We go to Jamaica at least once a year. It is truly one of my favorite places in the world. It’s as beautiful as any place in the Caribbean and it’s just a three hour flight from Newark so the kids don’t get too cranky. When I want a little Caribbean Jerk and Rum Punch, a week in Jamaica is a no brainer. I’ve stayed at a number of properties on the island from Negril to Runaway Bay.
If it’s your first time to JamRock you may be a bit shocked when you get off of the airplane. At first glance it’s not the cleanest Island in the blue sea. The car ride from Montego Bay to either Ocho Rios or Negril has plenty of “unvacation” sites to see. However, when it comes to resorts -Jamaica has some of the most beautiful and cleanest resorts in the Caribbean. My Favorites are the Riu All-InclusiveResorts. All include the typical AI resort amenities like a gym, kids club, salon, small casino, and private beach but each Jamaican Riu has it own distinct personality.
A lot of all-inclusive hotels offer unlimited amounts of mediocre food and mid quality drinks. Riu-Negril is known as having some of the best all-inclusive cuisine on the Island. The Negril property is a “Club Riu” hotel which means that there is plenty to do and the atmosphere is very appropriate for both a family vacation or a romantic week with your sugar baby. This is my RIU choice for traveling with your kids. If you can handle the hour-and-a-half ride from the airport in Montego Bay, it will be well worth your trip. It’s a big resort so make sure your diamond studded flip flops are comfortable. You may have a rather long walk to your room.
Riu, Montego Bayis a brand new resort. When I first arrived the staff was a little out of sorts. The service was not as accommodating as the Negril property because it’s right in Montego Bay. It’s crowded and compact, so wear your diamond studded flip flops all day if you want. True to all Riu hotels there is that perfectly placed mini-bar in your room that helps when you need to get away from it all. It’s included in your all-inclusive plan. If your kids are with you, it’s a short trip from the airport, but not as much to do on the property as in Negril.
To me, Ocho Rios is the cruise crew destination of the island. It’s the side of the island that the cruise ships come into and allow anxious duty-free shoppers to disembark. Because of this Riu-Ocho Rios is the least crowded of the Riu hotels on the Island. A short cab ride away from port, hotel guests can go to the shopping village and get the same great deals as the cruise crew. It’s a little more low key than Fabulous but it definitely works for a few day some R&R before you ramp back up to your Fabulous life.
If you’re not really up to Fabulous but want a little more luxury instead, then you can head back to Negril to Riu Palace-Tropical Bay. It’s not a “club” hotel so there is less party and more “plush”. Definitely considered one of the best all-inclusives in the entire Caribbean, you get top shelf liquor and nightly turn down service. The crowd was a little too old for me and much too quiet, but it was definitely a more luxurious experience than at Ocho Rios with a similar crowd.