Travel Diary: Jamaica

Jamaica.  I say the word and I am instantly transported back to the land of no worries, just sunshine and beautiful beaches.  Last year my husband and I went on our belated honeymoon.  We waited about ten months after we said “I do” because we wanted to plan a honeymoon that we would remember.  When we met with our travel agent, we didn’t really have a place in mind.  “Somewhere warm and pretty, where we don’t have to do much of anything.”  We’re pretty easy to please, right?  When she told us that Jamaica is a very affordable option, we were thrilled.  Jamaica seemed like a pipe dream of a tropical getaway that I would only get to dream about while singing “Kokomo” in the shower.  We ended up booking the trip that very day:  6 nights at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Jamaica.

At first I was skeptical of Sandals.  Not because I’d heard terrible things, but because I hadn’t heard anything.  Literally the only reason I was familiar with Sandals was because I had seen the commercials on TV.  One thing I was really excited about though was the all-inclusive aspect of the resort.  This trip was my first all-inclusive experience, and let me tell you– it is going to be very hard to stay at a resort that is not all-inclusive now.  It is SO nice!

Our trip started with a late night flight out of Seattle.  My first red-eye, actually.  I don’t sleep well, if at all on planes, but it was worth it to get to our destination in the morning rather than in the evening or at night.  The more time I can spend in paradise, the better!  After a brief layover in Charlotte, we finished our travels with a short flight to Jamaica.  I could feel the sun getting hot on the plane window, and I was mesmerized by the Caribbean Ocean below.

Upon landing, we departed the plane, got our bags and found the Sandals lounge.  This is a really nice sitting area/ room in the airport for Sandal’s guests when they land and are waiting for the shuttle to the resort.  (There are multiple Sandals Resorts in Jamaica.)  There were various beverages as well as private bathrooms.  We had only just landed, and already we felt completely taken care of.  We hardly had any time to sit before we were told our shuttle to the resort was ready for us.  The shuttle driver was very entertaining, and he told us all about Jamaica on the short ten minute drive to the resort.  (We tipped the driver.)

When we arrived at the resort we were given cool wet towels, and we were taken to the concierge office.  Our room was a concierge suite, meaning the concierge department takes complete care of you.  They are great- wonderful, actually.  The concierge office is always stocked with cold beverages for guests; beer, soda, bottled water, you name it.  After getting us all checked in, we were told that the room wasn’t ready but we were more than welcome to go eat lunch and hang out until it was ready.  We ended up eating at the Mariner Seaside Bar and Grill, which is located right in the center of the resort, beach front.  It was the place we dined the most because the view can’t be beat.  It’s so amazing!  Our waiter was absolutely lovely.  He shook both of our hands and introduced himself in a welcoming way that you just don’t see every day.  And what did we order for our first meal in Jamaica?  Jerk chicken, of course!  And two pina coladas.  It was really good.  We also had a friend visit us while we ate…

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After we leisurely ate our lunch and soaked in the view of the Caribbean, we were taken to our room.  The room itself was fairly small- a basic room with a king size bed.  But- the view.  That’s what our room boasted.  Our bed was literally no more than 20 steps to the Caribbean Ocean.  We also had a little “patio” area with a table and chairs, as well as a rack for hanging wet beach towels.  Our room also came fully stocked with a bar area.  Champagne, red wine, white wine, rum, water bottles, juices, sodas, etc.  We hardly ever used this because there are so many places to get drinks at the resort, but we did have a bottle of wine and found it to be immediately replenished the next day.

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The resort itself is quite small, which we actually liked.  It has seven restaurants, and if that isn’t enough variety for you– Sandals also offers exchange privileges between their resorts.  So you can go eat and play at two of the other resorts.  They offer shuttles between them daily.  We checked out Sandals Montego Bay on one of the evenings for dinner.  Looking back, we both agree that we would have rather stayed at our resort.  It was nice to get to see another resort, but on vacations like these, you really get used to your resort and the convenience of having your room a few steps away.  If we stay at Sandals again, we will most likely stick to our own resort.

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View from our patio!

Myth-Busters

Okay, show of hands– how many of you have heard that all-inclusives have watered down, weak drinks?  Well, I’m here to set the record straight.  We did not have this problem!  Our drinks were plenty strong, and they will make you practically anything.  It was so fun trying all these different drinks.  Flamingo, flip-flop, Miami vice… We were not disappointed.

IMG_0643 IMG_0477 IMG_0513Rum punch was probably what we had the most.  Also, pina coladas with white rum!

Trip Highlights

Beach Front Room

Having a beach front room was more than I could have asked for in a vacation.  It was amazing.

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One word.  Hospitality.

 We were treated so well.  And Sandals is very up front in letting you know that everything is included in the price you pay, even the tip.  The people who work there are just super super super nice.  Seriously, go to Jamaica and see for yourself.  You won’t regret it.  I adored being shown to our room and having the concierge gentleman tell us with a big smile as he’s motioning to our room, “Welcome home.”

Jamaican Smile.  

This was my favorite drink of the trip!  It was more of a dessert than a drink, and it is the epitome of what you should drink while on vacation.

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Exceeded Expectations

Although we knew the resort was all-inclusive, what we actually experienced while staying there was above and beyond what we expected.  We expected to be able to “belly up” to the bar as many times as we’d like to get a drink, but we didn’t expect to have drinks brought to us as we lounged on the beach.  The first time a waitress asked us if we’d like something to drink as we were lounging by the water, we looked at each other like, “Really??”  And sure enough, we were brought whatever our hearts desired, right to our lounge chairs by the beach or pool.  We felt so spoiled!  We were also thrilled to learn that we had 24 hour room service!  It was so nice to have snacks brought to our room and not have to worry about the costly bill!

Breakfast with a View

One of my favorite parts of the trip was having breakfast on our patio in the mornings.  We did this at least three mornings, and it was perfection.  Housekeeping would leave a card that you hang from the door handle that has a breakfast to your room option.  It was really cool.  You basically fill it out by checking the boxes that you want and then the time frame you want the breakfast brought to your room.  After filling it out, you place it on your door and it gets picked up sometime early in the morning.  Then, in the morning your breakfast is brought to you and set up for you on your patio.  Coffee, juice, fruit, omelettes, toast– which we got to enjoy with our beautiful view of the beach.  Ahhh, I tend to be a morning person anyway- so this was just ideal for me.

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Breakfast with a view.

Private Island

Sandals Royal Caribbean has a private off shore island, with a boat the takes you between the island and the mainland hourly.  We only visited the island twice, once to dine at the Thai restaurant on the island (so good!) and then once to explore and lounge by the pool.  It’s a pretty small island, but we enjoyed the time we spent on it.  My favorite thing about it was the parrot that resides there.  I got her to say “hello” to me– which pretty much made my day.

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Sunshine

The weather was really good for the most part!  We only had rain on one evening, but, a rainy evening in Jamaica is pretty much better than a sunny day at home… just sayin’ 🙂

Cabana

We rented a cabana for a day while we were there and it was fabulous!  It comes with a butler as well.  They basically give you a cell phone that allows you to call your butler whenever you want something.  We were total “newbies” to the whole butler thing, so we didn’t call our butler once.  But, she was such a doll and brought us snacks and drinks anyway.  Fruit plates, cheese and crackers, right to our cabana!  The good life!

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I really could go on and on about our trip to Jamaica– it was wonderful.  The Caribbean is enchanting.  I’m already thinking of when I can go back…

Here are some more of my favorite snapshots.

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Thinking of visiting Jamaica or staying at a Sandals Resort?  I’d love to answer any questions you may have!

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