SuperClubs Breezes, Jamaica Jamaica, Runaway Bay Trip Report 8/96
We are a real young 40 & first timers to Jamaica. We've been to resorts in Marco Island, FL; Hilton Head, SC; Las Vegas and to the beaches of Panama City, FL & Navarre Beach, FL. But in reality, this was our first vacation together, alone, (since kids) in 20 years of marriage. We've gone to most of these resorts as part of a business meeting. So Jamaica was very much our second honeymoon.
I decided on an all inclusive, as a surprise for my bride on our 20th anniversary. #1 consideration was I wanted something very nice, very romantic and it had to be on a beach. The next biggest consideration, in going all inclusive, was no decisions. After 20 years of penny pinching, and raising kids, (she stays home) I didn't want her to look a menu, & worry whether to go for the hamburger or the lobster; or have to ask "how much is another one of those purple drinks". And I didn't want the stress of a cruise where you have to be in certain places at certain times or packing & unpacking, or signing up for this or that. Most of all I wanted to make my bride happy, and make her want me for 20 more years. This decision was a no-brainer and it was a no brainer vacation too. Mission accomplished !
JamJam attacks all of your senses at once, completely overwhelming you: The sights; beautiful grounds, candlelight, tropical plants, the blue ocean & white sand. The sounds; Soft music at dinner, waves lapping on the beach, mild chatter & glasses tinkling. The smells; Sweet flowers everywhere, gourmet food, suntan lotion, perfume and liquor. The feel; of the humid tropical breeze, the sun beating down on nearly naked bodies, and a cool skinny-dip on a hot day ! You get the picture ? Whew, I think I'm getting turned on again !
Needless to say our trip was a big success all the way around; physically, mentally and spiritually (we saw God). JamJam changes your attitude and gives you permission to let go, let loose and have fun. My bride doesn't even own anything low cut (she's well endowed, & self conscious) and she was doing topless on our first day there! What a turnon ! Needless to say, our marriage was consummated many times in..........many........well, .......some different places. Where in the hell has all of this energy been in 20 years, I'd like to know? Here's the details of our trip:
Departed Atlanta, around 1:00 pm to Montego Bay via Air Jamaica on Skybus 310 wide body 250 passenger jet. 2 hour & 15 minute flight. Flight was only 1/2 full. Excellent service and flight, to and from, Jamaica. Complementary wine, beer and champagne is available throughout the flight. Choice of entree; chicken or red snapper. I got the red snapper, wife got the chicken, both were surprisingly good. I have flown a lot, but never on an airbus. Great plane. I noticed that it is quieter than a comparable 767. We were seated over the wing.
The Mobay airport is small & old, 1950's vintage. Runway runs parallel to the beach. Landed & deplaned, claimed baggage. No trouble going through customs/papers what so ever. Took about 15 minutes. All of the resorts on the island have a desk at the airport. You just have to find yours. There are many people at the airport to offer you assistance. Went to SuperClubs desk (all were sort of run down) & waited for about 15 minutes for our "taxi".
THE RIDE FROM HELL (Mobay to Runaway Bay)
It's true what they say about the ride from hell ! Fortunately we had a decent driver and Toyota Corolla 1992 station wagon...........with air ! Driver was courteous & quiet. 1 hour 15 min ordeal. It appeared to us that everyone on the road was out to kill us (and themselves). Roads are awful, 2 lane, no shoulders, sedimentary rock mountains on your right, ocean\swamp on your left. Alternating beautiful, breathtaking views and desolate squalor. We saw a lot of 1/2 built buildings. Driver said that Jamaica was devastated & not fully recovered from Hurricane Gilbert a few years ago. We stopped 1/2 way for break. Got two red stripes for $ 5.00. Offered to buy the driver something, he refused saying that he gets complimentary food & beverage at this rest stop. He left with a big jerked pork sandwich & a coke. Driver inquired as to whether we smoke...........we said no.........he meant ganja, but was not pushy. Said that if we did pick up anything, make sure not to accidentally bring it back to the airport. Thanks mon.
CHECK IN / THE ROOM
Whew! Thank God. Seems like we pulled in there about 7 pm. Beautiful gardens at the entrance. Checked in at desk. Bell boys carried luggage to our room. No Problem. I'm starting to like No Problem. Nice, clean, chilled, down room. We were in room 2118 facing courtyard & pool. Marble floors, walls, vanity, & sink in the bathroom. Huge mirrored closet in bath. Nice big oval mirror on wall in the bathroom that my wife wanted to take home. King bed, phone, clock radio, love seat/sofa, couple of night stands, 20" color TV remote, very comfy. Wife was disappointed that there was no dead-bolt or chain on the door. Resort is crawling with security though. Sliding glass door opened to ground floor cement deck with 2 chairs overlooking pool and lush tropical gardens. Small dresser is almost useless as it does not hold much stuff. Huge closet held all of our hanging up, plus room to spare, but we definitely over-packed. We couldn't get into room safe. Went to front desk. They said No Problem. So I put our valuables, travel documents and wallets in the safe at the desk & they gave me a key. This is the last time I needed my wallet.
It really isn't necessary to go to orientation. Lasts about 45 minutes. They don't tell you too much stuff, mostly crack a lot of jokes & merely allude to what is in store for the week ahead. Instead of attending orientation, you can ask almost any guest or JamJam group leader and they'll fill you in. All of the guests and JamJam people are very helpful. Folks in the front office are sweet. All activities & times are posted on a board in the main lobby. Check here daily before noon for activities. After noon, the following days activities are posted. There are very few if any activities that you have to sign up for.
I'm mentioning this because it may be as important to others as it was for us. Strong hot coffee in the morning at bedside is a basic necessity. I went several mornings down to the lobby for coffee & brought it back to my bride. Found out that you can order coffee & Danish delivered to your room early every a.m., at no charge ! They didn't tell us this at orientation. You must place your order with the desk before going to bed each evening ! We found the Jamaican coffee (to our delight) was very similar to the French dark roast that we drink and love at home.
Three buffets/day are available in the pavilion; breakfast, lunch & supper. They last 2-3 hours each. You may dine alone, or join in at a table with others.........your choice. Always music, (live in the evenings), a nice breeze, candles, flowers on the buffet; very romantic. From the buffet is a gorgeous view of the beach and the Caribbean. I enjoyed eating all of the different Jamaican foods much more than the bride; Pepperpot soup, casava (they call it yams), jerked pork & chicken, fish escovitch, calloulou, fried bami to name a few. Also, we hadn't had papaya or mango before. Fell in love with mango & ate it at most every meal. Papaya was too fragrant for us.
Lots of great breads too, try the sweet brown loaf. I'm a fish lover, so got the fish offering at least once a day. Sometimes it tasted like red snapper, other times I couldn't tell what it was, but was always good; usually got it grilled or broiled. There was always a nice selection of salads, soups, breads, desserts, veggies, entrees & fruits. Choice of red or white wine & champagne is available at every meal. The wine stewards hardly ever allow your glass to empty. The buffet was always decorated with fresh tropical flowers, gorgeous pastries, food carvings & artistic desserts. If you are a dessert lover, you'll be in heaven. Was disappointed that we had no shrimp, conch chowder, lobster or crab dishes available. If you want to eat low fat, there are lots of options available (veggies, breads, fresh fruit, salads & grilled food.
At breakfast, they'll cook your omelet to order. Besides the usual bacon, sausage & eggs, there is cereal, yogurt, fruit, & muffins. We were pleased with the prompt, attentive but unobtrusive service rendered by the buffet waiters. Swimsuit & bare-feet are acceptable attire at the buffet, but guests usually dressed a little better, especially for supper.
I'll make a brief mention of the beach grill that is available from about 11:00am till 4:00pm. Hamburgers, sausages and jerked chicken are available on bun with condiments. We both love hot & spicy food; and prepare it at home. I have a saying, that if your nose is running, the food's just right. But believe me the jerked chicken is terribly hot !
There is a very good Italian restaurant, that unfortunately, we ate at only once. It is opened in the evenings and you order from the menu. You must make reservations a day ahead of time. Attire is shoes, long pants & shirt with collar for gents; shoes & slacks or dress for ladies. Food, service & atmosphere is impeccable. Very romantic. Choice of cocktails, wine, beer or liqueur is served. Open salad bar (or they will serve house) & very heavy antipasto bar..........this was great, I can't even begin to name all of the antipasto selections. They wait on you hand & foot. Choice of soup, several entrees & dessert. I got a lamb dish, & bride got a marsala.
The Italian dessert we had was especially good, tiramisu, and I'm not a big dessert person. Topped off supper with a nice little flute of Frangelica. If you're going to eat here for supper, eat a light or very small lunch, and enjoy! What an evening ! This meal easily would have been $ 100.00 minimum in the states; and you can eat here every night ! Met an Italian American couple from New Jersey. They said they ate here every night, & testified to the authenticity of the food.
This is a very active resort. Too bad this is where we stayed most of our trip. Wore out a path to the beach bar & back to the chaise lounges daily. Errol, (our favorite and the best beach bartender) really took care of us and everyone else too. He was most attentive, observant and efficient out of all. After the first day, he remembered what we wanted, & would be in the process of having our cocktails prepared as we approached the bar. He's bucking for a managers position, and I think he deserves it......Yah MON.
The beach is in excellent shape and is white sand with palms and the bluest water that I have ever seen; ........very sexy. Though not sugar white like Panama City, FL, it is very attractive & clean. Water is very clean, very clear, no rocks, grass etc., nice sandy bottom. We spent all of our time on the prude beach close to the nude side. We found this area to be less crowded and less foot traffic. Our chaise lounges were parked near an Italian Fabio look-alike who was camped out here with his topless, thonged (and slightly pregnant) lover. They kept to themselves and were real cute to watch as they cuddled, played & teased each other.
THE BEACH (continued) My bride got comfortable with topless, ......................AhhhhHemmmmmm, when she saw other ladies topless and some in thongs, doing the same............I couldn't believe it..............I mean.... Myyyyyyeeeee Miss Modest ? We had fun staying together, people watching, chatting & making runs for something cool to drink. We enjoyed swimming from the prude beach on over into the nude swimming area, for a skinny dip, (and some romance) quite a few times......... bride said NO PROBLEM ! We stayed together all week on the beach, just us two; half drunk; soaked in suntan lotion and our favorite libations............................... ............. hormones running 100 mph. Needless to say, we fell in love all over again................
On the prude beach you'll find lots of chaise lounges and a few small low tables. Also there were a couple of beach "huts" if you wanted lay out in the shade. Most of the beach guests were to be found on the prude beach. The nude beach had about 12-20 persons/day. Walked over to the nude bar looking for some bottled beer. Nude side has a self serve bar, ice, three rum punches, no beer & only a few soft drinks. Nude beach has a nice jacuzzi & outdoor shower for washing off.
The prude beach had available for recreation; catamarans, kayaks, catamaran rides, snorkeling, wind surfers, sunfish sailboats, water skiing and unlimited scuba (if you have your C-card). C-cards are available if you take & pass the course offered by resident resort instructors. Three mornings classes for $ 250.00.
1) Breeze kicks up about 10:30 daily. If you are going to kayak or sail, keep this in mind.
Current was running east to west and breeze was blowing from the north east to west. It
makes it hard if impossible to kayak after 10:30, cause you can't paddle against the current
2) Also after 10:30 a.m., sand kicks up as well sometimes. If you are on the soft sand, it will blow into your drink & face. Move your chaise lounge onto the hard sand near the water.
3) Apply lots of spf 30 sunscreen, several times/day. We did, stayed all week on beach & never got burned, even on previously unexposed areas.
4) Pack several bottles of sunscreen with you. It costs about $ 15.00/bottle U.S. at the resort.
5) Bring huggers and/or insulated mugs with a top, to the beach. We found that our drinks got hot, especially fast.
6) Pack a collapsible insulated ice chest (you've seen them with the carrying straps). Load it up with ice from your hall & take it to the beach. You can keep bottled water (sold in the gift shop) & ice down in it.
7) A raft, float or small inflatable toy (with an anchor) would have been nice to lay out in.
I believe it was on our last day that we realized that we had never gone swimming in the pool, and we never did. It's just that I guess we're beach people and never got around to it. The pool is large & inviting. There's lots of sun & shade around for everyone. It seemed to be a very popular place for sun worshipers & the newlyweds. It's also only a few steps from the beach bar. There's a variety of trees surrounding the pool on one side, palms & almond I think. Nice chaise lounges (better than the beach) with thick yellow foam rubber/vinyl mattresses to lay on.
Orientation party was on Sunday night. This is a good party, don't miss it. You'll get to know some people & have fun. Hors doeuvres and cocktails are served in the disco lounge. Music in the disco is mostly rap, Jamaican/rap & loud- though great bass if you like thumping. There are a few games & contests too (icebreaker type stuff), with fifths of liquor and tee shirts as prizes. Lots of fun. The disco is opened every night too.
Went to the pajama party held in the disco. Bride was up for this too! Jams, cutoffs, shorts and gym-shorts are not admitted. Nightshirts, briefs, boxers, baby-dolls & p.j.'s are acceptable. Open bar again. Here I am, 40 years old, dancing to "Mr. BoomBasstic" in my boxers! We enjoyed the party briefly, but got run out by all of the smoke (we're non-smokers). We found that there were many Italians at the resort and boy did they smoke! They were joined though, by many others on the dance floor with lit cigarettes. We didn't stay too long. But No Problem Mon; going to bed early here is not a hardship, but a treat ! I'll bet there were a lot of negligees about half burned down next morning!!! They were really going at it when we left. As a result of our P.J. party experience, didn't go to the toga party the following night.
There's something going on every night at Breezes. On consecutive nights there were live band/singing acts in the lounge (this is different from the disco) a couple of nights. Local Jamaican talent. One night reggae music, dread locks & all. The next night they brought in another entertainer; Bride thought that he sounded just like Tom Jones. He did and he was great. You know, you kind of expected to be disappointed. I was thinking they'd have someone like Bill Murray's act on SNL. But both nights were great. These people were really talented; lot's of good dance music, not as loud as the disco. Pretty mellow crowd too.
There's a great variety show on stage at the pavilion near the beach. We were presented with a fire eating act, a troupe of fantastic Jamaican dancers, a father & son gymnast team and the famous "crab man". The crab man limbo's under about under a series of poles on fire, about 1 foot high. This guy & the fire eater is unbelievable. We sat at a big table together with some other couples we met and had a good time. There's a little bit of audience participation involved in each act and a lot of laughs. Don't miss this show.
One night as we were preparing to go to the dinner buffet, (we were at the beach bar again), we heard what sounded like Garth Brooks coming from the pavilion. Walked by the stage & it was a Jamaican guy doing a ballad that was a dead ringer for Garth. He continued for about an hour as we listened and enjoyed another romantic supper at Breezes Jam Jam.
GAMES & CONTESTS
As I said, we didn't do much more than stay on the beach, but there are all sorts of games & contests going on all day long. Usual prizes are liquor, tee shirts & caps. I got into the men's beer drinking contest (how fast, not quantities). Got into the finals so only had to drink two ........really chugged them down ! No Problem ! We were never pressured to participate, got asked a couple of times though, & it's fun to go along with the crowd now & then.
Several tours are included with the package. Horse & buggy ride (with wine), shopping trip to Ocho Rios, hike of Dunn's River Falls, catamaran cruise, & glass bottom boat ride. We took the glass bottomed boat ride & this was enjoyable, 1 hour max. Saw lots of fish, coral, rocks and a sea turtle.
The hike of DRF includes a 1/2 hour scenic bus ride from jamjam to the top of the mountain where DRF begins. The bus lets you out and (as a group) you walk down the mountain on a paved walkway to the mouth of the river where it spills out into the Caribbean. As you hike, you and your group are being videotaped. You have the option to purchase a copy for $45.00. The guides lead you literally up the falls (holding hands), all of the way back to the top of the mountain where your bus, many higglers (vendors) and thank goodness a Red stripe or two await.
DRF are set in a tropical mountain jungle, and there are many opportunities for photographs. Bring a disposable camera rated for underwater. As you would expect the vegetation is lush & green with many flowering shrubs & trees. It is very enjoyable and scenic and there are lots of laughs, chills & spills. But you should be very careful climbing the falls. DO NOT GO if you've had more than a couple of beers. You'll need all of the agility that you can muster.
We saw one woman fall down one ten foot boulder then another six footer and into a pool of water. She walked away, although gingerly, but I don't know how. There are many places to exit the falls on your way up if you want to return to the paved walking path & back to the bus. Do bring an old pair of sneakers or tennis shoes to hike in, or you'll have to "rent" some slip-ons before they'll let you go. I wore a pair of Teva sandals & the velcro kept coming undone from the stress of climbing and rushing water.
We didn't have any spare money to go on the shopping trip, but talked to some couples that went. They said they got some real bargains on jewelry, & they seemed to be excited. I understand that if you are in the market for watches, jewelry, perfumes & other fine items, that you can really get some deals......especially if you're willing to negotiate. The tour only brings you to SuperClubs sponsored & approved" shops. Our friends said that approved items & vendors carried the SuperClub stamp of approval.
We were absolute beach bums, so didn't golf or tennis, but Breezes has outstanding facilities for both. Met a gentleman from California at the bar who had been golfing. He said the course was in great shape. Golf is unlimited and of course all inclusive, but you must use a caddy, (about a buck a hole), and he brings the beer. Said he had a great day. There is a real nice weight room, stair climber, treadmill, aerobics, are all included too.
There are three jacuzzi/hot tubs. One is in the gardens between the east and center wings, very secluded but it was too cold. Another is on the nude beach (bride wasn't ready for this one yet). And the third one is near the lobby bar in the center courtyard. It's seems to be the largest and nicest. I was all ready to get in one day & there were two bees and a big lizard swimming around. So I stayed out & let them enjoy.
One morning I awoke at 5am & couldn't get back to sleep for some reason. So rather than tossing and turning and taking a chance of awakening sleeping beauty, I got up to go for a jog on the beach. Upon walking out of our wing, I was amazed to see the number of workers busily cleaning up and preparing the resort for the day's activities.... cleaning the pool, trimming shrubs, raking the beach, wiping down tables, beach lounges & hosing sidewalks. There must have been 50 people at work!
I jogged eastward down the beach, past the fence & the guard shack toward the public area. Got about 300 yards down there & here's some Rastafarian looking dude, dreadlocks & all, busting up a joint at 6 o'clock in the morning! Offered to sell me some ganja; I said "No thanks Mon" & ran on past him. I finally ran to the end of the beach, turned around & headed back to the resort. Ran past the "ganja man" a second time. This time he held his fingers to his nose, sniffed, & asked if I needed something for my head. Once again I said "No thanks Mon". Jogged past a third & fourth time & he was wanting to sell me some carved wooden items etc. He was persistent, but not overbearing. I finally got tired running, picked up a couple of cups of coffee in the lobby & delivered them to my grateful bride.
With the possibility of drugs, and numerous round-the-clock open bars; we were really surprised that we did not see one, openly drunk person ! Not once! No one got out of line, stumbled, staggered or got obnoxious; & believe me, we (and a lot of others) did a lot of drinking. All of the liquor I saw poured were call brands. No cheap or rot gut liquor here First class !
A word of caution if you're staying on the ground floor. We left a few wet items out to dry overnight on our patio. No problem, they were there the next morning. Newlyweds next door, left a a pair of Air Jordans to dry (after DRF trip) & they were gone the next a.m. Moral of the story is; don't leave name brand articles out like Nike, Chicago Bulls, Reebok or anything made of blue jean. These articles are very popular in Jamaica, and bring a nice price.
If you're staying in the 2000 wing (center wing) and ground floor, make sure that you get a room that is closer to the beach than it is to the lobby. The disco (near the lobby) can get loud some nights.
There is a gift shop on the premises. It's got about everything that you could want for souvenirs & toiletry items, postcards and Jamaican coffee. Prices are better here for coffee than the airport. Liquor is cheaper at the airport. The only good deals on liquor that we saw was for stuff made in Jamaica, like Jamaican rums and Tia Maria. All of the other liquor costs almost as much as it does at home. Wait to buy your four, duty free liters of liquor at the airport, and you won't have to pack it or haul it from the resort. The airport liquor store will pack it for you free, in a nice carry on cardboard container.
There's a little building on the beach, at Breezes, that houses a variety of things that's worth a visit. In here are artworks and fine crafts such as wood carvings and handmade woven baskets and bead necklaces. You will also find here, a lady that does hair braiding. Wife got two braids, buck a piece, done in five minutes. Also inside, posted are professional photographs of guests, taken at dinner. Find yours, and you are free to purchase them if you wish.
That's about it. If you have any questions about specifics please email me. The last two days of our vacation were spent at Reeding Reef Club in Montego Bay. I'll be happy to pass along any info or answer any of your questions about our trip or these resorts.
This was truly a vacation of a lifetime; we'd obviously love to share it with you, & we can't wait to go back.