A lot of the time, taking a vacation can seem like work; which is pretty contradictory, but also true. It’s a hassle to leave your everyday routine and manage everyone else’s schedules and juggling kids and IT’S SO MUCH WORK to actually go on vacation!
I get it.
But if you woke up to 6 inches of fresh snow and white knuckled carpool while sliding around with an SUV full of little people, you’d be dreaming of white sands and the warm Caribbean ocean too. Maybe you already are?
You deserve a vacation. I deserve a vacation. WE ALL DESERVE VACATIONS.
Except I just took one and maybe that’s why I can’t stop thinking about it so instead I’ll do a re-cap for you and maybe a little bit for me too.
Let’s talk about Jamaica, mon!
Here are 6 reasons why you should consider this delightful Caribbean gem for your next family vacation destination:
#1. Easy Access – Jamaica is located in the Caribbean, which is generally a few hundred miles south of Florida. I live in Utah and hopped a 2-hour flight to Dallas where I connected with my flight from Dallas to Jamaica. Total flying time was right around 5 hours. That’s shorter than a flight to Hawaii and just long enough for me to feel like I was headed somewhere exotic. For this particular trip we had friends flying in from all over the US (and even one or two from Canada) and most reported the same ease of travel. Not a super long flight, no troubles going through customs, and simple connections if needed. Some from the East Coast were even lucky enough to have direct flights. If you're flying with kids, you know how important it is to get there as directly and simply as possible. Jamaica checks off every box I have in that area!
#2. It’s international travel but without the hassle – Jamaica is very tourist friendly, tourism is their bread and butter. You don’t even have to exchange your currency because most hotels and resorts gladly accept US bills and coins. It makes life much easier when you’re not always trying to figure out conversion rates, and eliminates the risk of accidentally tipping or paying too much because you don’t know how to count change. We didn’t venture far beyond our resort but the hotel staff was all extremely friendly, there was no language barrier and the staff was incredibly gracious and inviting, even letting you in on their cultural quirks and some of their inside jokes and slang phraseology (is that a real word? I don’t know). Yah Mon, is no problem.
They’re connecting properties that feature a family friendly side (Ziva) and an adults only side (Zilara). Adults are welcome to go back and forth between the two sides but children are not allowed on Zilara property under any circumstance. As far as resorts go, The Hyatt Zilara and Ziva get top marks in my book. Beyond friendly and helpful staff, beautiful amenities, and pristinely gorgeous beaches, pools and views. Our room was modern and spacious, and the beds, bedding and pillows were some of the best I’ve ever slept on in a hotel, and the view off our balcony window was legit beautiful and scenic AF.
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#4. All Inclusive - Our resort was all-inclusive which, unlike a cruise ship, meant that food AND drinks were included in the cost. This included alcoholic beverages, room service AND the mini bar in our room. Crazy, right? I did notice after eating at one of the 9 restaurants on site, that certain wines cost extra, but since I’m not a wine drinker it didn’t affect me in the least. There was a huge variety of different restaurants (9 total, I believe) including a buffet and a real Jamaican jerk shack that was open almost all the time.
We had a blast trying them all. It was so nice to not have to worry about carrying my wallet around, nor did I have to deal with the extra cost of food racking up my bill. Feeding 5 people out for every meal gets hella expensive, especially when your kids start being people and demanding drinks and ordering off the regular menu. All-inclusive is definitely a family friendly and wallet friendly solution.
#5. Kid Friendly, Or Not If You Prefer – Vacations with kids can be awesome, but having some time with no kids around can be pretty awesome too. You know, in case you want to cut loose and have a drink (or 2, or 3,4,5,6…) without worrying about little people running around. At the Hyatt Ziva you have the option of enrolling your kids (ages 3-12) in the KidZ Club where they have trained staff, fun activities and entertainment, giving you a few kid free hours to cut loose for a drink at the pool on the Zilara side, get a massage at the spa (we did a hot stone one and I'm still reminiscing about the glory of it all), or take an off-site excursion around the island (these were offered at an additional cost and you could sign up for them in addition to the included activities provided on resort property).
The best part is that the KidZ club is included in the cost. Bingo! Only downside? No infants, but the hotel is happy to help you arrange for a sitting service if you decide to go that route.
The world is your oyster! Kind of awesome, right? Most parents of young children don’t have the luxury of taking a babysitter with them on vacation in case they want to spend some solo time together, which makes this option hugely attractive for those in a similar situation as me.
There's even an area for teens and older kids with entertaining amenities like air hockey, foosball and video games. Truly, something for everyone!
#6. Caribbean Temps – When I looked up the forecast ahead of our trip it had rain and clouds on the agenda almost every single day. I was bummed. What I didn’t know was that it might rain for a few seconds and clouds would roll in and out, but overall the temperature stays steady around 80º, the humidity is enough to make your skin feel softer than a baby’s bum, and the sun is still your best friend. Also, that warm ocean water is practically the perfect temp. Everybody wins.
After 6 days in paradise with some of the best hotel sleep I’ve ever had and enough sunshine and sand to last me at least a few days after I got back…I’m here to testify that Jamaica is freaking fantastic. If I had any regrets it would be that I didn’t get to stay longer.
Until next time, my island paradise.
Jamaica, I miss you!
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