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JanieCH 14.07.2015 21:25

Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
Hi folks,

My mom will be celebrating her 60th birthday next year. My three siblings live in Ontario, Saskatchewan and BC so we decided it would be easiest if we celebrated at an all inclusive resort in Central America or the Caribbean. I've been tasked with finding a resort that is easily accessible for us and the others will follow suit (we live near Lausanne).

I've been searching around on the internet for a while and coming up with nothing -- we've only ever travelled independently in Europe so I don't know where to start. Has anyone been to the Caribbean from France or Switzerland? Is it even possible to find a company that will sell the plane tickets and accommodations as a package? My husband and I went to the Dominican once when we still lived in Canada, and the resort was full of Spanish and French people, so I feel like this should be possible.

It would of course be possible for us to book the hotel and plane separately but this would be more expensive and complicated.

Alternatively, one of my sisters suggested we meet at a resort in Portugal or Spain, but since 4/5 families are travelling from Canada I'm afraid this wouldn't make much financial sense. Has anyone has organised this sort of meet up in Europe?

Any and all advice on resorts, travel agents, or any other family-reunification tips (in Central America or Europe) would be most welcome, thanks!

Halseys 14.07.2015 21:42

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
Last year we had a holiday in Jamaica. We flew to Gatwick as there were no direct flights.
Then we also knew we would get an airline with a good reputation. We flew Virgin Atlantic.

daffy99 14.07.2015 21:44

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JanieCH (Post 2419201)
Has anyone been to the Caribbean from France or Switzerland? Is it even possible to find a company that will sell the plane tickets and accommodations as a package?

Uhm. Almost *any* tour company will sell you such a package? Be in Switzerland or in France or ...

http://www.lastminute.ch/ is just one site where you can find packages. You can even book from German sites and travel by train (might pay off).

JanieCH 14.07.2015 21:44

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Halseys (Post 2419216)
Last year we had a holiday in Jamaica. We flew to Gatwick as there were no direct flights.
Then we also knew we would get an airline with a good reputation. We flew Virgin Atlantic.

Thanks! Did you purchase the entire package (hotel + flight) from the same company, or did you buy them separately?

3Wishes 14.07.2015 21:50

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
Getting to the Caribbean from CH isn't super easy or super cheap, but it's not impossible. :) Last year we went to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. We booked flights separate from hotel and we enjoyed our stay at an all-inclusive resort for the first few days. We like to explore, so did not book the entire time at the same place. We flew from Zurich through Atlanta, but I imagine you could do GVA-ZRH or even GVA-LHR. Let me know if you'd like more specifics or if this isn't really what you're looking for. :)

JanieCH 14.07.2015 21:50

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by daffy99 (Post 2419218)
Uhm. Almost *any* tour company will sell you such a package? Be in Switzerland or in France or ...

http://www.lastminute.ch/ is just one site where you can find packages. You can even book from German sites and travel by train (might pay off).

Thanks for the tip. I will specify that we are independent travellers so I've never booked through a tour company, especially not in Europe. If you have a few suggestions I'd be grateful.

Since we're looking to have everything settled (if not booked) way in advance, I'm not sure if lastminute.ch is the right place.

daffy99 14.07.2015 22:04

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JanieCH (Post 2419226)
I've never booked through a tour company, especially not in Europe. If you have a few suggestions I'd be grateful.

Since we're looking to have everything settled (if not booked) way in advance, I'm not sure if lastminute.ch is the right place.

Apparently you never tried to query that site with the date range you are looking for.

Anyway, here is travelling 101:
- see a travel agent
- Use Google with either one of the following terms:

site:ch Voyages en ligne
site:fr Voyages en ligne
site:ch online reisen
site:de online reisen

This may indeed sound somewhat strange, but literally you are asking a question equivalent to "I am at the beach - where is the sea?"

PS: As individual travellers, you are undoubtedly heavy hitters on http://www.kayak.com/ - they have packages, too.

JanieCH 14.07.2015 22:04

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by 3Wishes (Post 2419224)
Getting to the Caribbean from CH isn't super easy or super cheap, but it's not impossible. :) Last year we went to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. We booked flights separate from hotel and we enjoyed our stay at an all-inclusive resort for the first few days. We like to explore, so did not book the entire time at the same place. We flew from Zurich through Atlanta, but I imagine you could do GVA-ZRH or even GVA-LHR. Let me know if you'd like more specifics or if this isn't really what you're looking for. :)

Thanks! This is actually the kind of info I'm looking for, though we're hoping to find a company that sells the flight and hotel as a package. We're also looking for something reasonably priced and family friendly (we currently have six young children between us, but probably at least 7 or 8 by next year). It doesn't sound like that's what you ended up doing, but if you discovered any promising tour companies while you were planning your trip I would be all ears.

3Wishes 14.07.2015 22:11

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JanieCH (Post 2419236)
Thanks! This is actually the kind of info I'm looking for, though we're hoping to find a company that sells the flight and hotel as a package. We're also looking for something reasonably priced and family friendly (we currently have six young children between us, but probably at least 7 or 8 by next year). It doesn't sound like that's what you ended up doing, but if you discovered any promising tour companies while you were planning your trip I would be all ears.

We never use tour companies, so I can't help you with that. In our eyes, we can book the same or better deals for less and we prefer to cut out the middle man. But I can see how organizing a big group is a bit daunting and you might want the help of a tour company. :)

Our all-inclusive had two sides to the resort - one side for families and one for couples. It worked fine for us as a couple, but we saw plenty of happy families as well. I'll send you a PM with some info and you can decide for yourself if it's worth looking into any further. :)

JanieCH 14.07.2015 22:24

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by daffy99 (Post 2419235)
This may indeed sound somewhat strange, but literally you are asking a question equivalent to "I am at the beach - where is the sea?"

I am asking for recommendations on tour companies / websites that offer all inclusive packages to the Caribbean from Switzerland or France. It is standard practice in the internet age to ask for recommendations when looking for products or services that one is unfamiliar with.

Travel sites are a dime a dozen, and searching "voyages en ligne" and clicking the first hit seems a little risky to me. As stated earlier I am an independent traveller and have never used a general travel website to book a costly vacation package. If you have had a good experience with one then please make a recommendation.

JanieCH 14.07.2015 22:32

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by daffy99 (Post 2419235)
PS: As individual travellers, you are undoubtedly heavy hitters on http://www.kayak.com/ - they have packages, too.

Actually no. The only sites I've ever used is Homelidays, which I use to find vacation rentals, and TripAdvisor for reviews. I've occasionally checked Expedia to compare air fares, but more often stick with KLM/Air France for trips to Canada and EasyJet for trips in Europe (both less and less frequently as we are soon to be a family of five).

JanerMacP 14.07.2015 23:47

Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
My husband and I have made frequent trips to the area you're talking about, and I would advise to book your hotel and flights separately and on your own, not via a booking company.

These days you have great websites like booking.com and tripadvisor for great reviews, and booking.com offers free cancellation on almost all of their deals. They also get really good rates and special offers. If you go via a travel company you are going to pay additional fees that just don't make sense anymore because all of this info is at your fingertips. Plus you will struggle to find someone who will book here for your family in Canada.

If you're looking for suggestions, Costa Rica is amazing. We flew to Zurich - Newark - San Jose one Christmas and it was super easy and really cheap...tickets to NYC were 499 CHF. To get to the Caribbean you would be best to fly to Miami and then on from there. You won't be able to fly to Cuba via the U.S. But you can via Europe and your Canadian family can easily get to Cuba too.

daffy99 15.07.2015 06:49

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JanieCH (Post 2419255)
I am asking for recommendations on tour companies / websites that offer all inclusive packages to the Caribbean from Switzerland or France. It is standard practice in the internet age to ask for recommendations when looking for products or services that one is unfamiliar with.

From what you describe, the only items you are looking for are
- plush accomodation
- safe, efficient long-distance transportation
- no troubles for transfer

For this (large) chunk of the business, any tour operator is as good or as bad as the next - they do not add any substantial value, and it is purely price that matters. After all, they will all scour the same (business) booking engines and even dynamically assemble "products" from whatever is available on the market at a given time (spot) or whatever contingents they may have reserved in advance.

For that, go to Google and hit the first hit. And perhaps the second. Then the fun that you are familiar with starts: How is the hotel, how is the transport?

Now, if you were looking for some specialized package - e.g. <whatever sports> dream vacation, cultural discovery of the Peruvian Andes, trekking Costa Rica. Now, that would be a totally different matter. And for that, you would run for some specialized travel (or activity) forum, where recommendations on boutique tour operators are more likely to be had.

And if you want to get rid of the chores to plan and execute travel arrangements - well, that's a (local) travel agent. I am sure that this agent will take the global perspective (and charge accordingly). This agent, though, will also only build a bundle from what can be found in their databases.

rob1 15.07.2015 08:07

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
Why don't you walk into a travel agent and ask them for details?

Trollemor 15.07.2015 09:00

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
If I understood you correctly, what you want is to be able to get to an AI resort where family members from Canada will be flying to from Canada, not just to any AI resort, am I right? In which case it's actually not always that simple, since many travel suppliers book entire hotels for tourists from a given country/region. We looked once into resorts that were sold both from Switzerland and Norway (wanted to meet up with friends from Norway), and most of the nicers resorts on offer in Norway weren't sold as part of packages from here and the othe way around. But it's not impossible, you just beed to do research.

One option: if the majority of guests come from Canada, let them pick the place that is most convenient for them, just make sure there are flights from CH or a neighbouring country to that destination. Then book your hotel directly or via the Canadian agent and buy plane tickets separately. Not the cheapest option, but pretty flexible. Just make sure the hotel does allow for direct booking or room-only booking beforehand. Probably the option I would chose if I was in your situation.

Second option: will require coordination and some research, but find travel agents in both countries that have the same hotels on offer. Possibily easier using French agents or agents based in Suisse romande together with travel agents in Quebec. Be aware though that the overlapp in offerings may not be very large (ever noticed that guests in a resort hotel tend to come from the same place? It's not a coincidence). Possibly the cheapest but the most research intensive alternative, wouldn't bother.

Third option: Club Med will not fit your price requirement, but I can guarantee the child friendly factor, and the same resorts are sold in Canada, CH and FR. they have agencies in all three countries, I recommend you do your research on their web-site then call or go to an agent to find the best package for your group. You can buy either with flights included or without, I have done both without problems. Most expensive, but simple and low risk of disappointment.

Unfortunately I cannot help you all that much with names, we travel mostly independently. But I have bought AI resorts through websites such as ebookers or opodo twice. Once was a success and once was a disaster. Otherwise I have been to Club Med three times and it was always a success. But expensive.

Good luck!

Britmumabroad 15.07.2015 09:26

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
We have used Virgin holidays from the UK in the past to get packages as it was cheaper than booking from Belgium and may well be cheaper than booking from Switzerland.
We just then drive across to Heathrow or Gatwick - you could fly from here I suppose .
Have a look on their site but be warned you can't book online but they will let you book over the phone .

Cata1yst 15.07.2015 09:26

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
British Airways offer holidays to the Caribbean from Switzerland, we went to Antigua with then, although it was a pain in the arse changing between Heathrow (from CH) and Gatwick to the Caribbean.

Chemmie 15.07.2015 10:04

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
When it comes to all-inclusives, I haven't found anything from Europe that has been tempting enough to go with. So for me, I have done it independently. (We flew to Curacao via Dusseldorf relatively cheap, then had to fend for ourselves).

For those who are a bit confused about the request: In Canada, All-Inclusives are for many, the only way to travel. With limited vacation days, a week in Cuba, Dominican, or Mexico is very ideal when you pay once and don't have to worry about flights, food, ALCOHOL!, hotel, getting to the hotel etc.

Plus if booked correctly, a week stay with unlimited alcohol (swim up bar :) and food in a 4 star resort can be booked for under 300$. This is cheaper than staying at home! Hence the popularity of such packages

josep 15.07.2015 11:26

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
There are very good ferries connection between Guadeloupe, Martinique, Dominica and St. Lucia. There are plenty of flights from Europe to Guadeloupe, Martinique and St. Marteen.

Maybe makes sense reserving the flights separated from the hotel?

PaddyG 15.07.2015 11:37

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
If there are that many of you, I would suggest trying to rent a large house for the duration, preferably with housekeeper/cook. We have family in Barbados and I know it is a very popular destination for Canadians. There are daily BA flights from Gatwick and Virgin fly there too.

Macer 15.07.2015 13:27

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
Have you considered clubmed? www.clubmed.ch They have an office in Lausanne so you could drop in and tailor your holiday face to face. They are not cheap though.

Until we had the kids, we would never have considered a package holiday like this. But, we have been twice now, and the whole family had a great time.

AH, I just saw that this is recommended as an option by another member.

JanieCH 15.07.2015 13:36

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
Many thanks for all of the above messages. In terms of my original question (clearly not well enough explained despite its wordiness), these two posters hit the nail right on the head:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Trollemor (Post 2419335)
If I understood you correctly, what you want is to be able to get to an AI resort where family members from Canada will be flying to from Canada, not just to any AI resort, am I right? In which case it's actually not always that simple, since many travel suppliers book entire hotels for tourists from a given country/region.

This is indeed exactly my problem. We learned during our one and only Dominican holiday that this is how these all-inclusives work -- tour companies book entire sections of a hotel and bring people in and out by the planeload a couple of times per week. So yes, the challenge is to find a resort that is serviced by one or more companies that have flights from Ontario, Saskatchewan, BC and Switzerland, or at least 2 or 3 of them and the others can get a connecting flight somewhere.

Though I think you might be right that it would be easiest for the Canadian contingent to find something that works for them, and then we book a room at the same hotel and flights separately.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chemmie (Post 2419370)
For those who are a bit confused about the request: In Canada, All-Inclusives are for many, the only way to travel. With limited vacation days, a week in Cuba, Dominican, or Mexico is very ideal when you pay once and don't have to worry about flights, food, ALCOHOL!, hotel, getting to the hotel etc.

Plus if booked correctly, a week stay with unlimited alcohol (swim up bar :) and food in a 4 star resort can be booked for under 300$. This is cheaper than staying at home! Hence the popularity of such packages

You are right to point out that not everyone shares this bit of our "culture" and might not understand the stakes :) This is why I was looking for a package deal. Our one-week trip to the Dominican in 2010, booked super last minute through the travel agent next door to us, cost about $900 for a week including airfaire and the "luxury treatment" (better room and drinks, etc.) at our five-star hotel. There's no way that you'd get a better price than that if you booked everything separately. Plus since we are all travelling with small children now, the connecting flights, airport shuttle, etc. etc. will make the experience much easier.

I will take a look at the British companies and ClubMed like a few people suggested but I'm getting the feeling that it might be too hard for us to get the package deal from Europe (even if ClubMed ends up being cheaper for us, it likely won't be for my family in Canada).

Thanks again for all the help!

Bonhomme 15.07.2015 13:36

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
-you relatives buy a package and add your name/room, no flights.
-you book your flights and meet them

Anjela 15.07.2015 16:48

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
I'd just like to compliment you and yours on the thoughtfulness towards your mother and her 'big' birthday.

I'll turn 60 next April and know full well my kids won't plan anything at all to help me celebrate. It's not that they're not lovely kids, but I've clearly missed out a life lesson or two in the Taking Care of Mum section of their education.
Thinking of dragging myself off to a spa for the duration..... on my own!

aSwissInTheUS 15.07.2015 16:51

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
Kuoni ?

moggy 15.07.2015 20:02

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
I have been fasinated by this thread since you started it yesterday & been educated by replies.

One important thing you missed out, What month?

Neither did you mention how long, though not sure that make much difference to the whole party. But maybe if you are traveling further, you might prefer it to be longer for your family.

Financial it does seem more sensible to go somewhere that the mass of people will find more economical.

This poster has suggested something that if possible seems like a good idea:-

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bonhomme (Post 2419529)
-you relatives buy a package and add your name/room, no flights.
-you book your flights and meet them

So maybe ask the Canadians if they are able to do that without confirming anything.

You will need to know what airport they arrive into, so then you can look into where it might be possible for you to fly from at a viable cost?

I have not yet been to the Caribbean (but do dream to visit one day) but Jamaica comes to mind as a large island, so hopefully more flights from different destinations.
That is what you perhaps need to research flights, perhaps back to front.

Noticed you mentioned in your first post Portugal/Spain in your 1st post, by one of your final posts & have to agree with you, rather extravagant for Canadians, when their only port of call is there & for Fully Inclusive, they would probably be disappointed with the extra costs of flights.
If you had asked in the context of all Europeans, then I would have said that Faro airport, Algarve, Portugal has a number of flights from varying airports, it is particular a favourite for UK, as served by various airports from UK both charter and economical airlines many months of the year.

Once you get it sorted, no doubt both your mother and siblings will have a great time together.

ps the month is important

JanieCH 15.07.2015 21:04

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Anjela (Post 2419626)
I'd just like to compliment you and yours on the thoughtfulness towards your mother and her 'big' birthday.

I'll turn 60 next April and know full well my kids won't plan anything at all to help me celebrate. It's not that they're not lovely kids, but I've clearly missed out a life lesson or two in the Taking Care of Mum section of their education.
Thinking of dragging myself off to a spa for the duration..... on my own!

Thank you for your kind comment! My mom was widowed very young and still managed to raise her four children (ages 3 to 9 when my dad passed away) into model citizens despite having little help from family and very limited financial means. We owe her A LOT, it's really the least we could do.

Aside from this one exception, though, we're really not big on birthdays. Every family expresses their love in their own way, maybe your kids will surprise you :)

JanieCH 15.07.2015 21:15

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by moggy (Post 2419714)
I have been fasinated by this thread since you started it yesterday & been educated by replies.

One important thing you missed out, What month?

Neither did you mention how long, though not sure that make much difference to the whole party. But maybe if you are traveling further, you might prefer it to be longer for your family.

Financial it does seem more sensible to go somewhere that the mass of people will find more economical.

This poster has suggested something that if possible seems like a good idea:-



So maybe ask the Canadians if they are able to do that without confirming anything.

You will need to know what airport they arrive into, so then you can look into where it might be possible for you to fly from at a viable cost?

I have not yet been to the Caribbean (but do dream to visit one day) but Jamaica comes to mind as a large island, so hopefully more flights from different destinations.
That is what you perhaps need to research flights, perhaps back to front.

Noticed you mentioned in your first post Portugal/Spain in your 1st post, by one of your final posts & have to agree with you, rather extravagant for Canadians, when their only port of call is there & for Fully Inclusive, they would probably be disappointed with the extra costs of flights.
If you had asked in the context of all Europeans, then I would have said that Faro airport, Algarve, Portugal has a number of flights from varying airports, it is particular a favourite for UK, as served by various airports from UK both charter and economical airlines many months of the year.

Once you get it sorted, no doubt both your mother and siblings will have a great time together.

ps the month is important

I purposely neglected to mention the month because my mom's birthday is in August. Ideally we'd be together for her birthday but we will be flexible because it's not the best time to be in the Caribbean. This is also why we're getting organized early.

As for the length of the trip, the family portion will be one week but we have friends who would like to come down for a second week to make it more worthwhile. Thankfully we will have lots of good company, as two weeks in an all inclusive would be unbearable otherwise ;)

Medea Fleecestealer 15.07.2015 21:37

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
I think you're going to struggle to find a tour company that can deal with both countries and get you a good deal. What you could think of doing is hiring a villa for that period in the location of your choice and then you'd have to organise the separate flights to get there for everyone.

Another possibility would be to take a cruise around the Caribbean out of Tampa or Ft Lauderdale for a few days and then spend the rest of the trip back on land in the US.

Anjela 15.07.2015 22:44

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JanieCH (Post 2419732)
Thank you for your kind comment! My mom was widowed very young and still managed to raise her four children (ages 3 to 9 when my dad passed away) into model citizens despite having little help from family and very limited financial means. We owe her A LOT, it's really the least we could do.

Aside from this one exception, though, we're really not big on birthdays. Every family expresses their love in their own way, maybe your kids will surprise you :)

Ha, I sincerely doubt it, they (and husband) even managed to forget my birthday twice! Does that technically mean I'm two years younger than I think I am?!!

Hope you get something sorted out, your mum will be thrilled to see all her children together in the same place, I just wish I could have done the same for mine....similar story but there's only three of us.

Now.... back to the plot.

JanerMacP 15.07.2015 22:51

Re: Getting to an all inclusive in the Caribbean from Switzerland/France
 
www.selloffvacations.com is a really popular Canadian travel site where you can book the same hotel out of multiple locations, including flights. I would book the trip around your Canadian guests and then organize your flights separately from Europe - wherever you can get the best deal.


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