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Old 01-19-2013, 11:19 AM   #1
Obi Wan Kenobi
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Nov-Dec 13 a Move to the darkside :-0

1) Pre Trip report.

After a couple of years without a holiday trip (due to ill health on my part) It is time to organise the annual Florida visit.

Cast:
1) obi Wan Kenobi
Payer of all things, 54 years of age, a Diabetic and due to that, now suffering with Charcot Foot and arthritis, Mobility has gone from 100% to 10% in two years. However, still refusing to give in to it and still working hard (hence being able to pay for holidays)

2) Gamesmaker C
Spender of all things :-) 48, long suffering wifey of Warkman. Loves walking and helping out as a Gamesmaker at the Olympics

3) Legofan
11 years of age, precious son, just got a great score in his 11 Plus and awaiting March for his school allocation Loves Lego, Pokémon, Star wars and various other cartoons and DS games. A child of his generation, DS in one hand, tablet in other :-0

Ruminations

So, one of the casualties of my disability was the loss of a very well paid job and 9 months out of work. Things had to be tightened and one of these belt tightening things was our villa in Florida. Painful, but mortgage on house more important than pleasure, especially not knowing if or when I could be in a better health for work.

For the first time in 18 years, we are starting with a clean piece of paper.
Now this should be easy, but it wasn't. with all the options open to us, there was a lot of different views of what the holiday should be.

a) Accommodation
Gamesmaker was quite relaxed about where we stayed, used to the size of a villa, that was no1 on her list.
Legofan wanted his own room and a pool, but knowing him, a few uses of it and that would be it lol
Me? well, I have to admit I was torn, to be perfectly honest, I don't know how or if we will visit the USA again, after two years of pain, I don't want to look that far forward, just if I can, we will go to the USA in 2014 and beyond. But if this is our last visit as a family, then I wanted it to be special.

We first looked at villas, from via VH, Co-op travel and BA plus independent travel agents and WDW travel themselves.

We were looking also at Disney and Universal studios properties, with some of these on a par price wise to villas My favourite though were not!!!!
Grand Floridian, even through WDW travel, an eye watering £4,872 and my other favourite Yacht and beach club coming in at £3,900!

At this point in time, we were heading out to a villa, not yet chosen, so we started to look at flight prices as we were right on the 330/336 days from return

Now, our local airport does not fly direct, and all the indirects BHX-DUB, BHX-AMS, BHX-GDG
all the business class flight prices were coming in at around £6,000 with one or two stops.

So, back to our perennial favourites Virgin Atlantic. Now again, the choice is Gatwick or Manchester, apart from my hatred of Man Utd, :-) Manchester airport does not have the same Virgin facilities in terms of a clubhouse as Gatwick and the prices are usually within a few pounds of each other

One reason for flying business is if you have been flying, up early from your accommodation and the jet lag, with little or no sleep on the flight, you end up driving like a zombie from the airport and quite frankly, that is a danger to everyone else in the car.

Also, we think our holiday starts at the hotel the night before and the flight is an integral part of the enjoyment.

So, looking at Virgin Atlantic, our preferential choice, put our dates in and a price comes up of....£6870.40 EEEK! was this going to be the year of no business class flights?? NOOOOO! :-0

So, checked BA, expecting them to be within a pound of Virgins as normal (Delta, United and American all in the £6-7,000 mark)
and both are having a sale to 22 Jan
put our dates in and...It was only (subjective only) £4,802.43! sweet

This got us thinking about what prices could Virgin Holidays do as a package?
First of all, we looked at the villas names resorts, and the costs were around £3278 but for economy flights. so went through a dummy booking and the price with Upper Class?
wait for it.........

£9,606.87!!!!!!!!!

Even Disney was truly ridiculous (to me, but there are plenty that pay it, if they can afford it good on them)

So another VH dummy booking for POR with UC seats came out to...£9,177.83!

However I then went back to the Darkside AKA British Airways holidays.
Their cost for a villa, same resort as VH? (Highlands Reserve) £5632 with CW seats, excellent price compared to VH!

Then had a look at POR with CW and the cost (river view) came out at £6749

WE then sat down and discussed it further.
First of all, on top of the Villa cost, you would need to add:
£350 pool heating
£500 security deposit (yes, you get it back eventually)
Disney car parking of £100 ish
Extra petrol for driving to and from a further away location

Against POR was one room only

But you also get transportation, free parking on Disney sites and parks, theming.
Plus, instead of Legofan being on his own in the villa pool, he will be able to play with other children in the resort pools

Also, one elephant in the corner, if I cannot get out one day, due to over exertion in the parks, DW and DS can hop on a bus to the park, whilst I am not alone at the villa but propping up the bar or pool area :-)

We kept looking at the prices, hoping VH would move (Even contacted them by phone which the never returned our call one way or the other after we gave them the BA price)

Suddenly, the BA prices started to move and yesterday the CW seats for our dates disappeared! Noo! left it too late?

But no, they came back after 1 hour, so that was it. Slapped down the credit card, lay down £1,000 deposit and we are booked!

BA CW on a 777 both ways, with Revivals lounge, and lounges each end, and 14 nights POR in a water view room

But of course, this is just the start, still got to arrange car hire, Friday night Gatwick hotel room and car parking and another discussion over do I get a wheelchair or not.

I don't want to, as to me its giving in to the disability, but DW knows I cant do the distances required on my gammy leg. That's a battle still going on. Thoughts please if you have been in the same situation :-)

I will update as we get closer to the trip

thanks for reading this far (promise, actual trip report will be more pictures, less words :-)
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Old 01-20-2013, 02:59 AM   #2
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Sorry to hear about your health problems, Obi. I've got slightly raised blood-glucose levels and I'm trying to avoid developing fully-fledged diabetes by losing weight. Two stone down, two to go. I suffer from pretty bad joint pain, but it's eased by warm weather. Let's hope you find a bit of relief from your symptoms in Florida and find it easier to get around.

I actually prefer BA to Virgin. Hard to put my finger on why, although a lot of it may be to do with the fact that our recent flights with them have been out of Terminal 5. Still, Gatwick is better than it used to be and, particularly the north terminal. And I think you've probably made the right choice with the accommodation for the reasons you mention. Too late now, I know, but renting DVC points is a good way of getting the deluxe resorts at a more palatable price.

Enjoy your planning.
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Old 01-20-2013, 04:09 AM   #3
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Sounds like an excellent holiday. Hope you enjoy it. Don't rule out he wheelchair and risk not fully enjoying your holiday. It was a struggle to encourage my dad to use a scooter in the parks (he and my mum are both diabetic) but when we finally managed to get him to try one he had such a good time. This year at Disneyland Paris we really missed that facility, and I couldn't persuade him into a manual one. I've much first hand experience of how cruel the disease can be, enjoy your holiday!
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Old 01-20-2013, 05:13 AM   #4
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I echo what Janie has said, Obi. Don't let pride get in the way of doing something which could (potentially) make the holiday much mor eenjoyable for all.

No shame in crossing over to the 'dark side', we all make decisions based on what is affordable and practical. We tend to stick with Virgin because we have never really found that much of a price difference between them and BA and we have our airmiles. However, I would have no qualms about switching if the price was right.

Enjoy the planning, I am fairly sure you will enjoy your first on-site experience.
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Old 01-20-2013, 07:35 AM   #5
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Sorry to hear about your health problems but Welcome back!

Look forward to hearing the rest of your plans.
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Old 01-20-2013, 08:45 AM   #6
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So pleased to see you back on the boards and planning a holiday. POR is a fab place to stay please keep us updated with your plans
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Old 01-20-2013, 10:50 AM   #7
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Welcome back Obi!!!
Sorry to hear about your health problems
Your flight insider knowledge is always welcome
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Old 01-20-2013, 04:33 PM   #8
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Hi obi sorry to hear about your troubles especially your Charcot foot, my brother in law had that , glad you are
Back and lovely to hear your new trip plans .
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:37 AM   #9
Obi Wan Kenobi
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Thank you all for your welcome back postings. I hope to be around for a while now, and looking forward to carry on the planning.
already looking at hotel & car parking at Gatwick and the new Premier Inn at Gatwick is coming out very good. Hilton and Le Meridian coming out around £200 for 1 night hotel and 15 days car parking. New Premier Inn is £115!
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Old 01-21-2013, 08:50 AM   #10
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Sorry to hear about you health

I also have major mobility issues due to arthritis etc and take my own ECV with me when I travel which might be something for you to consider as I find this gives me more independence than my DH having to push me in a wheelchair.

Maybe another consideration if cost is an issue is to think about PE rather than business??? I find that a bulkhead PE seat is usually comfortable enough and gives me the space I need for my husband to help me stand. I also book our villa independently though one of the reputable sites rather than a TA again which always works out much cheaper

I hope this helps a little and please ask if there are any other questions I can help with from the perspective of being a disabled traveler
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Old 01-21-2013, 08:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PJB71 View Post
Sorry to hear about you health

I also have major mobility issues due to arthritis etc and take my own ECV with me when I travel which might be something for you to consider as I find this gives me more independence than my DH having to push me in a wheelchair.

Maybe another consideration if cost is an issue is to think about PE rather than business??? I find that a bulkhead PE seat is usually comfortable enough and gives me the space I need for my husband to help me stand. I also book our villa independently though one of the reputable sites rather than a TA again which always works out much cheaper

I hope this helps a little and please ask if there are any other questions I can help with from the perspective of being a disabled traveler
Sorry didn't read all of your post (think I put down halfway through then suddenly thought, I should reply without reading the rest )

Glad you got your flights sorted

Are you aware of the "Guest Assistance" passes you can get from the parks?
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Old 01-21-2013, 09:03 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PJB71 View Post
Sorry didn't read all of your post (think I put down halfway through then suddenly thought, I should reply without reading the rest )

Glad you got your flights sorted

Are you aware of the "Guest Assistance" passes you can get from the parks?
Lol that's ok.
It's purely a mental issue that to give in to the damned Charcot by getting a ECV or that is how my mind sees it. However I also have arthritis in my right hip but what I think I will do is see how I get on at the first park then make a decision. It maybe that I only need the chair for the big parks, but will see.
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Old 01-21-2013, 11:05 AM   #13
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Hey Mr Kenobi, we've booked the new premier inn at Gatwick for the end of July .... Will keep you posted.

Sharon
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Old 01-21-2013, 11:41 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sandshal View Post
Hey Mr Kenobi, we've booked the new premier inn at Gatwick for the end of July .... Will keep you posted.

Sharon
Magic! Will be very interested
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Old 01-23-2013, 02:03 PM   #15
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Well,
Started looking at hotels and car parking for the night before we fly. I like to be at the airport so that I am not worrying about traffic jams, bad weather etc.

We like to stay close to the terminals. I know you can get a better price by booking a hotel away from the terminals, but I like toi be able to go to the terminals when I want to and not be anxiously waiting for a shuttle bus.

Up to this year we normally stay in the Sofitel/Le meridian or The Hilton, so I looked at prices for these two first.

Hilton Park and Fly came out to £169
Sofitel Park and fly £178, so not much in it.

On the off chance I priced up British Airways site for long term car parking
Park your own car (that I like, not sure about others driving my precious toys) and keep the keys on you, bus to north terminal 5 mins max.
16days car park £76.03. Checked the other car parking web sites and that was the best one! well done again BA!
However I could not find a hotel and car parking deal on the BA web site so I got quotes for the room only at the two hotels (Both 2 adulkts 1 child under 12)

Hilton £78 + Ba parking came to £154.03, good
Sofitel £107 + parking came to £183.03 Bad. More than their P & F package.

Sop it was looking like Hlton, then I checked the Premier Inn, where I use a lot of bookings for business.

Park and fly £119! excellent.

I then thought about room only and BA parking, could I get it down any more?

Yep. Room £39. I say again Room £39
so £39 plus BA parking £115.03! Bargain!

As I booked, I spoke to SWMBO, and we realised that unlike the Virgin Clubhouse, the BA lounge does not have hot food, so added two adults all you can eat brekkies (Children eat free)

total cost for 1 nights bed, all you can east breakfasts and 16 days parking a grand total of £94 sweet!

So only thing left to do is check car hire prices until I see one that suits me.
(that's my next posting )
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