Did Peter’s “First Ladies” special featuring the wife of the Prime Minster of Jamaica inspire you to travel there?
In the one-hour program that aired on WE tv Tuesday night, Jamaican First Lady Lorna Golding took us to her childhood home in St. Ann parish, showed off some of the island’s glamorous homes and resorts, and gave us a front seat at Caribbean Fashion Week.
It’s a great time to go since Jamaica, along with the rest of the Caribbean, has suffered a decline in bookings due to the recession, resorts are brimming with deals aimed at convincing visitors that Jamaica is the place to spend their increasingly scare dollars.
From the calm serenity of the Rockhouse near Negril, to the all-out craziness of Hedonism in Ocho Rios, there are hundreds of accommodation options to suit the preferences of every type of traveler, from spring breakers to newlyweds.
Below, we bring you some almost-too-good-to-be-true deals:
Grand Lido Resorts & Spas and Breezes Resorts is offering an “Ultimate Budget Wedding” accommodation deal to complement their free destination wedding package.
Available at Grand Lido Negril, Grand Lido Braco, Breezes Runaway Bay, and Breezes Montego Bay, the offer starts at $1,450 per couple for five nights and includes “super-inclusive” accommodation, couples’ massages, island tours, and even a financial consultation with a major U.S. investment bank to help the couple set up their nest egg.
The free wedding package includes champagne and sweets, wedding planning service, a wedding cake, flowers and a bouquet, music, a professional photographer, guest passes, a minister, a marriage license, affidavits, a private candlelit dinner and a honeymoon breakfast in bed.
As a bonus for couples staying seven nights or longer, the resort will pay the government administrative fees, which represents a savings of up to $300. The package is valid between March 15 and October 31. Use booking code WED09 when making a reservation.
Sandals is still offering 45 to 60 percent off rates at all seven of its Jamaica properties as part of its long-running winter promotion. However, you have to act fast if you want to get in on the action, because the deals are expiring on March 12.
The couples-oriented chain is giving the biggest discount at Sandals Grande in Ocho Rios, where you’ll pay 60 percent less than normal rack rates. You’ll get 50 percent off at Sandals Inn Montego Bay, Sandals Dunn’s River Village in Ocho Rios and Sandals Whitehouse. And you can get a smaller, but still incredible, 45 percent off at the three other Sandals properties in Negril and Montego Bay.
Sandals resorts represent great value for money because they include all food, alcohol, watersports (including motorized), tips, taxes and airport transfers. And all of the resorts let you enjoy the amenities at neighboring Sandals properties, so it’s sort of like staying in two (or) three resorts for the price of one.
They’ve also got last-minute deals from now through the end of March which include the above discounts, plus one free night. So if you’ve got some flexibility in your schedule, this is a deal you really want to consider.
If boutique hotels are your thing, the Rockhouse hotel in Negril is a don’t-miss. Perched on top of 60-foot cliffs, the 34-room property has an exclusive spa, an award-winning restaurant, incredible sunsets, a laid-back, funky vibe and an ethos of conservation and sustainability.
One of the best things about Rockhouse is that despite the luxurious atmosphere, the hotel has chilled-out rates starting at only $125 in the off-season and $160 in peak season.
If you’re worried about being able to afford to fly to the island, fear not: We found airfares as low as $79 each way from Ft. Lauderdale to Kingston on Air Jamaica. This special promotional rate must be booked by March 10 (right now!) for travel from now through May 28.
Don’t forget that most resorts are much closer Montego Bay airport than to Kingston airport. Taking a shuttle or private car on a three or four-hour drive over Jamaica’s notoriously pot-holed roads is possible, but probably not an ideal way to start a vacation. With this in mind, you may want to consider adding a short-hop flight to Montego Bay, which Air Jamaica is offering for as little as $168 round-trip.
Or, check out sites like Travelocity, Orbitz or Kayak to see what other deals are around. We found a round-trip to Montego Bay from Atlanta leaving March 31 and returning April 7 for only $371.
And don’t forget that the “First Ladies” show on Jamaica is re-airing tonight on WE tv. Check your local listings for times.
By Karen Elowitt for PeterGreenberg.com.
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