Author: Claire MacDonald
Photo: Claire MacDonald
Our annual family vacation to Costa Rica got canceled this year because of COVID. Our daughter Paige, owner of A Destination Travel, started looking for another place for us to go. She found that the Beaches and Sandals in Negril, Jamaica, was open, and we could fly there and back without a 14-day quarantine either way. She booked it for the seven of us, and we left Las Vegas on July 31st. We needed a non-resident travel authorization issued by the Jamaican government. As of August 20, 2020, all USA residents over the age of 12 must obtain a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR test result, conducted within ten days of your intended travel date at an accredited medical laboratory. Paige can help you with the continually changing requirements for travel.
We flew from Las Vegas to Miami, then into the airport at Montego Bay. Before going through customs, everyone had to have their temperature taken and were questioned about their health. After going through customs, we were escorted to the Sandals/Beaches lounge at the airport for snacks and drinks, then escorted to the free Beaches/Sandals transfer bus for a ride a little over an hour away to Negril. We checked in, put on our swimsuits, and went directly to the pool.
Beaches Resorts are for families with infants through 17 years of age. Sandals Resorts are for adults ages 18 and over. Because our youngest granddaughter Sabrina is 17 ½ years old, we went to Beaches Negril. All Sandals and Beaches resorts are all-inclusive, which means your price covers everything from the rooms and suites (including tips, taxes, transfers, and wi-fi) to dining, unlimited bar, and premium spirits, and unlimited land and water sports.
At Beaches Resorts, there are active kid’s programs for all ages, including crafts and other activities. Complimentary certified nannies are included all day every day for all ages, from infants, tots, tweens, and teens, in every room category. Beaches Resorts has the first Caribbean certified Autism-friendly kids camp. There are active programs planned for all ages, plus teens have their own club. Beaches Negril and Sandals Negril are quite close together and are on a seven-mile beach, one of the most famous beaches globally. The sand is white and powdery. The beach is at its
widest in front of the Beaches resort. We loved walking along the shore and watching the sun go down in the evening.
There are many room categories, so you have a choice of rooms for one person, to lavish family-size suites with butler service. The resort only had a 54% occupancy rate because of COVID. Paige was able to get us an upgrade to ocean view concierge rooms. An added benefit was no one had to wear a mask while on the resort.
We spent seven nights and enjoyed every minute. Every morning we put on our swimsuits and went down for breakfast. Most mornings, we ate at The Mill, an international buffet served outside overlooking the pool. Because of COVID, when you went into the restaurant, you used hand sanitizer, the masked and gloved staff handed you a plate, then escorted each person through the buffet
line and served you the items you wanted. There was always a carving station and an omelet station. You could order a Mimosa or Bloody Mary and, of course, coffee or other drinks, if you wanted. They sanitized each table and all chairs when you finished your breakfast and left.
The swim-up bars opened in the morning, and we spent a lot of time sitting in the shade at the bar reading and talking to people. Ask Rich about his favorite drink – the Jamaican Smile. We also had lounge chairs and towels and spent part of our day under the umbrellas. At 11:00 each morning, they had water exercise classes in the main pool. There are a couple of jacuzzis and a kid’s pool. In the larger pools, there are lots of lounge floaties available. There are a total of seven bars, and they all had food service available. The food at the resort is 5-star gourmet.
Although it sounds like we just ate and drank, we did find time to do other things. Paige, Nicole, and Rochelle are Padi certified scuba divers and were allowed two dives a day for free, including equipment. We floated around the lazy river and played at Pirates Island Waterpark. My son-in-law Leo and I played billiards, and he beat me. They also have shuffleboard, table tennis, and lawn chess. There are tennis courts, a basketball court, soccer field, pool and beach volleyball, croquet area, and a fitness center. We enjoyed the free water sports, including snorkeling, banana boat rides, kayaks, standup paddleboard (SUP), Hobie cats, water bikes, water skiing, and kneeboarding. The ocean was beautiful and warmer than the swimming pool. We saw starfish, various shells, and frogs the size of your thumbnail that chirped at night.
There is an Island Routes Adventures Desk where you can book excursions outside the resort. Paige can book tours for you before you leave, so you are guaranteed availability. Nicole went parasailing and saw amazing views of the coastline.
For total relaxation, Rich and I enjoyed massages at the Red Lane Spa. Some of our family also got foot massages. It is a lovely spa with lots of options – facials treatments, body treatments, massages, manicures, pedicures, hair styling, and makeup. Guests of the resort have complimentary use of the hot and cold plunge pools, steam rooms and sauna, his and her locker rooms, and state-of-the-art fitness center.
Despite COVID, we were able to get away and have a great time at Beaches Negril. We went to Beaches Turks & Caicos for our family trip a few years ago and enjoyed it. It is a larger resort, and the beach is equally as gorgeous. Two years ago, we went with a group of DragonRidge members to Sandals Emerald Bay in the Bahamas.
We look forward to getting a group together for next year.
A Destination Travel
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