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Booking trips without Tour Ops


#1

I was wondering if anyone has booked an all-inclusive holiday without going thru a Tour operator such as Sunquest. You could book the hotel thru their own website, your airline flight thru a travel agent. Has anyone had any good or bad experiences? Saved money etc?


#2

You can, but the hotel rack rates are almost always higher (at least in my experience).


#3

also if the airline or hotel goes under you will lose your money…you are always better to book with a TA


#4

IMHO, you can’t beat the tour package. Price wise and the convenience of NOT having to co-ordinate flights and hotel dates.


#5

After realizing how much TA mark up vacations, I started booking our vacations myself. This usually saves us several hundred dollars easily, sometimes more. However, when I started looking into going to the DR, I found that the packages were cheaper to book through a TA, rather than book them separately. I had contacted one particular hotel and they informed me that it would be cheaper to book through a TA, since their “rack rates” were more expensive. I really have no idea why this is the case for the DR, but it is. I did a lot of searching and found a TA that gives 10% off Apple’s rates, so that is how I booked it.

If you are looking at going somewhere else though it may save you some $$ to do it yourself. I always do a search on my airline of choice’s website and then compare them to what I come up with on Sidestep. Most hotels you can book direct by contacting them. Coordinating is typically not a problem, you just plug in the dates you want to arrive and depart, no harder than giving those dates to a TA. Of course, if you don’t have the time to search around, then it might be better to let a TA do it, just remember they don’t care whether they save you $$ or not. HTH!


#6

Maybe for you guys in the US, but I don’t think so for Canada. For example, last year I was invited to spend a week in a friends apartment in Puerto Plata. I researched air fares (airline sites and the discount on-line agents). Picking the cheapest and adding the taxes plus a $20 each way allowance for taxi, I came up with a bottom line figure. This did NOT allow for food and liquor. Then, for a lark, I priced up a week at an all-inclusive resort (one of my favourites). Lo and behold, the total came out $11 cheaper, and food / booze were covered. You tell me how I’m going to save any money!


#7

I agree Bob. I’ve looked into every possible way of going to the Dr and the Ai package is the best. I’ve considered booking direct with the resort and it’s no different. Last year , at the Coral Marien, we flew down with a couple who had booked directly with the resort and bought air only. They paid the same or more than we did. Plus they took the risk of having flight changes that would mess up their booking at the resort. I also would be worried about the resort overbooking. This is fairly common in the resort business and tell me who would get bumped, one couple coming in for a one time visit, or a couple booked through a tour company that books hundreds of people per year. Without a tour rep on site to help, you might be left high and dry.
We also have a friend in Sosua area with a couple of houses we could stay in, but the math still dosn’t add up. For now, for me, in the Dr, it’s tour company’s with AI packages.

Greg


#8

Thanks for all the replies. While on the Riu web site, I saw that you could book the resorts thru them, but sounds like it’s not worth it. I suppose when Sunquest buys so many rooms, they must get a good rate.
Just a thought


#9

sometimes if you have been to the same rsort several times and they know this they might give you a "preferred" rate.This way then could be cheaper in the end with a great air only deal!


#10

For quite a while now we have been doing the air only and booking our own accomodation. Now bear in mind, these are not AI resorts and we usually (but not always) travel with another couple. We have generally not felt that we spent more than we would for an AI.

This last trip, however was very different. The price of food and booze in the Cabarete area has skyrocketted. We were stunned. Prices were actually comparable or more than we would spend here in Ottawa. The time that we went before, I never recall thinking twice about what I ordered for dinner. This time we combed the restaurants for specials to keep within out (admittedly tight) budget.

This experience is forcing us to “possibly” rethink our plans for December at least in so far as heading back to an AI is concerned. I don’t like the idea as I just prefer not staying at an AI but…if the prices and exchange rates do not improve and we still want to stay in Cabarete…we may not have a choice.

Rose


#11

What Rose is saying is so very true. We are in Sosua right now in a condo and the prices for food have certainly gone awry. However, there is no way we would ever again stay at an AI on a 2 week vacation.

The food away from the resorts is far superior and one does not get bored with the same thing day after day. We also have found a few out of the way non-tourist eateries that have been marvelous and very cheapy-cheapy!

When we have done the AI’s we tend to get out a lot and we always figured we were really experiencing the D.R. but staying in a rental and fending for ones self is an experience, that sadly, we have missed up to this point.


#12

Just to give you of an example of what happened to me at a resort. The customer in front of me had booked online and the resort had no booking for him. He did not even have any papers to show he payed fpr his trip. It took him two days to get everything straighted around even when the resort gave him a room Of course they made him put a deposit on the room for two days and gave him his money back after thsat. We always look up on the web for prices and then go to our TA who matches the price. The TA’s want your business so they will match any web site prices.


#13

Whoa!!! Never go without some kind of paperwork. I always print off all of my email correspondence and confirmations etc. just in case. We’ve never had a problem, but still…

Rose


#14

Firstly, as far as AI’s go, there is nothing to beat the RIU Taino, you get what you pay for…but back to topic, it is a lot more fun to experience the "real"DR…I have rented apartments and one of the greatest experiences was a bed and breakfast in Playa Cortecito, Bavaro. Truthfully, when you add it all up at the end of the day, AI’s are generally a better deal (but that also depends on the season, last minute booking rate etc). When one factors in all the “hidden” costs that a tour operator provides, you will usually come out ahead!