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Thursday, December 8th 2016

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



2013
30
January
Ottawa to Panama | How To Get The Best All Inclusive Deals


Guides >> Central America >> All Inclusive Vacations from Ottawa to Panama

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

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 Panama. 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 Panama.

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, only with the addition of all your meals and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), and usually the shuttle bus transfers to and from the destination airport, included in the price.

From Ottawa, the most popular all inclusive destinations are typically Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and to a certain extent, Jamaica. There are certainly other destinations with true all inclusive resorts, but the destinations I just listed are where you'll usually get the most for your money. Other destinations with a lower 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 by people 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 Ottawa to Panama ?

Unique Source #1 - The Canadian Tour Operators

Only 1 of the 7 Canadian Tour Operators offers packages from Ottawa to Panama, and that is: Sunwing.

The flights involved in their packages are not operated by Sunwing though, but by United Airlines.

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

Well, you could just search Sunwing's own site individually, since they are the only Canadian Tour Operator offering packages from Ottawa to Panama.

There are also *many* Canadian-based travel sites and brands that sell the packages available from the Canadian Tour Operators and selling the same packages from Sunwing. 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 Ottawa to Panama 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 trip 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 Canadian-based travel sites. A large number of Canadians out there 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 vacation deal search tool right here on YOW Deals, which is called the Ultimate All Inclusive Deal Finder.

Like any other site that searches the Canadian Tour Operators, the prices searched by this tool are the same, but it has some innovative features that other sites don't, such as letting you search extremely wide date ranges, plotting search results on Google Maps, and comparing millions of prices and TripAdvisor reviews against each other to help determine which deals are truly the best for the money.

What about my local travel agency in Ottawa or independent travel agent?

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 in the previous paragraph. 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 site or brand.

When should I book a Panama trip 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. 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 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 occur to a few select resorts.

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

You can see that there are tradeoffs to playing the waiting game. The closer you get to the departure date, the more flexible you need to be in terms of not only being able to travel with less notice, but also be less picky about where you're going to get the greatest of deals.

What's a decent price on an all inclusive Panama vacation?

From Ottawa, one week all inclusive packages to Panama from the Canadian Tour Operators tend to bottom out at around $1600 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.

Holiday 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 Panama (such as dates when many people in Ottawa have vacation time) you can expect prices to react accordingly. Prices are also generally higher during the colder winter months in Ottawa, as there is higher demand from travellers 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 (direct) flights to Panama?

Sunwing is the only Canadian Tour Operator that offers all inclusive packages from Ottawa to Panama, and they use flights operated by United, which have a stopover in Newark (EWR) each way.

What about low-cost all inclusive packages to Panama departing from Montreal?

Yes, there are more Canadian Tour Operators that offer packages to Panama departing from Montreal. As a result, the prices can be significantly better. You may want to check it out, to see if it would be worth the drive. I'd suggest reading the guide: Montreal to Panama | How To Get The Best All Inclusive Deals as a start.

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 Panama 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 Panama vacation deal?

This is the noise. The flight price component of the package from the major airlines is identical for every site that offers these types of 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 people 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 to Panama from the Flight & Hotel Combiners against the Canadian Tour Operators?

When comparing 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 terrible one, with multiple layovers.

For a fair comparison, you would also want to make sure the hotel quality 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 prices against the all inclusive packages from the Canadian Tour Operators.

One last minor item to be aware of when comparing 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 Panama vacation 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 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 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?

At the moment there are not any major airlines that offer direct flights from Ottawa to Panama (PTY). As a result, there are no Flight & Hotel Combiner sites that can offer all inclusive packages with non-stop (direct) flights.

The fastest flights between Ottawa and Panama typically involve around 8 or 9 hours of travel time in each direction, with 1 stop each way.

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 Panama 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 Ottawa to Panama that you can. You may want to read the guide: Ottawa to Panama | 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, that includes all meals and drinks in the cost of your hotel room.

Remember that for a fair comparison, you 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 a great value on all inclusive packages to Panama from U.S. airports within driving distance of Ottawa?

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

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.

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

From Ogdensburg, New York (OGS)

From Ogendsburg, there are only flights to Albany and Boston, so this won't help.

From Watertown, New York (ART)

I feel it could be worth the drive, when you see an all inclusive package from Watertown to Panama that's at least $250 less per person than a similar package from Ottawa. However, the only airline that flies out of Watertown is American Airlines, and their prices to Panama are not really any better than from Ottawa, so it's unlikely that packages will be a much better deal.

From Syracuse, New York (SYR)

I feel it could be worth the drive, when you see an all inclusive package from Syracuse to Panama that's at least $350 less per person than a similar travel package from Ottawa. It could happen, as there are occasionally some interesting price drops on airlines such as Copa Airlines which would affect package prices as well.


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

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

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


Why should I trust this Ottawa guide on Panama travel?

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 YOW 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 Panamanian vacation package guide!

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 Ottawa Have About All Inclusive Vacations To Panama

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

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

There can often be some great deals on the shoulders of this demand, in the first half of December (before the Christmas insanity), and in April as the demand starts to die down (as the weather warms up a bit in Ottawa).

January can have 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.

May through October is the 'rainy season' down in Panama, while November through April is the 'dry season'. You shouldn't be overly discouraged from visiting Panama during the rainy season as this is only a term indicating that it rains more than in the dry season, not that it rains all day every day.

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