Monday, April 30, 2012

Caribbean Sunspree

Ahhh, back to reality.  The car had a fine film of frost on it this morning.  My favorite work pants were wrinkled.  I had to wear shoes that covered my toes.  And a jacket.  Traffic Jam on 441.
Vacation is over.
And that's okay.  While I'm not one to run toward mundane day to day, I am ready to be home.  The right kind of vacation should leave you rested, rejuvenated, and ready to dive back in.  To what?  More on that one tomorrow.  Lest I make you wait ANOTHER day, I'd like to talk about my experience with Holiday Inn Sunspree report-7 days of paradise....or was it?
In order to have the review make more sense, I've broken it into six sections, each rated out of a 5 point being the worst, five the best.  Keep in mind, even though this was a "Holiday Inn", it was all the hubster and I paid one price for the airfare, transfers, food, drink, non motorized sports, room, etc.  We paid a grand total of $50 out of pocket after the booking fees, and that was for extra sunscreen, sunglasses (hubster forgot his), and a few souvenirs. The rest...all included.  Here goes...

 Venue (4.5) - The resort was located in Montego Bay, Jamaica, about 7 miles from the airport.  Even though it was pretty close, the hubster and I opted to pay $40 for airport transport (both ways, so $20 each RT) because taxis are pretty darn expensive.  The actual resort was a strip along the beach, about a half mile long, comprised of 7 "room" buildings, one main hall with buffet and two restaurants upstairs, 3 snack huts, a gym, a separate seafood restaurant, two pools, and an "adult only" area with a whirlpool, swim up bar, pool, and stretch of "adult only" beach.  We stayed in building 5, which was far enough away from the main area and kiddos to have some privacy.  The main area also included a circular pool, whirlpool, springs, stage, and swim out island (man made).  Beach chairs aplenty.

Seafood Jambalaya-yes I ordered this!

Food and Drink (4)- All inclusive = if you go hungry, you're an idiot.  The main buffet was open basically from 7am-2:30pm for breakfast and lunch, 6:30-10om for dinner.  Snack huts featured soft serve, jerk pork and chicken, nachos, popcorn, hots, hams, chicken fingers, grilled cheese, etc. and were open from noon-2am.  There were 3 separate, reservation only restaurants- Italian, Jamaican and Seafood-we hit up all 3, and they were pretty darn decent.  The food wasn't 5 star, but it was good, varied, and catered to any taste.  Breakfast was awesome-fresh fruit, cereal, pancakes, waffles, bacon, sausage, omelet station, etc etc, and lunch and dinner always had a salad, fruit and dessert bar, pizza, plenty of meat and veggie choices, a few starches and a pasta bar.  Each a la carte restaurant had a prixe fixe menu-you chose one appetizer, one main, and a dessert.  We enjoyed all 3-I would rate them somewhere around an upscale Olive Garden.  No tipping allowed.  The drinks were great (AND STRONG!)  The bartenders mixed up whatever you asked, and weren't shy about suggesting something new.  We got Pina Coladas, Dirty Bananas, Rum Punch, Red Stripe, Bob Marley shots, and my new fave-Shark Bite!  And, of course, rum and coke.  Mmm, Jamaican Rum.  They also brought you a drink upon check in-sweet.
Activities (3.5)- All non motorized water sports-kayaking, snorkeling, paddle boats, etc. were included.  The pool was only "open" form 10am-6pm, but that was basically referring to Lifeguard manned-they could care less if you swam after hours.  There was a gym (yes I went to it a few times) with free weights, Nautilus, treadmills, bikes and ellipticals.  A mini golf section.  A tennis court.  A basketball court.  And a beach volleyball set up.  Aqua aerobics every morning in the main pool.  The Hubster and I partook in everything but the tennis courts-it was all run really well, with the exception of the water sports-the guys that manned that section were a bit temperamental, but you can't have it all, can ya? :-)  Each night, they had a different type of entertainment-karaoke, dancing, bands, etc.  There was separate kiddo and adult entertainment, and the hubster and I really got a kick out of watching the kiddos during the day and at dinner.  We participated in the evening activities most nights-the hubster even sang me a love song a la karaoke.  Awww.  The hotel also provided free transport to the Jamaican nightlife, but we decided not to "club" it.  The resort was fun enough.  Plus, we are 80 year olds early risers and like our sleep.

No, this was not our room :-P
Room (3.5)- As I said, we chose a room in building 5, which was in a private spot.  We got a room in the top floor, which was done really well.  It featured 14 foot ceilings, two double beds (we had the option of a king but decided we wanted a bed to throw crap on), a balcony, and the obvious amenities (bathroom, TV, etc.)  Free wifi in the rooms.  The room was done really well...the bed was not the most comfortable thing in the world, but I have a preference for really soft beds, so I sucked it up.  Excellent cleaning service-the maids didn't clean till the afternoon, but they were excellent.
Service (4.5) - Overall, really impressed.  Check in time was 3pm.  Our flight got in at 11:30, so we were at the hotel by 1pm.  Our room wasn't ready, so they checked our bags in a secure area, showed us a room with showers and a lounge area, and sent us along to lunch (which was awesome!).  Same with checkout-check out time was 11am, but we got to store our luggage, play on the beach, and eat lunch before our 3pm flight.  The wait staff was excellent, the bartenders hilarious, and every staff member had a smile for us (with the exception of the water sports guys).  Was it the Hilton?  Nah.  But if you were patient (and hello, who rushes in Jamaica?) You were served well.  The resort also had ample security, and if you left the grounds, they checked you out and in.  Loved this-Jamaica is not that safe of a place!
Overall Value (4) - If you want extreme luxury, go to Sandals, or Couples.  If you are laid back and want a fun trip that won't break the bank or cost you a dime beyond initial booking, this is the place to go.  After my entire review, I'll lay it out in terms of cash.  The hubster and I flew from Rochester, NY to Montego Bay, stayed 7 nights all inclusive, including transport to and from the hotel....for $1950.  Total.  Not per person.  Add on the extra $50 we spent in cash during the week for a cool $2000 trip.  Not too shabby for a week in paradise.

Would I go back?  If you could plop this place down anywhere else, yes.  The only drawback was that you were pretty much confined to the hotel-as I said, you don't want to go exploring in Jamaica.  It felt so wrong not putting on my running shoes and checking out the lay of the land (and running on a treadmill instead of the beach!) but if you don't get all antsy in your pantsy, that's not a problem.  Full relaxation....awesome food and drinks...plenty of married time (lol) and friendly people.  Win win.
Oh and did I mention I actually lost 2 pounds while I was there?  What freak of nature am I? No clue how that happened-just an added bonus!  If you have any questions, feel free to email me or comment-I would highly recommend Sunspree!  (We booked through, btw)

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