If you know me or my blog, you know I love to travel. And my traveling usually consists of a backpack, hostels, Airbnb, and a wing it DIY style approach. I have never done a prebooked and planned vacation and I have never been on a cruise and before this month I have never been on a resort. My reasons for prefering to plan my own travel and not use resorts are wide in range and will have to stay for another post. However, through a employer discount, I had a chance to experience an luxury resort and I thought, why not. You only live once right.
The resort Tony and I stayed at is called Secrets, St. James and is actually part of another resort called Wild Orchid. Basically they share all facilities and I think the only main difference might be the room decor.
I don’t have anything to compare it to, but the resort was beautiful and the service was amazing. It’s an inclusive so you will never go hungry or thirsty. Every morning you are greeted with a mimosa should you want one. The staff are well trained and very friendly. And the best part? It’s adults only so I don’t have to wake up to the screams of other people’s children. =) I love babies, and I’m sure I’ll appreciate the screams more when I have my own, but until then, I’m good on avoiding screaming kids.
Tony and I stayed at the resort for four nights. We arrived on Thursday afternoon and left Monday morning. Since check in was at 3pm and check out at noon, our flight times worked out really well. Montego Bay airport; however, is nothing to write home about. The customs line was a nightmare and took about 2 hours to get through the airport. Once we made it outside the airport, we started the cab haggle, but sadly you’re bargaining power is limited when you’re going to a luxury resort. We finally worked it down from $40 to $25 for our 15 minute cab ride. I guess it’s either to bargain when you’re going to a hostel ;).
Upon checking into the resort, we were greeted with Champagne and a cold wet towel. We got the keys to our room and our view was of the pool and ocean.
The rooms were pretty spacious and divided into a suite style. Their was a bathroom area with a shower and a Jacuzzi with two sink areas. A bedroom area with a king size bed and a little lounge area with a couch, a coffee table, a desk and an entrance to a balcony where this photo was taken. A little more cookie cutter than a small bed and breakfast, but comfortable and relaxing.
After checking in a few more glasses of sparkling wine, it was time to check out the beach. The weather and water was amazing! And our first night’s sunset was probably the best. It was rainy season in Jamaica but that day we saw no precipitation as the clouds did roll in.
The next day we woke up early and started with some beach reading and libations.
And pretty much devoted all of Friday to exploring the food and drink options.
On Saturday, our choice of activity was a little kayaking and snorkeling. For the most part, there wasn’t that much fish close to shore so we decided to go Scuba on Sunday.
At breakfast we made some new friends
But a lot of times we just spend doing nothing, admiring the views, and walking back and forth on the 400 meter path they have going around the resort. I saw a couple of people running, but I gave into my laziness and hatred of humid weather running. Drinking margaritas counts as a workout right?
For four days, we didn’t leave the resort. We spent those days just relaxing, reading, swimming, eating and enjoying the sights.
Scuba Diving in Jamaica
As much as it saddens me to say, I do not recommend scuba diving in Jamaica or at least with Secrets Montego Bay Resorts. Tony and I are both open water diver certified but we still like to go with a local dive master since they know the area better and are more experienced divers. We did two dives no too far off the shore of the resort going about 40-60 meters deep. Because of the huge over fishing problem Jamaica has, there were little fish to see. Instead we saw a large amount of fishing traps both active and broken. The corral life was also more disappointing as was the attitude of our dive master. PADI teaches us to not disrupt anything when you’re diving because it can be incredibly damaging to the corral and sea life. Our dive master however was very negligent with his fins and it made me really uncomfortable watching the small amount of destruction. We did see some beautiful fish and corral but it definitely did not compare to what we saw in Cozumel, Mexico. So if you’re on the fence about scuba diving in Montego Bay, I would just skip it.
And I know my friends on the west coast already know this, but beach sunsets never get old!
The last two nights we watched some pretty bad ass storms roll in with amazing lightening show that we watched from our balcony and ocean before I decided maybe I shouldn’t get hit by lightening just yet.
On our departing morning we tried stand up paddle boarding… Tony was a natural… I was… well at least I didn’t fall. I decided I was much better at snorkeling for shells instead.
Pros of staying in an all inclusive
- No planning required – Yup, pretty much everything you need is provided for your
- No worries about water – means you can shower, brush your teeth, drink, eat salads and pretty much pretend you’re in the good ole USA. Things you can’t really do if you’re traveling outside of the resort.
- Safety and service – pretty much guaranteed within the resort
Cons of staying in an all inclusive
- You lose your bargaining power – Most countries, particularly when you travel to more developing countries, haggling and bargaining is just part of the way of life. Unfortunately, its hard to bargain when everyone knows the resort you’re staying in, the prices they charge and the fact that you have no other options.
- Everything from a resort is more expensive – Part of it because you lose your bargaining power and part of it because your options of activities are more limited since you’re more disconnected from the downtown area
- You don’t really experience the culture – Being in a resort… well the country you’re in sort of becomes immaterial since everything you need is provided and most of the food even with the dining options is pretty much Americanized
- You don’t get don’t get to meet interesting people – our resort was pretty low key with mostly honey mooners and older folk relaxing. There isn’t much activity to interact.
- You lose the sense of adventure – Everything is planned, and relaxing… so you have no crazy stories to share… since that would not be very relaxing
Overall – Traveling to a resort during rainy season
Overall, Tony and I had a great and relaxing stay. For a change we didn’t leave the resort and just relaxes. It was a different type of vacation than our norm but sometimes you need one of these. We tried to do one activity a day before going back to being beach bums. We kayaked, snorkeled, scuba and even tried stand up paddle boarding for a small bit. The rest of the trip, was spent eating which I’ll save the photos for another post. Would I do another 4 day all inclusive stay? Probably not, but I would consider adding two of these days at the end of an adventure trip.