This meant that it might be possible for the majority of our families to potentially vacation away together for Christmas, which seemed like an awesome idea to me. Not so awesome for my sister and fam, who declined, mostly due to a 3-day hockey tournament in town. I can't deny I was disappointed, but not surprised. (And in hindsight, they won the tournament! Yay kids!).
That left me and BF, his parents, and my parents. I made a spreadsheet up with what was desirable for everyone. I spent hours and hours and hours and hours (and... get the picture? Obsessively researched this mofo) looking for suitable locales.
- It had to have a nice beach (first and foremost, or else why bother going away?!?!)
- It had to be a reasonable flight for all parties involved (yeah - our party chose poorly, I'll get to that later).
- It had to be NICE accommodations, because some of our parents wouldn't be happy with the giant-spider-filled places in Cuba and the like that I have become accustomed to. Fair enough. (Plus, in the end, Christmas travel prices were so inflated EVERYWHERE, that the difference between 3 and 5 star was not that severe.)
- I wanted mainly non-smoking.
- A bunch of other things that you don't really care about so I will stop writing. (Or maybe that was it. Who knows for sure? I deleted the spreadsheet by accident.)
I reviewed all the sites, www.itravel2000.com, www.redtagvacations.com, www.belairtravel.com, www.westjetvacations.com, and, surprisingly, ended up on the Air Canada Vacations website.
BF picked the place. It was a 5 star in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Website made it look all purdy and white sand and crystal waters and *drooooool*. We asked everyone what they thought. It seemed to be a winner (If I do recall, despite the barrage of links, reviews and photos of the place I sent to my parents, their response was "just book whatever everyone wants" or something like that).
Now, in terms of Canadian airlines, I believe that Air Canada has a general reputation of being less-than-helpful in most instances. Westjet has a better general public perception in my books. But you know what? The package was cheaper on Air Canada Vacations (which floored me). And we all know, if it comes down to quality/service over price with me.... well....
So I called them to make sure there was availability for all 6 of us, before we made the dire mistake of booking one and finding out there wasn't anything left. (The original place I wanted to go sold out before we could book).
[< BLOGGER "STRESS" FONT >]**
ME: *dialing Air Canada Vacations toll free number*
ME: *waiting for 10 minutes on hold with their annoying ads on loop*
ME: *waiting another 20 minutes and getting antsy*
BF: *calling father on cell phone to see if he was able to book/did book/ensure availability*
ME: *waiting another 30 minutes then starting to book two packages online - one in Firefox, one in explorer to ensure availability*
ME: *still waiting after 72 minutes! Finally clicked submit payment in both windows. About to hang up.*
AIR CANADA VACATIONS CALL CENTRE REP: "Hello, bonjour, how can I assist you today?"
ME: "Uh... I was hoping to find out if there is availability at a resort, but I was able to book online."
So yeah, I can recite Air Canada Vacations advertisements on loop now. It's a great party trick. Not really.
We had to still make sure that BF's parents could fly in from their location, and back to another location. Air Canada Vacations won't allow that, so in the end, they booked their flight separately through Westjet, and the hotel direct.
[< BLOGGER "SARCASM" FONT >]
Oh... did I mention? We saved just over $500 per person if we took a flight that wasn't direct. Now, I know I may not be a great flier. I may HATE flying. And making a vacation start and end with two flights might not be the best idea for a
[< /BLOGGER "SARCASM" FONT >]
But we were paying waaaaaay more than BF wanted to spend, certainly more than I could reasonably afford, but people - WE WERE HAVING A FAMILY VACATION!! The last one of those I had was in 1992, if I do recall.
So our party of 4 agreed the savings was the way to go. Toronto - Ottawa - Montego Bay. Coming home just reverse that. Oh.... and add a 6 hour layover overnight in the Ottawa airport.With a closed lounge. What? Did I say something there? Nope, nothing.. move along now...
NEXT UP: What you see is NOT what you get... in Part 2... stay tuned (assuming you hung in this long).
** Notice the stress font has not yet ended.
___________________________ Pin It Now!