A Jamaica Family Vacation: Our All-Inclusive Resort

by Beth Graham

I have a dirty little holiday secret. I don’t like being home on Christmas. I’m fortunate (insert sarcasm) to have my entire family, in-laws and all, living within a few miles of each other. I’ve sacrificed my Thanksgiving holiday by allowing the annual convergence of the families, but in recent years, I decided I was keeping my Christmas for just me, my husband and our children. So every year, I plan a week away over the holidays so we don’t have to spin an excuse why we can’t attend this family brunch or that family dinner.  After all, holidays are supposed to be about peace and tranquility, right? Our latest adventure was a Jamaica family vacation.

This past year, I decided to expose my older teenage children to a Jamaica resort in Ocho Rios. I’ve been there numerous times and find the Jamaicans to be among some of the friendliest anywhere. We opted for an all-inclusive Jamaica family vacation resort, Jewel Runaway Bay, since I have teenagers who eat and drink at all hours of the day. We also chose a resort with unlimited golf for the guys and a spa for the girls, and it did not disappoint. For my children, ages 14 and 16, the one-hour shuttle ride from the airport was quite a cultural exchange, to say the least. We weren’t five minutes into the trip before the driver asked, “Who wants to party?” Conversation then turned to rum and ganja.  My kids were incredulous. They could not believe it was such an open topic.

Shortly, the shuttle driver pulled over to a shack on the side of the road for everyone to grab a cold Red Stripe. Can you see a taxi driver in the U.S. doing this? It was this initial exposure to Jamaican life, with reggae blasting from the speakers, when I knew this destination would win my kids’ hearts.

We arrived at the resort and after a few bumpy starts with reservations and an unsatisfactory room, we settled in. I was dreaming of jerk chicken and black beans and rice, but we ended up at sushi restaurant the first night (not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Jamaican food). Our days were filled with golf, spa treatments, water sports and late afternoon cocktails on the beach. Christmas Eve included holiday cocktails, carols and a celebration around the tree where the hotel’s staff pulled out all the stops.. And on Christmas morning, while my family back home stressed over getting brunch on the table so they could spend the rest of the day preparing a laborious holiday dinner, we were scuba diving. While the Christmas ham was going in the oven back in the states, I was enjoying a mai tai poolside.

Did my kids miss a traditional holiday of opening gifts and eating holiday meals til you’re so stuffed you can’t move? I doubt it. They asked to go back next year.

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