Jamaica revisited

Sandals Whitehouse
Miles of beach

An invitation to attend Sandals Star Awards at their Whitehouse resort in south west Jamaica was just what I needed to escape the far too early winter woes that hit Calgary.  So I accepted without hesitation.  I was keen to see this newer resort (built in 2005) as I had received rave reviews from clients and groups I had sent there. 

Butch Stewart – the founder of Sandals and Beaches – says the deciding factor for him with regard to any resort would be the beach and this beach is truly fantastic.  When he saw this he knew that beachlovers would be thrilled.  So the resort was built specifically for Sandals which is a bit of a change as in the past the resorts  have been purchased already built and then modified to fit in with Sandals couples only luxury included theme.  Built along a sprawling white sand beach the idea was to give every room an ocean view which is a real bonus with the numerous room categories Sandals offers.  This is one resort where you will be very satisfied with even the lowest category.

Dinner for two

Now here is a bit of a twist … although Sandals is couples only because this was a travel industry event I was able to take my sister instead of my husband.  So during our week long stay at the Dutch Village of Sandals Whitehouse we got dubbed “The Golden Girls” by the staff there.  Mmmm, not sure what to think of that … but what I can say is that I really like the Jamaican sense of humour and the fact that it is an English speaking island. 

Sunset wedding

Honestly though I cannot think of a more romantic spot.  You can arrange to have a dinner for two on the beach – here is just an example of one such table.  The sunsets are spectacular and this makes it a popular spot for sunset weddings too – whether on the beach or in one of the lovely gazebos on the property.  We were lucky to witness a wedding of one of our colleages with Butch Stewart actually giving away the bride.   

The flight over there was on Sunwing Airlines.  I have not travelled with them before so I was curious to learn more about their service – hot towel, champagne on take off etc.  Not bad actually – and I certainly got a very good price.  Yes I paid the same as you would have paid.  No travel agent discount here.  The staff on the flight were amazing – ex Ward Air, Cathay Pacific and recently failed Sky Service … so years of experience of pampering guests.

The only thing I didn’t enjoy was the stop in Varadero on the way back – OMG – that terminal is just a cloud of cigarette smoke.  It comes as quite a shock to the Canadians visiting there.  I had to chuckle though – one end of the terminal was literally a thick fog – you could barely see from one side to the other and guess what – it was the gate for the flight to Moscow.  Ah well.

So back to Jamaica – go as soon as you can.  You will love it.  Sure they have their problems like many other Caribbean islands but the tourist industry there is strong and growing and any problems you have read about took place in Kingston … which is far away from the tourist area.  So stick on a Bob Marley tune and get into the mood – it’s 29 degrees in Jamaica and it’s Jammin!

Sandals Whitehouse

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.

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