Monday, January 31, 2011

The Riu Resort in Ocho Rios Jamaica

This Riu Resort lies in the central part of the north coast of Jamaica. The beaches are covered with palm trees and are the perfect place to enjoy the Jamaican experience.

We were able to tour the Riu Resort in Ocho Rios about 3 years ago. This resort is at the top of my list for a medium priced Jamaica vacation. It is located close to Dunn’s River Falls and you can book a variety of tours at the front desk.

This resort has 856 guest rooms. The standard (double) rooms will be what you would expect at a nice Jamaica hotel. The Jr Suite has a step down to a sitting area and a larger bath with a multiple jet shower. The suites are very roomy with a living room you could entertain in, a very large balcony, and bath area about the size of the bedroom with a Jacuzzi between the two.

Some superior suits have a Jacuzzi outside on the balcony. I always recommend the Jr. Suite and up.

The fitness center and spa are both small but very nice.

Each of the two pools would be enough for a resort by themselves. Each have swim up bars. One pool has more family and sport activities, such as volleyball, and the second has full size lounge chairs sunken in the water and a zero entry at one side.

The beach has plenty of lounge chairs and at lunch, they set up a selection of food on the beach so you can get a plate and eat under the palm trees.

There are several dining options from 5-star food and service (with reservations – no additional cost), a large buffet area, snacks at the sports bar and a pizza shop open almost all the time.

I would rate the condition of this property overall at a 9 for a family resort of this size. I recommend the Riu Resort in Ocho Rios to my past cruise clients that are looking for an all-inclusive land package. Unless my “family” clients are looking for water park type swimming pools with slides and a lazy river, I will always make this Riu an option. It is also great for groups and large wedding parties.

Currently I am quoting a package to the Riu for a couple leaving on May 24th for a 5 night stay in an ocean front Jr. Suite. The quote includes roundtrip air from Orlando, transfers to and from the resort, the 5 night all-inclusive stay, and vacation protection including a "cancel for any reason" policy. The total trip quote is $2,035, which is an outstanding deal for this air and resort package.

Please allow me the opportunity to supply you with a quote on this great property.

Gerry Ash
Jamaica Specialist

Friday, January 28, 2011

What's new with Jamaica Tourism

As a travel agent whose favorite destination is Jamaica, I follow the news and trends in this travel destination closely. In the last two years, as other destinations were hit hard by the economy, there was still an increase in travelers that chose a Jamaica vacation. The outlook for 2011 is even better. Due to this increase, there are more round trip flights and more resorts being added.

With the addition of three casinos, Jamaica will open up a whole new market for Ash Travel. We will have to wait and see how well the country initiates this new piece of their tourism industry. I will share details of these new additions in future posts.

The competition in the Caribbean is keeping the pricing at a good rate compared to other countries we sell. The increase in visitors has sparked Air Jamaica to reopen direct US routes soon. This will help keep the airfare at a great rate compared to other locations.

I also see the country of Jamaica working outside of the resorts to make it safe and interesting for visitors who want to explore more of the island.  I also see advances in the area of Eco tourism.

I always like to add a personal photo to my blog, so here is another that brings back good memories of Jamaica:
Margaritaville in Negril is a favorite for locals and tourists. You will find an open air two story beach bar that is set up very nice for its location.
Gerry Ash

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Excursions for your Jamaica Vacation.

Jamaica is known for its all-inclusive resorts with every kind of activity you can think of. My clients still want to know “what to do in Jamaica”. Most visitors to the country will find themselves close to Montego Bay, Negril, or Ocho Rios and each location has something to offer. Whether you are stopping in from a cruise ship, or staying at a local hotel or resort, you will find similar excursions for these locations.

In Montego Bay, I recommend John's Hall Adventure Tour to my clients that want to discover the important history of Jamaica. You will visit John’s Hall basic school and spend time with the students.

In Ocho Rios you will find Jamaica’s most popular and famous attraction: Dunn’s River Falls - a truly outstanding treasure, offering 600 feet of climbing pleasure for thousands of visitors and locals every year. You will always find a tour to the falls at your cruise or resort tour desk.
Another tour that is at the top of my list in Ocho Rios is tubing on the White River. Your breathtaking journey will take you through rapids and placid pools as your drift along the White River which takes about 45 minutes.
Negril is known for its 7-mile beach.  There are a lot of popular water related excursions there, from “Sunset Cruises” to “Deep Sea Fishing” to “Swim with the Dolphins”.
You will find several companies sailing to Rick’s CafĂ© on the cliff where you can watch locals dive from the rocks and even the tree tops. Something that makes this trip interesting is if you want to go ashore for a drink, you have to swim.  
You swim 150" from your boat to climb out of the water.
The locals collect money and then dive from the treetops.

So, as you can see, when my clients ask me “what to do in Jamaica” I have many great ideas for them to choose from.

Gerry Ash

Monday, January 24, 2011

Celebrity Solstice Review

Today I read a nice review of the Celebrity Solstice. I believe this line of ships will move Celebrity closer to the Luxury Cruise market than were they have been in the years before. I flew a honeymoon couple to Italy for a 12 day cruise on the Solstice in June of 2009. They choose a spa cabin and loved the choices they made. You can find the review I spoke of here: Galavant Travel

Air Jamaica coming back to Orlando

I recently read in Travel Weekly that Air Jamaica will resume service from Orlando.

Air Jamaica will continue as and independent brand under the 'Caribbean Airlines’ ownership.

“Caribbean Airlines is based in Port of Spain, Trinidad and will focus primarily on commercial markets, while Air Jamaica will continue to target the leisure and tourism markets”.

The good news for Central Florida and Ash Travel is that Air Jamaica will resume Montego Bay service from Orlando, along with Miami and Baltimore. These routes were cut over the past two years.

As a Jamaica Specialist, this is great news. We now will have three airlines to book direct flights to Jamaica from Orlando. Jamaica Vacations are on the rise and now with Air Jamaica, Jet Blue, and Air Tran competing, we believe we will be able to keep offering some great resort packages at some of the best prices in the Caribbean.

Gerry Ash

Friday, January 14, 2011

Why I chose to be a Jamaica Vacation Specialist

My first trip to Montego Bay was in 2006. After a day trip to Negril, I knew I wanted to come back for more. The 7 mile beach at Negril has something for everyone. In 2008 while cruising the Caribbean we went river tubing in the mountains of Ocho Rios and afterwards I was able to tour the amazing Riu Resort. In 2010, I jumped on an offer from the Jamaica tourism board and was able to tour 13 different properties in Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Negril. After that trip, I was hooked on Jamaica.

Jamaica has so much to offer. There are all-inclusive resorts for families, couples, groups, graduation trips, weddings and any other reason you can think of to make memories. What makes Jamaica a great location for Ash Travel to recommend is the air service from Orlando and Ft Lauderdale. Jet Blue and Air Tran have 2 hour direct flights around $300pp.