Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Hip + Urban Girl's Guide to Montego Bay

Looking to spend your days in the surf and your nights dancing til the wee hours of the morn? The island city of Montego Bay, Jamaica might be the perfect sun destination for your next vacation.

Home to Jamaica's largest airport, Sir Donald Sangster International Airport, the city is a hot spot in itself, not just a gateway to other areas of the island.  'Mo Bay' boasts plenty of all-inclusive resorts, attractions, shopping and restaurants plus convenient access to day trip other parishes.  You'll notice most businesses quote U.S. currency rather than Jamaican Dollars so you don't have to worry about converting. Don't try to offer up Canadian bills though, they're not typically accepted. 
At the airport: Do take advantage of the services offered at the newly opened Club Mo Bay. For around $80 USD you'll enjoy a personal escort and fast track through customs and immigration on arrival, plus complimentary WiFi, cocktails, hot and cold snacks, and more on departure. I was lucky enough to experience their offering first hand during the official ribbon-cutting ceremony officiated by Jamaica's Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, and also got access prior to my departure. Both times I was so impressed with the level of service and amenities offered (including a pre-flight spa!).  While it may seem like an unnecessary expense, you'll thank me if your flight happens to arrive alongside several others. At that point, I assure you, it's a necessity! 
Where to stay: If you're traveling with kids or looking for a family friendly spot for a destination wedding, check out Sunset Beach Resort. This all-inclusive property offers several room types and amenities to accommodate both couples and families of all ages and even has a water park on site. Most important, it's jam-packed schedule of activities like karaoke and late night beach bonfires will keep you entertained throughout your stay. If a posh experience (with fewer kiddos)  is more your speed, I've also heard great things about the Ritz-Carlton, Rose Hall.

What to do:  I highly recommend a Dreamers Catamaran Cruise sailing out of Cornwall Beach. Owned and operated by a native Toronto couple, they offer a wildly entertaining crew, open bar, a stop for snorkelling, and complimentary foot massages for all the ladies -- need I say more?
Where to eat: When you're ready to venture off resort, you've just got to try a shrimp patty with coco bread as a mid-afternoon snack at Juici Patties and for dinner do head to the Drunken Squid for Jamaican classics like Curry Goat alongside more international cuisine infused with island flavour. The food is delicious and several nights a week you can practice your 'wine' to live reggae beats. 

If you're planning a romantic winter vacation, now is the time to consider Jamaica.  Traditionally, November through April is a more expensive time to travel but several properties have just announced amazing deals for Valentine's Day.

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