAN afford to travel SOMEWHERE.

After my recent trip to Mexico I had someone look at me very oddly and ask - Do you have a death wish? No, I do not.  I would not be traveling if I did not know the risks and what I was doing.  😊

All Inclusive Resorts and Cruises are THE MOST affordable trips you can take.

Onto explaining what each option is...

So what is a Cruise?

Some of you may be under the impression that a Cruise is similar to getting into a jetty (a small boat) with the waves crashing everywhere and you're about to die from either falling overboard, sinking or throwing up. Take your pick. I know... None of it is pretty, right?  Well, this is just not the case!  Yeah some of you may have sea-sickness issues and that could be a valid type of objection but STOP before you close this page or totally write cruising off your list for life!  If you haven't tried it, don't knock it.

Stay tuned and I'll get to the whole sea-sickness bit in a moment and ideas on how to deal with it successfully....

Cruise - Safety Considerations

Some of you may be thinking cruises are simply not safe. First off, nothing could be further from the truth. But I get how you're on a ship with 1000's of other people, "stuck" in the middle of the ocean. You're not close to a hospital or you may even be located at the port of another country and get sick. A lot can happen right? It can happen anywhere!! So let me ask you this: Is driving every day to work, safe? Is getting on a roof to shingle, safe? Is riding your bike at the end of a tarred road without a helmet, safe? Is playing pond-hockey without a helmet and full body pads - safe? Is crossing a busy street, safe? Come on people, every day we risk our lives to some degree for one reason or another.  When we cook, when we walk in the bathroom (think slippery floors we didn't know were slippery..), grilling on the back deck - what have you. Whether for pure enjoyment or requirement, we will face inherent risks. We could die at any moment sitting in our chair from a heart attack. By the way, and not to change the subject, but have you ever seen that show "A 1000 ways to die"? If you haven't, then you really aren't thinking of the possibilities that life is just one big plain risk no matter what you do.  Every. Single. Day. I could be sitting in my chair typing this article to you and in a few minutes, my computer could blow up (for absolutely no reason) while I'm typing. Bang, no more hands. Burns everywhere. Maybe even death. Buh-Bye! 

So let's stop with the dramatics Ok? You get the idea. Using cruise safety as a decision-maker for or against is not a fair objection. Unless you are interested in health protocols the ships are taking onboard before and after each sailing then you have a valid consideration. Or which cruise line or ship to sail on. Then I get it. This information is readily available at this link. Be sure to check out the Green Sheet reports located at the right of the page. Hopefully this should ease your fear of cruising as a general possibility. And if you still aren't sold, then you have a different objection. Email me at and we'll talk through it! Hopefully you aren't the type of person who makes constant excuses for anything and everything and if you are, then you probably should not even be reading this article since traveling will most likely be an "out" for you anyway!

Cruising - Pros and Cons

I can name a million things that may be going through your mind right now but let's try to focus on the Positives and Negatives that I know about from my own experiences with Cruises and Cruising. Also a little bit from my training as well.

Yes, you will get on a ship (do not call it a boat!)  with other people.  (think size isn't important? think again). Yes, you will sail from one port to the next (if that is indeed the purpose of your intended cruise). So you will see more than one country and have limited time in each that is not a week long vendetta. No, you will not have to stick to a regular regimented schedule once you are onboard. You can pretty much do as you please as long as it's legal (to the country of origin). Yes, there are cruises the kids AND the parents can enjoy. Yes, there are Kids Clubs so parents can have a night or day to themselves basking quietly in a hot tub of the adults only section. All included and at a fee. Yes, there are TONS of entertainment options on most ships. And they vary!  Yes, singles can cruise on a ship and meet other like-minded singles. Some at a singles supplement some not. I suggest you find a group singles cruise or let's create one together shall we? Yes, there are accommodating cabins for those with a disability. No, cabins do not have to be too small or no tub, or not enough beds. No, you do not have to get sea-sick.

Phew! A lot of questions and answers here, right? Basically for every person there is a reason, season and cost when it comes to traveling and cruising has no less wear and tear on the issue.

Now that I've highlighted and answered a few of the questions that may have come to your mind, let's move on to specifics.

Cruises and Sea Sickness

I have been asked about people who get sea-sick easily and if cruising is a consideration for them. All I can say is... it is entirely up to you! What I can say is this. With a Travel Advisor such as myself I would do everything I can to make sure you are as comfortable as possible while on board. It IS possible to encounter a perfectly seasickness-free cruise with a little planning and a very small amount of luck! 

One Hint: All cruise ships are built with stabilizers. Those stabilizers vary by the ship size. And their purpose is to stabilize the ship against the waves and motion. That up and down motion, that side to side or forward and backward motion you'd feel without stabilizers - that lends a hand to the the realm of seasickness or no seasickness. Hint Number Two: If you are a severe sea-sick probable individual and items such as seasickness bands, dramamine or other OTC brands of medication do not help you, consult your physician. There ARE medical interventions out there that can allow you to enjoy a cruise. If you haven't tried them all, do not knock it. I know from first hand experience that it's just not a valid lying objection for anybody. At the tender age of 13 I was on a small boat (not a ship) fishing in the middle of the ocean. The waves were rocking us horribly. I was vomiting my brains out off the side of the boat! After that experience, I thought I'd never go out on the water again in any form of vessel. I was wrong and here I am an avid cruiser and fisherman and would take any chance (that I can afford) to  in order to cruise tomorrow! I have been on large ships, medium and small ships, catamarans, small fishing vessels and large fishing vessels. I can attest that no one ship (or a boat) you cruise on will be alike. Hint number three: Where you are positioned is everything.

I have MORE hints for you as a potential customer and would love to talk about them more in depth! No pressure at all and no sales pitch-i-ness. You ultimately make the last call. However I truly hope you will book your cruise through me and allow me to help you plan out all the details with excitement!

Intricacies of Cruise Ships - Compared to All Inclusive Resorts

Ships and All Inclusive Resorts have many similarities and differences. They are both a vacation right?  They can range from small to medium to large. Meaning they will be able to accommodate a certain number of people, a certain amount of and type of shows or entertainment offered at night or during the day, and numbers of restaurants/ bars offered. Sizes also vary by brand not just by ship. The same holds true with all inclusive resorts. To a degree. When thinking of brands think no different than you selecting between the slight specifics of Nike over Basics or a more generalized view between Nike over a Walmart brand sneaker. There are several brands of cruise lines and all inclusive resorts to fit all different types of tastes, requirements, personalities and budgets. The list goes on. So if you really want to know why I do what I do, here it is. Prime example! I can match you to the right cruise or all inclusive resort. I CAN offer you a more enjoyable experience. I CAN give you the details on a specific cruise or all inclusive - not just what you read on the internet.  The internet has a lot and I mean a lot of misinformation everywhere. Photos can be dressed up and be nothing like the actual resort. Which is why we have Travel Advisors like myself who have either been there or know another travel advisor in the network whom has. Travel Advisors in general are held to a certain moral ethic, especially if they are certified.

One thing between a cruise and all inclusive resort that's separate: Time. I know this may seem like a really odd word to use. Keep reading...

 Yes, there are OPTIONS. Many, many options. And we can get down to every nook and cranny if you wanted to. But I won't do that here. So when we talk and I ask you questions about yourself, hopefully you will oblige in answering them and we can have a great conversation that leads you to make a well informed decision! 

You might be the type to shop only the Deals and not care about the specifics. If that is you, be in for all kinds of surprises. And if you are in for surprises and don't mind them, good for you but please book your cruise or all inclusive travel through me. If not out of courtesy then for our economy and keeping all small businesses running! 

I really hate to say this but it's true - if you are a first time cruiser or traveler DO NOT leave your first experience cruising or all inclusive stay up for surprises. Hire someone who knows! Because those same surprises can turn you off to the whole idea of cruising or tripping after your first try. Picking the wrong cruise or all inclusive resort can also set a presidence to all other cruises and all inclusives chosen in the future as well. It's kind of like once you purchase Nike you're never willing to look back and consider to purchase anything else. For most people, they dislike change.

This is why I do what I do as a Travel Consultant. I am like the matchmaker of the cruise and all inclusive "dating" scene! My goal is to be the best at what I can do, for you.

What is included? 

What's included on a cruise will vary from cruise to cruise/brand to brand (most likely). Same for an all inclusive resorts. For an all inclusive resort, the same holds true - to an extent.  We can expect certain things to be included at an all inclusive resort. We can expect that your flight (most likely if it is priced with such), you food, entertainment, your room and certain liquors to be included. On a cruise, we can expect that your cabin, the cruise itself, your port charges and fees, most of your food, most of the entertainment and basic drinks (non-alcoholic and not soda, or coffee) are included at the very bare minimum. Anything else will come at an extra cost either up front in the cruise, as a pre-cruise purchase or while on board. Take your pick. If you are really saavy about choosing a cruise for yourself and money is not an issue, you can choose a brand that is TRULY all inclusive (again what's not included becomes a much smaller issue). Some all inclusive resorts out there may have a restaurant onsite that is at an extra supplemental fee as well. However not nearly as common or perhaps the right word would be to make you aware. Most cruises out there will have your buffet or a few different a la carte restaurants that are automatically included. Then there come what's deemed as "specialty restaurants" and those are not automatically considered as included in the cruise price. The number of included places to eat to the number of at a fee places to eat number may be equal or less. Whilst at an all inclusive resort you may have an upcharge for certain things like Lobster. However, again I know of all inclusive resorts that have lobster included as well! Do you see now how All Inclusive Resort and Cruises can vary and differ even amongst each other? 

Truly, and in a manner of speaking, THIS is why you need a Travel Advisor to help you. To flesh out the very details of what's most important to you and finding the right match! It's not just about booking and being done with it.  The right match is important for a cruise or for an all inclusive or even for a simple hotel night stay (unless of course you truly do not care what you spend and what kind of stay you have so please by all means play russian roulette with your investment and emotions).

What's not included?

What's not included in a cruise are port fees and charges. If you obtain a quote, you want to make sure the quote shows this. If it does not, ask. Just like you want to see that everything is included with an all inclusive vacation most likely! Lead in rates are lead by the term lead in. Get it? The other thing that is never included in a cruise are "the" gratuities. Unless you ask for it to be! 


Now, what are "the" gratuities you may ask and pay close attention to the "the" word here. On every single cruise you can expect to pay a daily required gratuity. The gratuity is simply not negotiable in most cases. You cannot go on board and decide how much to tip your steward based on that required gratuity. They will charge it to you regardless. Either at your choice of before, during or after your cruise. Sure, you can provide an additional tip to everyone you meet on a cruise if you want to but it does not replace the up front or on board required gratuity cost expected of most every cruise line. There are very few brands that will have all tips included. Remember when I said cruises and all inclusives can vary even amongst themselves? Well, the idea of gratuities can be similar to All inclusive resorts in a way but not every way. You can expect to pay gratuities (tips) individually at an all inclusive resort upon your own accord and the amount you tip is up to you if you so wish. There is no required gratuity rule. Perhaps an expected gratuity rule at some resorts. Be informed.  That term "if you so wish" is not part of the deal with cruises! For some All inclusive resorts, tipping can actually be discouraged (except your transfers). and can also be reasons that an employee gets fired! So while on vacation always factor in your tips, become knowledgeable about tips, how you wish to tip, and for what!  Maybe you have a preference and you'd like to tell me right up front " I want something where I don't have to worry about tips at all". Simple right?  Sure is! Just be prepared to pay whatever it will be in the difference of the trip itself. It's pretty simple to those people who book themselves on line to try and save $5. What they don't realize is... they're going to pay it anyway on the back end somewhere. 

I have customers who ask me "what should I tip?" , "Who should I tip?", etc. While I can give you hints, and give you the requirements if any exist, I cannot make your ultimate decisions for you. If you have a requirement to share with me it is my job to do my best to meet that requirement, want and need.


Alcohol is usually a sticking point when deciding between an all inclusive vacation vs. a cruise. I'll make it really simple in this section and tell you that on a cruise your endless intake of Alcohol is not included. At an all inclusive resort you are guaranteed an endless intake of Alcohol for the price. And again like I mentioned earlier it is possible to find that one cruise type that includes it with an additional fee tacked on through pre-cruise purchases. Just be aware of the types of alcohol that is included at either a cruise or all inclusive or even the variety of brands/types of stays. If you are the Dom Perignon or Bud-light every-night-of -the-week drinker please be up front about your requirement. I really do not want to see you disappointed. One other thing I can tell you is that no matter which you choose, alcohol selection and availability will vary. May it be by location, cruise or all inclusive type, brand, drill down, you get the idea.  So if you have preferences about alcohol here's your chance to consider it.

Options with Either

Another thing that truly amazes me about cruises and all inclusive resorts are things that no one really looks at. Not usually until they have experienced a few different cruises or all inclusive resorts they begin to catch on. The choice for their next vacation becomes a whirlwind of options and choices. Again, so why are you not using and booking with a travel advisor? 

Which place you choose is not always as important as the What you choose. I have seen cruises and all inclusive resorts both offer incredibly detailed and not so detailed butler services or pool side or beach side drink service. I have seen all inclusive resorts that offer private room service entry. Some that offer burgers and hotdogs while others that offer caviar and some that offer a mix. I have seen cruise brands that offer one style of layout for all their ships in general and rarely mix it up regardless of size in ship. I mean if you care about going through a casino to get to your restaurant that might matter to you.  I've seen all inclusive resorts with the most up to date electronics in the rooms that would make your head think of the jettisons. Say, what?! Blinds that go up and down over a window overlooking the ocean and beach next to your private oversized jetted tub. One panel that controls the degree of temperature AND the lights and you have no idea how they work much less they even existed. All inclusive resorts that have walk around service offering afternoon treats from skewered fruits to foie gras and pate to satisfy you from putting on those clothes while you bask from a beach chair. Cruises that have cushioned pool chairs to plush your bum and sooth your back vs. pool chairs that will make you go "ow". The list goes on.

One thing is certain: Time. How much time do you want to spend at your intended location? For How long? How many locations do wish to visit? What locations do you wish to visit. 

No matter what you decide to do you will need to spend time weighing it all out.  No one ever said taking a vacation was easy. Let me help you with the heavy lifting!! 

Now whether you choose between an all inclusive resort or a cruise, there is a particular kind for you in every category. 


Sunday, August 9, 2020

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly : Vacation Timeshares

 Have you ever been asked to attend a small meeting in exchange for something FREE? 

I think we can honestly say that most anyone that has traveled anywhere has, at some point, been offered something FREE in exchange for attending a "small" talk. 

We may have been at an all inclusive resort relaxing and enjoying our vacation and BOOM! We are pestered about attending one mercilessly until we do. Not all all-inclusive resorts allow this and many don't today and sometimes you'll see them marketed anywhere you go. Even in the comfort of your home via telemarketers. Phone calls, emails, fliers, or simply being approached anywhere in public, etc. 

You get the idea...

I think those with experience in attending those "small talks", know what those small talks are....a sales pitch to a timeshare. Some of us are smart to avoid them as many see them as time wasters (time taken away from lounging at a pristine pool while on vacation) and some just don't like being pressured into buying something.

Some of us new to the subject are taken in without doing their own due diligence. They go to the "small talk", get sucked in and BAM(!), they are now owners of a beautiful timeshare. Man, those salesmen are good!

Ok, so let's put the bias aside for a moment and talk about them. 

During those timeshare discussions, we are driven hard to make the purchase and "put up wet" in a fleeting instance. You may or may not actually walk out of the room with your intended objective to own a FREE item.

As attending those small talks,  I've been there and from all my experience with them and those I know that have been involved with them or even purchased one, I think it's worth a moment to share my unbiased (I'll try) observations and knowledge to the GP. Many might disagree with me and be totally happy "owning" one. But let's take a moment shall we?

What is a Timeshare?

Let's explain what a timeshare is. A little history if you will (and for those that do not like history, I'll try to keep it brief).

Timeshares came out in the early 60's in the United Kingdom as potential Vacation Options . In the US it came to be in the 70's.  It is vacation home sharing. You may be offered a term license for a certain number of years by a company owning the accommodations rather than an actual ownership in real estate. True story. However it might not be sold to you as such.  The property "owner" (the buyer of the timeshare ie. You) could alternate your selected vacation weeks. It required trust and in effect, still does. Term licenses are now timeshare contracts. And this is where owning a timeshare can get a bit sticky and often confusing for many. 

Years ago, at the promise of a free spa experience at an all inclusive resort, even I experienced confusion about a timeshare. I was (almost) sucked into buying one. Almost. Thankfully as with any impulse purchase I was inclined to wait, go home and think about it. For many the offer or "deal" might be on the table for a very short time.

Timeshare Contracts

Back in the day, timeshare contracts were pretty simple and straight forward. The company actually owning the timeshare promised to maintain the property and offer a certain type of accommodation for a certain number of years.  The one buying into the contract and timeshare (You) may be frozen and charged maintenance fees and other fees on top of the cost for the timeshare for the length of the term (say for example, 25 years). Read the fine print! You really didn't "own" anything except you had a right to visit a said property at a certain time selected and for a certain amount of time. That's it. In that respect not much has changed with regard to timeshares. Contracts however have become more confusing today than ever. 

The original plan for selling (and buying) a timeshare (or even points to have a partial stake in one) was to offer vacationing options to those that enjoyed vacationing often as a way to save money. And I mean we ALL want to save money when going on vacation or purchasing damn near anything today. Who doesn't? Hey, that extra dollar might actually pay for that soda at the store we want later!  Ok, back to it. While hotels and fees expanded over a period of years,  timeshares were said to stay the same over a record number of years for the term of the contract (Some today are indefinite so be careful). Over time contracts have changed and law makers have gotten involved. 

Timeshare Resales.

Timeshares have also scammed people with regard to timeshare resales. In retrospect and like I mentioned you aren't technically owning real estate as if you owned a house. You are owning "a right" and in some cases like I mentioned "points". Sure, you can try to resell your timeshare (If and when the contract allows) but re-selling can be damn near impossible and tricky. Real estate folks might tell you they can help you. Again, you are at the mercy of added expenses. The idea of "investing" in a timeshare for the purchaser is most likely lost over time due to the all the fees and costs that go along with "owning" a timeshare. Notice how I write in quotes - believe me when I say I'm being sarcastic but with an element of honesty worthy of attention. 

If you are seriously considering owning a timeshare, make sure you do your due diligence and read (not just read, but understand) the contract. Make sure you have your lawyer read the contract.  Make sure you do your research on the company or even the real person selling the timeshare. Be careful.

Are Timeshares and Stocks alike?

Some like to compare a timeshare with owning stock.

 You are buying the use of a unit, paying an up front cost, along with maintenance and other fees (keep in mind the sellers have to consider and somehow pass off the costs from the many incentives and giveaways to entice those to join in on these "small meetings" ), choosing your slot in the year to visit the unit and when you are not using the timeshare, others with similar interests are. In some cases your contract may include "points" in order to further entice you into the purchase.  With regard to stocks, you are purchasing a number of stocks to have stake in the company - an ability to make a decision about what a company does (however small depending upon how many shares you decide to own) through a decision vote. It rarely means a whole lot if you are poor like me or not buying many shares, yet you'll look to make a return on the purchase later at some point. The stock price might rise and fall over time. And if you are not careful in choosing selected stock (company) a company could actually go out of business. There, you've lost your "investment" with regard to any resale of the stock you purchased. If you are really lucky, through the years of owning the stock (a piece of paper), you may make money in the resale of the stock. They're both Risks and even a little bit like playing poker.

If you do attend such a "small talk" keep reminding the sales guy "whats the purpose of "owning" the timeshare again?" Sorry, my sarcasm is getting away with me... and I hope you'll forgive me. It isn't toward you. It's toward the little guy whose trying to sell the timeshare. Nothing is straight forward. If you don't like car salesmen you probably won't like timeshare salesman that much either.

Who benefits and the Drawbacks?

No doubt, the people selling the timeshare are to benefit a lot. They sell timeshares to make money. A lot Some sell timeshares to be free again or to get out of paying those pesky increasing maintenance fees  Yet if you think you're an entrepreneur and wish to own a slice of that pie by buying a building to create a timeshare think again. Complexities abound!

As for you, the buyer of a timeshare (not the building), you are stuck to the contract. And I hope you have the money to keep such a contract in check. If you are a solid vacationer and don't mind going back to the same place (this could get boring people...) again and again and again, you may actually like a timeshare. If you are the adventurous type, avoid it like the plague. You will not be happy. Maybe at first the excitement will overwhelm you but later on you'd regret the purchase.

With regards to timeshares, there is a HUGE resale market. Meaning there are many people out there trying to resell their timeshares. There are far more people selling a timeshare than buying one.  If that doesn't give you pause to reconsider, consider wisely. As a buyer you can sometimes pick up units for less than what the other  individual(s) paid for the use of the unit. (wow, why not do that right? No. Just No. It's still not an investment. ) Wait. How old is that unit again....? You do not know WHO you are buying the use of the unit from. Are they an entrepreneur or are they like you, just a simple buyer who later (will) feel(s) they got duped into purchasing something they now don't want or just want to be released from the contract and maintenance fees?

Like owning a car, the moment you drive it off the lot, it has depreciated.  It is extremely rare that a timeshare will increase in value.  And folks, was buying into that timeshare worth what you gained of that FREE item for attending "the small talk"?  I highly doubt it.

While you are paying monthly or yearly maintenance fees, those fees will most likely increase over time. For the amount you paid in maintenance fees, you could go to a hotel or resort you've never gone to before (what an adventure!) and pay the same or less. 

Let's look at the overall difference.... I buy one timeshare with a contract of  $10,000 one time fee for over the course of 25 years. I pay maintenance and other fees at $800 a year over the course of the 25 years = $20,000. If the maintenance fees rise year to year that amount will be more. But for sake of the conversation let's keep going. That right there has you at $35000 over the course of 25 years. And we don't know what other fees are or are not included now or later on down the road. You may end up be paying for your food, rental car, flight in addition to all that. Let's take the value of $400 per day additional for a 2 person family (I may not be exact in the figures depending upon your level of lifestyle) on a 7 night "visit" (please do not call it a vacation ...yet). That breaks down to $70,000 over the course of 25 years. (Don't forget you may be doing the cooking only if you are smart...) - The total you are up to now is $105,000 over the course of 25 years which breaks down to $4200 a year. Let's not forget the many flights you will have to purchase over that time either. That is only if you go for a 7 night stay each year (and not two or three weeks which we can add more for those additional costs).  If I don't go,or can't as scheduled, the $4200 + flights per year is lost. And your vacation increases next year to the same place you've visited (many times - bored yet?) before. 

Now to compare... 

If you go to several different inclusive resorts in several different locations over the course of 25 years (all meals, drinks, entertainment, flights included - great, unlike these timeshares where you have added expenses of those items) your average expenditures would or might be around $1500 per person for a decent 7 night stay once per year. That's a total of $3000 over the course of 25 years = $75,000. Break that down per year and you're still paying $3000 per year (no added expenditures). If you don't go one year, your money is not lost as you didn't already spend it.

$2800 (optional) per year vs $4200 (required) per year. You do the math. At $2800 per year you also get the use of a travel agent (I am not trying to be biased here just honest) to help you. With a timeshare, any help you got, you got here on this page or from your own research.

If my math is off, please correct me but I guarantee you going on vacation to an all inclusive resort or cruise is a much better and convenient option.

To get out of a timeshare can also cost you anywhere from $4000 to $12000 or more and can take years to do. Not paying a timeshare comes at additional costs, hurting your credit score and more!

If you are truly interested in a timeshare, please consider actual ownership of a property (real estate) instead:  be it a second home, a camp, a camper on a lot, what have you. Just not a timeshare.  And in this article we can't go into an RCI timeshare which is another whole ball of wax, but no less grueling and complex to consider. If you already think a regular timeshare can be a scam, just wait.... and if you don't think a timeshare is a scam, keep doing your due diligence. 

On to more considerations...

When you own a timeshare you are not free to do as you please with the unit while visiting. With an all inclusive I digress it may be the same consideration BUT you do have the choice of the all inclusive you pick (right?) While you may have privacy of the unit while you are "visiting" you will be sharing it with god knows how many other people in a year. And you don't know those people either. Do you have the right to paint the walls a different color, add new furniture, rebuild that balcony, deck, patio? 

You aren't able to rent out the timeshare when you are not taking advantage of it (visiting it).  You will not and I repeat not generate income from that small stake in the use (sellers like to call it "ownership") of a timeshare. You may or may not get the enjoyment of it, for a while, but little to nothing else.

Owning a timeshare seems to market to the young and inexperienced or the older market. The ones somewhere in the middle are most likely to handle their due diligence to consider and run the other way. And I'm not saying everyone will get sucked in. Some will and some do. I'm just pointing out what I know.

 So I hope this article does someone the common decency of considering more than what you've read or heard before. 

I do hope it has helped. I may be a Travel Advisor that plans & sells vacations (and not timeshares) and I can't help you on selecting a timeshare (I'm a travel advisor not a seller of timeshares) BUT I am as honest as they come when I help someone. I work for you. I am not just here to sell. Sure, I make commissions on curating vacations and that's my method of living and while I may seem biased on timeshares in some parts of this article, please know that it couldn't be further from any bias. Awareness is so important.

Thank you for reading and as always I am here if you have questions. Please post any questions you might have below or indeed connect with me by Emailing Me


Thursday, August 6, 2020

Can We Drink Dom Perignon? Separating Fact From Fiction

What is All Inclusive?

What do we think of when we hear the words "All Inclusive" now add the word.... Resort.....Soooo?

A Little Story...

When I visited my first ever all inclusive resort in the Caribbean it was for my honeymoon. Eons ago. We are talking merely out of College, which to me was nearly 30 years ago. Times were different then. 

Being the type of person that I am, (Class A personality here...) I researched by visiting my local travel agency. Back then, unlike you have it, we didn't have the great WWW to do any research ourselves on anything at all past telnet-ting stuff. If we had a friend or a friend of a friend that had "Been there or Done that before" we might be able to gain some insight but it still could have been biased insight too. For not every person is the same or has the same wants and needs. That's just the way it was and to some degree still is comparable.. 

So I would walk in the travel agency and get brochures and fliers in order to conduct my research, review available prices and sales. I'd take the eye-catching brochures home, pour through them and admire all the glorious beach photos, beautiful sunsets, stunning room ideas and read about what was "included".  Admirably so, I was SOLD and knew I wanted to visit one for our honeymoon and my future husband to be was also excited.

Not a lot was explained in what was "not included" however.  Back then I didn't realize that not all all-inclusives were the same. I didn't realize that there were different price points and WHY. Just a lot I didn't know being a very new "all inclusive resort traveler". I had just traveled a lot for business and educational purposes prior to this and of course wide-range domestically. Yeah, yeah everyone wants to focus on the positive right? They aren't interested in telling you straight up, unbiased, simply in a brochure. They aren't going to scream at you out loud in their brochures saying "Bud Lite Beer is not served here". Go figure. You think you just assume. We didn't know this then! And heck you may not know this now....

After settling on some photos / brochures I liked, I went back to the travel agency and sat down with my travel agent to talk. Just talk. I was not opening my wallet just yet. It wasn't because of the travel agent itself as it was I still felt I had no idea what I was doing and I wanted a professionals opinion. I was having a terrible time making up my mind. My travel agent was very open with me, honest, and kind about the world of all inclusives. Plus, she had some great tips about the countries I was interested in (back then I didn't know which country I wanted or why I just knew I was sold on the idea of an all inclusive). After talking a bit about what I desired to see and do, what I envisioned my honeymoon to be like, she originally suggested Costa Rica. Heck what I did not know until very much later (like as a travel agent) there are not that many all inclusive resorts in Costa Rica and there still aren't today!  She was basing this much upon my desires and explanations (I would not learn this until much later becoming a travel advisor myself that not only does picking an all inclusive or not matter but the country we wish to visit!). The woman simply knew more than I did. The whole idea of just selecting a country blew my mind right out of the water. I just wanted to select an all inclusive and be done with it. I'll just leave it at that for now. 

What really shocked me was she did not use a brochure to explain why she picked that country. Instead, against her advice, we ended up settling on Sandals Royal Caribbean resort in Jamaica simply because we liked the photos of the resort! She agreed it was also a good choice (having been there herself and knowing of other travel agents who had been too). The brochures did the job and SOLD me on the resort IMMEDIATELY.  I didn't care about the rest. Not the country, not the little details. It never crossed my mind that there were "little details". Brochures had and still have the power to do such things as control your mind so gloriously. If it did not, it would not be advertising!! 

After the honeymoon, and although we had a fabulous time, we really wondered if we had gotten our money's worth. Are all all-inclusive resorts the same? What did we miss out on? Was that the absolutely BEST out there? Did our choice exceed our expectations? 

We spent approximately $6000 on our honeymoon. And although we enjoyed what we got (not then knowing any better) the curious inside of me just wondered - Did my Travel Agent know something I did not know? The amount we spent just hung in my mind and it was a quarter of what we spent on the wedding itself. I knew I wanted us to have a FABULOUS wedding and honeymoon. That's all I knew at the time. And who doesn't?! 

I was hooked from then on concerning all-inclusive resorts. Who can deny the beauty of an ocean front sunset as you open your double balcony doors?  Listen to the surf from afar and the palm trees gently swaying just beyond our reach. I'm telling you, it's the little things we couldn't deny...

Changes but No Changes....

Today, we have the internet, still those same gorgeous photos beckoning us and we can look without ever getting in our cars, driving into town and walking into a travel agency for a brochure.  One thing is the same though. From all inclusive to all inclusive, one thing remains constant. What's included and what isn't is a question in our minds. It can be what does or does not exceed our expectations. Not all all inclusives are the same. Not all all inclusives are "all included" either. What's "all included" is a mindset for us really and is so different than the words "all inclusive". We have our ultimate expectation. The definition of all inclusion varies. All you know when you start out is.... your meals, drinks, your entertainment, your room are all included for one set price. It's all paid up front for your convenience.  And sometimes those all inclusive packages will include flights too. This is true.

We aren't looking at the miniscule here. We are looking at the base, the overall general idea of what an all inclusive resort is SUPPOSED to be.  I think it's worth it to understand the miniscule when it comes to money and value for your money. For, as I would learn later, many, many all inclusive resort visits later, it's IMPORTANT in matching what we think of as "just an ok vacation" to "wow I couldn't have picked a better vacation". Get the gist?  Only a travel advisor will know unless you too have been to many of them yourself. It's far more important than you could ever know when it comes to getting the very best and making you the very happiest possible during your time away.  It is no different than what it should be - like buying a car or a house in a way. (maybe a lot less daunting and just more fun). 

Our vacation is an investment. An investment for memories, love, family, our own sanity and I'm sure a whole lot more than what I'm thinking of right this moment. You get the idea, right?

What we now know....

As a travel advisor myself now I can appreciate that each experience I have had at each all inclusive resort or brand of all inclusive resorts I have ever visited has been different. I walked away from each with something and memories that I will forever cherish. There have been resorts that have totally just made me go WOW and there have been resorts that have made me wonder why they are even still an all inclusive resort. Like -- really?! With each visit I observe "the right fit" clientele. I observe "the offerings" and take an in depth look at the reality. However, those visits I have made I have experienced. Not just visited.  It is I think what has made me an expert to all inclusive resorts in my field. (and so much more). I "get" now why I should have listened to a travel advisor eons ago. While my gut instinct MAY have been real and something to follow, having an open mind to the inclinations of my travel advisor could have opened a whole new world to me and explained "what I did not already know". 

You've just gotta open the door and explain "what's your top priority" in a resort. And what's your "don't want" in a resort. You can't hold anything....back!

Even today many all inclusive resort visits later to different resorts, I am mildly surprised to learn I don't know everything there is to know still.  I, like all other travel advisors, are still learning. We learn even from you. Yet we have each other in an unbiased view of the world that you can't find on the internet, and certainly not in any magazine or brochure. Painted images just don't do an all inclusive resort enough justice sometimes and sometimes they do far more than the reality! One of the fantastic reasons why we can justify having a travel agent in our back pocket. (and yet, for so many other reasons not explained here).

Getting down to details...

We want to pay careful and close attention to words like "premium" - premium liquors, "Luxury" - luxury all inclusive resort, "ocean view" - ocean view room, "ocean front" - ocean front room" , "fine dining" - restaurants and more. Even just the word "all inclusive luxury resort" can be equal to buying a lamborghini or simply buying a Lexus. It can be equal to buying either a Ford or a Chevrolet as well.Then once we choose we have to consider the base model, and upgraded models and then add ons. All inclusive resorts? Not a lot different!  There's an all inclusive for nearly every budget over a certain expected amount. Your travel agent can tell you the minimum you can expect to pay for any type of all inclusive resort but that doesn't necessarily mean if you pay for said resort, you will come home happy! 

There are reasons for these words and yet sometimes they can be all fluff!

Great Questions to ask yourself....

What kind of All Inclusive do you dream of visiting? 

How much do you have to spend? Is even going to any kind of all inclusive a possibility?

What kinds of restaurants do you like eating at? What kinds of hotels do you enjoy staying in when visiting anywhere else?

See, so many questions we might ask you but there's a reason. I CARE about where you go. I CARE if you have a good time and if your expectations are exceeding or merely met.  What I can offer you no different than you can offer yourself is your opinion when you return too. We all have a different opinion about something too.

Don't trust your vacation to your own devices and research. You may still not get the clear picture....

So what do you think classifies an all inclusive? Tell us the all inclusives you've visited and WHY or WHY YOU DID NOT have a good time? It's all relevant and all important.