This being our first trip to Jamaica, we had many questions. By looking at many sites on the Internet, we were able to get many of our questions answered but not all. For this reason, this report will be a bit long and detailed.
We booked with Super Clubs and ended up at Breezes Runaway Bay. Our trip was a short one for Mother’s Day from May 10 to 13. The trip was an eye-opener and the bus from the airport took us through five towns and through many rich and poor locations along the way. We traveled along the North coast and took many pictures outside our bus window. The joke was the bus driver needed to make that last pit stop so he could down a couple beers to relax himself for the rest of the trip. Or was it that we needed a couple beers to help numb our nerves so we could survive the rest of the trip?
Check-in at the hotel was easy. We gave our names, showed our US citizenship papers and turned over our immigration cards that were stamped at the Jamaica airport. The hotel checked our return airline tickets to confirm our return flight information was the one they had on file. We were each given a plastic coiled band, with our keys on, that we could wear on our wrist or wherever. Yes, they do tell you that the second key is for the in-room safe and if you lose it, they will charge you 50 dollars US when you check out. You are also given an envelope with your room number, a layout of the grounds with schedule and a card for each guest that you use to trade for your yellow towel at the water sports building. The card also states that upon checkout, you must turn in one yellow towel or one towel card or the hotel will charge you for the towel. They mean business here so be forewarned.
The first day we arrived after 3PM. We were informed we missed lunch, which closed at 2:30 but we were invited to the beach grill where they offered hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, french fries and jerk chicken. The cheeseburgers were somewhat edible, if you call almost a 1 oz, almost paper thin piece of meat on a stale and hard bun. The watered down tomato paste (ketchup???) helped soften the bun. The jerk chicken is a quarter chicken that they cut up in small pieces for you. Consider asking for extra jerk sauce be added as they heat up the chicken on the grill. We tried with and without the extra sauce and liked it with better. More flavorful that way.
As we dined on our cheeseburgers and chicken, we watched the trapeze class at the circus clinic. About 4 guests took part. We also watched one brave couple try to take a kayak out into the ocean. About a half hour later they were being helped back in. We say brave because we later learned that most water sports were canceled our entire trip there. They did have scuba diving and a few tried snorkeling, near the nude beach, but the sailing, hobie cats, windsurfing, pedal boats and kayaks were all locked up on the beach. The resort advertises water skiing and banana boats but were told by the watersports shop that the do not do that anymore. With this and other times we learned that what the resort advertises is not always what they deliver.
Dinner our first night was on the beach terrace. The food was good but nothing to write home about. They did serve white and red wine, which was palatable, unlike other reports we read about the poor wine. I guess the year 2001 was a good year for wine or at least that was the year on the wine label. They offered a nice pasta bar where the sauces were cooked to order for you. We finished dinner and walked by the starlight grill, which is also a buffet, under the stars. Almost the same food served in the beach terrace is served in the starlight grill. Was not anything special unless you like bugs flying around your face as you try to eat?
We were tired from the long trip and took a nap about 9PM. We woke up a couple hours later to a horrendous storm. The wind and rain was so strong we thought it was a small hurricane. We were in building one and walking out to our balcony we could not see building two or the beach from our room because the rain was coming down so hard. We walked under the canopies to the hotel lobby, which was deserted. The disco had two people in it. Seemed strange for a Friday night. We learned the next day the disco closed at midnight. The piano bar had one customer and two bartenders. We walked through building three to stay out of the rain. We ended up at the beach terrace and pool bar. Three guests were at the pool bar. We stopped for our first beer while we waited for the rain to slow down.
Speaking of drinks, bring an insulated mug with you. The drinks are served in 6 or 8 oz juice glasses and are a pain in the butt getting them refilled so often. The rain soon slowed down and we walked along the beach, back to our rooms. About 4AM we woke up and my wife, being a diabetic, had a need for some munchies. I walked over to the registration desk and inquired about their advertised 24-hour snack attack. I say advertised because we learned again they do not mean what they advertise. We were informed we just missed the snack attack. Later we saw on TV that the 24-hour snack attack is only advertised from 10PM to 4AM. The next night we tried to get the snack attack again only to find out they serve it from midnight to 3AM. We went back at 1AM to find out what the snack attack was. We were handed three small plates with two finger sandwiches, cut in triangles on each. One sandwich was a thin slice of cheese with an even thinner slice of meat and something that tasted li! ke lettuce. It was brown and wilted so we thought it was lettuce. Another sandwich tasted like a ham or some meat salad. The third sandwich smelled funny so we tossed it. No fruit or anything else. The do have a coffee pot and hot water pot for tea going 24-hours, in the lobby, so maybe that is the 24-hour snack attack?
Day 2 we woke up about 7AM and I went to the beach terrace to bring back my wife some fruit, juice and rolls. We wanted room service but there were no cards to put on our door the night before. That evening we had to ask at registration where the room service menus were. They called housekeeping who dropped off a stack of menus while we went to dinner. Back to breakfast, I saw remnants of the storm that came through. The water on the North shore beach here was very choppy and there was still an intermittent light shower. The grounds crew was cleaning up the aftermath. We saw many tree branches and such on the ground. Breakfast opens up at 7:30AM so I had a short wait. After picking up some juice and rolls, I walked back to our room. The ground crew sure worked fast because most of the tree branches had been picked up already. The breakfast buffet consisted of omelets cooked to order, along with bacon, sausage, french toast, pancakes, fruit and rolls. Breakfast was an everyda! y breakfast buffet type fare and was good.
Only one problem we had with breakfast was when I tried to bite into a slice of sweetbread and broke my front tooth. I wear full dentures so the damage was not too severe, and will be fixed for around 200, but should not have happened anyway. I did report it to the dining room supervisor and the guest services desk since the manager was not available, or so they say. All I heard was “No Problem Mon.” Bottom line was they say sorry but could not do anything. If I wanted to give them my teeth, they would try to have them fixed and sometime in the next weeks or months they will try to ship the teeth back to me. That is how long it may take to fix them if they are even able to have them repaired. In simple terms, I was on my own! Yes, the teeth are being repaired here in the states.
Today was Saturday and according to the TV and the schedule that the hotel gives out when you check-in, the horse and buggy ride is only Sunday to Friday. One must sign up the day before so we tried to sign up for the next days ride, which would be Sunday. We learned again that the information on the TV is wrong and more advertised activities and schedules are in error. We did get to sign up for that days ride only because one spot was still open for the 4:30PM ride. The buggy goes out three times at 2:30, 3:30 and 4:30. The buggy holds two couples and we were offered to share a bottle of white wine. When you hear that you spill most of it, believe it! Bring your cameras as the staff takes your photo on the buggy ride. The other couple we rode with had some trouble that morning as well. She broke her toe and the staff at the infirmary could do nothing for her. Did not offer her any pain pills, splints or bandages. They were flying home the next day so she told us she would h! ave it taken care of back in the states.
We had reservations for dinner in Martinos and enjoyed ourselves. The food was great and you can order one of everything if you so desire. The wine served was the same as at the beach terrace. Not as good as some may like but not as bad as Boones Farm or Mad Dog 20/20. After dinner we checked out the food being served at the starlight grill and beach terrace and both agreed to make reservations again for tomorrow night at Martinos. We liked the piano playing during dinner but missed it the next night when they piped in some less than enjoyable dinner music.
As to activities, what was offered and what was advertised were not the same thing. So we learned to have an open mind and go with the flow. Some things we were hoping for, that we saw advertised, do not happen anymore, but they have added goat races. Speaking of goat races, they took place on Sunday afternoon. Both my wife and I entered the race. No, you do not ride them and you are warned not to pull or try to coax the goat by grabbing any part of them, if you know what we mean. The object is to grab a hold of the rope or leash on the goat and when they say go, the handlers let go of the goats who race across the beach to a finish line where they have banana or grape leaves for the goats. What they do not tell you is that these are wild goats, or at least my goat was. He was called the “crazy goat” and I found out later this was his first race. My goat was fast and beat the other three goats. As he got to the finish line he ran, head first, into the volleyball net pole. Gu! ess that upset the goat because he took off, knocking me down and dragging me at least 20 or 30 feet before I could finally let go of the rope. By the time I came to my senses and looked up, spitting the sand out of my mouth, I saw the goat running away and one of the handlers trying to catch him. The goat never raced again and we heard that night and the next day that the staff never found the goat! I did win a certificate, suitable for framing, to show I won my heat of the goat races.
To explain a bit more about the dangerous severity of the situation, I am a retired Professional Wrestler, weighing about 300 lbs and quite muscular. I have body slammed the 7 foot, 525 lb, Andre the Giant, wrestled and beaten Hulk Hogan, went toe-to-toe with The Rock, and here a wild goat took me out. The goat almost ripped my arm out of my socket and four days later the bruises are still there. We saw young ladies, weighing about 105 lbs and middle-aged women all entering these goat races. Another lady was close to 60 but would not admit her age. What would happen if they drew the first race and got the goat that I had? My doctor back here in the states checked me out the next morning after I returned home and told me what saved me was my many years of sports conditioning. He said the goat probably could and would have ripped someone else’s arm clean off, like some of the other females I mentioned that were also signed up for the races. As a pro-wrestler, I have been hurt ! many times before but this goat totally caught me off guard. No one that we talked to during or after the race expected the goat to do what he did. No one but the staff member that was hosting the event, or so he told us after the races were over and he was asking me how I felt. That day, evening and the next morning many other hotel guests stopped me and asked me how I was after the goat race. Ironic how the hotel guests showed concern and were asking how I felt but the hotel staff did not care less. Maybe the staff has seen this happen so many times that it does not phase them anymore when their activities injure the guests?
That evening was our last night on the island and we found a letter with our return flight reconfirmation info on it. It had our name, room number, flight number, time the flight left, time to have our bags outside our door and the time the bus would leave to take us to the airport. It also showed that the government departure tax was 27 US dollars and payable at the airport. That evening, before dinner, we sat on the beach and took some pictures of our last sunset.
Bottom line: This was our first trip but not our last. Even with the few small problems, we still had a very good time. Only next time we will stay 7 or 10 days instead of just 3 nights. Breezes Runaway Bay is on the lower end, economy side of the Super Clubs chain and we would be content if we ended up there again but can only hope for something better. Our TA told us we were booked at Hedo III but 3 days before we were to leave, we learned we were bumped to BRB. We just got back and already are considering another trip in less than four months from now, probably September. The hotel room we got was the basic room, which we found quite adequate. Sure the plumbing was a bit slow, specifically the drain in the tub that seemed to take forever to drain and the toilet which took many flushes to finally work, but the shower pressure was intense and very warm. Never had the cold shower we had read about before. The grounds are well maintained and the pool and hot tubs are cleaned ! every morning. As to the nude or Au Natural side, be advised the resort next door has many kids and we saw many families come from there and swim along the nude beach of the BRB. So if you do not mind a bunch of kids, and I do mean anywhere from 5 to 16, hanging around, walking, laying beside you and gawking on the nude beach; than this is for you. Otherwise try another nude beach. Hedo III is just down the road.
The following is a listing, updated as of 4/1/02, of the tours and excursions offered at BRB. All prices are in US dollars.
Day cruise to Dunns River Falls (daily) $60.00
Sunset Cruise ( Weds, 3:10PM ) $48.00
Dolphin Cove ( Ground Transfers not included )
A: The Touch Program $40.00
B: The Encounter $80.00
C: Swim with the Dolphins $145.00 Dunns River Falls ( Daily 2PM to 5PM ) $25.00
W/ admission to the Dolphin Cove $40.00
Parasailing ( Tues. 9AM to 12 Noon ) $45.00
Ocho Rios Shopping ( Mon to Sat. 9AM & 1PM ) $15.00
Ocho Rios Highlights ( Mon. to Sat. 9AM to 2:30PM ) $45.00
W/ optional lunch $55.00
Island Reggae Shuttle ( Tues. & Thurs. 10AM ) $15.00
Blue Mountain Bicycle Adventure ( Tues to Sat. 8:20AM to 5:30PM )$90.00
Ochie by Air Tour
A: 20 min $65.00
B: 30 min $110.00
C: 60 min $225.00
Margaritaville Party Bus ( daily 10:30PM to 1:30AM )
A: Tues & Thurs. $20.00
B: Wed. ( dinks included ) $40.00
C: Fri & Sat $30.00
Horseback Riding ( daily 8:30AM & 1:30PM )
A: 2 and a half hour beach ride $65.00
B: 2-hour mountain ride $55.00
Mountain to Sea Bicycle tour ( daily 8:45AM & 1:45PM ) $50.00
Martha Brae Rafting ( Tues., Thurs. & Sat. 1PM to 5PM ) $47.00
Port Antonio Rafting ( Mon., Wed. & Fri. 8AM ) $78.00
Cranbrook Flower Forest ( Wed & Fri 11AM ) $30.00
Negril Sunset ( Wed & Sat 7:30AM ) $75.00
Appleton Estate & YS Falls ( Wed 10AM ) $70.00
ATV Safari ( Mon to Sat ) $70.00
River Tubing ( Mon to Sat 9:30AM & 1:30PM ) $50.00
Black River Safari & YS Falls ( Thurs 7:30AM ) $78.00
Deep Sea Fishing
A: Half-day ( 4 hours ) $450.00
B: Full-day ( 8 hours ) $700.00
Brimmer Hall Plantation ( Tues & Thurs 1PM ) $30.00
As they say: All rates and tours subject to change without notice!
Bruce & Jacqueline
Hang In There,