Friday, September 9, 2016
More Sandals Royal Caribbean
I know that picture is a repeat from the last blog, but today I felt I got a much better picture of the view outside our room. In a distance on the left of the picture is the private island where the Thai restaurant is. There is a smallish beach on the island. If you go to the far side of the island they even have a clothing optional swimming area! Most of the island is under construction because of the over water bungalows that they are building at this resort. Speaking of the over water bungalows, the current price for a week stay at one of those is $20K. Sure it's an all inclusive resort, but still. $20K? No thank you. Another interesting fact about those bungalows, is that they are sold out. Yep. Sold out 'til end of next year. I think they are building smaller over water bungalows also, to have a total of 17 when they are done completion, but that's Sandals for you. The picture below has the bungalows in construction. If you'll look at the left of the private island, you can see some bungalows have roofs on them and some have half and so on and so forth, but back to this blog and the rest of the pictures. I particularly love the shadow of the coconut tree. Yes, it's the coconut tree who's shadow shows in the picture above. So, you all have some reference for the skies. Speaking of coconuts, well, I have gotten coconut water here a few times. Just had to make friends with the gardener. Tonight, our last night here and our first night here, is the Friday night party. I had more coconut water, jelly and a whole plate of sugar cane. Devroy, the gentleman who cut up the sugar cane for me said that I was the only one who had a whole plate. The guests don't even look at it.
I think their eyes just skip over or they try it not quite knowing what to do. Not me. When I saw it there last week, Devroy got me a fresh plate full of sugar cane for me to go to town with. The last time I had sugar cane and coconut at a resort was at Negril. Hmmm. Another reason to gravitate towards the Jamaican resorts? More to come about my decisions to stay or not to stay with the Sandals chain. Before I delve into that, I have to mention that we said our good byes to Devroy today and got into easy conversation about the Jamaican fruits, especially jackfruit and he said, "Maaan. If you told me, I would have brought you some!" Too late. This was our last night on property and Devroy won't make it on till tomorrow evening, long after we have left. He told us to return to this property as do all the folks at all the Sandals properties we've been to. Sometimes I wonder if there's a secret competition between the properties for return guests. I just wonder.
Our trip here so far has been wonderful. When I first walked on property, my sixth time on a Sandals, I was a bit disappointed. The resort is considerably smaller than the ones we have been used to. The pool was a third the size of the main pool at Emerald Bay or Grande Antigua. Our room felt cramped and the beach was exceedingly small. We are used to the long walking beaches of Negril (7 mile stretch), Emerald Bay (a mile long) and even Antigua.
There are some properties where they lack in beach size. St. Lucia grande for instance doesn't have the longest beach, but St. Lucia Grande's beach would be considered large compared to Royal Caribbean's. Anyway, we started off looking around and wondering if choosing this resort was the best idea. There were several others in the Sandals chain we could have gone with, but then we realized that we had a great deal for 8 nights as opposed to our usual 7 that we do at the resorts here. I remember remarking to my husband that we got a great deal because the resort is smaller. Well, that was day one, when we got here.
Day 2, we started walking around the property. Of course, there's cozy nooks like this scattered around the resort. The walk ways are pretty much lush and garden like. They offer all the water sports - kayaking, paddle boarding, hobie cats. We didn't snorkel or do the glass bottom boat tour. We did manage to hobie cat and kayak. Sailing a hobie cat in the high winds was tough but the Sandal's rescue boat came out and guided us step by step to help us return. Very impressed with customer service at this resort. When you do run into someone who works here they would ask if we were OK and if they could do something for us.
Everywhere on the property. Anyone who worked there. Anyone. Customer service was right off the bat different. I recalled our honeymoon in Negril, Jamaica. Another resort with fabulous customer service.
The beach started calling our names when the temperature at midday rose. I thought, small beach, but what the heck. There's water so why not? We took the plunge and the moment my feet hit the warm waters of the caribbean, I knew I was in the right place. We had to go in further to get cooler waters. The beach outside our room was mostly deserted, so while it was small, it felt private. Most of the time, it was just us in that part of the beach. There is a slightly longer stretch of beach, the main stretch if you will, but it's crowded most of the time, so we decided to stick to our side of the water. The pool. Well, we found a smaller quieter pool and through our stay even got used to the main pool. The main pool is the picture below. Ya. You can tell it's not very big!! But it works. Met a bartender wearing a beaches uniform. I joked with him about mixing drinks for the younger crowd. He laughed and said he was fired from Beaches after one day. We just made pleasant conversation as we were sitting at the bar drinking our virgin Pina Colada's and eating pizza. Of course, Rod (I can't remember his name) our bartender was also mixing drinks for the other guests. In the process of mixing those drinks, he just mixed up two more virgin pina colada's and put it in front of us and said, "when you are done with yours, you'll have this to keep you going!" Did I already mention that the people here were super friendly!
Next topic. Last night entertainment was "name that tune" and they had songs from the 60s through today. It was fun because we had to run to sit in the hot seat if you knew the name of the song. My first two tries at the chair, I was wrong. Well, first time, I was fully wrong. I said Billy Idol, instead of Billy Ocean. Go figure. The second time around, I got the singer, Whitney Houston, but I named the wrong song. Third time around when I got in the hot seat, I was super excited to get both name and artist right, everyone applauded and cheered. It was a blast. Even Brad got into the action and ran and tried to make the hot seat a few times. Today, some of the guests came up to me and said that they wished I had won the "name that tune" contest. They said they were rooting for me! How small is this resort? Who cares? We are having the time of our lives.
Oh, I must say we had a few bug bites our first few nights here and then we got the Club level concierge to get us some bug spray. I think our future Sandal's packing will involve bug spray. It's like we had to go to the concierge every time we wanted to spray ourselves down - everyday. The bugs were not as bad as Emerald Bay though. Quick note. Next picture is the main beach. It's not too large either and can get a tad crowded, even in this off season but you can see it to get a feel for the size of the beach.
I know I was going to talk about our trip to Kingston, but I must talk a bit more about Sandals. I often wonder if we are making a mistake with staying with Sandals and what we are missing out on with the other resorts. I just ran into a couple who have been to this same resort 15 times and other Sandals several times - total over 20 times. They have also been to the Iberostars and the bigger resorts. They said that the customer service is better at Sandals and they keep coming back here. They said that Sandals as a resort respects the guests a lot and also you get to know about the workers and their lives and the culture through this resort. I agreed with them about getting to know the people who worked there to make our stay great. There is something about Sandals that draws us in. For now, for us, the big hold is the free week stay. When you hit 70 nights at a Sandals resort, you get the next stay for 7 nights fully paid for. At 6 stays already, 2 more booked, we are only 2 more stays from a free week. Why not? If I were to use a week of my vacation at another resort, it would take away from making my 70 nights and I would still be paying for a vacation and essentially falling behind on the Sandals perks!
On a totally different note about my stay here, I have to talk about Pokemon Go. They have one Poke gym here and the buggy cart at the entrance is a Poke stop. It is not even close to maintain one's Poke addiction. I had my Pokemon at the gym here for the first few days and then he got kicked out by a 2600CP Dragonite. I'm not going after that. I know when to stop. The sad part is that I'm up to 190 coins now and if I had one more day, I would have made 200 coins and could have upgraded my bag. Oh well. What are you going to do? I will say that I got a few Magikarp here. I'm told they are common at Kirkwood park, but since I hardly go there, being here is the next best thing.
All in all, my trip so far has been fabulous. Everytime I'm at a Sandals, I feel like I don't want to leave.
They have an expression here. You have to leave, so you can return. True. Very true. We will God willing leave tomorrow and our return... well... it's been planned already. I have work to do before that. Yes. That thing called making a living and being able to pay for vacations. For now. I'm going to sign off. The last picture is the entrance to the French restaurant. They did not have escargot, but the mussels were great. Toasted with panko crumbs and buttered to make it delectable. Hopefully next blog, I'll get to the our trip to Kingston. Yes, yes, yes, I know I have several trips I need to blog about.
My trip to LA and my trip to Arizona. I figure they were more than several months back so might as well blog while my memory serves me fresh on my current trip. OK folks. More to come soon. I'm leaving this resort tomorrow. **sniff** **sniff** See you all back in my usual habitat.
Best to you all,