questionswhat's your favorite all-inclusive tropical…

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Not sure if the Atlantis qualifies but I went there a couple years ago and it was amazing. I didnt go with a family, just my wife, but there were plenty of families there who looked like they were also having the time of their lives.

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yeah, that's out of the price range.

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just saw a tippr for belize. includes breakfast only. no airfare
https://tippr.com/offer/jaguar-reef-lodge

friends of mine have gone to belize and loved it

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I take all reviews with a grain of salt. Some folks just can't be happy and I'm amazed at the people who want to pay $50 for a hotel room and then whine because it's not the Bellagio. I've never done all inclusive but we LOVE the beautiful white beaches in Cancun and the Gran Caribe is the resort I hear talked about the most.

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With 5 travelers, is not airfare your main cost consideration? Rent an RV and drive to Destin, Florida. Beaches are as good or better than most spots in the Caribbean and you don't have to worry about passports, customs travel lines or murderous drug lords. Drink a Corona if you want to add some international flair.

http://www.campgulf.com/

With a higher budget, I second Atlantis Paradise Island Bahamas, though you'll want to go local (off-resort) for most meals and a stock of adult beverages to keep them from gouging you. (no meals for 5 on-resort under $100)

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@snapster: i've heard Emerald Beach sorta near Pensacola is beautiful, the nicest beach around there, though you have to pay.
yes, pay for a beach. it's blasphemy, but supposedly they maintain it really well enough to warrant the charging.

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@snapster: airfare isn't that big a concern, I'm worried about having activities on-site for the kids, and the unlimited beer & alcohol for mom & dad for 5 days/4 nights is worth a small fortune in itself. throw in free breakfast lunch dinner snacks and room service, and all-inclusive is the way I want to go.

from what I've been reading, the beaches at puerto vallarta & cabo aren't that great, seems they're rocky, the water is rough, and jellyfish are a concern. a party of 5 seems to be a problem at about half the all-inclusive resorts I've been checking, even though the youngest will jsut barely be turning 2 right before we travel.

Passports aren't a concern, we already have them, and we'd really like to leave the continental 48 states for this particular vacation, and Hawaii seems to be out of our price range too (the Caribbean & mexico deals just seem to offer more for the money)

we're in california, so driving to florida would use all our vacation days just getting there.

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Oh, also, any advice on which areas to avoid from late aug to late oct because of the weather?

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what - california?! but you're already at the beach! :)

I stayed at sol melia puerto vallarta http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g150793-d155681-Reviews-Melia_Puerto_Vallarta_All_Inclusive_Beach_Resort-Puerto_Vallarta_Pacific_Coast.html a couple years back with my two boys (3,4 at the time.) The beach was smallish and steep bank (see photos) - nothing you'd want to spend serious time at versus the huge pool. The resort food and drink service was above average for all inclusives I've been at. It had a flintstones themed activity park which was at least familiar for the kids, but I couldn't stomach leaving the kids there without us.

Cabo Dreams all-inclusive (http://www.cabovillas.com/properties.asp?PID=60) was decent but we left the kids with grandma in texas - cabo's more a couples type of place ;) Beach was more impressive but you are right, was still way too fast moving and rocky to consider doing much. This place was down the road a ways from main cabo san lucas harbor.

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I was looking at the cabo dreams too, and it was on my list... you're talking about the los cabos one, right? http://www.costcotravel.com/?lbc=4&rc=1&rcc=1&rbc=2&destination=mexico&region=losCabos#13mexicolosCabosLosCabosDreamsLosCabosMEXLOSCABOSDREAMS20100819SJD

basically, $1100 for two adults, all inclusive, 5 day 4 nights. Includes $200 resort credit, and 2 kids stay free.

So for good beaches, we should be looking at east coast of mexico, then, I assume?

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@kamikazeken: yes, los cabos dreams - your link is where I stayed. was in Jan 2008. It's chilly at night in dec/jan but probably not in your time frame. food/drinks were excellent, with minimal fatigue after a few days of same fare. Beach was great for walking and shell hunting but didn't see any swimmers/surfers.

Main issue was distance to Cabo San Lucas port was about a 30-45 minute taxi ride on a mexican highway (basically no lanes respected, all 20-30 year old cars, widely variable speeds driven). There was a giant animal carcass on side of road decaying a bit more every day that was quite disturbing at first until we incorporated it into various "dead cow" jokes. Great shopping and dining in nicer parts of San Lucas, but a bit unsettling getting there and back.

best time had was day trip out of the harbor and some light fishing. also enjoyed nightclub tour the hotel put together (though I don't recommend doing on a weeknight as was not very busy)

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@snapster: thanks, that's exactly the kind of review I was looking for.

Any other suggestions or reviews from anyone else would be appreciated.

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We went to Playa Del Carmen (Mayan Riviera) a few years back. There are a bunch of all-inclusive resorts there. We stayed at the Gala. My son had a great time and there were tons of kids there. Beaches are beautiful. A short cab ride into town and you can catch the ferry to Cozumel. We had a wonderful waitress who delivered our beers to us on the beach. She received a very generous tip at the end of our stay...

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@kamikazeken what month will you most likely be traveling?