We stayed at Idle Awhile from Jan 22 to the 28th. This was our 5th trip to Jamaica. We have been to St. Martin, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Antiqua and Puerto Rico. Husband has gone to Mexico, Thailand and Costa Rica. Once we visited Jamaica we have not strayed. We stayed at Couples Swept Away twice, visited Couples Negril, stayed at Couples Sans Souci and rented a villa in Silver Sands in Duncan. Food was good at the all inclusives, but not enough Jamaican food. We love Jamaican food. The meals at the villa were fabulous, prepared for us by a wonderful in house cook. But we missed Negril. We love the beach, the water, that there are no tall buildings and that you can walk forever.
Couples resorts are wonderful. But we realized we were paying for many things that we never would do, like golf, scuba diving, water skiing, and not into the gym on vacation. Don’t drink fruity drinks. The glass bottom boat and catamaran cruise were nice, but twice was enough of that. The airfare from NJ to Jamaica is cheap. We paid $248 roundtrip this time. Fifteen years ago we spent $500 roundtrip to get to Antiqua. We would love to visit St John’s, Turks and Caicos, Barbados and St Croix, but with the prices you just can’t beat Jamaica. When we went to St. Martin 20 years ago it was $500 a night for the room and a continental breakfast. This year considering all of the above we decided it was time to do a non-all inclusive in Negril. We loved the villa but we went with two other couples, on our own it was too costly.
We felt that the $585 a night at SA was not worth it for us considering that in the end we don’t do all those activities don’t eat that much and though we do drink we don’t drink enough to warrant the cost of all inclusive. The drinks are cheap anywhere in Negril. Especially when compared to here at home, let alone other islands.
We were familiar with places along the beach and cliffs from our two previous trips. Beach setting is paramount. There are plenty of places that might be ok to stay but the beach front is marred by fencing, not deep enough, buildings too close to the water line and so on. Looking on line many of the rooms appear to be much too basic for us. Feeling comfortable with the Couples brand, knowing Idle Awhile is owned by the same family and liking the look of the resort from the water we booked.
Since the flights from NJ don’t get you to Negril until after 6 we decided to leave a day earlier and stay at a hotel by the airport so we could get up and head to Negril on Sunday morning. Idle Awhile arranged everything and Anthony arrived on time, was pleasant and got us there in no time. We checked in, left our bags in the lobby and headed to the beach. Our vacation in Negril was off to a great start!
Resort/Beach: Small, which we loved! Set between two wide resorts, making our spot so quiet. Our spot on the beach was chosen and set up by wonderful staff and each day upon arrival to the beach, everything was ready for us. No scrambling for chairs. SA is the worst place I have ever seen for the early setting out of a towel to save a chair that always seems to remain vacant for the remainder of the day. There is plenty of shade. But we enjoyed being able to sit closer to the water under the umbrella. These were the nicest umbrellas I have ever seen. They dig them in and even the fiercest breeze would have no effect on them. Going to use this technique for our Jersey shore trips! Neither the trees nor the umbrellas will keep you from getting a burn so sunscreen is a must, all day. We love that the sun sets in front of you so you get plenty of light until the sun disappears. We averaged 9 hours a day on the beach. We had our coffee and espressos brought to our table on the beach. They will serve you meals there as well. We loved the size of the resort. The beach is what it is all about in Negril and this resort is on a prime location along the shore. It was like a microcosm of Swept Away. When we ventured down along the beach to SA we felt no remorse that we were not there.
Check in/Front desk: We arrived hours before check in time. The gracious staff was accommodating and helpful. They made all taxi arrangements and reservations for us during our stay. Everything was no problem.
Rooms: We had a garden view, reserved back in June. Since there are only 8 of these rooms and 6 suites the earlier the better to get an ocean view. We would have loved to have seen a bit of the beautiful sea from our veranda, but we were ok with the second floor view of the tree tops. Since every resort is along Norman Manley Blvd. you could hear some road noise. But compared to our two other stays in Negril we felt that the road was less travelled, drivers seem to have slowed down and cut back on the honking! We had no problem crossing the street for Best in the West.
Our room was clean and bright. Loved the high ceilings, which is why we chose the second floor. The bathroom was large and it was fine for the two of us to get set for a night out in. I don’t understand the whole no shower door being a problem. I love an open shower. The whole place is tiled and it is water, dries in no time. And the shutters make the room bright and airy, as close to an outdoor shower as you can get. I love that the room is open to the ceiling. But then my husband and I have known each other since I was 17 and we are in our 50’s now.
The bed is the same as SA and comfortable. The fridge had a hard time keeping the red stripes cold, but we asked at the bar for a pitcher and filled it with ice around a bottle and rotated. Nothing in Jamaica is cold enough, only had a few martinis as a result. We loved the veranda, the couch and great chair. We positioned the great TV so we could watch the Giants win the final play-off game to get to the Super Bowl on the veranda. Though I can see where some people might think that the room is too colorless we love the white and wood. I purchased a dress and beach bag that added color hanging on the many hooks until it was time to take the souvenirs home.
The kitchen was behind our room. It made for getting ice and room service very convenient. They were very quiet and made no impact on our stay.
Since the resort is on a slice of land between two properties the privacy from the side was lacking, but it was quiet over there and if we wanted extra privacy we put down the roll shade. They really do have things in order for their guests.
The bar/restaurant: The staff was great. They were pleasant, helpful, quick and unobtrusive while still being attentive. Drinks were great. They did not seem to mind that we brought our own drinks to the beach much of the time. In fact when we were given our water bottles at check in the woman stated that this is for our filtered water or whatever else like rum, you want to use it for. We had room service for our first night. Both dinners were delicious. Shrimp Roundabout and Curried Lobster. Fab. We had not yet gone to the hi-low so we ordered wine for with dinner and we kept the glasses to use all week. We brought them filled to the beach for sunset. We had breakfast there the first morning. Had the eggs benedict, which I had read was great. It was the only disappointing meal of the week. Over poached, stingy on the sauce and out of English muffins they cut the bread into rounds. But the juice was good. So we just ordered room service for a pot of coffee for our getting ready for the beach and hailed the fruit lady, juice guy and bread guy the rest of the time for breakfast. And of course the juice was great for our rum drinks! We dined at Chill Awhile and we were the only people there. It was wonderful! Kind of like a private candlelit dinner on the beach that SA does for an extra cost! We went local and had curried goat and oxtail stew, delicious. With two glasses of wine the meal came to $40. What a bargain, really. And considering we were steps to the sea which shone with the moonlight it was such a wonderful evening with the entertainment from Cherela wafting through the air it was perfect! Since our last night was Friday and they have their reggae band that night we went elsewhere. Next time we will stay and enjoy the show.
Vendors: No problem! The folks selling their wares were far less aggressive than we remembered and very pleasant and nice to deal with. We loved getting our morning items. A tip of hand kept unwanted folks/items away. Truly felt that everyone was respectful in every way.
The message hut between Idle Awhile and Charela offered a nice massage for a great price. The vendor had nice items. They were nice unobtrusive shop keepers. The resort brought in vendors as well.
We did not venture over to SA fitness area. Thought we might to use the hot tub. But the beach and ocean were enough for us!
We did venture over to Hide Awhile one day, free transportation. Lovely spot. But a bit too isolated for us with a very limited menu for lunch so we had them call a cab and we had lunch at Pushcart since the Rockhouse was closed. We enjoyed the pool and the drinks at Hide Awhile, but we are for sure beach people so we would not take time away from the beach in future trips.
We loved Best in the West jerk. It has an awkward bar so next time we would bring our food back to the resort.
We ate at Xtabi, Ivan’s and Kubaya. All great. Good food, great atmosphere. There are so many places to choose from that the idea of going back to Negril again and again you will not feel limited in dining choices. Aside from out dinner at Chill Awhile we had lobster and sea food for all our meals. The most expensive meal was at Ivan’s. We had a conch salad appetizer, Lobster Thermidor and Snapper in a Papaya Boat, two cocktails (a fabulous, huge Bloody Mary) and two cups of coffee, all for $81!
Niah’s patties were unbelievable! One is more than enough for two people. Not knowing that these patties were not the institutional variety we ordered three and enjoyed them the next day since they were so large, fresh and unbelievably delicious! We took all our leftovers with us and kept them in the fridge and would put them on calaloo bread the next day for lunch. Lobster Thermidor was fabulous as a sandwich!
We shopped at the duty free before our flight and picked up two bottles of Johnny Walker Black. On our first full day we taxied to the hi-low and bought a case of beer, three bottles of wine and a bottle of rum. So we were set for the week. Those two purchases came to under $200. Prices are comparable to here in NJ. We enjoyed spending time after dinner on our veranda enjoying our scotch.
We figure that we spent an average of $150 (probably less, I wanted to keep a strict accounting for comparison, but the minute we exited the plane that was forgotten) a day. Add that to the $220 for the room, and $250 for liquor purchases and taxis, we figure we spent an average of $154 less a day than our stay at SA would have been. We probably saved $1,000 over the 6 nights. Not a great savings, but it was a vacation more to our liking. We liked dining out at different restaurants better than at the all-inclusive resort. We liked the smaller resort. We liked the quiet.
We probably will head back to all inclusive should we vacation with others since they seem a better way to go for a group to vacation.
This was a trip to spend time by ourselves. We did not mingle much but the other guests were pleasant and a nice good morning greeting started our days. My husband left the day after we came back for a 10 week trip in Thailand. It was a great way to spend some time together, doing nothing but lounging on the beach, walking miles a day, door to door travel to wonderful restaurants and enjoying the wonderful water.
We will be back to Negril for sure. May venture to another resort, but for us this little spot was just the right mix that suited us just fine. Next year we will miss our winter get away to the islands as we will be heading to Italy twice to visit our college student son twice. So 2014 will be our next reach. Bet it will just keep getting better and better during our absence!
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- Also Known As:
- Idle Awhile Hotel Negril