No Problem! Jamaica Resort Styling.

Our Guatemala trip was great, but didn’t include a lot of beach time, and was a little stressful, trying to find bus stations, buying tickets, waiting for buses, etc etc etc.  Plus the Ottawa winter was brutal, so we decided that we’d take a few days off around Easter and go somewhere warm and relaxing.

Which is how we ended up at a resort in Jamaica.

We did a resort after backpacking around Cuba last year, so this wasn’t our first resort stay, but it was the first trip where the resort was the entire trip.  We had 6 days – which means we really only had 4 days at the resort, as the first and last days were transit.

At the couples lounge

We booked in at Couples Tower Isle in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, with WestJet Vacations.  Upon exiting customs in Jamaica (no passport stamp alas), we immediately saw a WestJet Representative, who showed us to the Couples Lounge, where we waited for other travellers who would be sharing our shuttle.  The lounge featured real washrooms, as well as a bar where cold beer, and cold water were served, with a smile and some chit-chat with the bartender. 

The ride to the resort was about 2 hours – which we had been advised about earlier by our travel agent, so we weren’t surprised or upset.  Since it was just after 7, it was too dark to get an idea of what the island looked like.  (No matter, we figured we would see it on our way back to the airport in a few days) 

View from the room

We arrived at the resort, were quickly checked-in, and told that all the restaurants closed in a half-hour, so if we wanted food we’d have to be quick (only they phrased it much nicer than that.)  Luckily, the buffet was still open, so we were led there, and we filled plates with food and had a nice (if somewhat quick) dinner.  After that it was off to our room (with a king-size bed), where we unloaded our bags and washed our faces, before heading to the piano bar, to have a drink or two, read our books, and unwind after our flights.

The next morning we finally got our first view of the resort – while Tower Isle does have a small beach (if you’re someone who likes long walks on the beach, this is most definitely not the resort for you), it was well-kept, with plenty of shady spots, and enough lounges that we never had much trouble finding two that were free.  Additionally, the beach never felt crowded, although small it was adequate for the size of the resort.  The water was a lovely turquoise colour, and we nearly immediately jumped in…after our breakfast of course.  (I need me some coffee in the a.m.)

Relaxing in the water

We lounged for the most part of our trip, enjoying the sun and warmth, as well as the waves (the isle acts as a break, so the waves don’t get very big).  The resort offers a variety of activities – catamaran tours, hobie cat rides, snorkeling, scuba diving, as well as beach activities like volleyball.  There are also two rings floating out in the water for guests to relax in.  

The beach itself has plenty of shade – either from the palms, or from triangles of fabric rigged up between the trees above the lounges.  We found we had the perfect blend of shade to sun.  That isn’t to say that we didn’t end up with sunburns – after an Ottawa winter, anyone would.

At Dunn’s River Falls

Our second day, though, we headed out on the Dunn’s River Falls tour.  The resort has shuttles to take you to the park, and they also handle the entrance fee.  All you need is money for any souvenirs you want to buy, as well as to tip your guide. 

It was nicely shaded along the waterfall, so we didn’t need to worry about sunglasses.  You do need to worry about watershoes, though – you are anywhere from ankle deep to thigh deep in water, and in places you’re walking along a river bed, with sharp rocks.  Other places the rocks are smooth and could be slippery.  They urge you to hold hands as you walk up, which just made me feel like I was going to fall, so I let go and climbed as I normally would.  You walk along, pausing in places for photos (which they later try to sell you a DVD of).  In one spot, they let you slide down a small portion, in another they push you backwards into a deep pool.  At times it looked incredibly steep, and I though “Oh, I don’t think I can do this”, but honestly it was more bark than bite – it wasn’t nearly as difficult as it appeared.

Sunset over the resort

Back on the resort, we had decided to have dinner at the non-reservation restaurant – Verandah, which served Jamaican fare.  We thought the food was incredible, and the atmosphere was very nice.  The next night we had a reservation at Eight Rivers, which we had read a lot of reviews for.  However, we found the food not quite as good as it had been the night before at Verandah.  It was still good, it just didn’t live up to expectations.  Our final night we had dinner at the Asian-themed restaurant, Bayside, which is located in several pavilions overlooking the bay.  It was a little dim, and with the waves crashing underneath it was a little difficult to have conversation.  Nonetheless, the atmosphere was romantic, and the food good.

The one notable about the food at the buffet was that they had clearly labelled gluten-free desserts and bread available.  I didn’t enquire into the other food, but based on that labelling, I would assume that the staff could identify which foods were GF and which weren’t.  There were also lots of vegetarian options (including a veggie bar that was open during the day, serving veggie sandwiches, smoothies and salads.)  it really seemed like they were trying to cater to multiple diets and allergies.

Since we were there over Easter, the resort had a treat in store for us on Easter Sunday.  For lunch, along with the usual buffet, we had a Jamaican BBQ on the beach, complete with jerk chicken and coconut drinks (with rum to taste.)  Then they had a kids’ marching band play – down across the beach, up the dock and back.  These kids were amazing – besides being incredibly talented at their instruments, there was also a brief dance portion, where they encouraged the guests to come out and dance as well – without forcing anyone who felt uncomfortable to get up and boogie.  

Overall our stay at the resort was great.  The staff were very friendly, the food plentiful and filling, and the beach great for relaxing.  I’d go back in a heartbeat….if there weren’t a million places to visit first.

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