Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Best of 2011- The Legendary West End Cliffs Redux

With the grandparents, close relatives and other trusted 'sitters of the kids' in town for the holiday festivities... Now is the perfect opportunity for you and your better half to steal away on that romantic island getaway you've always been dreaming about... Trust me, in all of this seasons excitement, the kids won't even recognize your gone.

Without question, one of the most idyllic spots on the planet for you and your special loved one to spend a few nights rediscovering your passion is Negril, Jamaica. The legendary West End cliff resorts are popular for their panoramic sunsets, snorkeling, and scuba diving in crystal clear Jamaican coves.

Since my first visit, I have always had an affinity for Jamaica, but then I'm guessing anyone that's visited the island believes the same thing to be true... And that's why I have chosen the Cliffs of Negril as The 2011 Island Hopper's 'Romantic Island' Getaway.

On the down-low…

When vacationing in Jamaica you have pretty much three options… Runaway Bay/ Ocho Rios on the tourist-laden eastern side, congested Montego Bay, or Negril on the western side of the island. Montego Bay is centrally located and where all the action is, but hey, get off the beaten path by visiting Negril’s renowned cliffs.

Easy In, Easy out…

Currently, US Airlways offers three direct roundtrip flights daily out of Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. If you do a little diligent searching online you possibly can find convenient passage at a discounted fare.

Upon arrival in Jamaica, the first thing you are struck by is the cosmopolitan nature of Sangster International Airport. There is an organized flow through customs and you will be quickly and efficiently on your way to ground transportation…

Jamaica Tours...

Airport transfer service to Negril costs approximately $25.00 each way. My favorite is Jamaica Tours, suitably located in the airport lobby and more than willing to accommodate a last minute shuttle request.

Also, be sure to book an excursion, sunset cruise or sight-seeing adventure with trusted Jamaica Tours at the airport kiosk or ahead of your vacation. If you don't, time will melt away and your mesmerizing, tranquil retreat will soon be over before you get off the lounge chair.

Samsara Cliff Resort

Imagine my delight, when I stumbled on this seaside resort that is located on the picturesque West End cliffs. This coupled with the fact that Samsara also has a beachfront sister property, Legends, nestled on the much-publicized Seven Mile Beach. They also conveniently run a free shuttle service between the two every day, leaving at 10.a and returning at 4p. Talk about the best of both worlds!

Don’t let the ‘resort’ moniker fool you… This hotel should not be confused with a spa-style tourist destination on the scale of Sandals or The Palms, no… However, if you'd like spend hundreds of more dollars a night... There is, The Caves directly located next to Samsara on the limestone cliffs but of course, I would recommend the more cost-efficient and off the straight & narrow Samsara Cliff Resort.

When making reservations at Samsara, be sure to request an air-conditioned superior cottage upgrade. The rooms are more spacious, inviting and come equipped with comfortable mattresses suitable for the most restful of sleep. The rate might be a tad bit higher than the standard ocean view, but it is well worth the investment.

At the Samsara Resort you can jump, leap or dive off the cliffs and into the dazzling clear water of the Caribbean Sea. Truly a revitalizing experience! Sure the resort can use a few repairs, but nothing is insufferable. You’re on a romantic adventure so don’t sweat the small stuff!

Respect is a two way street

In practically every traveling guide that you will come across, Negril’s Seven Mile Beach consistently ranks as one of the most spectacular stretches of coastline on the planet. However, there really needs be more beachfront security if Jamaicans want to draw in more tourist to their stunning sandy white beachfront.

We all understand that times are difficult and the abject poverty that some Jamaicans are forced to endure, but the locals need to realize this isn’t the 1990’s... Tourism dollars unfortunately, don’t go as far as they used to…

It is such a drawback that you can't take a long, unfettered stroll on the beach without being accosted seemingly every twenty steps by a vagrant or drug peddler looking for a handout. It begins with the familiar aphorism, 'Respect mon...' yet ends up becoming an unrelenting barrage, and at times, a worrisome shake down.

So as a rule of thumb, when venturing out for a hike on the coastline do not take valuables and keep cash to a minimum...

Rick's Cafe

Be sure to visit World Famous, Rick’s CafĂ©, voted one of the “Ten Best Bars in the World!” The local cliff jumpers are an absolutely amazing sight!

Stick around for a charming dinner at Rick's Cafe... Although its raucous as well as entertaining throughout the day, after the sun sets Rick's Cafe turns into a virtual ghost town. The tourist will all flee, leaving you and your partner to share an enchanting candlelit dining experience.

Just go...

If you can't make Negril this holiday season, then go for Spring Break... If you can't make it then, it doesn't matter... But whatever you do, just go and get to Jamaica... And of course tell them the Standby Traveler sent you....

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