We are just about to complete a one-week vacation at the N-resort (June 28 to July 5th). Before coming here, we checked reviews and found out that the resort was going to be closed for 6 months for "renovations" beginning Jul 25th. Some guests wondered if this was going to be still a nudist resort after it re-opens. To be fair, I would not call this a nudist resort any way because other than around the pool and beach, many of the guests dress up--especially for their meals. Nevertheless it would really be a shame if the owners decided not to keep it au naturel, because this is probably one of the most affordable resorts that cater to nudism within the Caribbean. It is the only one we know in Jamaica that allows nudism anywhere on the property. But unlike more pricey resorts like Hidden Beach in the Mayan Riviera, the N-resort has a walkable and swimmable beach.
As far as I can tell, guests receive upgrades automatically, and are given rooms facing the ocean and have balconeys that are only about 50 m or so from the water. If you enjoy sounds of waves lapping against the shore, you will be in heaven. All of the buildings are located close together, centred around the pool that has an underused water slide, swim-up bar and attached grill where we now have both breakfast and lunches. It is a small resort, with few amenities, but they have a wonderful staff, some of the best that we've met, and although things do break down (part of the charm of this place), they get repaired promptly (literally within hours of us reporting the incident).
The decor throughout the resort is a throw-back to an earlier era, reminiscent of how cottages must have been decorated in the 60s or 70s. If I imagined myself being a guest at a friend's family cottage rather than being a guest at a holiday resort, the flaws did not affect my enjoyment of the experience. When I read through some older reviews, I could see that those who loved it here did not expect this to be a luxury resort. It is clearly not a luxury resort, nor does it advertise itself to be. There are no lobby bars with cushy chairs, large flat-screen TVs with satellite channels. The rooms do not have mini bars that are stocked with rum and other hard liquor--just beer, water and some soft drinks, and they take orders daily. There isn't always someone at the front desk, and there is no baby grand piano to entertain the crowd during cocktail hours. Instead, the sound system at the grill and pool is a little (I mean little) ghetto blaster many years old, and which does not appear to work very reliably. Air-conditioning is restricted to guest rooms and at the gym. Hence, ladies who get hot flashes should seriously consider bringing a purse fan with them when dining at the resort restaurants, especially the upstairs Sabbia. The gift shop has been closed, but I don't know if it had ever been open. In its earlier incarnation as Pebbles, which was a family resort, there was horse-back riding, a little freshwater wetland for turtles to feed the turtles, and a whole section with swings and sand boxes where children played and did handicrafts, as well as a separate kitchen and restaurant for family dining. Only remnants of these remain today, and we would not have known about the resort's history had we not taken a tour of the grounds with Winston, the head gardener. He is a great resource and you should try to fit in a half-hour or hour-long tour during your stay. I should also mention about the free WIFI near the pool, grill and any of the rooms close to the pool, which included Room 225 where we stayed. It was great and it really was FREE!
Almost everyone we met have had to move at least once--but not always for the same reason. We started out in a room on the first floor in Block 1 but since we asked specifically for a room on the second floor beforehand, the manager agreed to find us a room on the second floor the following morning. We've been to resorts where they just paid lip-service to finding us a better room, and so I presumed that we would have to go back and pester the manager in the morning. After one night in Room 103, we were actually prepared to stay there, and were pleasantly surprised later in the morning to meet the manager, who asked us if we wanted to take a look at a 2nd-floor room in Block 7. These old buildings don't have much in the way of sound-proofing, and so we could hear foot steps from folks above us the first night. Moving to the top floor would solve that problem. In addition to being a bit brighter and having a better shower, it was also an end unit. With paper-thin walls, we thought we would have more privacy with neighbours only on one side, and so we re-packed and transferred rooms with the help of two of the staff members. We were very glad that we moved.
The mosquito netting over the bed is quaint and decorative, but not really functional. Every night, we swung it over the foot of the bed to get it out of the way. That the resort had mosquito netting over every bed underscores the problem that mosquitoes cause at this resort. Their second line of defence is a dated contraption that heats an insect-repellent disk (same principle as burning the green insect coils but without the smoke) and which the staff plugged in when they turned down our bed in the evening. As long as you kept the doors closed after dark, the mosquitoes did not really pose a problem in the room. In the restaurant and grounds, on the other hand, it is a whole other story.
Once I stopped thinking of this as a resort and more as a friend's cottage, I no longer minded the mattress being hard and the pillows being lumpy. There was also a day bed that kept breaking when my husband tried to lie down on it. Instead of complaining, we turned this into a staging area where each day we piled our towels and books, etc. to put into our carry-all. There isn't much light in the room after the sun sets, but the two bedside lamps allowed us to at least read a little before falling asleep. They have a token TV set in the room, about 35 years old, with very poor reception and only a couple of stations worth watching. There is a decent size balconey that overlooks the east side of the property, which was also the better of the two beaches for swimming. There is another day bed on the balconey where we can sit and watch the sun rise, and see the waves lap gently on the beach during the morning (the only part of the day when the water is calm).
Service is not usually such a big part of my reviews, but the great service is largely what makes the N-resort such a great place for vacation. The deficiencies in the room and resort could have been real irritants and ruined my holiday but the incredibly friendly and service-oriented staff here made up for these shortfalls. The manager obviously stresses customer service, and has not cut back on the number of staff, even though the resort is not even a quarter full. At any point during the breakfast and lunch, there are dedicated staff that serve drinks, others that take your order and serve the meals, and still others that take away your empty glasses or dishes and serve coffee. That does not include the two or three chefs behind the grill during lunch. They seem to be genuinely interested in providing good service, though not always very polished. From the life guard to the gardeners to the maid to the bar staff, they were all really courteous and attentive. The only exception was the animators who fell short of my expectations. They did not always keep to their own schedule and the guests had to go and find them to remind them what they had promised. The aquacize was a good example of this. Despite the full participation of the dozen or so guests, the animator only reluctantly led the classes. The same goes for dance lessons and games. This definitely needs to be reviewed by the management and resolved when the resort re-opens.
The pool and hot tub
The pool is a good size, with lots of lounge chairs for the number of guests staying here. They are short on umbrellas, however, especially after the wind took down two older ones, leaving them with only 3 other functioning umbrellas. During the morning, trees and buildings on the east side of the pool provide adequate shade, but by the afternoon, everything is exposed. The pool is the main gathering place where guests sunbathe, swim and play pool volleyball. Almost all of the guests used the pool rather than the beach to sunbathe because it is more sheltered from the wind. There is also a water slide that is very under-utilized. I went on it once and it was exhilarating, but did not feel compelled to repeat that.
There are lots of pool noodles, floats and other toys at the pool. The temperature of the water was almost always warm, and this is despite the constant re-filling. The sun really heated up the water quickly. Aquacize was fun in the pool when we had it (only 3 times during our stay). These were hardly workouts but stretches and an aerobic teaser. I had to do my own routine and jogged around the pool to get my heart rate up.
There are two hot tubs at the pool, but only one was working. The hot tub (big enough for 10 people) was also drained, cleaned and re-filled daily, and the temperature was maintained at around 40 degrees C. This was another gathering point for the guests, especially at around 5:30 and again after dinner and before bed time. This is one of the best things about the resort and one that I will remember fondly after tomorrow--even though it is true that I acquired many bites while using the hot tub at night.
It is hard to find a nicer beach than the one we visited in February at Cayo Largo, and therefore, our expectations of the beach at N-resort was not high to begin with. This is certainly not the worst beach that we've visited in Jamaica, but it is a long way from being the best either (ie. Negril). We had read how people walked for miles on this beach, but honestly, the only way you can walk for miles is if you climbed over rocks and waded in the water as well as walking on the beach. If you walked to the west towards Falmouth for an hour or so, you will come to a bay/beach where the cruise ships bring their guests to sunbathe and swim. We knew couples that did that, and they told us that it was a good spot to swim (au naturel) when the cruise ship was not using it.
Along this stretch of Jamaica's northern coast, the better beach is probably over at the larger resort just to the east. It is very shallow for quite a distance in front of the N-resort, and this was probably great for the kids when this resort used to be called Pebbles and had lots of young families. But it is not great if you want to swim (that is, when the water is a bit calmer). The beach itself is not very wide, and a great deal of seaweed can accumulate overnight because of the high wave energy. The red flag never came down, and except for the hour or so from 7:00 to 8:00 in the morning, the ocean had white caps all day long. Although there are lots of lounge chairs on the beach, no one wants to go there because of the wind and the blowing sand. We sat there once on the first day (by ourselves) and never did it again. This is a shame because the staff work hard to remove the seaweed and keep the sand groomed. Like the water slide, the beach and ocean area also under-used at the N-resort. Almost to compensate for this, the manager organizes a beach party and bonfire on Wednesdays. This past week had been too windy for us to eat on the beach and so we ate at the grill. The bonfire was a pretty low-key affair following the fire eater--staff provided some marshmallows and sticks and I think I was the only one who chose to roast a couple of them.
Being a small resort, there are only a few options for dinner, and only one for breakfast and lunch, which were both served at the beach grill Seating there is limited to about 8 tables but with the resort having only 8 to 10 couples at any time, no one really had to wait long. Breakfast was served between 7:30 and 10:00, and lunch between 12:30 and 2:00, but I am sure they would have accommodated later seatings (probably not earlier, though).
There are daily specials in addition to menu items and a small buffet where they serve fruits and yogurt in the morning and soups and salads in the afternoon. There is enough to satisfy everyone, even for guests with special dietary requirements. When they found out that I had a gluten sensitivity, the chef and the server (Patricia) went out of their way to provide gluten-free options for me. I really appreciated that. Everything was freshly prepared and tasty. They also offered brewed decaf coffee, and they remembered this from Day 1 onwards--quite a treat for me. In addition, they cooked bacon the way I love it--crisp!! I have absolutely no complaints about the grill.
I have a mixed review for the evening meal, however, mostly because of the lack of air conditioning (or fans) and the abundance of biting insects that made my meals less leisurely than I would have liked. There was usually a set menu at both the main restaurant and at the Sabbia restaurant (upstairs), and the quality was uniformly high, even though not necessarily authentic. For example, the chicken satay that we had tonight was tasty and tender but not like authentic satay. The venue also needs major improvement, that includes enclosing both restaurants so that they can install air conditioning and screen out the mosquitoes and other biting insects.
The entertainment during and after dinner takes place at the main restaurant, which has no A/C or protection from the bugs. Therefore, I did not really enjoy these occasions, although many of the guests clearly did enjoy these. We have had a band, a DJ, and a solo musician playing keyboard during and after dinner. On karaoke night, it was fun getting to know the guests better when they revealed their favourite songs. One of the guests spontaneously got up and told some jokes instead of singing. The resort also organized a different theme each night, such as PJ, Bowtie, Red and crazy, Pirate night, etc. Since my husband preferred to eat in the nude all the time, we did not dress up for any of the theme nights. These events ended usually around 10:00 and then the guests dispersed to the hot tub or to their room. Night life was not very active at the N-resort, but that is what the guests like for the most part.
The biting insects:
Because I react very badly to bites of all insects, particularly mosquitoes and sand fleas, finding ways to avoid being bitten is a major pre-occupation. I came prepared with OFF, a bug jacket and pants, as well as a net for my face and head. Despite all this, I was still bitten many times all over my body. It is difficult to ignore the bites because the heat worsens the swelling. The resort provides a spray bottle (apparently Listerine) that you can use to fend off the bugs, but I did not find it to be effective. I brought my entire arsenal but I can't help but feel that I lost the battle any way. Perhaps the resort should spray around the restaurant to keep down the mosquitoes? Better yet, they should enclose both the upstairs and the downstairs restaurants, install A/C and screens to keep out the bugs. If there is one reason to keep me from returning to this resort, this would be the one.
Although they advertise the Seagrape Spa as being part of the resort, this seems to be an independent company that works out of the resort. They use a room inside the resort to do facials and manicures, etc and a covered pavillion on a spit of land that juts out into the ocean to do their massages. There was a rudimentary massage table in both rooms of the pavillion, but there were no candles or fragrances or music to enhance the experience. Even though we paid for a couples massage, we were in two different rooms and the treatment was not synchronized. Still, the massage was one of the best we've ever had, and both ladies were very skilled masseuses. To book a massage, we had to go to the front desk on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and book appointments for the following day. The front desk clerk had to call the ladies and confirm these appointments, and it took the better part of a day to confirm the appointment. It's all part of the charm of the Jamaican way of doing business I guess. We had to pay for all of the spa treatments using our credit card or cash (US$).
The Glistening Lagoon
Falmouth is one of three places in the world where there are bioluminescent dinoflagellates (a type of plankton), and apparently, the lagoon in Falmouth is the most spectacular because of the intensity of the bioluminescence. The N-resort is only a 5-minute drive from the lagoon, and well worth the $35/person. After a very short car ride, we hopped into a glass-bottom boat and headed to the middle of the lagoon around 8:15 pm. The depth is only 2-3 ft, and the bottom is very mucky (black gooey mud) and easily disturbed. The captain provided life jackets that we can use to stay afloat without touching the muddy bottom. The dinoflagellate glisten (like fire flies) when they are disturbed. It is quite enchanting to see these streaks of light in the water as people swam, twirled their fingers hands or splashed around to create the light show. In our party of ten, three of us stayed behind to take photos and videos The others jumped into the lagoon and stayed there for at least 30 minutes. The tour was booked by the resort so that we could enjoy the lagoon without wearing any bathing suits.
As long as you are not expecting luxurious quarters, and you really embrace nudism, this resort is extremely good value for what you pay. It is a small resort that tries to offer many of the things that the larger resorts offer in a clothing optional environment. It is by far the best resort to meet like-minded couples, and we met several whom we would enjoy meeting again. We had sun, fun and a lot of relaxation, and unexpectedly made some new friends. A good recipe for a vacation, although some upgrades need to be considered, particularly with respect to the main restaurant.
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- Also Known As:
- n-Resort All Inclusive For Adults Hotel Falmouth
- Fdr Pebbles Falmouth
- Fdr Pebbles Jamaica
- Fdr Resorts
- N-Resort All Inclusive For Adults Trelawny Parish, Jamaica