Sunday, May 10, 2009

All Inclusive Vacation Package to Cancun, Mexico I - Finding a great deal

Right, in the middle of swine flu frenzy, we are going to Cancun this week. It wasn't easy to fight all the well-meaning worries and confrontations from family members.

Ok, now before moving on, I need to make a very self-contradicting comment: Following the crowd is not always the wisest way to go, but sometimes it is the best way to go.

I. Finding hotel/resort - Follow The Crowd

When it comes to finding a hotel/resort to stay, I believe it's important to listen to what people say. For our Cancun vacation, I read tons of reviews of different hotels located in Cancun, Mexico. While checking official rating websites such as Travel Buddy or Yahoo Travel is a good starting point, I like to read personal blogs of people who have been there.

After a few weeks of reading reviews at different websites and blogs, I narrowed the choices down to two resorts: Riu Cancun and Riu Palace Las Americas. Both places got good reviews in their cleanliness and food, which were the most critical elememts I looked for.

Then I began to compare the two. As Riu Palace Las Americas was a newer construction than Riu Cancun, reviewers noted Riu Palace's facilities are cleaner than that of Riu Cancun. Other reviewers noted Riu Cancun's buffet is better than Riu Palace's buffet. Others noted Riu Palace's pools are smaller than Riu Cancun's.

For a while, I found myself going back and forth between these two hotels. However, shortly thereafter I found out that since they belong to a same hotel group Riu, they share their facilities and people who stay at Riu Palace can use Riu Cancun's restaurants and pools and vice versa. So the decision was made: Riu Palace Las Americas.

II. Booking 1 - Do Not Follow The Crowd

Skip the agency & work directly with the resort.

Forget Applevacations, Expedia, or whatever out there. They are the 3rd party, anyways. See if you can work directly with the resort. At the beginning of the process, I found out reserving through Riu's website is at least $800-1000 cheaper (for two) than going through Applevacations!

Also, I heard many "experts" saying that airplane tickets or vacation packages are cheaper on Wednesdays and Thursdays and more expensive on Mondays and Fridays. Do not buy into that! When I flew to New Jersey in March, I bought bargain tickets on a Monday. When we booked for this Cancun vacation, we found the rock bottom price on one Friday.

III. Booking 2 - Play the Game

Give yourself enough time to watch the price for 3-4 weeks. When you see the price hike, don't freak out. Relax ~. If you make haste, you will lose the game.

I watched the price change for two and a half weeks. During that period, the price went down by $300 (for two). Once I figured out that there is a pattern of price fluctuation, I was able to tell when the price hit the bottom. So without hesitation, I booked a package with the most convenient flight schedule available at the lowest price.

In conclusion, the secret of finding a great vacation package deal is being TAPO (Tenacious, Assertive, Persistent, Obnoxious).