By writing posts about the sort of trip I am about to describe, I am not unaware that I run the risk of reinforcing the reader’s most inflated notions of the opulent not to mention indolent lifestyle led by humble travel entrepreneurs like myself. This is owing to the fact that in the travel industry some of our key suppliers express their appreciation for our efforts with reward trips to appealing destinations. This reality is made abundantly clear on my Fool Disclosure page.
In our industry, you had better be prepared to endure frequent comments along the lines of “Wow, it must really be rough being you.” and other equally witty remarks. They are usually offered in a jocular vein with a nonetheless discernible tinge of jealousy. I will be the first to admit that we in the travel business often travel like kings but our ugly, dark little secret is we are too often compensated more like kitchen help. When quizzed about the travel business, my usual retort is “If you want to travel as if you had a lot of money, it’s great. If you want to actually earn a lot of money, not so much.” But enough self-indulgent whining. Truth is, if the trade-off were not acceptable, none of us would not be doing this for a living. And hey, when I am working as a greeter at Wal-Mart at age ninety-four, I will have incredible memories!
A few weeks back I was invited by Funjet Vacations to participate in a five day, four night stay at the Sandals Grand Riviera Beach and Villa Golf Resort in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. One nice thing about going to a sun and fun resort, it makes packing relatively simple. On the whole, I was pleased with the selection of clothing items I brought along with one exception. Apparently, if you are going to go to Sandals, male or female, you must bring a pair of nice sandals. I am pretty sure that I was the only dweeb in the entire resort who did not get the memo.
I consider myself a reasonably natty dresser but I am obviously way behind the trend in male sandals. Note to self: Before your next reward trip (coming up in December), scrape together a few shekels and invest in a pair of nice leather sandals. For you fashion aficionados out there, here is a note for you. If I am so far behind the trend that male sandals are actually now on the way out, please keep that bit of knowledge to yourself. Once I pony up for a pair, I will be wearing them until the leather looks like Keith Richards’ face under strobe lights.
For those of you who tune in to this blog hoping to actually get a little travel insight now and again and not just my fascinating personal peccadilloes, here is my impression of the resort.
Their website describes it as a “sprawling paradise” and that is pretty accurate. The resort consists of a series of villas spread over an entire verdant hillside but the “sprawling” part presents no obstacle thanks to the ubiquitous jitneys always flitting around.
If you are a golfer, you can play as many rounds as you like without green fees at Sandals Golf and Country Club about half-an-hour away. (There are caddy and cart fees). Shuttles run regularly to the course. The property has had a recent $60 million dollar upgrade and is in beautiful condition. The Ochi Beach Club with its babbling brooks, fragrant gardens and a great stretch of beach offers the perfect way to spend your day.
I can promise you that you will never be bored. Take a look at the activities page here for a truly amazing selection of options. If you want to really pamper yourself, book a private cabana where your whims will be catered to by your cabana concierge! Then further indulge yourself at the Red Lane Spa.
A final word: if you prefer smaller, quieter and more upscale, check out the Sandals Royal Plantation just down the road. I had a great private dinner there sitting at the same table frequented by Winston Churchill.