Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Jamaica 2013, #2: The Good Stuff

There were a few bumps in the road, but this post will describe some of the many positive aspects of our Caribbean vacation.

The Room Location

We had a first-floor room with a private, walk-out patio. From the patio we were afforded views of the swimming pool, the beach, and the ocean. The people-watching was also outstanding, as a major pathway ran just along the edge of the beach. Once or twice each day, maybe while Kim was going for a dip in the pool, I would sit on my patio and catch up on emails or read from my iPad, while sipping a drink and looking out over the ocean. Not bad.

Given that we were in Jamaica, more than once my olfactory senses detected the characteristic odor of the local cash crop emanating from the adjacent patio. And no, they never offered me any. Stoners were so much more charitable back in my college days.

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The Other Guests

The population of guests ranged from 18 to 90 years old, with no particular generation dominating the scene. Sandals resorts are couples only, no children.

The people came from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. There were some wealthy people at the resort, and there were working-class folks. Almost anyone who is fully employed can afford to go to such a resort, at least once in their lifetime, if that’s how they choose to spend their money.

Most of the people were from cold climates. There were lots of New Englanders and upper Midwesterners. There were so many Canadians – we shared a drink with a couple from Saskatchewan and then another couple from Québec. The Québecers were interesting. They could barely speak any English, but we managed to have a nice conversation using a blend of French, English, hand signals, laughs, and smiles. We also met several couples from the UK. I can listen to that accent all day long.

The Beach

There was a 2 mile long private beach, with some additional public beach tacked on the end of it. In Jamaica there is only a one foot difference between low and high tide. This is very different from the beaches in Maine where the tides are significant. There were chaise lounges and umbrellas galore. Even at peak times we were always able to find a spot in the shade to settle down. I’ll write more about my experiences with the iBot on the beach in a future post (spoiler alert: it was all good).

The Entertainment

Sandals Whitehouse had better evening entertainment than the Sandals in the Bahamas. But I would say the overall quality of entertainment was still less than what we experienced on a large, modern cruise ship in 2009. The best show was the first night we arrived, Monday night. After the beach party, we were entertained with high flying acrobats, comedians, dancers, and the coolest flame-breathing, fire-eating Jamaican dude you ever saw. He was out of control.

Other nights we were treated to better than average musicians and singers. There was something to see in the main plaza or the indoor theater each evening.

The Restaurants

There were two choices for breakfast – a white tablecloth sit-down restaurant and an extensive buffet. For lunch there were a few more sit-down options plus the buffet. At dinner there were three upscale restaurants and several less formal venues. Also, on two evenings there were large catered events outside of the restaurants.

Every meal we ate was outstanding, except for one lunch. We ordered a jerk chicken sandwich, expecting chunks of freshly prepared jerk chicken to be piled on a sandwich roll. We were disappointed to find that the jerk chicken was actually a processed patty, like that which is probably available in the frozen food section of every Jamaican grocery store. But that meal quality was the exception, not the rule.

The Drinks

There was no shortage of poolside bars and other locations where friendly and talented mixologists would amaze us with their creativity, skill, and often with their unique personalities. Of course, I can’t drink much these days, but I did enjoy a few concoctions.

The Service

The service was outstanding. The bartenders, waiters, maids, concierge, and the entire staff were friendly and accommodating. When you go to a Sandals all-inclusive resort you can expect nothing less than the best in this regard.

The Weather

We experienced about five minutes of light rain the whole week. Around noon time the heat would sometimes get to me, but there was always a nice seabreeze to knock the temperature down by the early afternoon. We never donned anything more substantial than shorts and T-shirts, other than a couple of evenings when we dressed more nicely for dinner. This warmth was much appreciated after the “traditional” winter we’ve had in Maine this year.

The Grounds

This resort, given that it is in a rural location, has sprawling grounds. One of the resort photographers, Trevon, who took a particular interest in my iBot all week, offered to give us a private, educational tour of the plant life on the resort. It’s funny. We’re not plant people, so early in the week we walked by all of this tropical flora without giving it a second thought, except “wow… pretty”, until Trevon had us stop and look more closely. Here are some pictures that he took of us on that tour.

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The Company

Kim works so damn hard all year long, both at her job as a middle school guidance counselor and at home, that I love to see her kick back and be taken care of for once (except, of course she still had to help me get through each day). My brother and his wife are such earnest, generous, hard-working people. They have three grown children and two grandchildren, who they help out in so many ways. It was gratifying to see them lounge around without a care in the world for five days.

Of course, it takes guts to travel with me, a prolific blogger. You never know how I’m going to portray you in my posts. For that matter, it takes guts to visit me at my house, have lunch with me, or even make eye contact with me on the street, for the very same reason. What happens with Mitch, doesn’t stay with Mitch. It gets spread all over the interwebs. So I thank my travel companions for some of the great material they provided me with.

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To be continued...

Other posts in this series:

Jamaica 2013, #1: Hello Paradise
Jamaica 2013, #2: The Good Stuff
Jamaica 2013, #3: Challenges
Jamaica 2013, #4: Taking the iBot to Jamaica
Jamaica 2013, #5: Flights - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Jamaica 2013, #6: Final Thoughts

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