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.