A fine time at Beaches Negril Jamaica... a brief stop at Lucea and Rick's Cafe
JAMAICA - So, it seems they took an old hospital on the waterfront in central Montego Bay and turned it into a park.
There were people dancing and singing in the park at 8 p.m. on Wednesday night. So, when I woke up early on Thursday and wanted to drink my coffee al fresco, the park seemed like an obvious choice. I mean, if it’s open at 8:15 – when it’s dark – on Wednesday, it should be open Thursday at 7:30 a.m. when it’s light. Right?
Nope. Locked tight.
I asked a guy nearby what was up and he shrugged and said, “It opens at 10.”
There was a beach park next door but it was covered with empty bottles and old shoes and looked rather forbidding, so I ended up taking my coffee and my Burger King danish (I couldn’t eat the Jamaican breakfast at the Wexford Hotel, sorry) back to my room and sat on the balcony, which wasn’t so bad. But how do they justify spending so much money on a park and not having it open to folks, both locals and tourists, in the morning when it's such a fine time to enjoy the cooler air?
Martin Pottinger, my driver for the day, gave me a nice tour on the way from Montego Bay to Negril, where I parked myself for the night at Beaches Negril. He pointed out the fancy mansions along the way, as well as the resorts at Round Hill and Tryall. Not that it was all peaches and cream; we passed a lot of iffy looking spots and small shacks selling mangoes or other fruit, as well as a tiny shack called Mangrove’s Tyre Shop.
After an hour or so we pulled into Lucea, a small community otherwise known as Lucy. It was quite funky; like old-time Jamaica I think. There’s a small market and a place with a great name - Tit’s Bar - and a nice Methodist Church. We stopped for Jamaican beef and veggie patties and also had some cornmeal pudding, which was terrific. I didn’t like the sweet potato pudding as much, but there you go.
We arrived early at Beaches Negril, which is a lovely property. I expected it to be rathe low-key, but the place was hopping all night long. They have a waterslide and a big whack of pools and more activities than you can imagine. There’s face painting for kids and para-sailing and snorkeling and kayaks and a teenagers’ camp and a huge beach and a million other things to do, as well as free (it’s an all-inclusive resort; my first exposure to one) booze and food.
Management was nice enough to let me try the Red Lane Spa for a one-hour West Indian massage. It was outstanding, with a nice ambience and a terrific massage with hot rocks to hold for warmth, a nice face massage, a foot exfoliation (another first for me) and then, at the end, a little mist in my face to remind me of the ocean.
Thursday was beach barbeque night, and they laid out a million salads and bbq ribs and jerk chicken and steamed snapper and a lot more, adding in a great limbo show, dancing on the beach and lots more. I had some bbq, then later wandered over to the Mexican place and had a pretty good steak served to perfection. These all-inclusives strike me as a cruise ship that’s stuck on the land, what with the incredible variety and all.
There was a 6 p.m. parade with a marching band and Sesame Street characters. I’d always figured Cookie Monster as more of a Hedonism II kinda guy myself, but what do I know?
I chatted with a couple guys as the sun met its glory in the west just after 7 p.m.. They were from Virginia and said they love Beaches resorts, but that this one kicks the version in Ocho Rios in the butt because the Negril variety has a beach that’s infinitely longer.
Earlier, I had taken a Beaches bus down to Rick’s Café, located in what’s called the west end part of Negril. It’s a giant bar that’s situated at the top of some very high, craggy cliffs. A dozen or so locals dive off the highest rocks – about 15 meters or so above the bright-blue, impossibly clear water – and then seek, naturally, tips from the tourists.
Tourists from Ontario and Omaha also challenge each other to take the plunge, albeit from not quite the same height and, generally, without the handstands and backflips. It was entertaining and quite impressive, but after a half-hour I had had enough so I caught a cab back to Beaches for the bbq.
As I said, it’s my first exposure to an all-inclusive. I usually like to be able to roam about a town and see various sites instead of being focused entirely on one property. You can certainly head into other parts of Negril from here but it’s a hike to get to most places, which means arranging a cab or taking a shuttle. Still, the food here is very good and the activities incredibly varied. The rooms are terrific, the grounds and pools are lovely and the beach goes on forever, so I certainly see why folks, especially families, would love it.
Look for a report Monday on the south coast and Treasure Beach….