Having the pleasure of watching their relationship bud and bloom into what it is today has been wonderful. They truly are two of the best people we know!
When we got the invite to their wedding in Jamaica we were thrilled! Money was tight, but we had time to try and "figure it out"
The date was quickly approaching and my hubs had gotten a new job. Which was great for our family, but not great for taking vacation time off. I was pretty bummed that we weren't going to be able to celebrate a beautiful event with our good friends, but was reassuring myself that this is just the way it is.
A week before they were set to leave they threw a party for all friends and family who could not attend. It was so fun. During the midst of mingling and socializing I over-hear a conversation with hubs and another good friend asking if we could park at his house in the morning and all ride to the airport together....
It takes a sec for it to sink in...I first think he must be traveling for work and I had the weeks mixed up...but then I realize he said, "we."
Obviously, I say, "wait, what?!"
We were, in fact, going to JAMAICA!!
The events that followed happened quickly, with tears of surprise, excitement and joy!
We were all hugging, every one was shocked. My parents, all our friends, every one. The only one who knew was hubby's mom.
Hubs had booked the vacation in June when we got the invite. His words were, "I told y'all, we are great friends, of course we wouldn't miss your big day and I would make this happen."
He negotiated the vacation in with his new job during the hiring process.
Probably the best surprise I have ever had! and I hate surprises.
Luckily I still had a week to plan...thank goodness.
The morning of vacation we got up super early and headed to the airport. Again luckily I had time to plan because we were flying Spirit Air. I won't go into full detail, that would be a whole other story, but if you are every flying Spirit Air be sure to do you research. All normal baggage rules DO NOT apply. Everything has a fee and you better pay it before you get to the airport to avoid more fees.
So now for the good stuff....
I will preface this by saying this is the most beautiful place I have ever been! I am definitely a beach over mountains girl, so this was my paradise! (with bonus mountains in the background)
The people were so unbelievably amazing. The answer to everything was, "Ya Mon! you can do whatever you want here, you are home."
When we landed at the airport, the anticipation was killing me. We had to walk though customs and claim our baggage, get our passports checked and explain our reasons for visiting. The process was pretty quick, the airport was not very big.
In most cases if you book through a travel agency (we did cheapcaribbean.com) or any budget sites like Orbitz, Expedia, etc, they have a help/information desk and provide transportation to your destination.
The bus driver even gives a little history lesson of the town and streets on the way.
It was when we pulled up to the resort that the real magic started happening.
The gates open slowly and you can almost here the heavenly "ahhhhhhhhhh" sound.
You are escorted into the lobby and greeted by a friendly Jamaican.
In our case our room wasn't ready, but that didn't matter.
The place was all inclusive. and I mean ALL! Food, drinks (with alcohol) non-motorized water sports and access to everything on the grounds.
Only because there was confusion between our group, I want to clarify that if you are staying at St James or the Wild Orchid you have access to both resorts. Both are Secrets and they are connected.
You meet at the same restaurants, see the same shows, can visit all the bars and swim in all the pools.
The only exception was the preferred guests. They had a separate pool area and a tub on their balcony. We did walk through that area on the wedding day to take pictures and it seemed that everyone congregated at the main pools anyway. That's where all the action and fun activities happened throughout the day.
So back on point...
We headed to the pool bar because it was the first one we walked up to. On the plane ride we discussed which crazy frozen drink we were going to order first, but when the smiling bartender asked, the hubs clammed up and said "a beer." lol The question back was, "Do ya want rum in it, Mon?" hahaha , what? no. (although a few in the group did try it once on the trip)
We got a quick bite at the poolside restaurant and headed back to see our room.
It was magnificent! and the view....for. get. about. it.
I know, I couldn't believe it either. Perfect.
I could go on and on about the view alone, but a picture says a thousand words...
We met up with the bride and groom shortly after down by the pool side bar again. Obviously, we had to have a toast! And obviously we included our bartender!
We took a little stroll around the jetties and pools to check out the views. Because of the previous rains we had a wonderful sunset.
There was forecast for rain during our trip, which really bummed out some of the wedding party.
But...being from Florida we had hoped the storms where the same as ours...a quick, hard rain, then back to beautiful, sunshiny days.
We were in luck! The days it did rain, it came and went within an hour.
One morning we were even blessed with a beautiful sunrise rainbow!
Being stuck on a kid schedule definitely had its perks when I opened the curtains to that scene.
The wedding was in the middle of the week and it was so perfect. There were several choices of which place to have your ceremony and I think they chose the most beautiful. Right under that gazebo, overlooking the ocean and the mountains. It was a sunny, breezy afternoon. Couldn't have been more picturesque.
This motion picture of the bride and I pretty much sums up our entire trip (minus the fancy wedding dress, sub in bathing suits and cover-ups)
Fun, fun, good times, hanging with friends, smiles, laughs and more fun.
We drank A LOT of frozen drinks. :) In my hand is a dirty banana. In my opinion the most delicious drink EVER! It was the theme drink of the week. We even named our pool Olympics team 'Tony boney and the Dirty Bananas'. Refreshing, nutritious (?) and RUM! Who could ask for more? In fact, one day while were where hanging out in the pool at one of the swim up bars the groom commented, "I have drank more frozen drinks here than I have ever drank in my WHOLE life. lol" And that's saying a lot because most of us at some point or another have been involved in or are still working in the bar and restaurant industry.
There were several restaurants including Italian, French, Mexican, Hibachi (Japanese) and, of course, Jamaican. We hit them all. Mixed in the restaurant circle was a Piano Bar and nightly entertainment over looking the water. There was even a Night Club.
While the wedding was the highlight, we did other fun things daily.
My personal favorite was snorkeling. We did this almost every morning at 9am after breakfast. Even if I could have taken pictures, I'm certain they wouldn't do any justice. The feeling of floating around in the salt water seeing all the beautiful life just off the beach was breathtaking. It really was the greatest way to start the day! Better than the delish Blue Mountain coffee or mimosas offered at breakfast. Each trip out I was just as in awe as I was the day before. I don't think that could ever get old. Even the guys who took us on the "tour" every morning seemed to get the same thrill. The water was so blue and the fish so brilliant. I would recommend no one miss out on this island experience.
We met lots of great staff members, too. Every single one of them with a smile. Not because they had to, because they are a happy people. Fantastic to be around!
Mr Brown was a part of the lawn crew and walked the beach every morning. Since my hubs like to walk the beach as well, the two ended up chatting often.
The outside bars opened around 10 am (island time is definitely not an exact science) and stayed open late into the night.
they had SWINGS!
Some where on the outskirts and some where right up at the rail.
We met cool people from not only all over the U.S. but all over the WORLD (we had the best time with the Aussies (duh, Aussies are awesome! oi oi oi)).
It was nice just hanging, chatting and catching up with our close friends. With two kids uninterrupted, adult conversations don't happen all that often.
The place was immaculate and the rooms where beautiful. I think I forgot to mention the soaker, jetted tub that I used every day and the 24 hour room service. Just in case you didn't feel like dining at one of the classy restaurants, you could always order in. Which we did on more then one occasion... (a few late night club sandwiches, too)
Since I'm having a hard time summing up our experience, let me just say that I would highly recommend Secrets Montego Bay for your Jamaican destination vacation
I can't stress enough how wonderful the Jamaican hospitality is! Such a happy, laid back place with happy, go lucky people.
Looking back at the pictures, I still can't believe I was in such a paradise.
Best gift/surprise/wedding/celebration/vacation EVER! and to spend it with a lot of our closest friends and great people....priceless.
And how crazy to think...we didn't even leave the resort.
Until next time...
We miss you Jamaica, but we will be back!