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Wednesday, October 22nd 2014

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



2013
15
February
Montreal to Antigua | Getting The Best All Inclusive Deals


Guides >> South & Warm >> Caribbean >> All Inclusive Vacations from Montreal to Antigua

The Ydeals Noise-Free Guide To Getting The Best All-Inclusive Vacation Deals From Montreal To Antigua

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 from Montreal to Antigua. 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 Antigua.

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.

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 Montreal, 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 for your travel dollar. Destinations with a lower number of all-inclusive resorts (such as Antigua) 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 vacation 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 to Antigua from Montreal ?

Unique Source #1 - The Canadian Tour Operators

3 of the 7 Canadian Tour Operators offer all inclusive packages from Montreal to Antigua, and they are: Air Canada Vacations, Transat Holidays, and WestJet Vacations.

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

Well, you could search all 3 of the Canadian Tour Operator's own websites individually, but that might be a little time consuming.

There are *many* Canadian-based travel sites and brands that sell the all inclusive 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 flight deal to Antigua from Montreal is that they are all retrieving their prices from the same Canadian Tour Operators, and all trying to sell you the exact same vacation 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 vacation 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 travelers 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 YUL 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 Montreal?

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 vacation packages. And they can't offer a price that's any different than any other vacation site or brand.

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

This is never an easy question to answer, as the prices of travel packages 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 from the Canadian Tour Operators:

9 to 12 months before departure:

All-inclusive 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 travelers 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 tradeoffs when playing the waiting game in order to get a great last minute all-inclusive deal. The closer you get to the departure date the more flexible you need to be, both in terms of being able to travel on shorter notice, as well as how picky you are about where you're going.

One thing to note is that Antigua is less likely to have great less minute deals than other Caribbean destinations, such as Cuba or Mexico.

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

From Montreal, one week all inclusive packages to Antigua from the Canadian Tour Operators tend to bottom out at around $1200 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 all inclusive package.

The price of all inclusive packages to Antigua are highly affected by demand. So anytime you can think of a reason that there might be higher demand than usual for travel to Antigua (such as dates when many travelers from Montreal have vacation time or school breaks) you can expect prices to react accordingly.

Prices are also generally higher during the colder winter months in Montreal, 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 direct flights to Antigua?

Transat Holidays is the only Canadian Tour Operator that offers all inclusive packages with direct flights to Antigua from Montreal. The flights are about 5 hours each way.

Air Canada Vacations and WestJet Vacations both use flights that have at least 1 layover each way, usually in Toronto.

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 Antigua to create an all inclusive package. They tend to mostly be U.S. based brands offering vacation packages departing from Canada.

Where should I look to get the best Antiguan vacation deal?

This is the noise. The flight price component of any all inclusive vacation package involving the major airlines is identical for every site that offers these types of vacations. 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.

Travellers from Montreal tend to waste a lot of time needlessly comparing vacation offerings since these Flight & Hotel Combiners have predominantly identical travel package prices.

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 Antigua packages from the Flight & Hotel Combiners against the Canadian Tour Operators?

When comparing the prices of all inclusive 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 vacation 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 all inclusive 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 travel package on the Flight & Hotel Combiner sites, and not a vacation 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 resort 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 trip to Antigua 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 Montreal-Antigua 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 Antigua 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 vacation package price could go up.

So on the 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 all inclusive packages with direct flights to Antigua from the Flight & Hotel Combiners?

The only major airline that currently offers direct flights to Antigua (ANU) from Montreal is Air Canada. Look for all inclusive packages involving flights with them if travel time is a concern. The flights are about 5 hours each way.

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

Holiday travellers often want to know if booking an all inclusive package to Antigua 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'd suggest starting with finding the cheapest flight from Montreal to Antigua that you can. You may want to read the guide: Montreal to Antigua | How To Get The Best Flight Deals.

Then find the best hotel rates you can for your dates. I think some vacationers 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 same hotel is involved (or at least make sure you're comparing hotels of similar quality, TripAdvisor is handy for that).

I would also suggest that when searching for accommodations to build your own all inclusive package, you don't use the same site that contains the vacation packages you're comparing against. The total cost has a very good chance of ending up being extremely similar.


What about value-priced all-inclusive packages to Antigua from U.S. airports within driving distance of Montreal?

If you've ever read my guide about flying out of U.S. airports within driving distance of Montreal, 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 Antigua that's at least a certain number of dollars less per person than a similar vacation package from Montreal.

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.

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

From Plattsburgh, New York (PBG)

Plattsburgh does not currently have any airlines that fly to Antigua, so there are no all inclusive packages available between Plattsburgh and Antigua.

From Burlington, Vermont (BTV)

I feel it could be worth the drive, when you see an all inclusive package from Burlington to Antigua that's at least $225 less per person than a similar all inclusive package from Montreal.

Usually though, flights from Burlington to Antigua are at least as much as they are from Montreal, if not more, meaning all inclusive packages to Antigua are likely to be about the same price from both cities.


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

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

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


Why should I trust this Antigua 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 travellers 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 YUL 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 Antigua guide for Montrealers!

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 Travelers From Montreal Have About All Inclusive Vacations To Antigua

When should I go on an all inclusive vacation to Playa del Carmen?

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

There can often be some better 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 Montreal gets warmer.

January can also produce some good deals when more travellers 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 Antigua). The potential for bad weather reduces demand, along with prices. However, Antigua rarely sees much hurricane activity.

The chances of hurricane-like weather 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, and prices start to rise along with the demand.

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