A recent trip found me in the land of blue mountains, Caribbean Sea, reggae music and warm, smiling people. It was a quick 4 night trip to Jamaica with a day of seminar training on the topic of Sandals WeddingMoons and site inspections at Sandals Whitehouse, Sandals Carlyle, Sandals Montego Bay and Sandals Royal Caribbean. I am now a certified Sandals WeddingMoons Specialist.
After landing at Montego Bay’s Sangster International airport and clearing customs, I was welcomed in the Sandals private lounge and offered a cool towel and refreshing drink before being escorted to my shuttle bus. I was traveling alone but meeting a group of 25 other travel professionals at the resort. On the way to the shuttle a young Jamaican man smiled and asked me “whagwan?” I know that means literally, “what’s going on?” But I wasn’t sure how I should answer, so I just smiled at him as I walked on. I was disappointed I didn’t have a reply.
It was a great trip. Four fast days of training, feeling hot and sweaty with really sore feet during 4 property inspections, making new friends, a mock wedding, some dancing, some rum drinks, an absolute blast on a catamaran/snorkling excursion, maybe some more rum drinks, beautiful dinners set up as wedding receptions with amazing musicians, a wonderful beach-side massage by a kind and skilled Red Lane Spa therapist, and did I mention some rum drinks?
Sandals does everything right, that’s for sure. Each property is beautiful and lush, with gorgeous rooms stocked with refreshing beverages. The food is amazing, not your average all inclusive buffet experience. And there are fun little extras that arrive in your room every now and then; a fruit shish-ke-bob, a cheese and cracker snack plate, a towel swan with flower petals. Every location has it’s own personality, but the same Sandals professionalism and welcoming environment.
Traveling is a wonderful experience. I’ve learned to approach each new destination with the eyes and mind of an infant. I think it really sours the experience to compare a location to one you’ve been to before, or how things are back home. I like to live each trip as it is. I’m not necessarily a good critic because of that, I guess. There isn’t much I don’t love.
It was fun to experience driving on the roads in Jamaica (not me, I was the passenger.) I felt like the shuttle rides to the resort properties were free excursions to see the landscape of the island. The mountains are so lush and the water is unbelievably blue and clear. I love the regular smiles that greet you, the calm, laid back swagger and joviality of the men and the kind, soft, sweet personalities of the women.
I brought home a few souvenirs of course. A couple of leather flip flop key rings for my future driving teens in Jamaica’s yellow, green and black, and one in Rasta’s colors of red, green and yellow, of course a “One Love” necklace, a Red Stripe beer bottle made out of a coconut for my husband, and a couple simple rope bracelets. I also was fortunate to be able to purchase a CD from one of the musicians that performed. Check him out on youtube; Shayam Moses. His voice and sound is so beautiful. However, the best souvenir is the one that I keep in my head. I never did get asked “whagwan” again. But if I do, now I know I can answer “everythings tun up”, or “everythings irie mon” or simply, “madeya” (I have no idea how to spell it.) As Jamaica’s tourism board says it best, “Once you go, you know.”
Sarah Krafty, travel advisor, owner of Krafty Travel. Located in Perrysburg, Ohio.