Obviously listen to Montego Bay while reading this just to get you in the mood. As well as, I couldn’t get this song out of my head the whole time we were in Jamaica.
This was a really fun work trip where we got to see some of the Hotel Properties that we sell. This was a much more relaxed work trip than I’ve had in the past. Our first flight, my Partner-In-Crime (aka Chelsey) and I were a bit nervous because we left about 25 minutes early and only had a 45 minute layover in Detroit, so by the time we finally took off, we were pretty convinced we weren’t making the other flight. Luckily for us, our connecting flight was slightly delayed so we got there in time. As we boarded this flight, our Captain told us we were waiting for our First Officer. Of course I was thinking, “shouldn’t we have him/her before you put us all on the flight?” Thankfully he got there, so we didn’t have to cancel our flight, or delay it any further. Then we had to go and de-ice. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep just waiting to take off (I usually pass out before the flight even gets to the runway).
A cool thing of this flight was we flew right over Cuba (which used to be a no-fly zone). I got a couple of good pictures of the islands right off the Coast.
When we landed, we were pushed through customs and were lead to Kiosks. ****IF YOU WANT A PASSPORT STAMP DO NOT GO TO THE KIOSKS!!!!**** So I was super bummed when I didn’t get a fancy Jamaica stamp. This actually really hurt my soul, you see, I love my Passport Stamps. They fill a hole inside of me. So the fact that I didn’t get one on the arrival or departure, dug an even bigger hole, to the point where now I have to get back just to get the stamp. So, if you’re like me and want the stamp, go to the humans, and not the machine.
Once we got to the other side of Customs we looked around for people and when we turned around, there was a sign with my name on it. I look at Chels and said “That’s probably you too.” We went over and talked to them for a minute, said we’re waiting for the rest of our group, and then someone said “We have another one of you,” as we were lead to another gal, who we introduced ourselves to. Our JTL (Jamaica Tours Limited) Coordinator told us to just go ahead and the rest of the group will be right behind us. So we reached out to our Group Leader, who didn’t land yet, to just let us know that we were on our way to the resort in Negril.
Let’s talk about Negril. It is such a BEAUTIFUL place. And you drive on the Coast to get there. Most of the drive is one lane. And, depending on what time you get there, you’re going to hit a lot of traffic–especially in the Market Place (where I may have thought I was going to die once or twice). There are also a lot of Pot Holes. So your driver may swerve just a bit to avoid those. I may recommend taking Dramamine for those who get slightly car sick. Although, we took a bus back to the airport and into Montego Bay where the driver was less worried about avoiding potholes, but it was still a smooth ride.
- Now if you take a shared transfer to Negril, it may take even longer than the 1.5-2 hour drive it took the private shuttle, due to the fact that you may/will be making several stops prior to getting to your hotel (depending on which resort you are staying in). Just something to keep in mind.
We got to Negril and hung out a bit while waiting for a group leader, we didn’t really want to check into the hotel without her, however one of the ladies who works with the tour desk had us check in so we can get settled and go to the beach, or get some lunch. So we checked in to the Riu Club Negril, got an upgrade to an Oceanfront view (which was absolutely beautiful!). The water was sooo crazy beautiful from the room! They were also getting ready for a wedding in the gazebo right out front of our building.
Chels, Monica, and I went to our rooms, relaxed a bit, and then changed for the beach and met up with each other to go have some lunch and experience the lunch buffet at the resort. The view was stunning. Having the ocean right in front of us. The buffet wasn’t too crowded, and there was a bunch of food out, but by the time we went for seconds, they were in the process of making most of the food, so there was a bit of a long wait.
We got to the beach and it was amazing, the sun was setting in the distance, and it was picturesque. And then vendors kept walking past and talking to us and disturbing our relaxing setting–which were not supposed to be on the beach by the resort. That’s one of the negatives of this resort. We were maybe down by the beach for a couple of hours and people just kept approaching us. To the point where we were in the water and people were hollering at us. Not okay.
Also, I stepped on a sea urchin. Ow.
I can’t blame the hotel for that, since I was in the urchins home, and there’s nothing they could have done either. So I just cleaned it, and walked on. (Well more like stumbled, the first day).
After we had gone and gotten ready to go out and drink for a bit, and possibly eat some dinner, we sat at the bar, ran into another co-worker of ours (we have co-workers in different states; the ones on this trip are from Milwaukee, Orlando, Bethpage, and Vegas). We walked around the property. Now, this was a smaller property, which I really liked, due to the fact that I’m not walking for miles to go get lunch, or to go to the pools, or to the bars, or to the beach, or even to the lobby.
We met in the lobby, to officially meet everyone (most of the group met up earlier, and they weren’t too worried about Chels and I [apparently because we travel so much, they were more worried about Monica being alone]) Now we were going to stay in Montego Bay for the duration of the trip. But first, we were going to check out the Royalton Negril Properties.
I’m SUPER excited, because I love booking the Royalton!! They’re beautiful! And I haven’t heard of one complaint! So I was super excited to see this, especially because I just booked my friend’s cousin for their honeymoon! 🙂
There are three properties, Royalton Negril, Royalton Hideaway, and the Grand Lido. They all have some perks, the Royalton Negril is a family property, the Hideaway is the Adults Only, and the Grand Lido is for Nudists and it’s set further back. The Royalton Hideaway Swim Out Suite rooms connect to the swim up bar, so you don’t ever need to walk unless you’re going to the beautiful beach. Sailing is considered a non-motorized sport (well, yeah.. but..), so those are available for you to use with no additional cost! (Unless you’ve never sailed, or you want someone to do the work for you–then you can take a class, or “rent someone” for a few hours for an additional charge.)
They also had water fitness classes, which made me super jealous, because I definitely wanted to get involved in them while we were checking out the property. The instructors were super nice and up beat, they brought a crowd over and so many people of different ages joined in the fun!
There is a small airport in Negril near the Royalton, sooooo if you want to pay a bit more to fly into Negril instead of making the drive, that is something you can also do!
We then met up with our JTL Coordinator Marilyn at a little marketplace where we were getting super discounts. It was a tourist shop, so Jamaican Tourist knick knacks such as magnets, shot glasses, shirts, hats, etc. (What we later found out, was that the prices were better at our resort in Jamaica–which was crazy to even think that was possible)
We then checked into the Riu Palace Jamaica in Montego Bay. It is the center property between the Riu Reggae (Adults Only, Party Riu), and the Riu Montego Bay (Family Property with Adults Only Club). My first reaction when I got to the room was, “this looks EXACTLY the same as the Riu Palace in Punta Cana.” From the layout to the colors, it was an exact replica. I didn’t really like that. Because now that I’ve stayed at one, I wanted something a little different, something more Jamaica-y. We got a courtyard view, which was pretty, especially at night with the Christmas lights they had set up–except it wasn’t really private, if you opened the curtains, or sat on your balcony.
It was also a really small property, and easy to get to the others if you were staying at the Palace–who could use all the functions of the other resorts. After relaxing and going out to a “romantic” dinner at the Italian restaurant–not actually romantic, just the atmosphere felt slightly romantic, candles, cozy, etc. The good was good. I just guess I didn’t understand that you’re supposed to eat a lot of the appetizer bar before ordering the food, due to how tiny the portion was. For example, I got the rack of lamp. I’m thinking it probably comes like ribs. Well, it was more like the the bones of the ribs, and a little cotton swab of meat.
We retired back to our rooms early because we were a bit exhausted and that’s when the beach party began. How did I know? I could hear it so unbelievably clearly that it was as if I was right there participating. The resort was beautiful, the people were super nice. But I think that may have been a downfall about this resort, it was just so loudly, I was doing the Cha Cha Slide and Cupid’s Shuffle in my room. It was soo clear, I was singing along. Luckily, the music ended at 11, but if you wanted some quiet, relaxing time, this may not be the place for you to stay. The hallway seemed to have been just a major echo zone, I could hear people flopping down the stairs in their flip flops, I could hear complete conversations happening, people were yelling and screaming down the halls.
We met with our Riu (Montego Bay Area) Sales Rep and we got to tour the Riu Properties (brief overview above). After that we went to the Hyatt Ziva and Zilara. These properties were absolutely gorgeous. The beaches were amazing! If I was ever going to have a destination wedding, this is definitely the property I would get married on. The Ziva had a man made lagoon for the children to swim in. (The Zilara is the Adults-Only property). The adults from the Ziva can go to the Zilara property at night, but anyone under 18, is obviously not allowed. Only the one-bedroom suites have liquor and snacks in the room. Even though the properties are all-inclusive. What I really like about the Ziva and Zilara was that it had a hotel feel with resort amenities. Also, the buffet on the Zilara side, had a completely different selection of food than we’ve had at the other properties. It was really good. They had a pretty good selection of food and deserts, and different types of drinks as well. This is one of my top All-Inclusive Buffet Style Restaurants.
We also experienced Chukka Caribbean Adventures: Good Hope.
Once a working village and sugar plantation dating back to the 1700s, Good Hope Estate is now home to an unparalleled variety of adventures and cultural experiences. Located in Falmouth, Trelawny, Chukka at Good Hope boasts over 2,000 acres of lush plant life, primary jungle, scenic views and the majestic Martha Brae River, as well as the historic Great House.
It was beautiful and it was old. It had all the charm. When we got to the area (a very bumpy ride) we checked in at the counter and signed a waiver. We got the Adventure Park late, so we didn’t eat lunch there (but it’s offered). Some of the things that are offered:
- River Tubing or Kayak
- ATV/Dune Buggies
- Challenge Course
- Great House Tour
- The Waterfalls and Waterslide
- Bird Aviary
- Appleton Rum Tasting
- Lunch and Open Bar
Most of the people went Zip-lining. But Chels and I went on the 4-Wheelers (ATV) which was a completely blast. There were the two guides and the two of us. It was a bit muddy, but it was raining earlier. For me, that always makes it a blast, but we tried our best to avoid most of the mud puddles and such. We went around the grounds and stopped at the old sugar mill that was barely there, and got some history about it.
When we stopped it was slightly uncomfortable. We were told to turn off the ATVs and take our helmets off–only to be able to hear the history of where we were. It just made Chels and I uncomfortable because we were between the fallen down building and what looked like woods. We were also on a private experience rather than the usual group experience. Obviously, nothing happened. The tour guides were absolutely HILARIOUS and very knowledgeable. We just weren’t expecting to stop. We were told not to bring any phones or cameras, which was sad, because it would have been fun to take some pictures.
Then most of our group went River Tubing. There was no place to take a towel or keep extra clothes, because we were obviously going down the river, and it was an open bus (so towels, shirts, etc could have gotten blown away). It was super relaxing, I was ready to go to sleep, and then they began to splash. It was a pretty tame river, and we were all tethered together. I wish the experience was longer than it was, because it was super nice. There was one area when it was more “rapids” area.
When we got back to the Riu Palace Jamaica we got a snack and some drinks before we got ready for dinner and just relaxed. By dinner time we had to wait for a good while for a seat at the Steakhouse, that we’ve all wanted to eat out. You don’t need reservations but now there was a waiting list. I saved our spot in line and at a table, while the rest of the group went and got some sushi and snacks–they brought me a desert plate. And we just goofed around and waited with some drinks. When we finally got seated at the Steak house, we were so hungry and we were ready–considering this was the only time it was open, the whole time we were at any of the Riu Properties in Jamaica. Everyone, decided to get the lobster, except me–due to the fact that I am allergic to shellfish. Derek, one of our agents from Orlando, could not get the lobster out of the shell to save his life (which I did get a video on towards the end of his struggle). He also was complaining about the steak house not being open and how he wanted steak the whole time, and then he got lobster. Everyone thought it was delicious. The steak, which is what I got, was perfect! I was sooo full at the end of the meal.
Afterwards, we went to the Michael Jackson Show at the Riu Reggae, just a quick walk across the beach. We found a decent table to sit, that wasn’t too far from the bar and just sat, enjoyed, and recorded. Afterwards we hung out at the beach party at the Palace Jamaica, just stood and “danced” on the sand, and talked, and enjoyed the beautiful weather we were having.
Sadly, this was our last night.
We called it a somewhat early night so we could go back to our rooms and pack our bags.
We began our morning at the beach early. And took advantage of breakfast as it opened. We had a late departure which was absolutely awesome, because no one was ready to leave to go back to winter. And we had an inspection left to do. Some of us ran to the gift shop. Which had a pretty great selection for really reasonable pricing. We got back on our bus and we began our inspection of the Iberostar Properties.
The ground floor has all the amenities on the Iberostar properties. The SUPER cool thing about the Iberostar is that there is WiFi everywhere…including the beach! The property also includes babysitters. The beach gazebos were first come first serve (unfortunately that also means that someone can put their towels on them and keep them all day)
There were 666 rooms at the Iberostar Beach of 5 different categories and there were 4 presidential suites. Personally I thought the bedding looked a little outdated. They have 3 restaurants; Cajun, Japanese, and Steak house.
The Iberostar Suites bedding was more modern and included a sleeper sofa. There were 319 Suites, 2 presidential suites, and 2 bedroom family rooms. There was a lazy river and a mini kids water park. Also 5 a la carte restaurants: Seafood, Asian, Steak, Gourmet, and Italian. As well as the had a beach restaurant. The spa was located on this property on the 3rd and 4th floor, they had 19 treatment rooms and pools on the 4th floor.
The Iberostar Grand, was just that. The rooms were absolutely beautiful. I was totally in love with the modern bedding, and the fun swing that they had on the balconies. Where, I would be drinking coffee and blogging from staring out at the pools and the ocean. There were 295 rooms, all are junior suites, and 2 Presidential suites. There were 4 a la carte restaurants: Italian, Gourmet, Surf-N-Turf, and Japanese. There were swim up suites at the Grand. And full butler service, 24 hours, any room category.
Then we ate lunch. To be honest, they had a pretty stellar selection, and the food was one of the best All-Inclusive Buffet Restaurants (I’d put the Zilara in 2nd place after the Iberostar Buffet)
We made our way to what seemed like THE MOST CHAOTIC Airport I’ve ever gone through. Coming into Jamaica was super simple. But trying to leave they made getting your boarding pass extremely difficult. One attendant was trying to help everyone punch their information in, someone was passing out the Club MoBay passes, people had to go and get cleared in a line by airline employees, half of our group was told to go somewhere else. Oofta!
Club MoBay, is a pretty nice thing to have on the return. You go through a “smaller” line that takes you into security pretty quickly, and then you follow signs to the Club MoBay Lounge, which has bathrooms, liquor and drinks, and food, and comfortable places to sit. It looked like it was two stories, but our group was split unfortunately. Now the thing about Club MoBay, there was only one area where this was. It was about a 15 minute walk to our gate from there. Names of people in our group were called, and it took them forever. So just because you have a nice comfy area to relax in before your flight, just remember that you may not be as close to your gate as you think!
Once we landed in Atlanta, most of us went on our own way to different gates. (We had a gal from New York, some gals from Las Vegas, and some people from Orlando that were on two different flights, and then us Milwaukee gals.) Luckily, I have global entry, and quickly went through. TSA, however took forever, since there was only one open lane. (I waited like an hour-two hours for Chels to come to the gate.)