After graduating college in December, my parents gave me the option of a money gift or a week vacation. As a lover of traveling, there was no way I was going to turn down a trip. Especially with plans to go in January before job hunting, nothing sounded more appealing than a tropical getaway. I asked one of my college friends to go with me and we looked into different all-inclusive packages in the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Jamaica. I had already been to Cancun and my brother had gone to Punta Cana the year before, where he didn’t have an exceptional time. We eventually decided on Montego Bay in Jamaica.
We chose to stay at the Holiday Inn Resort. It had one of the best packages but also had accommodations for my friend’s dietary restrictions. Looking for gluten free and dairy free meal options wasn’t easily accessible on other resorts’ websites, but we found that the Holiday Inn labeled their breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffet options as gluten and/or dairy free.
What I Loved About the Hotel:
- The staff. Everyone was very friendly and the maids came around and replaced towels throughout the day, which was something I’ve never experienced at other hotels/resorts.
- The nightly activities. Every night there was different entertainment by the pool – magicians, musicians, dancers, etc. The schedule listed the different themes of each night so you knew what to expect. There was even an impressive Michael Jackson performance!
- The food options. There were a four different restaurants on property that had seafood, Caribbean, Japanese or Italian cuisine. You had to make reservations with a staff member in the lobby–sometimes a couple days in advance because they would get booked. What was nice was that all the restaurants offered five course meals, so we never left hungry. There was also the portside buffet restaurant for dinner as a backup option. The staff at the restaurants were also very knowledgeable of what menu items were gluten free or not.
- My favorite restaurant was the Caribbean one because I branched out and tried ox tail (pictured below). I’m not one to try exotic foods and step out of my comfort zone, but I’m glad I ordered it because it was much better than what I was expecting. The only Jamaican food I had tried up until that point was jerk chicken and I needed to expand my horizons. I also enjoyed that restaurant because it overlooked the pool and one of our reservations aligned with the schedule of one of the nightly entertainers.
- The different pools. There was one for adults that was somewhat secluded and private that had a bar attached to it, while there was another that was family friendly and located closer to the lobby. There was also a small playground for kids to play on.
- The water activities. Guests had access to non-motorized water sports, such as kayaks, paddle boats, sailing, snorkeling and windsurfing. There was a roped-off section for these activities. When I heard about this perk, I was surprised that it was offered considering how choppy I’d seen waves on other beaches. However, the water is so calm that you’d think that you were on a lake instead of an ocean. My friend and I were able to snorkel around the island area and there were so many beautifully colored fish we were able to see.
- The diversity of guests. Whether you were someone on your honeymoon, traveling with a friend like me or taking a vacation as a family with young kids, the resort accommodated to everyone.
- The island. Enough said.
We went on one offsite excursion to do water rafting in Kingston, which just so happens to be the hometown of Bob Marley. It was about a 45 minute drive outside the resort, but we had transportation the way there and back. The rapids were not as exciting as I thought they would be but it was still a fun time!
Overall, it was a great week! In January, the weather was beautiful–for the most part, the temperature was in the mid 80’s and I think it only rained one time. I would definitely go back, but I would love to see another area of the country.
Author: Lauren Taylar
Lauren Taylar is a digital marketer and blogger. She is a graduate of the State University of New York at Oswego, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations. When she’s not volunteering her time with Make-A-Wish, you can find her reading a travel magazine and sipping a glass of hard cider or wine.