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Wednesday, October 22nd 2014

"I'm a travel junkie who's hooked on deals from YVR." - Chris Myden



2013
28
January
Vancouver to Mexico | Getting The Best All Inclusive Deals


Guides >> South & Warm >> All Inclusive Vacations from Vancouver to Mexico

The Ydeals Noise-Free Guide To Getting The Best Deal On All Inclusive Vacations From Vancouver to Mexico

Ydeals logo There are thousands of travel sites out there, all wanting you to believe they have unique or special prices on all inclusive vacations to Mexico. They don't.

They use marketing noise to hide the fact that there are really only two sources of unique prices on all inclusive packages to Mexico.

This guide will remove the noise and show you what those sources are, so you can stop wasting so much time when searching for the best deal on Mexican travel.

What exactly is an 'all inclusive vacation' anyways ?

An all-inclusive package is exactly the same as a regular flight and hotel package, except that all your meals, beverages and alcoholic drinks are included in the price. Transfers to and from your resort to the destination airport are usually included as well.

From Vancouver, the most popular all inclusive destinations are typically Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and to a certain extent, Jamaica. There are certainly many other destinations with true all inclusive resorts, but the destinations listed are where you'll usually get the most enjoyment for your travel dollar. Destinations with a lower overall number of all-inclusive resorts can be a lot more expensive.

There are not really any true all inclusive resorts in North America (yes, that includes Hawaii), and you sometimes see the term 'all inclusive' being used incorrectly to describe packages that really include only the flight and hotel (no meals or drinks) in the price.

What are the unique sources of prices on all inclusive vacations from Vancouver to Mexico ?

Unique Source #1 - The Canadian Tour Operators

There are 7 Canadian Tour Operators that offer packages from Vancouver to Mexico, and they are: Air Canada Vacations, Nolitours, Signature Vacations, Sunquest Vacations, Sunwing, Transat Holidays, and WestJet Vacations.

Where should I look to get the best all-inclusive to Mexico?

Well, you could search all 7 of the Canadian Tour Operator's own websites individually, but that would be time consuming.

There are *many* Canadian-based travel sites and brands that sell the packages available from the Canadian Tour Operators and search them all at once. This is the noise.

You may already be familiar with some of the sites & brands that spend the most on travel advertising, such as:

RedTag iTravel2000 Flight Network Sell Off Vacations Tripcentral
Flight Centre Signature Vacations Sears Travel Escapes Marlin Travel

This is by no means a complete list of all the Canadian-based travel sites. The only important thing you need to know as someone searching for the best all inclusive deal from Vancouver to Mexico is that they are all retrieving their prices from the same Canadian Tour Operators, and all trying to sell you the exact same packages at the exact same prices.

One site or brand can't offer a lower price than their competition, and they can't legally change the package prices themselves anyways.

In other words, it is a huge waste of your valuable time to check any more than one of the travel sites for Canadians. A large number of British Columbians have been fooled into thinking they are comparison shopping, since no travel site or brand will ever admit that their prices are identical to their competition.

You may also have seen a search tool right here on YVR Deals, called the Ultimate All Inclusive Deal Finder.

Since all travel sites rely on the same data provided by the tour operators, the prices generated by the Deal Finder may end up being the same, but this proprietary tool has some innovative features found nowhere else but here.

In addition to the ability to search extremely wide date ranges, it analyzes your specific requests and travel desires, then correlates virtually millions of TripAdvisor reviews and price variations to produce a short list of true all-inclusive deals.

This ensures you get the best value for your money, not just the cheapest option out there at some one-star dive. It can even plot those finely filtered quality resort results on Google Maps for you.

What about my local travel agency or independent travel agent here in Vancouver?

If it's through a travel agency in Canada, or a Canadian travel agent, you can think of them as being identical to the websites mentioned. They're accessing the exact same prices, from the same Canadian Tour Operators as the sites above, and trying to sell you the exact same packages. And they can't offer a price that's any different than any other vacation site or brand.

When should I book to get the best price from the Canadian Tour Operators?

This is never an easy question to answer, as package prices are not 100% predictable. The tour operators start by setting their price at a level they think will fill the maximum number of seats, based on the demand they expect to see. If they experience less demand than they expected, they may decide to lower them. If they experience more demand than they expected, they may raise them. Unfortunately, a lot of factors that influence demand can be unpredictable.

But from studying price movements over the years, I can tell you that there are some general patterns when it comes to all inclusive packages:

9 to 12 months before departure:

Package prices are released, generally at their maximum price.

4 to 8 months before departure:

Prices come down a bit, but not usually a whole lot, and generally show little to no price movement. Prices are pretty static.

2 to 3 months before departure:

Price cuts start to happen on a large number of resorts. This can be a good time to book for those that are looking at a specific resort or are picky about where they want to go.

1 month before departure:

Further price cuts to some resorts on some dates. Certain dates and resorts may now actually be higher if there was a lot of demand.

2 weeks or less before departure:

This is where the craziest of deals can occur, and are the 'amazing last minute deals' that you hear people talk about, *but* the important thing to remember is that they usually only happen with a few select resorts.

You need to be open to going to whichever specific resorts happen to get a drastic price cut, and of course be able to travel with relatively little advance notice. There are also usually only a small number of seats available on the plane by this point, making it difficult for larger groups of friends or family to take advantage of this type of deal.

You can see that there are certain tradeoffs to playing the waiting game. The closer you get to the departure date, you need to be less picky about where you're going and more able to travel on short notice, in order to get the greatest deals.

What's a decent price for an all inclusive vacation to Mexico?

From Vancouver, one week all inclusive packages to Mexico from the Canadian Tour Operators tend to bottom out at around $1000 per person, after taxes. The craziest of last minute price drops can bring certain packages down to as cheap as $700 per person, after taxes. This is just a general guideline though, based on average demand periods of the year. And of course it can vary wildly, depending on the quality of the hotel involved in the package.

Mexican package prices are highly affected by demand. So anytime you can think of a reason that there might be higher demand than usual for travel to Mexico (such as dates when many people in Vancouver have vacation time or school breaks) you can expect prices to react accordingly. Prices are also generally higher during the colder winter months in Vancouver, as there is higher demand from travelers looking to vacation somewhere warm.

As for the Christmas holiday period (anything between Dec 21 and Jan 5), that's a whole other level of demand, which means prices are never anything but very expensive relative to the rest of the year. As a very general rule of thumb, I find you can usually take a decent price from an average demand period and multiply it by 1.5 to get your typical Christmas price. And I'm sorry to say, they pretty much never drop in price.

What about all inclusive packages from the Canadian Tour Operators with non-stop flights to Mexico?

All 7 of the Canadian Tour Operators offer packages with direct flights to Mexico from Vancouver. Mexico is definitely one of the easiest destinations to find all inclusive vacations involving non-stop flights from Vancouver.

Unique Source #2 - The Flight & Hotel Combiners

The Flight & Hotel Combiners are sites that simply mash together the latest flight prices from the major airlines with the latest hotel prices in Mexico to create a package. They tend to be U.S. based brands (but generate packages that originate from Canada).

Where should I look to get the best deal?

This is the noise. The flight price component of any package from the major airlines is identical for every site that offers these types of vacation packages. There may be slight differences in their source of hotel prices, but for the most part they're all grabbing the latest hotel prices from similar sources, at similar prices.

The result is that the Flight & Hotel Combiners usually all have very identical package prices to each other, and Vancouver travellers tend to waste a lot of time thinking they are comparing prices from unique sources against each other, when they're not.

Here are the Flight & Hotel Combiners that spend the most on advertising, you have likely heard of at least one of them...

Expedia Travelocity Book It Orbitz Hotwire


How can I compare all inclusive packages from the Flight & Hotel Combiners against the Canadian Tour Operators?

When comparing hotel with air packages, you always want to keep as many variables the same as possible. For example, remember that the Flight & Hotel Combiners are using the cheapest price they find from the major airlines when generating their package prices. This can sometimes mean the default flight involved is a long terrible one, with multiple layovers.

For a fair comparison, you would also want to make sure the hotel quality rating is similar (or ideally, the same hotel) when comparing packages. And of course, similar dates and number of nights, as these factors can affect pricing.

Another important thing to remember is that you want make sure you're looking at a true all inclusive package on the Flight & Hotel Combiner sites, and not a package that only includes flight & hotel, without all your meals and drinks. On a lot of the Flight & Hotel Combiner sites, you'll often see the room type listed as 'all inclusive' or 'AI' if the room rate includes your meals and drinks.

On some of the Flight & Hotel Combiner sites, the words 'all inclusive' will appear in the title of the resort in their search results. On other sites, it's possible the title of the hotel in the search results will give no indication that the resort offers an all inclusive room rate, until you actually explore further and discover that it does.

The most important thing to remember is that you want to compare apples to apples, and make sure you're looking at the 'all inclusive' rate on the Flight & Hotel Combiner sites when comparing vacation prices against the all inclusive packages from the Canadian Tour Operators.

One last minor item to be aware of when comparing travel costs is that the Canadian Tour Operators usually include the cost of transfers to and from the destination airport in the display of their prices, while the Flight & Hotel Combiners usually offer it as an additional add-on once you're well into the booking process.

When should I book a Mexican trip to get the best price from the Flight & Hotel Combiners?

Try to remember that at the end of the day, the all inclusive packages offered by the Flight & Hotel Combiners are simply made up of two components:

1) The latest Vancouver-Mexico flight prices from the major airlines. The major airlines don't tend to offer great last minute prices, so waiting until the last minute can backfire. I find the major airlines tend to usually offer their most decent prices around 8 weeks before departure.

2) The latest Mexican hotel prices. It's more common to see hotels offer discounts at the last minute, but then you have to weigh that against the fact that the flight price component from the major airlines can rise as the date nears, meaning the package price could go up.

So as a whole I'd probably consider the flight price component as being the limiting factor, and suggest that I'd be comfortable watching prices from the Flight & Hotel Combiners up to about 8 weeks before departure, but everyone has a different tolerance for risk.

What about non-stop all inclusive packages from the Flight & Hotel Combiners?

Remembering that the Flight & Hotel combiners are using flights from the major airlines to generate their prices, you simply need to know which destinations in Mexico currently have direct flights from Vancouver. At the moment, those destinations are:

  • San Jose Cabo / Los Cabos (SJD)
  • Mazatlan (MZT)
  • Puerto Vallarta (PVR)
  • Cancun (CUN)

What about booking flight & hotel separately? Is that cheaper or more expensive than an all inclusive package?

People often want to know if booking an all inclusive package to Mexico is better or worse than booking flight and hotel separately. The answer is, well, that there is no correct answer. One or the other can be cheaper or more expensive for any given situation, at any given moment. All you can do is try both and compare. I find in general though, that it can be hard to beat a really good all inclusive deal from the Canadian Tour Operators.

I'd suggest starting with finding the cheapest flight from Vancouver to Mexico that you can. You may want to read the guide: Vancouver to Mexico | How To Get The Best Flight Deals.

Then find the cheapest hotel rates you can for your dates. I think some people are surprised to learn that they can book an 'all inclusive' resort separately and on their own, just like any other hotel. You're really just booking a certain room type and rate, one that includes all meals and drinks in the cost of your hotel room.

Remember that for a fair comparison, you'll need to look at the 'all inclusive rate' for the hotel when booking separately, otherwise it doesn't include meals and drinks.

And also remember that you should always keep as many variables the same as possible, including the flight quality (number of layovers, layover length), the number of nights, and the hotel involved.

Congratulations, you have essentially become your own Flight & Hotel Combiner, not all that different from what the large travel sites are doing.


What about cheap all inclusive packages to Mexico from U.S. airports within driving distance of Vancouver?

If you've ever read my guide about flying out of U.S. Airports within driving distance of Vancouver, you may know that I feel it could be worth the drive, when you see an all inclusive package from a U.S. airport to Mexico that's at least a certain number of dollars less per person than a similar package from Vancouver.

How much cheaper it needs to be depends on which U.S. airport you're flying from. Below, I'll list how much cheaper I feel it should be from each U.S. airport, to be worth the drive.

Packages from U.S. cities are typically similar to what were discussed under 'Unique Source #2 - Flight & Hotel Combiners'. They are packages that simply involve combining the latest flight prices from the major airlines with the latest hotel prices.

Overall, I find that the all inclusive package prices from Canadian Tour Operators are generally a better deal than what is available out of the U.S., unlike certain other travel products (such as packages to Vegas).

This is likely due to the amount of competition we have up here in Canada for all inclusive getaways. In fact, it's one of the few travel products where U.S. residents may want to consider driving up to Canada for better prices, rather than vice versa.

From Bellingham, Washington (BLI)

I feel it could be worth the drive, when you see an all inclusive package from Bellingham that's at least $200 less per person than a similar package from Vancouver.

From Seattle, Washington (SEA)

I feel it could be worth the drive, when you see an all inclusive package from Seattle that's at least $350 less per person than a similar package from Vancouver.


I think I've found a great deal on an all inclusive vacation to Mexico!

Excellent! Please share it with your fellow Vancouver travel lovers, they will certainly appreciate it! You can post it in the YVR Deals Facebook group (click 'Join Group', at the top-right, when you arrive), where thousands of people from Vancouver are crowd-sourcing the best deals, and sharing great travel advice.

Or if you prefer, you can always give me a shout through the YVR Deals contact form or on Twitter @YVRdeals or through Google Plus. Great deal finds are always appreciated.


Why should I trust this Mexican all-inclusive travel guide?

Chris Myden Ydeals The info in this guide is based on my observations of the travel industry over the years, including all the thousands of websites out there, and where all the different players get their prices from and how they interact with each other.

The goal is to remove the noise of travel marketing, so people can stop wasting so much valuable time searching the same prices over and over.

But, as social proof of it's accuracy, feel free to join the YVR Deals Facebook Group (click 'Join Group', at the top-right, when you arrive) and publicly disagree with any of it, or make a comment below. Critiques are always welcome!


I think I have some info that could help improve the Mexico guide for Vancouverites!

Great! Please post your info in the Facebook group above, or contact me directly. Suggestions for improvement are always appreciated. Let me know if you see something that seems inaccurate or outdated.

Common Questions People From Vancouver Have About All Inclusive Vacations To Mexico

Where should I go in Mexico?

As far as all inclusive destinations go, you can think of Mexico as being divided into two sides.

Pacific / West Side

  • San Jose Cabo / Los Cabos
  • Mazatlan
  • Puerto Vallarta
  • Acapulco
  • Huatulco

Mayan / Caribbean / East Side

  • Cancun
  • Cozumel
  • All the resort areas just south of Cancun (Akumal, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, etc)

In terms of price, the Pacific side generally has cheaper all inclusive packages from Vancouver than the Mayan side. On occasion though, the Mayan side can certainly have deals that are just as cheap.

The Mayan side is generally considered to have better beaches than the Pacific side. The Mayan side is also usually considered to have better snorkeling and diving (especially as you get down towards Akumal).

The Pacific side generally has better surfing (particularly around Sayulita, which is just NW of Puerto Vallarta). Mazatlan (Pacific side) is often considered the most 'authentic' of the touristy areas in Mexico.

Cabo and Cancun could be considered the party capitals of their respective sides.

When should I go on an all inclusive vacation to Mexico?

Well, most people like to go when it's colder in Vancouver, which means December through March, and as always, higher demand means higher prices.

There can often be some great travel deals on the shoulders of this demand period such as in the first half of December before the Christmas insanity and in April as the demand starts to die down and Vancouver gets warmer.

January can also produce some good deals when more people are vacationed out from the Christmas holidays. February & March tends to see a lot of demand (and higher prices) particularly around Family Day and when students have their school breaks.

September is the statistical peak of the Caribbean hurricane season down south (which includes the East side of Mexico). The potential for death and danger seems to mysteriously reduce demand, along with prices.

The chances of a hurricane occurring drop slightly in October, and then further again in November. By the end of November/early December, the chances become pretty slim of seeing hurricane activity, or rock bottom prices.

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