"A vacation from vacation"

Trip Start Aug 01, 2011
1
Trip End Aug 06, 2011


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Where I stayed
Couples Swept Away Negril
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Jamaica  ,
Tuesday, August 2, 2011

     As I no doubt mentioned in one of my early blogs - our vacations generally fall into one of two categories - either what we call "active" vacations or "lazy" vacations..."active" ones tend to stimulate the mind and senses and quench the thirst for new experiences... "lazy" ones invariably involve reclining on the beach with a drink in one hand and a book in another... books never happen to be Ulysses, but they vary...drinks vary, too - both in alcohol content and flavor...yet the theme remains the same - sun and sea and laziness...

 

    Usually, as far as our "lazy" vacations go, we take them somewhere between December and February - it gives us an extra week of summer in the middle of our dreary winter...but this year, just having had an "active" vacation in May (to Peru and Bolivia) that was perhaps a little too active, we decided we needed a little "vacation from vacation" ...and so - we took 5 days in August and went to Negril, Jamaica...


    Yes, it's true - August is the middle of the hurricane season there, but maybe we got lucky: the weather was absolutely perfect, the water was almost too warm, and the beach in Negril was gorgeous...we stayed at an all-inclusive resort for couples - Couples Swept Away...the only thing there that we found less than perfect was their food selection - not as good as in other all-inclusive places we stayed at...but! since every such "lazy" vacation makes us a few pounds heavier (and - in my case - a "few" is probably an understatement), we shouldn't complain about that at all...

  


    And anyway, the beach more than compensated for not-so-impressive buffets and restaurants at the resort...Couples Swept Away is on what is known as the "7-Mile Beach" - probably the finest stretch of beach in all Jamaica... the sand there is white, soft and powdery, the palm trees are beautiful, tall and luscious (just like me! Ha! I pride myself on my humility in case you haven't noticed!), the water is the clearest turquoise I've ever seen...I know - my description sounds quite cliché, but the beach was really all that...now, I haven't been to Bora-Bora (not yet...) or the  Maldives (who knows if ever...) or the Seychelles (more likely that never...), but so far it is really the finest beach I've ever been to...


  



    The resort offered not only various water activities free of charge for the guests - kayaks, water skis, sailing catamarans (so-called Hobie Cats) - but it also provided a three-times-a-day boat that would take you to a nearby coral reef for snorkeling...I knew I would snorkel a lot - not only at the coral reef, but even off the beach, so I brought my own mask, snorkel and fins...my angel brought his own snorkeling stuff, too, but I would never have guessed that snorkeling would become his favorite activity on the beach!...


    See, as long as I could remember, I loved water - swimming, splashing, playing -  just being in the water...I even swam competitively while in high school - mostly for the pleasure of getting "free time" in the water at the end of each training session...my angel doesn't seem to like water as much though...he could be on the beach the whole day and not get in the water even once...I had to turn myself into a siren to lure him into the sea with me...oh, wait! ...sirens were luring sailors out of the sea, not into the sea... I got my Greek mythology all confused!...I guess I was trying to turn into a mermaid then...but no matter - my success would always be short lived...


  

 

    So this time, snorkeling off the beach, I would dive now and then to pick up some starfish and crabs (one bit my finger really hard) and bring them to the shore to show to my angel ...little did I know that by the end of the day he would be diving to pick up starfish for me!...and by the next day it would be he trying to lure me into the sea to snorkel...maybe in part it was because the water was so warm and pleasant, but also - snorkeling is fun...he even went to the coral reef with me once...we stayed together quite close to the boat, but still - we saw a multitude of brightly-colored fish, and we even came across a more rare very long and narrow trumpet-fish...


  
 


    One of the days I went to the coral reef alone because I wanted to swim further along the reef...since we stayed at the couples resort - everybody on the boat but me was in couples...our Jamaican captain good-naturedly joked that he was alone, too, so we two should be a couple...and later I was kind of glad he remembered me, because I practically missed the boat...

    They usually allow you about 45 minutes to snorkel (warning not to come closer than 6 feet to the reef), then they give the first whistle (to let you know to return to the boat), then the second and final whistle before leaving...normally - even if you don't make it in time - the boat wouldn't leave without you, but there were many people on the boat, and it would be easy to miss one person...after all, all couples would be accounted for...so it's good to be remembered...


 

 
    Anyway, I was probably the first one off the boat, and off I went to the reef...this time I brought a piece of bread with me to feed the fish, and they started to come very close - so many of them!...it was entertaining me for a while, and then I saw a few people swimming through the opening in the reef, so I followed them...I kind of assumed they were from my boat (how could you tell people apart when they are mostly underwater and wearing masks, snorkels and fins?) even though there was a local guy with them whom I definitely didn't see before...


 

 
    The guy was constantly showing me where to look, and I saw amazing things ...a huge sting ray slowly swimming past the reef... a large group of squid in a straight string-like line... a strange creature that looks like a lobster, but once you dive down and move your hands above it - it opens what seemed like big electric-blue wings...and the coral around was like a fairy tale garden - completely out of this world...surrounded by these wonders, I lost track of time...besides, I was sure that all these people were from my boat and we would return together...that is - until the local guy in the group motioned for me to surface and pointed to the boat: "my lady, I think your boat is about to leave now"...


  


    I looked and saw my boat about 200 meters (it's a little more than 200 yards) away - I could make it there in no time...so I began to swim towards it...oh, not so fast...I would swim a minute and then come across coral growing almost up to the surface...I would then turn in a different direction that seemed clear and come across coral again...whenever I lifted my head out of the water - I could see that the sea was clear, and the boat was so near...but right below the surface (in some places - less than an inch below) there was razor sharp coral...there was no way to get past it without having my skin shredded...I felt trapped...I understood then why they warned you not to come closer than 6 feet to the reef - the coral is awfully sharp, the reef itself has many narrow passages, and unless you know the terrain there you could spend forever looking for a way back...I am glad that the local guy (who - no doubt - was a guide for that small group of people I was swimming with) realized my predicament, returned to me and guided me through all the right passages until I was out of the reef...


 
 

    I was happy to see that the boat was still waiting for me!...our captain remembered me, noticed my absence and didn't leave...but I bet the couples were frustrated with the wait - many of them were still newlyweds, and I am sure they had in mind better things to do than wait idly on the boat...they were good sports about it though...anyway, that was my mini-adventure...and then I  happily returned back to our resort, to my angel peacefully and obliviously napping in the shade on the beach, to Bob Marley music (that was Jamaica, after all!) playing softly in the background, to strong rum-based "Bob Marley" shots poured by barmen right there on the beach...ah, vacation!...


  



    I would finish this blog on such happy and blissful note, but I know that at least some of my readers would love "more information about the place, less information about the author"...since I am feeling generous at the moment, I will not hold it against them...in fact, I'll mentioned a couple of points about the resort that might be useful in determining whether to go there or not...So, here is my little summary:



   Couples Swept Away - as the name implies - is a couples hotel...so -  no children around...in my view it's a plus, but views of course differ...

    Food there is not great, selection is so-so...it's a minus...but drinks are fine (they also use premium liquor), and they have swim-up bar and martini bar...so - it's a plus...

    The beach is gorgeous - it's a plus...It's more than an hour ride from the airport - it's a minus...but if you want a perfect beach in Negril - the ride is worth it...otherwise, stay in Montego Bay or Ocho Rios...

    The water sports at the resort are at no extra charge - a plus in my view...

    There is a "green flag" policy at the resort - which means that when you are on the beach and want yet another drink but too lazy to get up and walk to the bar, you raise a provided green flag to let the staff know to come to you and take your order...I am neutral on this one - I don't mind walking a little, especially since there is a bar right there on the beach...but on the other hand, if you had "Bob Marley" shot one too many - maybe it's safer that you stay put and just raise your green flag...so, I guess it's a plus...

    Another plus for me was a "no tips" policy - the employees of the resort are not allowed to accept tips...it's not that I don't want to reward people for good service, but I would much rather pay one lump sum at the beginning or at the end of my stay...otherwise it becomes a little headache - to go to the bank before your vacation (just when you have no time for anything left) to get so many $1 bills, so many $5 bills, so many $10 bills...then you have to carry all these bills with you...then you invariably forget to move them from one purse to another...so to me, a "no tips" policy is definitely a plus...





 


    As you can see - there are many more "pluses" for this hotel...would I consider coming back?...even for the beach alone - yes...but from what I know now - there is also Sandals Negril right there, on the same beach...and we really like Sandals resorts (stayed at one in St. Lucia) - they also cater to couples only, yet they are a little nicer...so - that would be a possibility for the future...
    And it would be great to have some company, too - so maybe some of our children or friends would join us next time...I think in this blog I did a good job enticing them to consider, no? :)
 

My Review Of The Place I Stayed



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Comments

Chriss on

Beautiful pictures. Some of the best I have seen of this resort.

irenan
irenan on

Thank you! We'll be there again this summer, so now I do have to uphold the same standards picture-wise! :)

louise71594
louise71594 on

great review and pics...I have to disagree with you a bit on the buffets/restaurants; we thought it was all great, especially Sea Grape....We were looking for a healthier alternative than your usual that is so often found at many resorts, and CSA delivered.

irenan
irenan on

thank you, louise...we'll be there again this summer, so I'll have a chance to change my mind about the buffets/restaurants there :)

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