Wednesday, November 30, 2011

So you want an all inclusive vacation?

Until recently, I'd never been to an all inclusive resort. Amazing, I know. Even my 5 year old nephew has been to one. Why is it that I've never managed to live the life of uncapped food and drink and sunshine?

Well, frankly, it's likely because that's not my style of travel. I'm an adventure traveller. I enjoy the excitement of arriving in an unknown place, finding my own way, meeting people at a hostel and sampling the random street food that is available.

However, my job relies on my ability to help people find a vacation that suits THEIR needs, not just my own. So, when the opportunity came up to take a trip to Jamaica and visit a bunch of resorts and learn more about them I jumped at the chance. And, if I'm being honest, with the threat of winter looming over us, I jumped a the chance to feel some sunshine on my face and warmth again.

Thomas Cook Canada was hosting a "Mega FAM". This meant that over 150 agents from across Canada would be shown around the country, learn about the different areas and shown different resorts. I've never been to Jamaica, let alone an all inclusive, so I was the perfect candidate for such a trip. Jamaica's motto is "Once you go, you know" so I was all set for knowing it all by the time I got back.

Believe me when I say it wasn't  a relaxing trip. I saw about 5 cumulative hours of sunshine (doesn't help that the sun goes down at 5pm every day and we got back to the host hotel around 3 or 4 most of the time). We visited the 3 different tourist areas of the country (Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and Negril) and learned a bit about each of them.

Ocho Rios - About an hour and a half away from the Montego Bay airport is the home to a lot of the exciting tourist excursions available (Dunn's River Falls, Dolphin Cove). The beaches are smaller here and the weather a bit more unpredictable. We had more rain in this area due to the mountains behind us but the warm breeze coming off the water was great.

Montego Bay - Most vacationers will fly into MoBay. There are a lot of resorts in the area, and lots of shopping and history to take in. The famous Rose Hall, home of the White Witch is a great place to visit. There are also a multitude of golf courses in the area if you enjoy the sport.

Negril - Originally a secret spot for hippies who wanted to escape life, the town has maintained it's laid back feel. There is a rule in place that no buildings can be higher than the highest palm tree, and thus the resorts are either sprawling or little boutique hotels. By far my favourite of the places we visited, mostly due to the approachable nature of the area. I could see myself staying here, mingling with the locals, renting a motorbike and exploring the area. Split into two areas, the west side has gorgeous cliffs to jump from and the east side has 7 miles of white sand beaches and turquoise blue waters to enjoy.
Rick's Cafe, Negril. You can watch the daredevils dive from 9m cliffs
In the next few days, I'll post some info about the hotels I visited along with some photos.

Would I go back to Jamaica? Of course I would. 

Would I do it as an all inclusive vacation? Possibly. Especially if it was to Negril. After about 3 days I felt like I would never be able to eat another bite of food or drink another sip of rum punch. But it was a good experience. I'm not a stagnant traveller. I prefer to get off the resort, mingle with the locals and meet other people. But not every person out there wants that in a vacation. Some people love sunbaking on the pool deck or by the ocean, eating until they explode and drinking fruity cocktails.

Don't get me wrong, I do too. I just can't do it for a whole week. 

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