Wednesday, May 18, 2016

One Love - Sandals Negril Part 1

Sandals Negril

Ron and I knew we wanted to go to a Sandals resort for our twenty-fifth anniversary; it was just a matter of picking which one. Finally we settled on Sandals Negril. Our last two Sandals vacations had been at larger properties (Whitehouse and Antigua) so this time we wanted to try a smaller resort with lots of fun water sports. Plus Negril was one of my all-time favorite places, with its endless beach, gorgeous sunsets and friendly people. We stayed at Couples Swept Away in Negril in 2010 and couldn’t wait to go back. But just as we were packing up the car for the drive to Orlando, Cedric started acting groggy and weak. Since he’d been fine earlier in the day, we decided it would be alright for us to leave, but we emailed Judi to ask her to keep an extra close eye on him.

The next day was a long day of traveling from Orlando to Montego Bay to Negril. It was almost five o’clock when we made it to Sandals. We’d booked a Club Level room in the Paradise Building, right in the middle of the resort and about as close to the water as you could get. The building was completely remodeled about a year ago and our room was gorgeous. It was decorated in light colors with turquoise artwork and had the Sandals signature king sized 4-poster bed. Our second floor balcony overlooked the Beach Bistro Bar and the sailboats anchored offshore. Beautiful! The Club Level rooms included a few extra perks like a concierge lounge, room service and a mini-bar, but that’s not why we'd booked it. It was all about the location, location, location.

Paradise Building Club Level room

Paradise Building Club Level room

view from the balcony

Negril sailboats

By the time we finished unpacking, I was antsy for word about Cedric. Ron had a voice mail from Judi saying she’d sent us an email but when I checked my emails there wasn’t anything from her. Fortunately, Ron had added an international plan to his cell phone before the trip so we phoned. Judi told us that Cedric hadn’t eaten any of his food from the day before, and she’d called for him but couldn’t find him so she’d gone home. Now I was frantic! He’d been really sick when we got back from the Bahamas in January and had been limp in my lap for two days. I was picturing him lying somewhere in the house like that, all alone. My poor baby! So we called Bob, who (amazing friend that he is) offered to go over to the house and see if he could find him.

While we waited to hear from Bob, we went to dinner at Barefoot by the Sea, the seafood restaurant on the beach. Despite the beautiful sunset and the good food, we couldn’t really enjoy anything. Ron was even talking about flying back home. The words to Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” kept playing in my head. “Don’t worry about a thing. ‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright.” But how could we not worry??

As we were finishing up dinner we got a text from Bob and ran back to the room to call him. He’d found Cedric lying in the shower. Cedric was definitely not feeling well but not in any distress. Bob didn’t think he needed to go to the emergency vet, but said he would check on him again before work the next day. We kept our fingers crossed that he’d be OK and went to bed.

sunset from balcony

sunset and gazebo


In the morning, we got another text from Bob saying that Cedric was doing better and had even eaten a little. Yay!! Now we could relax and enjoy our long-awaited trip. We went to breakfast at Bayside, the open-air restaurant that served breakfast and lunch buffets and French food at dinner. I’d planned on trying to eat lighter at breakfast, but that went out the window when I saw the smoothie bar, grits and bacon and chocolate croissants. Hey, I was on vacation. :-)  I loved the smoothies and ended up getting a different one every morning after that – banana and strawberry, watermelon and papaya, blueberry. Yum! While we ate, we were entertained by Henry, the resort’s resident peacock, who was displaying his plumage in one corner of the restaurant.

Henry the peacock

Bayside Restaurant

After breakfast and a walk around the property to get our bearings, we found two lounge chairs under a palapa in front of our room. It was the perfect spot – next to the restaurants and beach bar with a great view of the water skiers and tubing. And thus began a wonderful, relaxing week of not doing much. It was kind of unusual for us. Normally, we have several tours planned, but this time we let “sand gravity” take over and just enjoyed the beach.

Our only activity of the day was snorkeling. Captains Ricky and Orlando took us out to a reef where there was a sunken cannon and anchor. It was a bright, sunny day so the reef was lit up with color. Most the fish were of the smaller variety but there were plenty of them. We saw schools of French grunts, squirrel fish and a few parrot fish, plus lots of pesky sergeant majors that seemed to expect us to feed them. I even spotted a couple of squid.

beach gazebo

Sandals Negril beach

watersports area and cabanas

sailboats and cabanas

kayaks and cabanas

sunken anchor

sergeant major fish

French grunts

Later while we relaxed under the palapa, one of the beach musicians stopped by our chairs to sing a song. I loved the beach musicians in Negril. Actually, I didn’t even mind the beach vendors, who didn’t bother you if you said “no, thank you”. They added character. Since Sandals Negril was at the very top of Long Bay, there weren’t as many vendors as there had been at Couples Swept Away, but there was one guy selling conch shells and several selling smokes. There was even one who sold “brownies”. Only in Jamaica...

That night was the big beach dinner and all the restaurants were closed except for Kimonos and Cucina Romana, which both required reservations. Ron and I have never been that excited about the beach dinner so we decided to take a taxi over to Beaches Negril to eat at their sushi restaurant, Soy. Because Sandals and Beaches are sister companies, Sandals guests are allowed to visit Beaches properties (but not the other way around since Sandals is adults-only). We sat at the bar where we could talk and watch the sushi chef preparing plates of colorful dishes. We ordered two carpaccio appetizers and three kinds of sushi rolls, and finished with tempura banana with white chocolate sauce. Back at Sandals, the beach party and fire show were getting started but we were both tired so we headed on to bed.

Beaches Soy Sushi Bar

sushi at Soy

continued on Part 2

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