When should I reserve my all inclusive resort vacation? Will I get the best price if I make reservations as early as possible? Should I wait for a good deal or a sale? Is it like airplane tickets where three months out is usually the best time? Will I be taking a huge chance if I try to wait until a couple weeks before my vacation to find a good last minute deal on an all inclusive resort?
I'm pretty sure I know where I want to go. I have narrowed the resort choice down to two resorts that seem about the same. Now I just need to figure out when I should make the reservations in order to get the best price.
Depends on the resort, period of travel, and how they structure their deals. In terms of Sandals, the further you book in advance, the better. Sandals lowers the discount rate as the resort fills and the travel date appraches. What was 65% off may only be 60% off as the sales termination dates rotate to next cycle. I have some clients booking Sandals a year in advance and they are the ones getting the best deals.
Same is true for air, the airlines charge more as the plane fills. True you may get lucky and get a last minute deal, but more often then not you pay the airlines much more for last minute tickets as opposed to booking months in advance.
General rule with most popular all-inclusives, you want to try to book at least 3-4 months in advance but again a lot depends on the actual resort and period of travel.
Any thoughts on the best place to book resorts? I know people can book through you, but does a travel agent site like yours offer lower prices compared to the prices found on the official Sandals website?
I usually have a hard time trying to decide if I should book an all inclusive resort vacation through a major online travel agency (Expedia, Priceline, etc...) a small local travel agent or directly through the resort website. Any thoughts?
In regards to Sandals, travel agents are not allowed to discount Sandals, so the price will be exactly the same. However, with the travel agency you get the personalized service as well as plenty of guidance for resort and room selection. We also spend considerable amount of time finding best dates to travel and researching flights to get the best deal. In addition, we communicate with all the Sandals resort management on a regular basis and always announce arrival for our customers resulting in additional preferred service. Although we can not discount Sandals, we can discount many other resorts and established customers get taken care of very well.
We often extend our knowledge and opinions to our clients with first hand experience. We try to get to know our customers and what may be a great resort for one person can be a terrible resort for another person. It is a personalized service that does not cost the customers anything additional (don't use any travel agency who attempts to charge you additional service fees). There is also a convenience factor as we can always be reached easily by phone or email and we maintain all of your information on file. I had a customer email me today to add on an optional Sandals candlelight dinner on the beach - a lot easier for the customer to simply email me instead of calling the resort or having to actually try to do something like that through Expedia!
Which is the best place to book is a great question. As I am in the business I spend lot of time looking at deals all over the internet. There are several factors that need to be considered.
1) Are you booking flight and resort together or separate
2) Are you purchasing travel protection plan
3) Consider other inclusions such as roundtrip transfers
In general, I will tell you that I don't recommend the large engines such as Expedia or Priceline - their customer service is usually very bad and certainly don't offer any kind of personal service or significant guidance. They can be a hassle to deal with in regards to any kind of modification or cancellation.
Resort-only bookings should almost always be booked directly though the resort or through a travel agency (travel agency may book you directly through the resort or by using wholesale operator if there is an opportunity for a better deal or perks). Remember, booking through a resort directly cuts out all middleman but it may not include options available elsewhere such as a good 'cancel for any reason' travel protection plan or roundtrip transfers. Again, using a travel agent will help you find the best way to book based on your needs and situation.
For land/air packages, you will often see very good prices offered by such engines as Expedia, but not always the best. Travel agents can almost always match the deal and often beat it while using a superior operator. Sometimes the resorts also offer very good packages and the travel agent is in a position to find the best booking route for your situation.
Good travel agents are looking out for you and enjoy to travel tremendously. They want you to have the best vacation possible and will do everything possible to make that happen. It is another pair of eyes on your reservation and somebody for support regarding any issues or concerns.
Palace Resorts does not change its prices as the time gets closer. They have set prices for certain times of the year. The most expensive is Christmas week, followed by winter and early spring, then is late spring and summer, and the cheapest time of the year is late summer and fall.
If you are interested in booking a stay at Palace Resorts, as a member I can sell weeks with a members' discount.