Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Jamaica for Christmas

Now that I've laid out all of my arguments for deserving a vacation, here's what we're actually getting for our $5,000.

Couples Swept Away in Negril, Jamaica
It was tempting to think of where in the world $5k could take us and we had plenty of international suggestions from Belize and Mexico to London and Paris.  But in my mind, those are exploring vacations, the kind that require a schedule and lots of walking.   

What we want this round is a lounging vacation - no schedule, no obligations, and very little energy expended.  I can't think of a better spot in the world for doing nothing than on an island.   

Swim-up bar, anyone?
With the help of a travel agent, we scouted a variety of resorts in the Caribbean.  There are tons of choices so we asked ourselves what else we wanted out of our vacation.  We decided we'd like:
  • All-inclusive resort.  This one is a no-brainer, but I really dig all-inclusive.  It means you pay one upfront price for room, drinks, tips, food, amenities, and airfare.  The only thing you would pay for out-of-pocket would be extras at the spa or gift shop.
  • A higher resort star rating.  The Royal Decameron in Runaway Bay was a cozy resort at 3 stars, but we got a little bored with the food options.  It was tasty, but nothing that blew us foodies away.  We figured another star would expand the menu.
  • Couples only.  We're child-free by choice and while we love the children of friends and family, there's nothing like being on vacation and competing with teenagers for snorkeling equipment, being crashed into by kids while out for an evening stroll, or hearing the wail of a toddler nearby.
  • Simple and peaceful.  Some resorts are equipped with tons of bars, nightly theme parties, casinos, and dance halls.  We don't need to be entertained.  Some water activities, good restaurant options, and the option to splurge on the spa is all we need.
  • Comfy room.  If I want a posh hotel room with gizmos and gadgets and the latest interior design trends, I'll go to Las Vegas.  We want a room that's quiet and secluded.  No need for an oceanview or beachfront either (which are more expensive than garden views anyways).  

My travel agent sent eight options between Jamaica, Cancun, and the Dominican Republic.  Most of them offered the same set of amenities so it came down to the rooms and location

Because we'd already fallen in love with Jamaica, it was an easy sell to want to go back.  We'd heard about the beauty of Negril, an area on the southern side of the island where you can see the sun set into the ocean <drool> 

So we settled on Couples Swept Away, a lovely 4.5 star resort that has hammocks everywhere (a major selling point).  It offers all of the amenities you'd expect (including fitness classes, which I really like), but the rooms had me at first sight.  We reserved an atrium suite that looks awesome!  

More hammocks!
I really like this aesthetic - simple and elegant
We're also excited about the food options.  Among the standard grills and buffets, there's a Thai-style restaurant and a gourmet Caribbean restaurant, both right up our taste bud alley.

Mike's biggest drool factor is the white-sand beaches.  Mister Photographer will have no shortage of scenic landscapes to occupy himself with.  The resort includes free glass bottom boat tours too.

Our $4,750 price tag gets us airfare, a full 5 days, and then two half days when we travel in/out.  We're skipping any day trips (we did two the last time and got our fill, they're also an extra expense) so there is absolutely no schedule beyond arriving and leaving.  I cannot wait! 

Have you ever done a resort vacation? 


  1. Looks awesome! Joe and I are throwing around ideas for our 10th anniversary in two years. 5K is out of our reach but we want to splurge on some sort of nice trip just the two of us. Especially since we didn't get a honeymoon. (2 weeks after the wedding I was on a solo trip from Cali to Alabama, thank you Army)

    Side note... those slanty mirrors above the bed look like an angry face! LOL!!

    1. Aawww, you guys totally deserve to do something!!! I know Mike and I would go nuts visiting any of the National Parks - I've never been to any of them, even Mount Rushmore or the Grand Canyon. I would also love touring historical cities, like Boston or Philadelphia. Or New York and LA for their film history, lol. Even an overnight Mississippi River cruise would be a fun, unique thing to do. Ohh, or go to Maine when the leaves are turning.

      Have you noticed I love travel? lol

      And thanks about the room - now when we get there I'm going to giggle thinking about that!!

  2. We're thinking a week long cruise or something to that effect. While we have fond memories of camping and state parks (when we were dating, we were rained into our tent while on the Superior Trail without even a deck of cards for entertainment... *grin*) that's generally something we do as a family.

    Before we can do any trips though we need to strap down our budget. We're doing fine but need to do better. We made it for two years on an income of less than 35k and now Joe is making nearly twice that (56k) and we still have nothing to save. If we made it that long on that little we should be able to go a little longer to at least get some emergency savings.

    1. I don't even know how much cruises cost these days. It would take a lot of convincing for me to go on one (have this fear of drowning in an enclosed space) but I hear the Alaskan ones are truly breathtaking.

      I feel you on the savings. I've been killing off debt with Mike's deployment money, but nothing has gone into savings yet. Hoping that if there's only school loans left, all of that money that was going each month to credit cards and car loans can start to fuel our savings.

      Even though your trip is some time off, I'd start pricing things now to get a ballpark estimate. If a cruise will run you for $3k, for example, you only have stash away $125 a month to make it happen. Always good things to keep in mind.