Yes, I travel a lot.
Yes, a good amount of those destinations are desirable all-inclusive beach resorts.
Yes, it is always for work.
No, I am not complaining.
I live an extremely blessed life which I am thankful for everyday. Not many people get to travel to amazing places while doing what they absolutely love. I really have to pinch myself sometimes.
With that being said, it’s not always sunshine and tropical drinks. I go to these places for work and that is undoubtedly my only priority while on location. You are always on the clock, you are always fighting fires, and every day is something different. I get a thrill out of 15 hour days. Some call it weird, I call it passion. Did I mention that I love it?
At the SITE Texas Holiday event last December there was a silent auction. No longer being a starving college student, I had some change in my pocket and love this organization so much I wanted to help contribute in any way I could. Trouble. After perusing around all of the silent auction items, doing some research on my handy iPhone, and having a glass of wine, I decided to bid for a 3-night stay at Secrets St. James Montego Bay in Jamaica. AND GUESS WHO WON?! Cue happy dance.
Well then my 2015 got crazy. As I’m writing this in September, I have traveled about 150 days this year. And that’s with me restraining myself and saying no to certain programs and trips for my own sanity and health. I had invited my mom to be my plus one on this trip (travel partners in crime since diaper days), and the poor woman had to wait around for me to have an opening in my schedule so we could finally go on this Jamaican vacation we both craved and in my opinion, deserved.
And this is when I’m thankful for slow season. September actually isn’t really “slow season” per-say, but in my case this year it was. Partially due to the fact that my October is going to be insane (blog post to come), so I thought a little time off prior would be beneficial. Even those who travel for a living deserve a vacation, right?
Alright so the vacation. Secrets St. James shares a property with Secrets Wild Orchid (still trying to figure out the difference between the two), so it feels like one big Jamaican village where every bite and drink you see is free. So basically an adult Disneyland. Fine by me.
Everyone should consider a vacation here. In this post I’m going to share my experiences with the resort, room, activities, food, drinks, more food, more drinks, and everything this resort has to offer. Read what you want, or just look at the pictures like most of us do anyways.
Well this resort is beautiful and pretty big considering it consists of two properties. Here are the basics:
- 4 pools (2 of which are supposed to be Preferred Club only)
- 10 dining outlets (7 restaurants, 1 buffet, 2 fast options)
- 9 bars & lounges
- Complimentary non-motorized activities
- Pool-side & nighttime activities daily
- Shops & a casino on-site
- Spa & fitness center
Because the resort is so spread out, it never really felt crowded besides breakfast in the morning (at certain times you would wait about 10 minutes for a table and about 15 minutes in the omelet line) and when the jerk chicken & coconut carts would roll out on the beach. Regardless, the lines were completely manageable.
The room was spacious and came with a bar stocked with waters, sodas, and beer. Our balcony was covered which was nice when the thunderstorms rolled in we could sit on the balcony with a glass of wine and felt completely safe. There was a rain shower head with great water pressure. Beds were comfy, and the room was able to get extremely dark.
Spa / Fitness Center
We never got any spa appointments done because they were fairly pricey, but upon arrival you receive $200 credits from the resort in which you may put $40 per person towards a service. The fitness center was my biggest stress on this vacation (rough life) as it was extremely small and very crowded. Guess you’ll just have to run outside or take a few days off and enjoy your vacation!
We also did not utilize any of the non-motorized sports. We were going to kayak but then we saw some dear souls struggle against the wind so we decided against it. Yeah, we’re kind of lame but we just enjoy reading and relaxing on the beach too much. We did attend a couple of the night events, mainly when the resident band was playing. The outdoor stage is such a pretty setting but unfortunately we only got to enjoy it for part of one evening because it rained the other nights. Bummmmmer.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
We had breakfast at the World Cafe buffet, probably because it was our only choice besides room service. I opted for an omelette most days but the crepes were amazing too! Although it was a wide selection of items, the healthiest were definitely omelets, fruit, and nuts.
There are 3 options for lunch: World Cafe buffet, Oceana, and Seaside. Oceana and Seaside are poolside and both offer limited salad bars. In addition, Seaside has a menu to order off of (I had the fresh fish of the day), and Oceana has a “make your own wrap” menu. I got a spinach wrap with jerk chicken or pork and all of the veggies toppings. ALSO, the best lunch option was when the jerk chicken cart would roll up to the beach and you could get freshly cooked chicken right there by your lounge chair (don’t be scared away by the line).
While there are technically 7 restaurants open for dinner, we only dined at 4 of them because we were there for 4 nights. We dined at:
- Blue Mountain: This is their Caribbean-style restaurant. We enjoyed the Crab Cake, Pumpkin Soup, Lamb Curry, Seafood Stew with Smashed Sweet Potatoes and Rum Cake.
- Bordeaux: At their French restaurant we enjoyed the Crab Gratinee, Fried Goat Cheese with Beets, Beef Short Rib with Au Gratin Potatoes, Grilled Shrimp with Cauliflower Truffle Puree, and Creme Brûlée.
- Himitsu: Their Asian dining choice also has a Hamachi table which makes you feel like you’re at Benihana. We sat in the main dining area and tried the Spring Rolls, Chicken Satay with Coconut Curry Peanut Sauce, Shrimp Pad Thai, Mongolian Beef, and Strawberry & Banana Tart.
- Portofino: Italian flavors aka my favorite, we had the Arancini (Fried Risotto Balls), Insalata Verde with Caramelized Peaches and Walnuts, Zucchini-Wrapped Grilled Prawns with Gnocchi in a Blue Cheese Sauce, Lobster Ravioli in a Vodka Sauce, Caramel Budino with Fruit Compote, and Limoncello Tart.
The coconut water cart that would arrive at the beach was the best, where you could get freshly cut-open coconut to drink the water out of. Alcohol wise they offer 1 sparkling, 2 types of white and 3 types of red wine. There is also a full bar. My favorite drinks were:
- Dirty Banana: This is a popular one here which has Bananas, Rum Cream, and a couple other things. It is fairly heavy but not too much.
- Papaya Daiquiri: My healthy twist on a daiquiri with fresh Papaya in it!
- Pineapple Coconut Rum: Coconut Rum, Soda Water, Splash of Pineapple Juice
- Chambord Mimosa: Sparkling Wine + Chambord
- Wine, always wine.
Their bourbon selection was pretty lame with Jack Daniels and Jim Beam.
Safe travels y’all!
Chelsea Rose Martin