Christmas in the caribbean

Suzanne Barney on 23 December 2015
Birmingham airport wasn't as busy as we had anticipated.Though we experienced a delay checking in as the people queuing for our flight had far more than the 20 kg so there was a bit of a wait whilst excess baggage was paid. If only they had used a travel agent who would have informed them of this... We finally checked in and were through security swiftly. On arrival in Montego bay there was the usual queuing caos at immigration. We went to the Couples lounge changed into shorts and Tshirt and then we decided to pay £100 each to take the internal flight to Negril rather than the 2 hour transfer. The flight took 15 minutes and was great as the views were amazing from the light aircraft with just 4 passengers.

I have stayed at this hotel 5 years ago and I loved it . This time we were in a partial sea view room which was very close to the beach. There wasn't as much privacy in this room as it faced onto the walkway from the beach so you felt that you needed to put a curtain across I much preferred the Atrium rooms we had before more for the privacy located in the gardens. Everyone was repeat customers who meet up every year it felt more like 'groups' than 'couples' and for the Christmas break the people were older 50+ .Everyone was quite fit and healthy the tennis group hit 16 at one point which is pretty good going and there were a lot of people jogging and doing yoga. There were Christmas lights on the balconies apparently people bring their own out so it looked very festive. On Christmas eve we had a wonderful champagne cocktail party with lovely canapes, Christmas carols. steel bands and a chocolate fountain with lost of petite cakes and chocolates it was really lovely. Afterwards they had a bonfire on the beach with the sunbeds in a circle around it with an acoustic guitar singer. Christmas day santa could be seen paragliding over the beach and then came to the hotel with his group of elves giving all the ladies presents. Everybody dressed elegantly over this time though the atmosphere changed around the 27th as the new intake became younger ,casual and a bit louder. We played tennis - this is a main feature of the hotel and its USP the facilities are excellent with daily individual coaching and a tennis pro from the USA taking group clinics. This is located at the sports centre which has pool, table tennis, gym,spa ,squash and a walking track. We tended to play 7.30am -8.30am as then it wasn't too hot and then later in the afternoon at 5pm where you got rid of all your impurities and excess weight! There is also great water sports but I am a 'land' person though we did take out a canoe Evenings are low key there is a piano bar and disco which we didn't bother with too much and there is a group on in the palms restaurant doing the normal reggae numbers. There was cinema on the beach which was really good, and a martini bar which is great to start the night. The restaurants were very good loved the scallop and tiger shrimp pizza , or the deconstructed chicken kebob with tzatziki and pittas at Patois restaurant for lunch. The lobster night , and the beef in 'Feathers' The portions are just small so you don't feel that you have over eaten The beach you get all sorts singing, or selling you spa treatments(much cheaper next door), beach wraps and a few 'other' things. If you not interested they go away. The weather was amazing with just 2 days when it clouded over in the afternoon . On the way home we took the bus and it took about 1hour 30 minutes to the airport. the check in quick and the duty free very quirky but good with a few gift shops ,,cafes and also the normal duty free essentials

I think Christmas you get different people to any other time of year. The staff at this hotel are normally amazing but this time I would say they were good but not their usual exceptional selves I do hope this was just because it was Christmas and not the norm. If you love diving ,tennis, watersports this is a great hotel Pool scene - no as the main pools are very average, swimming -yes as the lap pool is ideal.