February 27, 2013

Irie Jamaica!


Dear Travel Junkies:
Fly down to the Caribbean Sea and immerse yourself in the Jamaican culture, heritage, food, and all that it has to offer.  Pay homage to the world's fastest man, Usain Bolt, and famous reggae performer, Bob Marley.  I promise you that you will have the best time of your lives.  Aside from the same addictive sun rays, white sandy beaches and pampered resort-life as most of the other tropical islands of the Caribbean Sea, Jamaica sets itself apart historically and culturally.

You will appreciate your trip to Jamaica more if you embrace the island's unique character and people.  Unlike most countries, Jamaicans are extremely laid back and relaxed people.  You will hear or may have heard about the "Jamaican time" phenomenon, which means punctuality is not as all consuming as in the Western culture.  Also, Jamaicans can be very direct so try not to take offense with what they say.

Jamaicans speak a variation of English known as Patois.  It is not an accent but a distinct language you will eventually pick up as your time in Jamaica goes on.  I lived in the projects with my family growing up when my parents immigrated to Canada so I picked up several phrases from ongoing conversations amongst my neighbourhood.  It was really nice to hear it again while I was in Jamaica.  The language isn't difficult to learn and very easy to pick up.

Jamaica has among the most famous and colourful music traditions in the world which includes punk, reggae, ska, rocksteady, and dancehall.

What to do: 
Dunn's River Falls   Join hands with a stranger and climb the Caribbean's most famous waterfall.
Nine Mile   Pay homage to the famous reggae performer, Bob Marley, at his place of birth and final resting place. Take a tour inside the Bob Marley Museum which was his former place of residence.
The White Witch of Rose Hall   According to the legend, the spirit of Annie Palmer haunts the grounds of Rose Hall Plantation. She moved to Jamaica and married John Palmer.  She murdered her husband along with three subsequent husbands and many male slaves, later being murdered herself by a slave.  The house is now a historic museum, open to the public, with regular hour from 9-5pm and tours lasting for 45 mins. 
Ocho Rios   Take a scuba diving lesson and enjoy other water sports in this town.  It is the port of call for cruise ships as well as cargo ships.  The town has restaurants, night clubs in Margaritaville and Dolphin Cove, where tourist swim and interact with the dolphins.  This location is also notable for the very first James Bond film released in 1962.
Negril's Seven Mile Beach   One of the top beaches in the world by many travel magazines.  It is a small but widely dispersed beach resort town of Negril.
Zipline Adventure Tours   Enjoy the views of rural Jamaica on the longest zipline in the Caribbean 1500 meters high above the grounds. The zipline canopy tour includes an exciting off-road ride in their 6-wheel drive military troop vehicles.    
Rick's Cafe   Visit the famous bar and restaurant of its type on the West End Cliffs, take a dive from the cliff into the 35 feet crystalline water below  and watch the sunset along with hundreds of other tourists. The staff offers a great dive show and entertainment.


Rick's Cafe
Climbing the Dunn's River Falls

All geared up to zipline the Jamaican greens
My lover and I cruising through 1500 meters above the ground
Local street performer
Montego Bay
Souvenir shopping
Negril beach
 Bob Marley Museum in Nine Mile
The White Witch of Rose Hall





Where we stayed: 
My boyfriend and I stayed at the 5-star all-inclusive Iberostar Grand Rose Hall living the pampered resort life.  I stayed at many all-inclusives but this hotel exceeded all expectations. Upon arrival, we were greeted with smiles and a drink.  Initially we booked our stay at their Beach resort but we discovered the other two sides of the resort, the Iberostar Suites and the Iberostar Grand, which were much nicer than the Iberostar Beach.  Two nights into our week stay, we upgraded to the Grand because we were unhappy with the food and pools at the Iberostar Beach. Our upgrade totalled an additional $500 for the remaining 5 nights, we took the offer immediately without thinking.  Our luggage was transferred to our new rooms along with our very own butler to service us. The rooms, food, atmosphere, and service was much better as well as the staff.  No offence to the staff at the Iberostar Beach but the staff at the Iberostar Grand were much more attractive especially the girls.  

Iberostar Grand was an adults-only resort which was great.  It was quiet, exclusive, no children running around, and accessible to the other sides of the Iberostar resort complex - Beach and Suites.  Our butler was great - offering us pillow options, making sure our mini bar and fridge was stocked with what we wanted and offering to set up a romantic evening with champagne in our jacuzzi.  He was very attentive, I wished I could have used him more during my stay.  The hotel was very clean and smelled very nice with a rose scent. 

We spent a couple of days by the pools. The chairs and beds were so comfortable that it was so hard to stay awake enjoying a good read of your favourite novel. The waitresses were very attentive and always coming by asking if we wanted another drink or anything to eat. My boyfriend enjoyed their food so much that we ate almost five times a day. The jerk chicken was the best everywhere I've had in Jamaica but not so much for their beef patties. My boyfriend loved the oxtail dishes and the variety of choices at the buffets. 

Overall, I'd definitely recommend this hotel and Jamaica, of course. The whole experience from start to finish was wonderful. 

Tip: What I've learned from all-inclusive vacations is to book your trip for the cheapest rooms they have then upgrade once you arrive to your hotel.  It's more inexpensive that way. Or write an email to the hotel management a couple weeks before you arrive and let them know that it's your anniversary, birthday, honeymoon, etc and let them know that you've heard great things about their hotel and also that you are very excited to stay with them. Then inquire about getting the nicest room if possible to better your stay and experience. This worked for a lot of my friends and clients and it doesn't hurt to try it for yourself. 


Iberostar Grand Rose Hall
Our lovely suite
Getting caught up with a good book
Wandering eyes
My morning glory
The temporary good life =p

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