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Thread: Planning complicated trip from toronto and vancouver need advice

  1. #1
    Senior Member amarg's Avatar
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    Planning complicated trip from toronto and vancouver need advice

    Hi everyone! I have been lurking on this site for a couple of weeks and it's amazing and so informative. I have a few dilemmas that I am hoping someone can help me with. Here's the logistics - desired vacation time is September 11-18, 2010 approx (am flexible). Traveling from Toronto are myself, my husband and my daughter who will be one and also joining us is my sister, who is in Vancouver, BC. The issues we are having are
    a)no direct flights from Vancouver to Aruba for my sister so she either has to come to Toronto and travel with us or go to Seattle and take a flight from there alone which will take her 12plus hours with a stop in either Atlanta, Carolina, Houston, etc. She will have to leave a day before us to arrive on the 11th. We have spoken to many airlines and travel agents and there is no way around it. Therefore, she can't get a package to Aruba unless she comes to Toronto first and flies with us or does one alone from Seattle, either way, very costly and don't know how to combine with ours. We would be willing to meet her somewhere in the US wherever her layover is except for two things, it's really hard on our baby to fly (she's not a fan) and my partner is not allowed to enter the US so we need a direct flight.
    There is a great deal for us to go to the Radisson right now but it doesn't include any meals. If we add breakfast only, which is the only meal I'd like to add, it's a difference of $68 per person per day! What kind of breakfast is that? If we book flight and hotel separate, we get a great deal on the Radisson right now with breakfast, beverage credit, spa credit as you all know, but the flight from Toronto is $845 each return! The hotel would be another $2000 at least whereas the package is only $1300 each right now taxes included. The flight is so expensive because there is only one carrier flying direct to Aruba (Westjet) and they want you to buy a package and don't really sell the flights separately. I found the flight on a wholesalers site through Air Transat but they don't sell the flights separately at all. Therefore, these are my questions:

    1)If we book the package for my partner and myself, can my sister take a flight down and join us and we can pay extra for her in our room as an additional guest when we get there? Or can that be arranged in advance? Then she can fly out of Seattle, save some money and just join us in Aruba.

    2)How much does breakfast cost in Aruba?Is it worth it to add it on at the Radisson?

    3)The packages we are finding have very limited rooms left. Will we be ok in a standard room with two double beds? My baby is fine cosleeping with dad and I can share a bed with my sis but I don't want to be on top of each other.

    4)How hard and costly is it to upgrade our room on arrival? How probable?

    5)Should we go AI instead? My husband doesn't drink alcohol and I rarely drink and we are not big eaters, and don't care for buffets but I'm concerned about cost of food and ease of getting it there. Also, we don't want to be tied to one hotel and like to explore. However, is it better to do go AI in Aruba?

    6)Should we look into a timeshare instead? I've never rented one and have no idea how it works. Are we able to use all the amenities in the resort it belongs to as renters? Are they usually fully equipped to cook? How hard is it to get all our groceries and then just go out for some meals?

    7)Will we be missing out on any experience if we stay in a timeshare rather than hotel? We are not big resort people and like to have things to do and see which is one of the reasons we chose Aruba. I can't lay on the beach for long. lol!

    8)If we go with a timeshare instead of a hotel, is it still easy to find babysitting if we need it? How?

    9)Are there hidden costs such as taxes or anything when renting a timeshare or is the advertised price the real price?

    10) What's a good price for one and which one is best for us? I'd like to be centrally located, near the casinos for hubby and a kiddy pool would be nice or easy access to kid friendly stuff.

    11) Does anyone know the best site to get a timeshare? Does anyone here have one? Is it better to wait to book it last minute to get a deal?

    If we take the timeshare then I hope to spend about $1500 for the week. Then if we spend $1700 for both of our flights, that's $3200, still $700 more than the package at the Radisson which is about $2560 for both of us in a standard room no bells and whistles. However, it saves my sister (or should I say me, big sister) money on her package or trying to add her to my room. She can get a flight from Seattle to Aruba for $565 approx return with a stop in Atlanta.

    I already have spoken to various agents like I said who aren't much help, I seem to be doing all the research and work. I have already spoken to MCM tours and was advised to talk to a Canadian Travel agent and my dilemma left her completely stumped and unable to offer a solution. She wanted us to book with her, which I understand, but like I said, we can't fly through the US and she had US flights only and she couldn't offer us a better rate on the room only at the Radisson (which she highly recommends though) and as for including my sister from BC, she was clueless.

    Please help me as my head is about to explode and I don't want to miss out on the package if that's the way to go. If you like, please feel free to private message me or email me. Thanks and Sorry it's so long.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Arubalisa's Avatar
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    I will take a stab at answering what I am able...

    Can you get a flight cheaper from the U.S.? If you are and the savings are substantial wouldn't it be easier for your sister to fly to Toronto and they you all drive together to the airport in the states to catch your flight?

    If you can fly from the states, try to be flexible with your dates and fly mid week when it is usually less expensive. Some of the U.S. discount airlines though have inexpensive flights say Saturday to Saturday. I know out of Atlanta, Delta has been matching the discount airlines fares.

    I know one of our members, a Canadian, Eagle Beach Boy, has done this in the past.

    There is a great deal for us to go to the Radisson right now but it doesn't include any meals. If we add breakfast only, which is the only meal I'd like to add, it's a difference of $68 per person per day!
    No, breakfast at that price should include caviar. You can order off the menu much cheaper, so skip that add on.

    3)The packages we are finding have very limited rooms left.
    Package companies receive a specific number (allotment of rooms) so they may be limited though the resort may not be booked solid.

    Will we be ok in a standard room with two double beds? My baby is fine cosleeping with dad and I can share a bed with my sis but I don't want to be on top of each other.
    My husband and I had some of our best nights sleep sharing a bed at the Radisson, again two queens should be fine.

    4)How hard and costly is it to upgrade our room on arrival? How probable?
    There is never a guarantee that you will be upgraded. The four times we have stayed at the Radisson we have always been more than happy with our rooms. I would book the best category you can afford.

    6)Should we look into a timeshare instead? I've never rented one and have no idea how it works. Are we able to use all the amenities in the resort it belongs to as renters?
    Yes, absolutely.

    Are they usually fully equipped to cook? How hard is it to get all our groceries and then just go out for some meals?
    If you do not mind cooking while on a vacation you will be just fine. Most timeshares will come fully equipped. I would just avoid a studio because they sometimes have smaller refrigerators or limited cook top.

    7)Will we be missing out on any experience if we stay in a timeshare rather than hotel?
    Pretty much one and the same except it sounds like you will be cooking 2/3 of your meals intead of dining out.

    We are not big resort people and like to have things to do and see which is one of the reasons we chose Aruba. I can't lay on the beach for long. lol!
    I am not sure what you mean by not being "big resort people". Are you looking instead for a villa? That would be nice, though in all likelihood, not on the ocean and more expensive.

    8)If we go with a timeshare instead of a hotel, is it still easy to find babysitting if we need it? How?
    Timeshares still have concierges and you can ask for recommendations here as well.

    9)Are there hidden costs such as taxes or anything when renting a timeshare or is the advertised price the real price?
    An owner can better tell you, but in Aruba there are added taxes and energy surcharges. When booking a resort, these should be included in your final price.

    11) Does anyone know the best site to get a timeshare?
    www.redweek.com

    Does anyone here have one?

    Timeshares are listed here on the forum

    Is it better to wait to book it last minute to get a deal?
    When having to coordinate airfare, I would think this would be very very difficult. If you book your airfare in advance and cannot find a timeshare at the last minute what would you do then?

    I for one, like to have everything set in stone in advance, but maybe that is just me.

    5)Should we go AI instead? My husband doesn't drink alcohol and I rarely drink and we are not big eaters, and don't care for buffets but I'm concerned about cost of food and ease of getting it there. Also, we don't want to be tied to one hotel and like to explore. However, is it better to do go AI in Aruba?
    Considering that cost is a huge factor, I would definitely consider all inclusive. Our family of three, with a child staying free (children 17 and under stay free at the Tamarijn), have found our vacations much more affordable staying at a resort such as the Radisson and Westin. When our budget can afford the Radisson and Westin we love staying at either of these resorts, but right now with a 13 yo who loves her food and parents who refuse to cook on vacation (so timeshare is a waste of money for us), all inclusive has become the best choice for us.

    Even if you do not drink alcohol, one advantage to the all inclusive is that you will know up front before you even leave for Aruba how much your vacation will cost you and there will be no nickel and diming everytime it comes time to consider whether a restaurant's menu will fit your budget.

    Some folks feel they need to eat and drink their money's worth to get theri value from the all inclusive. Besides our daughter staying free, we like the convenience. Dd of course loves the unlimited self serve soft ice cream and frozen virgin drinks.

    10) What's a good price for one and which one is best for us?
    This varies widely depending on where you stay-- Riu is 4 star and the most expensive vs. Tamarijn, Divi or Holiday Inn 3 star and less expensive AND time of the year.

    and a kiddy pool would be nice or easy access to kid friendly stuff.
    We really like the Tamarijn and it's sister resort the Divi. It is only a three star resort but the rooms are clean and staying in a room right on the beach cannot be beat. When you stay at one, you have use of all the facilities and amenities of the other. With children 17 and under staying free at the Tamarijn, the Tamarijn is a huge draw for families.

    Tamarijn/Divi Restaurants
    You are limited to buffet dining for breakfast at either the Divi or Tamarijn. For lunch there are four choices: the two buffets, snack bar and grill at each and then a small oceanside bar at the Divi which serves sandwiches, pasta and hot dogs and hamburgers.

    The Divi offers this special as well from time to time, but is overall a slightly higher priced resort than the Tamarijn. From what I understand they have just installed a new kiddie pool at the Divi. The Tamarijn is less expensive but you can always walk to the Divi or the resort provides golf cart transportation between the resorts.

    I'd like to be centrally located, near the casinos for hubby
    The Divi/Tamarijn has the Alhambra casino catercorner from the Divi. Again, golf cart transportation is readily available and it is a short walk from the Divi.

    To get to the casinos in downtown Oranjestad or Palm Beach, bus transportation is easily affordable. I believe it is $2.30 or $2.60USD roundtrip.

    There are a number of Tamarijn reviews at
    http://www.aruba.com/forum/tags/tamarijn%20review.html

  3. #3
    Senior Member amarg's Avatar
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    Canadian family first trip advice needed please

    Hi there, we are a family of three (my husband, me and one year old daughter) and we are planning to go to Aruba in mid September from the 11th to 18th. We live in Toronto and are going to be joined by my sister who is in Vancouver, BC. We have run into some issues which we need advice on and so far travel agents here and MCM tours from the US haven't been to helpful. MCM was nice but completely unable to help me or give advice as we are in Canada and can't and won't go through the US as my husband can't enter the US which cuts down our options a lot in terms of flights. So here's our dilemmas:
    There are great packages available for the Radisson and other hotels but they are for standard rooms which would be ok if it was just my small family but with my 25 year old sister coming, not ideal to be on top of one another.
    Also, the flight options from Vancouver to Aruba are very rare and difficult. She either has to fly to Toronto and then take a completely new flight to Aruba with us or go through the US with 2 or 3 stops which is ridiculous. It's also very costly and there are ZERO packages from Vancouver to Aruba for that time and since they are based on double occupancy, it wouldn't work anyhow. Therefore, her best bet is to fly from Seattle, through Atlanta or Houston to Aruba and meet us there.
    Now, we can do a package for $2562 inc. taxes, etc., at the Radisson for me, my husband and baby but then what about my sister? Can she fly to Aruba on her own and can we pay for her as an additional guest in our room? We are finding that we can't upgrade our room to get the package and so wonder how hard is it and how probable to upgrade once we book or arrive in Aruba?
    We didn't want to do an AI for various reasons inc. my partner and I don't drink alcohol, we hate buffets and don't want to be tied to our hotel. To add breakfast to our package however, is an extra $68 per person per day! What kind of breakfast is that? I'm not sure it's worth it. Is it hard to find food in Aruba? I don't think so from this site but I don't want a hungry baby looking for breakfast in the morning. How expensive is food? What about a fridge for our room? Our baby doesn't need a crib and can sleep with dad and I can sleep with sister but I don't want to be crowded and getting on one another's nerves.
    Therefore, I was thinking of renting a timeshare and getting our own food and then eating out when we want and more quiet for our baby. I have never rented one before so don't know anything about them. Do we get to use the amenities at the resort as renters? Are there hidden fees? Is it safe and how do I find a good one? I read a post on here about someone being ripped off for a 2bdrm apartment and am scared. I need help to find one and at a reasonable cost. Something with two large beds and preferable not a sleeper sofa as those aren't usually comfortable.
    This does make our trip expensive as flights from Toronto to Aruba are an issue too. Unless we want to fly Air Canada and then connect at multiple stops in the US or take a US airline which also stops in the US, there is only one choice and that's a Westjet flight. The flight is only offered on Saturdays and they don't want to sell it without the package and I had to dig and dig to find it. The cost per person is $850 return! The package would have been only $1230 each so that means the hotel would have been $800 for the week for the two of us. I think a good timeshare is $1500 and up???? That means we will be spending a lot for the week as I told my little sis (not so little at 25) that if she gets her flight, of course accommodations are on us. So coming from Seattle she saves money but not doing the package costs us more I think unless we get a great timeshare deal and good advice from you folks.
    The last thing is that we were hoping for a hotel with a babysitting service or kids amenities. Can we easily find a babysitter in a timeshare rental? What about kiddy pool or kids areas?
    Like I said, the travel agents are fairly lazy and lost. They just want us to book what they suggest and MCM tours is unable to help.
    Anyone have a timeshare? Any advice? Experience flying from Canada?
    Thanks so much in advance.

  4. #4
    Senior Member amarg's Avatar
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    Wow, thanks for the reply, we can't fly from the US or stop in the US at all as my husband can't enter the US. That's why this has become a difficult one for us. If it was just me and my sister, no problem. However, I have found that my sister can fly out of Seattle to Aruba with a stop in Atlanta or Houston which is cheaper for her. However, the issue is adding her onto our room. There are no packages out of Vancouver at all! None, nada, zero. So if we take the package and go to the Radisson, what do we do with her? Also, I'm sure I would sleep fine in a Queen Bed too but the room we are offered is with two doubles or one king. I don't think a double would be ok for me and my sister and for my husband to sleep with my daughter. Not sure, but that's what I think. The problem is that most of the room categories seemed to already be booked at the Radisson or we would totally upgrade. I'm so lost.
    I don't mind cooking at all but perhaps I will look into the Tamarjin but then we have the same issue. What do I do with my sister???? AAAAH! Maybe she will have to fly to Toronto and then take a package with us. The only thing is that they will be two completely separate airlines, flights, costs, etc., and it just seems silly to spend $500 to get to Toronto and another $1250 to Aruba when she can fly to Aruba from Seattle for $600.
    As for not being "resort people" what I mean is that we love resorts and the luxury. It's just that my husband is not the type to sit by a pool or on the beach and just relax or swim. He's a city guy and like to sightsee, go to casinos, be active. He was bored on the resort in the Dominican as there wasn't much to do and the city was far away and he walked that resort about 50 times a day I tell you! Also, you can't be on the beach for long with a baby. It's too hot, she's scared of waves, gets tired, dirty, hungry, eats sand, etc., so the pool is preferable. Also, we like to shop so being near stores is good.
    Thanks again.
    Last edited by amarg; 07-10-2010 at 06:21 PM.

  5. #5
    Aruba since 1979
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    my replies are in bold

    Quote Originally Posted by amarg View Post
    Hi there, we are a family of three (my husband, me and one year old daughter) and we are planning to go to Aruba in mid September from the 11th to 18th. We live in Toronto and are going to be joined by my sister who is in Vancouver, BC. We have run into some issues which we need advice on and so far travel agents here and MCM tours from the US haven't been to helpful. MCM was nice but completely unable to help me or give advice as we are in Canada and can't and won't go through the US as my husband can't enter the US which cuts down our options a lot in terms of flights. You really need to go thru a travel agent for the flight issues.So here's our dilemmas:
    There are great packages available for the Radisson and other hotels but they are for standard rooms which would be ok if it was just my small family but with my 25 year old sister coming, not ideal to be on top of one another.
    Also, the flight options from Vancouver to Aruba are very rare and difficult. She either has to fly to Toronto and then take a completely new flight to Aruba with us or go through the US with 2 or 3 stops which is ridiculous. It's also very costly and there are ZERO packages from Vancouver to Aruba for that time and since they are based on double occupancy, it wouldn't work anyhow. Therefore, her best bet is to fly from Seattle, through Atlanta or Houston to Aruba and meet us there.that is undoubtedly her only option for cost effectiveness
    Now, we can do a package for $2562 inc. taxes, etc., at the Radisson for me, my husband and baby but then what about my sister? Can she fly to Aruba on her own and can we pay for her as an additional guest in our room? We are finding that we can't upgrade our room to get the package and so wonder how hard is it and how probable to upgrade once we book or arrive in Aruba? the upgrades are readily available based on availability at check in.
    We didn't want to do an AI for various reasons inc. my partner and I don't drink alcohol, we hate buffets and don't want to be tied to our hotel. To add breakfast to our package however, is an extra $68 per person per day! What kind of breakfast is that? I'm not sure it's worth it. Is it hard to find food in Aruba?food in aruba is a non issue. there are more food options than you can shake a stick at. breakfasts can be a muffin or coffe to a full breakfast buffet, price $4 to $20 I don't think so from this site but I don't want a hungry baby looking for breakfast in the morning. How expensive is food? What about a fridge for our room? Our baby doesn't need a crib and can sleep with dad and I can sleep with sister but I don't want to be crowded and getting on one another's nerves.i think 2 rooms are necessary
    Therefore, I was thinking of renting a timeshare and getting our own food and then eating out when we want and more quiet for our baby. I have never rented one before so don't know anything about them. Do we get to use the amenities at the resort as renters? Are there hidden fees? Is it safe and how do I find a good one? I read a post on here about someone being ripped off for a 2bdrm apartment and am scared. I need help to find one and at a reasonable cost. Something with two large beds and preferable not a sleeper sofa as those aren't usually comfortable.go to the timeshare threads and see what is available, and timeshare renters get all of the amenities that owners get....pool, beach palapas etc
    This does make our trip expensive as flights from Toronto to Aruba are an issue too. Unless we want to fly Air Canada and then connect at multiple stops in the US or take a US airline which also stops in the US, there is only one choice and that's a Westjet flight. The flight is only offered on Saturdays and they don't want to sell it without the package and I had to dig and dig to find it. The cost per person is $850 return! The package would have been only $1230 each so that means the hotel would have been $800 for the week for the two of us. I think a good timeshare is $1500 and up???? That means we will be spending a lot for the week as I told my little sis (not so little at 25) that if she gets her flight, of course accommodations are on us. So coming from Seattle she saves money but not doing the package costs us more I think unless we get a great timeshare deal and good advice from you folks.
    The last thing is that we were hoping for a hotel with a babysitting service or kids amenities. Can we easily find a babysitter in a timeshare rental? What about kiddy pool or kids areas?
    Like I said, the travel agents are fairly lazy and lost.i do not think they are lazy, your list of stuff is huge and maybe they are "overwhelmed" They just want us to book what they suggest and MCM tours is unable to help.
    Anyone have a timeshare? Any advice? look into timeshares and keep reading all of the categories on the forum. Experience flying from Canada?
    Thanks so much in advance.

  6. #6
    Senior Member amarg's Avatar
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    Timeshare wanted in September sat to sat

    So after much consideration and all the help from this forum - you guys are great! We have decided to rent a timeshare. I need one from a saturday to saturday in September and prefer the 11th to 18th but am flexible. I guess that's week 37? Also, it needs to have two real beds (sleeper sofa won't do nor will a pullout). Other than that, as long as it's nice, close to amenities, reasonably priced and clean, we're good. If anyone sees one or has one for rent, please let me know asap. thanks.

  7. #7
    Senior Member hatteras's Avatar
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    Try arubarentals.com. They are based in Canada and helped me find two timeshare weeks. I don't live in Canada (although Vancouver is one of my favorite cities), so I don't know anything about getting to Aruba from there, but I found them to be very helpful in our situation. Good luck and keep us posted.

  8. #8
    Senior Member sunworshipperII's Avatar
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    redweek.com or myresortnetwork.com or this board resorts sometimes are a week off here or there so check there own timeshare calendars. Costa linda, playa linda, marriott, casa del mar, renaissance(downtown) lacabana, there are quite a few to pick from..check out all their individual websites, if you want 2 real beds you probably need a 2 bedroom.....I have stayed at marriott surf, and costa linda for timeshare resorts... I like both 2 different beaches, marrioitt area lots to do , costa linda area (eagle beach) a little quieter IMO.. check them all out.








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  9. #9
    Senior Member sunworshipperII's Avatar
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    redweek has a 2 bedroom at marrioitt surf 1 king 1 queen and sofa bed for 1400.00 sept 10-17...check it out..








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  10. #10
    Member damnyankeeuk's Avatar
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    I don't understand why your husband cannot fly through tthe US. I thought that as a transiting passenger he would not have to clear US Customs, but instead wait in a departure lounge. I would check with the airlines to see if that is the case before getting in a panic trying to avoid flying into the US.
    I may have to grow older, but I DON'T have to grow up!


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