I just returned from a lovely respite at a unique all-inclusive resort in Negril, Jamaica. This was supposed to be a yearly mother/daughter birthday trip, but due to circumstances beyond our control, I ended up going on my very first solo vacation. As my flight landed in Montego Bay, a place I had travelled to 4 times previously, I couldn’t imagine enjoying a trip alone to a destination largely populated by honeymooners and couples. I was rather dreading it, but was desperately in need of a rest so I intended to make the best of it and consider it an adventure.
The resort offered a wonderful service free of charge, called Club Mobay, to expedite one’s journey from the plane through customs and on to the hotel. Upon exiting the plane I was escorted by a private guide to a lovely lounge with food and drinks, then assisted out of the airport to my hotel shuttle. This took about 10-15 minutes. I was elated.
Arriving at Sunset at the Palms, I barely noticed the resort. Its dark wood structures and lush, jungle-like foliage blended in so unobtrusively with the surroundings it was almost hidden. Unlike many other Jamaican resorts I have visited, there were no splashy fountains or cascading waterfalls. There was no techno music, no glitz, no flash; just a series of Balinese-style treehouses surrounded by nature’s greenhouse. It was perfect. I immediately started to relax.
I was greeted with a potent (and quite delicious) rum drink and a refreshing cold towel upon entering the reception area. The effects of the 2 hour shuttle from the airport and the stress of the day began to wash away. The staff were warm, friendly, and accommodating, reassuring me that I would still have a wonderful time despite my daughter’s absence and explaining that travelers often came to the resort alone to “reflect”. I spent the remainder of the day wandering the grounds and admiring the flora, the artistic touches, and the resort’s unique, award-winning design. It was blissful.
The resort housed 85 intimate treehouse-style rooms and suites, a small spa with an outdoor treatment area, a quiet, private beach on Bloody Bay (across the street but very close and complete with a private crossing guard), a freeform pool, a gym, tennis court, and several dining options. The main dining room was a large, open-air space serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, buffet-style. There were also two reservation-only restaurants offering 5 course meals, one serving Caribbean fusion dishes, the other featuring local cuisines and produce from their gardens with a Mediterranean twist. Finally, there was a beach bar and grill, a coffee bar, a martini bar, and a pool bar. Nightly entertainment was offered at the piano bar and by the pool.
During my week at Sunset at the Palms, I indulged in a mini facial and an aromatherapy massage (both outstanding), took nature walks through the property with Shorty (the resident gardener), lounged on the beach or in the ocean, snorkeled, paddled, read, and sampled a variety of food and libations. I even made my singing debut with the resort’s piano player (a Stevie Wonder look-alike). It was a little piece of heaven with a few glitches..
I found the food interesting and inventive, although was a bit disappointed in the scarcity of fruit selections. I am still dreaming of their coconut pancakes, “rumuccinos” (cappuccinos with rum crème), sunset fish cakes, and pumpkin plantain chowder. The peach martini was to die for!
My treehouse was cozy and the outdoor daybed sumptuous, but the room was close to the street and a bit loud (I do not recommend the 600 block of rooms for this reason). Friends I met there loved the 100 block due to its privacy. The water in my shower was hot for maybe a minute, then freezing cold. The air conditioning was difficult to adjust and so cold I needed extra blankets at night.
The beach was lovely and the water very clear. Paddleboards, kayaks, peddle boats, windsurfers, and sailboats were all free of charge. For $15 I took a short boat ride to a reef and experienced some of the best snorkeling I’ve ever encountered, with many varied and colorful fish and coral heads as well as remnants of a sunken ship. The beach to the right of the resort’s was lined with vendors selling their wares and it was impossible to enjoy a walk in that direction, as they would harass you constantly as you passed by. Walking to the left there was a nude beach as well as the Riu Palace, Couples, and Royalton resorts.
The gym equipment was ample, but much of it was broken or in need or repair.
Half the pool deck was under construction throughout my stay and was unusable. Unfortunately, this is one of the downfalls of travelling off-season when repairs are usually undertaken. It’s simply the price you pay for a reduction in the ticket price.
Overall, I was very happy with this resort. The serenity, natural setting, and wonderful staff more than made up for the inconveniences and I was only a little sad to be solo amongst the lovebirds.
Beautifully written. This resort sound perfect. Loved your photos. Sometimes solo is the way to go.
Thanks so much Kala. Much appreciated.