Yeah mon! Jamaica part 1 Our amazing stay at Sandals Negril

On the 9 May we flew from Gatwick with Virgin Atlantic for 9 and a bit hours into Montego Bay Jamaica. The flight was good we managed to get 2 seats to themselves at the back. We spent the time watching some films and enjoying the free drinks.
Once we landed we went through customs and used the self immigration machines which were a bit confusing after a long flight after talking to other passengers we should have used Club Mobay this is a fast track service and is a less stressful way to get through.

We collected our luggage and made our way to the Sandals lounge where we waited for our transfer to our hotel. In the lounge was self serve drinks so I pulled me and Ross a beer to get the holiday started!

After a quick trip to the loo we were called and taken to the shuttle with another 2 couples.

The drive to the hotel was an hour and a half we sat back and listened to the reggae tunes and looked out the window to see Jamaica life as we went through towns and traveled along the coast.

We arrived at our hotel which we were to stay for the next 7 nights – Sandals Negril – and were swiftly taken to the Club Sandals lounge to proceed with check in. We checked in on an iPad and were given a cocktail.

Once checked in we were taken to our room – Paradise Honeymoon Beachfront Grande Luxe club level room (HB) it was a good size had a lovely king size 4 poster bed, nice walk-in shower, a fully equipped mini bar and a fantastic balcony with an amazing view of the beach and the sea. It also had a good size safe, hairdryer, iron and board and some great smelling toiletries. We sat and watched the amazing sunset before we headed off to dinner.

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Sandals Negril has 7 dining options – Barefoot by the sea (A la carte breakfast & dinner) Beach Bistro (lunch & late night snacks) Bella Napoli pizzeria (11am – 6pm) Cucina Romana (dinner – reservations required) Kimonos (dinner – reservations required) Sundowner (lunch & dinner) Bayside (breakfast & lunch buffet – A la carte dinner) Also available is room service for Club Sandals & Butler guests.

We decided to eat in the Sundowner for our first night this was a lovely air conditioned restaurant that serves Jamaican A la carte food we had a fantastic meal and headed off to bed as we were quite tired due to the long journey.

The 10th of May was my husband Ross’ birthday so he opened his birthday cards on the balcony. We had breakfast at the Bayside we were shown to a table outside by the lovely hostess and went to the buffet which had a large selection of food Ross had an omelette and I had smoked salmon and poached eggs.

We spent the day on the beach we found a lovely spot near the Sundowner restaurant where we had a great day relaxing and making the most of the sun and beach drinks service. This is where I had my first Dirty Banana (cocktail with fresh banana and rum cream) it tasted just like a banana milkshake. For lunch I went to Bella Napoli pizzeria and got us a pizza to share which we ate on our sunbeds. We then went to the self service ice cream dispenser and had an ice cream each this was just what was needed on a scorcher of a day. img_2644-1img_2683img_2888

For dinner we decided on Barefoot by the sea which was A la carte sea food I mentioned to the waiter it was Ross’ birthday and he came back with a lovely birthday cake for him. img_2653

Wednesday was ‘Lovers white night’ where they had a chocoholics dream – a chocolate buffet, the playmakers dressed up as angels and there was a brilliant male singer. img_2655

One of the playmakers heard it was Ross’ birthday and got him up in front of everyone while the crowd sang happy birthday to him.

On the Thursday I decided to take a tour to look at the other room options at the hotel. I was shown the Caribbean Luxury Honeymoon room (LX) this was a deluxe category this was a good size room but didn’t feature a balcony. As a deluxe level room this had a fridge with soft drinks (no alcohol) and also no room service. img_2662

We also looked at the same room that I was staying in but on the ground floor so was a Walkout room. Next was Caribbean Beachfront Walkout Grande Luxe club level room with Tranquillity soaking tub (WGBT) this Club Sandals room was beautiful and had a tranquillity soaking tub on the patio & also a  freestanding marble bathtub in the bathroom, this room would be perfect for a honeymoon. img_2665img_2666

The last room we looked at was the stunning butler level room – Caribbean Honeymoon Beachfront 2 story 1 bedroom butler loft suite with tranquillity soaking tub (1B). This love nest suite had a spacious living area on the ground floor with a floating staircase which leads to the second floor with a king-size bed and a lavish bathroom. On the balcony was a tranquillity soaking tub for 2 where you could relax and admire the tropical views. I thought this room would be great for couples travelling to get married as the living room would give you the extra space for getting ready in your wedding dress.img_2669img_2671

Weddings were very popular here we saw a few while we were there and spoke to many guests who had come to get married from just the 2 travelling alone and having a small intimate wedding or some who had travelled with up to 50 family and friends and had a big party. Each newly married couple gushed at what a fantastic day they had and that everything exceeded their expectations and had the time of their lives.

That evening we had reservations for the Cucina Romana this is a Italian a la carte restaurant looking over the beach and the sea. I had some lovely calamari for starters and the signature dish – Parmigiana di Pollo for my main and Tiramisu for desert. With my meal I had a glass of Pinot Grigio which was included in the all inclusive. Sandals use Robert Mondavi Twin Oaks wines and offer 6 complimentary wines white and red they also offer a further wine and champagne menu that you can pay extra for if you wish.img_2866-1

The following day we spent the day at the main pool where we relaxed and used the swim up bar where the friendly staff kept our glasses full with tasty cocktails. img_2863There was 3 swimming pools and 3 whirlpools to choose from, the pools were not the biggest I have seen in the Caribbean but with the beach being so fantastic we only went to the pool once as we preferred sitting and listening to the sea. In the afternoon we headed down to the water sports centre where the guys went through all the different activities they have on offer. All on the all inclusive included was water-skiing, paddleboards, snorkelling trips, kayaks, glass bottom boat trips and scuba diving (unlimited for certified divers they offered courses for beginners at an extra cost).

For dinner tonight we had reservations for the Kimonos this is a Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant this was an experience we had done before on a previous trip to Sandals La Toc in Saint Lucia a couple of years ago but we both had such great memories of it we wanted to do it again. We were sat around the table with 3 other couples and had our starters then we were introduced to our chef . We had a great time interacting with the other guests and the chef as he cooked The Emperors Tasting menu this included various meats, stir fried vegetables and fried rice in front of us and was delicious. We passed on the dessert as we were full after the amazing food.img_2700

On the Saturday we decided to try room service for breakfast. We ordered from the menu in our room and was delivered to us within the time they advised. This was a lovely way to start the day we sat on the balcony and drank the lovely blue mountain coffee watching the beach life below us.

For lunch we thought we would try the Beach bistro where we had nachos and I had a chilli dog with fries.img_2875

Dinner this evening was at Bayside which in the evening had a French brasserie menu. The staff here were very attentive and I had a wonderful Lamb shank and a really nice crème brulee.

On the Sunday the weather changed so we watched the football in the sports bar and then went to the pizza place for lunch which we took up to our room. Our afternoon was spent watching films on the tv. For dinner we again had reservations for the Italian restaurant which again didn’t disappoint.

The weather slightly improved on the Monday so we had breakfast at the buffet and then back to our fave spot on the beach. It really is a lovely beach the sand is soft under foot and the sea is clear there was a little bit of sea weed so it might be worth taking some water shoes. Sandals Negril is situated on 7 mile beach which is a public beach so you do get some locals walking along selling bits and bobs and local musicians playing music on their instruments but a no and they would pass by but we enjoyed talking to them as they were friendly.

If you wanted to walk down the beach you just needed to sign out with the security guard. A lot of people did this and walked down to Beaches resort this is Sandals sister property that is for families and said it was great fun using the facilities there as they have waterslides and some fantastic restaurants including Café De Paris where you could grab a latte and some cake. There were a lot of other excursions you could do if you wanted to leave the resort including catamaran cruises, Dunns river falls and Ricks Café where you can sit and watch the sunset as well as the cliff divers. We decided this trip not to do any excursions as we were enjoying the resort so much we didn’t want to leave.

Monday night was Carnival Beach Party night so there was an amazing buffet of different foods this was moved to The Bayside restaurant as there was a chance of rain. We had some amazing seafood and jerk chicken – this is a speciality in Jamaica and was a favourite of mine before we left as it was full of flavour. We sat and watched the entertainment and had a couple of red stripe beers. As this was our last night we went to the piano bar grabbed a couple of cocktails and sat under a tiki hut on the beach and listened to the reggae music playing in the bar area until the rain came so we headed back to our room.

Our last morning at Sandals Negril we had breakfast and then went to the Snap Shots shop to see the photos we had taken. There are dozens of photographers that go around the resort day and night and are on hand to take photos of those special moments which we found handy as being just the 2 of us the only photos we could take were selfies it was nice to purchase some lovely photos to take home with us. I didn’t think the costs were to bad as the quality of them were very high and you could have them as actual photos or on a disc.

We checked out and had a final walk around the resort saying goodbye to the staff who had helped us throughout the week and also to say goodbye to the 2 parrots that they have on the property which we had become quite fond of.

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Please read my next blog post about my stay at Sandals Royal Caribbean – Montego Bay.

 

 

 

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Last full day in paradise – 4×4 safari and African dancing.

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As this was my last full day on this beautiful island I woke early and had a walk along the beach before breakfast. It was lovely and peaceful only the sounds of the sea and birds in the gardens.

Once breakfast was finished we had a walk around the rest of the hotel. We were shown the wonderful spa with all the different treatment rooms. We also saw the herb and vegetable garden where they grow their own organic foods for the restaurants. One of the restaurants is La Kaze Mama which is where you can experience authentic Mauritian cooking in a memorable outdoor setting. Another restaurant was The Beach Shack which was a rustic beach side BBQ.

We were welcomed to The Heritage Awali with the sound of drums and a cold towel. This hotel focus’ on Mauritius’ strong African heritage, walking into the hotel lobby felt like walking into an African safari lodge.
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After dropping our things off in our rooms (which carried on the African theme) we met in reception and given a tour around The Heritage Le Telfair and afterwards had lunch at Gin’ja. This was a Asian street food buffet where I had some very tasty noodles. The Heritage Le Telfair has the chic C Beach club with its bar, swimming pool & beach area – the ideal place to relax in stylish surroundings.

We were then treated to a ride in a 4×4 jeep through part of the Frederica Nature Reserve we drove through some stunning scenery as well as lots of deer including some stags with some seriously impressive antlers!

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That afternoon we relaxed in the pool and ordered some drinks from the lovely pool waiter catching the last of the sun before heading back to the UK the following day.

For our evening meal we were treated to a fantastic meal at Boma – this was a wonderful experience, we sat around a campfire and took in the atmosphere. We were then treated to African drums and dance entertainment including a fire show. We had a lovely time eating and drinking under the stars. After the food (and quite a lot of wine!) The entertainment guys got some of us up and taught us some moves – I love music and dancing so this to me was a great experience and just perfect for our last night.

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img_2467img_2468-1After a cocktail and chatting about the fantastic week we had all had it was off to bed and pack before our early morning wake up call for the long trip home.

This trip made me fall in love Mauritius and the Indian Ocean. Everyone I spoke to was very friendly, the Mauritian people are so lovely. The hotels were some of the best I have ever stayed in and I was truly spoilt! The memories I have taken away from this FAM trip will last me a life time.  I met some great people and I can’t thank If Only Holidays, White Sands Tours and all the fantastic hotels enough for this amazing opportunity I hope to go back one day with my husband to show him this amazing country and the lovely people, in the meantime I can’t wait to share my experiences with our customers at Stamford Independent Travel.

Boat trip to see wild dolphins!

We met in the lobby of The Sugar Beach Hotel and was taken by bus to our west coast dolphin catamaran trip.


I was really looking forward to this as I always try to do a boat trip on my own holidays as I love snorkelling and being in the sea and this had the added bonus of hopefully seeing some dolphins – an animal I love.

Once on board the crew went through the order of the day and gave us drinks from the free bar, they had beers, cocktails and soft drinks on offer.

We cruised along the coast and saw the stunning coastline and then the catamaran stopped to give us some time in the water. Everyone grabbed the snorkels and floats and got into the beautiful Indian Ocean.

Back on the boat we were on the search for the main event – wild dolphins. After a while we came across them and there was a whole pod! It was a truly magical moment seeing so many of them in there natural habitat. They definitely put on a show for us coming up close to the boat and jumping out of the water .

Also included was lunch, this was very tasty and the open bar continued so I had a couple of more beers as we headed back to land – I would recommend this trip to anyone travelling to Mauritius.


Next up was The Shanti Maurice hotel and this one was probably my fave.

We were welcomed into the hotel and shown to our rooms and wow what a room the bathroom was bigger than my kitchen at home and also had an outside shower! The bedroom had a lovely large bed and glass doors opening up to a terrace in the lovely gardens facing towards the sea.


As I was unpacking my bag I had a call from reception saying Jorge (our lovely If Only rep) would like us to join him for drinks in his villa, so off I went to reception to see what was going on and was taken by golf buggy to one of the fabulous private villas in the hotel grounds.

When Jorge opened the door I was completely taken away with the villa and it’s stunning private pool – which I got straight into. The view was amazing.


We had pre dinner drinks in the rum shed, this had a fantastic atmosphere I really enjoyed this relaxed bar/restaurant where you could sit and enjoy a cocktail as well as some food. The menu is sharing style and is a casual dining experience.

After our cocktails we had a wonderful meal where the food has lots a flavour.

This hotel has a calm and tranquil atmosphere perfect for couples and families that are looking for a relaxing holiday.

More Mauritius

After a fantastic sleep in one of the most comfortable beds I’ve slept in I had a lovely breakfast before meeting everyone for today’s plans.

We said goodbye to the fantastic staff at the Maritm and headed over to The Westin Turtle Bay Resort and Spa.

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We then headed off to spend some time in Port Louis. We walked around the shops and looked at all the great souvenirs on offer. I brought some presents for my family including fridge magnets, sarongs and a dodo cuddly toy for my niece Esme. Once we were all shopped out we had a cold drink in one of the many cafes.

We arrived at La Pirogue Resort just in time for lunch. We were taken to a lovely thatched restaurant overlooking the pool and sea beyond. I had a tasty fish dish while we were looked after by the very attentive staff and given some information about the property.

The accommodations are thatched bungalows and pavilions here and it feels very laid back. This is a hotel for people who don’t normally like big all inclusive hotels while liking fantastic facilities.

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Once we had walked around the grounds looking at the different rooms we then entered The Sugar Beach Resort & Spa which is the sister hotel located right next door. We had a lovely welcome walking down the stairs to a traditional sega band with dancers as well as a lovely cool drink. Welcome at The Sugar Beach Hotel

The Sugar Beach Resort & Spa had a colonial plantation-style feel to it. A magnificent Manor House with a majestic staircase leading onto the lawns in front and then directly onto the fantastic beach. I thought this would be an amazing aisle for new brides to walk down on the way to getting married – the photos would be amazing! In Mauritius they mainly have 1 wedding per day so this makes it very personal.

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The Sugar Beach had great facilities for all the family we were shown around the kids club this was in the style of a ginger bread house and they had some great activities available for the little ones.

My room was fantastic on the ground floor just steps from the beach. Some of us took the opportunity to dip our toes in the sea before dinner.


That evening we met by the beach for cocktails, we sat and chatted while a bonfire was alight on the beach.

For dinner we were treated to a buffet with so many different types of food and my fave – amazing desserts! While we ate we watched the show put on by the dancers about the history of Mauritius. 

Then off to bed to have a good nights sleep for our boat trip in the morning.

Sightseeing, lunch on a private island, a trip to the spa and a fine dining experience.


Waking up to the sound of the ocean is one of my favourite things about travelling and the location of the room I slept in at The Ravenala Attitude didn’t disappoint!

After breakfast we had a quick site tour looking at the different facilities.

We were taken to Grand Baie for some free time to look around the town. I felt extremely safe walking around by ourselves looking in the shops.

The next hotel we had the pleasure to visit was The Paradise Cove Boutique Hotel. This hotel is an adults only hotel which offers all inclusive. With only 67 rooms it had a very relaxed feel fantastic when travelling with someone special. I would recommend this hotel to honeymoon couples who like smaller properties.

Next was on to the Zilwa Attitude – Zilwa in Creole means Islander and this is the feel of the hotel, the phrase ‘rustic chic’ comes to mind as we were walked through the hotels grounds. We were taken over to the small island just off shore called Grand Zil where we had a BBQ lunch at the tables on the beach. This would be an idyllic way to spend an afternoon watching the world go by as it was very peaceful there.


We were then taken to our hotel for the night – Maritim Resort and Spa. I had been especially looking forward to this hotel as it is a favourite of some of our customers. I wasn’t disappointed as we came into the lobby and welcomed with a drink in a coconut shell just what we needed to cool off in the hot weather!


We were shown the Maritim villa and some of the other room options then we were taken to see the animal farm where we saw giant tortoises and horses.

Next we were shown around the spa – this was my favourite spa I saw on Mauritius it felt like an oasis set in 3500 sqm of lush tropical gardens. We were given a neck and back massage by one of the therapists this was just what I needed after walking around hotels and the long flight.

After the relaxing massage at the spa it was back to the room for a quick change then met everyone back in the lobby for our evening meal. We were taken by golf buggy to Château Mon Désir for our fine dining experience. One of our gang Estelle was given the honour of opening the champagne with a Samurai sword. We drank the champagne under the banyan trees while we listened to a man play acoustic guitar – this was a truly magical moment!

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Next was the main event our fine dining a la carte meal – we had an amazing meal it was full of flavour the dessert was my favourite as I have a sweet tooth!


After the beautiful meal we were taken down to the historical ruins which were lit up I will admit I was a bit nervous as there was talk of ghosts but I needn’t have been as none made an appearance!

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Back to the main bar for one last drink then it was off to my room where I had a long bath in the gorgeous bathtub in my room.

Coffee, lunch in a private villa and traditional Mauritian food.

After a lovely buffet breakfast at Anahita we were picked up and taken to Lux Belle Mare.

The lobby had a welcoming coffee shop called Cafe Lux we were shown behind the scenes where the coffee beans are roasted and prepared for the resort.


The resort has a fantastic all inclusive product including photo workshops, amazing kids clubs from the age of 3-17 offering lots of great activities. Also there was a red phone box to call home and the resort has a ‘message in a bottle’ concept where they are hidden around the resort for guests to find with unexpected prizes inside!

The Lux Belle Mare also had different food stalls so if you didn’t fancy too much for lunch you could have hotdogs and nachos. It also had a great area called ICI which had lots of different lollies and ice creams again included in the all inclusive.

Next up was The Residence. Located on the east coast of the island my first impression was it is a very grand hotel on a lovely beach. It was very peaceful and had a laid back atmosphere.


After The Residence we were taken to Constance Belle Mare Plage. Set on 2km of white sandy beach this hotel had 7 restaurants and 6 bars my favourite being the Blu bar which is attached to the Indigo restaurant it had floating lounges which would be great to sample a cocktail before dinner.


On our site inspection we were shown the villas which had all the luxury you would need for a truly wonderful holiday. We were then surprised to find out we would be having lunch there BBQ style next to the private pool overlooking the beautiful beach. The lovely ladies at the spa gave us all neck and shoulder massages to give us a little taste of what the guests can enjoy.


After a quick walk round the spa we were back on the mini bus and off to our hotel for the night – The Ravenala Attitude.

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Once we had checked in we were given a short talk on all the Attitude properties on Mauritius they have a property on the island that suits all budgets and tastes.

We met for pre dinner drinks by the pool then taken to our table at Kot Nou this had a traditional menu and the food was very tasty.

After a cocktail at the pool bar some of us went onto the nightclub where the dj kept us entertained with some old and new tunes. My new travelling companions got to see some of my best dance moves mostly because of the fantastic Mauritius rum.

We have arrived!

On Saturday afternoon I got the train from Peterborough to kings cross then the tube to Heathrow Terminal 4 where I met my travelling companions. There are 8 of us in total and everyone seems lovely! I was quite nervous but needn’t have been as they are a lovely friendly bunch of people.

After checking in we were told we had lounge access which I have never had the pleasure to do before. This is a brilliant way to start your journey we sat in a quiet corner and got talking about where we work, what other trips we had been on and what we were looking forward to on this trip. There was a free bar with alcoholic and soft drinks as well as some snacks.

It was a looonnngg flight 12 hours directly into Mauritius Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam airport. The airport was bright and clean.

Once through we were met by white sands who are the ground handler for If Only and they will be taking us around Mauritius showing us this beautiful island.

Our home for tonight is Anahita The Resort. We were given a tour in the golf buggies due to the tropical rain. We were shown villas and suites. All very spacious with fantastic facilities and well thought out. When we were shown to our rooms we had a surprise we were given 2/3 bed prestige suites which had a private infinity plunge pool on the balcony. This room type would be great for families or friends as it has a fully equipped kitchen, lots of living space both inside and on the balcony, luxurious bathrooms and very comfortable bedrooms.


After relaxing in our pool we got ready for dinner which was buffet style with lots of lovely food on offer. I tried octopus for the first time for starter, an amazing stir fry for my main and the dessert selection was a sweet tooths dream I had a selection of chocolate delights including a chocolate fountain.

After dinner I had a mango daiquiri which was refreshing and just what I needed after a long day.

I’m off to Mauritius tomorrow!!! 

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So I have my itinerary and my case is nearly packed just 3 hours left in the office then I’m officially finished for my work trip to Mauritius.

I am flying tomorrow evening from Heathrow with Air Mauritius and will be coming back next Saturday.

The hotels I am visiting are –

Anahita The Resort, Lux Belle Mare, The Residence, Constance Belle Mare Plage, The Ravenala Attitude, Paradise Cove Boutique Hotel, Zilwa Attitude, Maritm Resort & Spa, The Westin Turtle Bay Resort & Spa, La Pirogue Resort & Spa, Sugar Beach Resort & Spa, Shanti Maurice & The Heritage Awali Golf & Spa Resort.

We will also be doing some sightseeing in Grand Baie and Port Louis as well as a catamaran trip to hopefully see some dolphins.

I hope to update this blog as I go with photos and info about the hotels I get to visit so keep posted and if you have any questions just let me know.

 

 

Passport.


For my eighteenth birthday my lovely nan – Rose Plant brought me my first passport and what a present that was it has enabled me to travel the world, see and experience things that I never imagined as a teenager. This little booklet has stamps from all over and I intend to add lots more.

When travelling abroad it is always best to check your passport expiry date a few weeks before travel as most places outside Europe require  6 months. If you don’t have the correct validity you won’t be getting on the plane!

#travel #passport #travelagent #stamfordindependenttravel