My first visit to Jamaica was a girls trip in 2018. The next year was a couples trip. So when I started planning this year’s family vacation, Jamaica quickly floated to the top. I figured the third time would be a charm and I was right.
I decided on the Jewel Grande in Montego Bay. The all-inclusive resort is about 15 minutes from the airport, so once we grabbed our bags and made it through customs we were officially on vacation. We arrived at the resort before check in, so we grabbed lunch while we waited for our room.
I ordered the mango scotch bonnet pepper wings at Pelican’s Grill and they became a staple of our stay.
I ordered them every day. Yes, every day. If you like sweet and spicy you will absolutely love these!
After lunch we lounged by one of the pools until our oceanfront junior suite was ready.
The room has a guest limit of four, so my oldest daughter stayed in a suite with her aunt. The resort has two- and three- bedroom suites, so if you’re a larger family you can stay together. We chose to split up because it was more cost-effective.
Hubby fell asleep on the balcony a few nights and I totally understand how that happened. It was SO. RELAXING.
I used the balcony for my morning meditation/journaling/prayer time.
We started each morning at Orchid. The buffet-style restaurant has a great view of the ocean and it is large enough for guests to spread out.
There’s your typical typical buffet spread – croissants, muffins, fruit bar, omelet station, etc. – with servers to meet their Covid Stay Safe initiative. However, my favorite dishes were the Jamaican-inspired items. One morning there was ackee and saltfish (Jamaica’s national dish!). Another morning they had curried chicken. Add the fresh juice and smoothies and we were more than happy.
We chose the grills for lunch most days because we could order meals from the beach servers. And since I wanted to spend most of vacation laying under an umbrella on the beach, I wanted things I didn’t have to move to get, :-). We ordered everything from my favorite mango wings to beef patties, chicken patties, burgers and wraps. This was good, but let me tell you what was the absolute best.
One day I was placing my order with the server and she suggested I walk down the beach to the Jamaican food setup on the beach.
When I tell you this food made my spirit leap for joy, I felt like doing a happy dance! There was jerk chicken on the grill. Fish in foil, curried goat, festival, beans and rice. This is one of my plates.
I’m not known for making my plates pretty, but trust me you want this when you go. Look for it on Fridays and Saturdays.
The dinner restaurants are good. We tried them all and I’d go back to any of them. The steak from Le Bouchon was like butter. And our meals from Pierside, the asian-inspired restaurant, were so well seasoned.
It helped that the staff everywhere was very friendly and helpful. They had a sense of humor, provided great service and made sure we understood the menu. This was especially noticeable with the kids.
My entire family needed a carefree vacation. I needed to not think about meals, activities and pretty much any of the things that could make vacation stressful. My family wanted to have fun, and they needed options that didn’t include a lot of planning. Jewel Grande is a nice size, but it’s not overwhelming.
The pools kept my girls entertained for hours, and they loved that they could get snacks/ice cream/food when they were hungry. I loved that they didn’t have to wait for me to take them to get the snacks :-). This is a perk of having a tween and teens.
The Kids Club skews young, so my tween/teens didn’t spend a lot of time there, but when we checked it out I loved how the staff was interacting with the younger kids. If my girls were younger they would have loved it.
The activities available at the resort helped fill time, too.
The family chose excursions and settled on the luminous lagoon and jet skis.
Here we are at the luminous lagoon.
The water’s not really deep (about 6 ft or so), but we wore life jackets to be safe and to allow us to stay in the water when we got tired of swimming. It’s also a great safety feature since we were in water at night.
The resort helped us book both excursions, including jet skis at Tropical Bliss Beach.
They had a great time on the jet skis. I had a great time taking photos.
In keeping with Jamaica’s Covid restrictions, we ended up doing many things at the resort.
We took advantage of the non-motorized sports like this boat.
We enjoyed receptions, like the chocolate theme night, complete with entertainers and dessert :-).
They also had a retro night, a silent disco party, a street festival night, and other events – all family-friendly. We still laugh at some of the memories.
Here is a printable download of my summer packing list. I broke it into sections to make it easy to shop and pack.
If you want to make packing a little easier, give everyone in your party a copy of the list. When my girls were in elementary school I started giving them their own packing list. They packed first and then I checked behind them. It gave them some say in what they wore, they felt grown up and it made my life easier. Now they are almost pros at packing.
If you have questions about Montego Bay or Jewel Grande, please ask. I love talking travel :-).