Guest Post: Written By Roger Grubb, Husband and Father of 4.
Our family (all 6 of us) embarked on a whirlwind trip to Jamaica for a 6 day getaway over the winter break. Granted, 6 days is hardly enough time to take in the many varied sights, sounds, tastes, and thrills of this tropical paradise, but given the fact that we had to plan our activities to coincide with the winter school break as many parents with school-aged children have to, we did our utmost to make sure we incorporated as many experiences as possible in the short amount of time we had.
Our family consists of my wife and myself, our adult daughter who is 22 years old, our teenage son who is 16 years old, our 9-year-old daughter and our 7-year-old son. In planning what may be our last trip where we all travel together, we wanted to make sure that we found a resort that not only offered A-1 accommodations but amenities and activities on the property that were engaging, enjoyable and entertaining for ALL of us.
We had the opportunity to stay at the RIU Hotels and Resorts and boy, what an experience it was! We split our time between the RIU in Montego Bay and the RIU in Ocho Rios and we received first class service at BOTH properties.
Upon our arrival at the RIU Montego Bay on January 02, 2017, we were welcomed with a cold refreshing glass of fruit punch and lemonade while engaging with the attendant at the front desk who helped make the process a breeze. The staff was knowledgeable, courteous and was willing to accommodate our request. We arrived several hours earlier than the regular check-in time – which was no problem. Our luggage was marked and brought up to our room once the room was ready. In the interim, we made our way to the Mobae Café where we enjoyed a lunch and started to unwind enjoy the scenery and the beautiful weather from the 2nd-floor patio. I was especially fond of the Red Stripe on tap.
After lunch and when our suitcase arrived, we changed and hit the beach, which was a mere 50 feet across a white sandy beach from the building housing our double room (again, a family of 6) for a dip in the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Although (or maybe because) we were in the section of the property designated for families, there was plenty to do. The kids club entertained the younger ones in the clubhouse with crafts, activities, games, water fun in the shallow pool, and poolside games. Adjacent to the shallow pool was the deeper pool with the customary swim up bar; which helped lift everyone’s spirits. If lounging poolside soaking up the rays of the Jamaican golden sun is not to your taste, then how about poolside entertainment presented by the RIU staff or a relaxing massage at the Renova Spa? Work up a sweat with an aerobic workout in a RIU Fit class or a game of beach volleyball? If you’re into watersports then there are activities galore from paddle boats, to wind surfing, to SCUBA diving (there is a certification course that’s offered to help to get you familiar with breathing with the equipment before you can be taken out into the ocean). There are also Catamarans tours that take you further out into to waters of the Caribbean Sea where it stops and the adventurous have the opportunity to go snorkeling and see up close, the many and varied species of fish and coral that inhabit the waters of the Caribbean up close.
The activities don’t end there: Cafés, Grills, and Bars abound, and the space is transformed at night for a-la-carte dining where depending on your taste (Steak, Chinese and Italian). You can enjoy fine dining before adjourning to the main stage for nightly entertainment consisting of dancing, bands, choreography, and more, artfully presented by the entertainment staff of the RIU on a rotating basis to keep things fresh. The entertainment team goes all out to make sure that the energy level is high and the guest truly enjoys themselves. If that wasn’t enough, the dance floor opens up and the resident DJ spins the latest hits until the wee hours of the night/morning to help you dance the night away.
On this trip, we were able to take advantage of many of the property’s on-site amenities; however, we also wanted to venture out and experience more of the local culture. Thanks to the on-site travel consultant, we were able to arrange several outside excursions effortlessly. From the RIU Montego Bay we arranged an excursion to Montpelier in the hills of St. James parish where we engaged in a thrilling Zip Lining adventure through the trees and about 3,000 feet about sea level. Wow….what a rush!
From the resort, we arranged for a taxi (Neville was our driver) who took us to local open air seaside restaurant in nearby Hopewell where we enjoyed the most delicious and mouthwatering Escovitch fish dinner. We selected the fish (a Red Snapper) which was freshly caught and it was cooked to perfection on the spot with locally grown herbs and spices to bring out the flavor and tasted in a word, delectable.
Our stay at the RIU Montego Bay came to an end on January 4th, 2017 but resumed at the RIU Ocho Rios later that day. As we drove onto the property in Ocho Rios with it majestic palm trees lining the long drive to the main building from the gate on both sides, we know we were entering into a world of tranquility. The grounds, full of lush greenery, and meticulously manicured lawns and gardens were quite stunning by day but by night it is illuminated for romantic walks and picturesque backgrounds straight from a postcard.