Visit to Jamaica
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Posted by Carla Johnston,
The purpose of this trip is for Lori and I (both sisters and co-workers) to check out (and stay at) a new Secrets resort in Montego Bay and take a day trip to Negril to tour two Couples resorts… my secret purpose is test several rum punches to ensure quality control.
Welcome to Jamaica!
We arrive in Montego Bay after 9pm, we have been traveling since 6:00 this morning. We are quite travel weary. Upon arriving at our resort, the beautiful Secrets Wild Orchid, we are greeted warmly by a concierge. He takes our bags, hands us a cool towel and sets us down on comfy armchairs with a glass of champagne. Ahhh what a grand entrance, mind you we are not special guests getting special treatment, this is how all guests are welcomed. The resort is lovely; I would describe it as warm modern with an understated elegance. The dark woods and marble against white backdrops make the décor feel spa-like. Our room boasts (in our case) two four-post beds of dark wood, white crisp sheets, and draped in a dark fringe for romance (in your case). Warning: the bed posts are dark wood… try not to run into the post on your way back from the bathroom in the middle of the night. Yes this did happen to one of us, I can’t say who (but it wasn’t me).
Oh! de Toilet
Here is where I must share the one negative we found at Secrets… the bathroom. Don’t get us wrong, it was well appointed with a Jacuzzi tub, marble shower with rain head, and double sink all done in modern finishes. Here is the kicker; the bathroom has no wall to separate it from the room… just a mesh curtain! This means when you are in the tub and your partner is in bed… you could hold hands. It sounds romantic enough, unless your partner wants to watch TV and you want to turn on the tub jets (too loud), or you need to use the restroom at night, but can’t turn on the light because it will illuminate the entire room. While the “throne” has its own stall with frosted glass door (and weirdly enough, a telephone) there is no noise barrier.
Day at the beach… bar
Here we are next morning just LOVING this zen-like resort. Our room overlooks the beach and a gorgeous wedding gazebo built over the water. We head to the breakfast buffet which is very inclusive and delish. Have a made-to-order omelet, choose from fresh fruits, yogurts, pastry, and Jamaican dishes. Lori and I love the coffee, strong brewed Jamaican Blue Mountain. Heaven! A tough day of “research” at the pool beckons.
The BEST food in Jamaica: jerk chicken of course! Today we had a special treat when the Jamaican jerk chicken cart made its way through the resort. A wood-fired grill and the best spices around, this chicken was savory and spicy (without making me cry) and is so tender it melts in my mouth. Want authentic? How about a Jamaican man with a machete who chops the top off a coconut, inserts a straw (rum if you like) and you drink the coconut milk straight from the nut! (for those who are wondering it tastes like skim milk)
Today we drive from Montego Bay to Negril, just over an hour’s drive. I’ve been to Negril before and was not looking forward to the harrowing drive, (usually a crazy taxi driver passing cars while careening around corners and narrowly missing the wandering goats.) Happily, new highway infrastructure has made this drive far less exciting (terrifying), while still allowing us to get an inside glimpse at the Jamaican towns. The drive to Negril: no problem, mon!
Couples Resorts (Negril)
We tour two Couples resorts today and I am thinking, how can they even compare to the serenely stunning resort we are staying at? Will they look dated? I am walking in with a bit of pessimism. I LOVE that I have been proven wrong! Upon entering Couples Negril, I am swept up in its Jamaican charm. From the art and décor, to the wash on the walls, to the glorious lush grounds, and the attitude of the employees, the Couples resorts exemplify what it is to be Jamaican. Local artists handcrafted many of the items from light fixtures, baskets, rugs, and even a chandelier of shells hand-beaded by a local Rastafarian. The entertainment will feature local vocalists and a steel drum band, I wish I could stay! Both Couples resorts offer an all-inclusive program the likes of which you don’t often see. In addition to meals and drinks, they include several day-trips and water sports and instruction. The two Couples resorts we visited have some differences, while the over-all feel was similar. Couples Negril had hotel-style rooms and a focus on entertainment. Couples Swept Away features bungalow rooms (with huge verandas) and a 10 acre sports and wellness complex. When it really comes down to it, choosing the resort depends on the person, in this case whether you prefer Zen-like luxury (Secrets) or Jamaican Charm (Couples)… but I would recommend ANY of these resorts.