“I want a hard body Martin” said my loved one as we planned a recent trip to Sandals in Jamaica. I groaned. It usually means hours of working out. He is as fit as a fiddle and still very much involved in athletics. I seem to spend most of my time in front of a computer. I swear I don’t eat much but my lack of activity has created that interesting shape that most women my age develop — I am in a state of denial and keep insisting that it is all down to age. “Nonsense” my better half retaliated “look at Jane Fonda and Tina Turner”.
Life is so unfair. I am sure Jane and Tina have squads of expensive massage therapists, and machines that work off their calories while they lie by the pool and read a book. “Look at all the things you can do” he insisted as he turned the pages of the Sandals brochure “you love kayaking, swimming, snorkeling– and we can walk and swim every morning before breakfast. We’ll soon have you back in shape.” It did sound terrific. But I really wasn’t thinking straight.
My good intentions disappeared as we checked into our room in Ocho Rios, showered and headed down to the restaurant for our welcome dinner.
“Cocktails!” screamed someone in our party. “We have to have cocktails”. The bartender created an enticing mix of delicious house specials, laced with rum and calories, and since everything is included in the price of a Sandals holiday — and since we had just arrived — we had another.
Will Power NOT included
In the meantime our waiter had delivered an appetizer of pepper shrimp with pureed pineapple accompanied by a white wine and sweet pepper sauce. I was starved. We had deliberately not eaten on the plane so as not to spoil our appetite.
Now we were famished. Hot bread rolls and butter slipped down our throats. I asked to see the wine list and when it came had to blink before I realized that, of course, wine is included, so no prices to scan. I chose a red cabernet. A lovely fresh salad was now sitting in front of me with a plantain chip and honey-papaya dressing. It quickly disappeared.
Next, two large grilled medallions of beef were presented in a rich red wine and wild mushroom sauce with baby potatoes, green beans and carrots. “I can never eat all this” I groaned. But I did. The meat was so tender and tasty, the vegetables so fresh. But the ultimate was yet to come. The most enormous sugar cone filled with white chocolate mousse and sitting on a light custard sauce with vanilla ice cream now appeared in front of me. “I can’t, I really can’t” I said. But I did. Sheer heaven! The whole meal was finished off with Blue Mountain coffee and liquers—and all included.
In the next few days, I did my best. I walked and swam before breakfast and then entered the main restaurant determined to have only fruit and a muffin.
The buffet just begs to be eaten – eggs, boiled and scrambled, or a waiter will make you an omelette with your choice of fillings. There is something so special about having an omelette cooked for you. Pancakes, fried plantain, sausages, bacon, escoveitch (fish), fresh papaya and melons, banana bread and muffins, orange and pineapple juices, yoghurts and cheeses. And when I tried to carry an overflowing plate to my table, a waitress was right there to escort me to my seat on the balcony overlooking the sea.
“I must have really worked up an appetite during my walk on the beach” I said as He looked at my plate. “It’s very nutritious” was the only comment.
After breakfast I would rush to the kayaks and paddle strenuously out to sea— putting my back into it! I may have firmed up my bust but sitting in the kayak didn’t do much for that computer-girth. After lunch— don’t ask— we swam, read, played volleyball and water polo, and then dove into the pool with the swim-up bar. Sandals have cute floating mattresses, great to just lie upon and enjoy the pool until someone yells “Cocktails!” The specials have great names like “A kick-in-the-pants”. And that is probably what I needed.
A global challenge for all-inclusive vacations
It is some years ago since we first visited a Sandals, the one in Montego Bay, and while they all offer the same excellent service, quantities and varieties of food and drink— they each have their own appeal.
Although vacationers like to try local cuisine, they invariably revert to familiar foods. With a clientele that ranges in age from 18 to 75 and comprises visitors from all over the world planning menus can be very challenging and Sandals has met that challenge with a variety of specialty restaurants and the added plus that when you stay at one of their resorts you can visit and enjoy the facilities of any of the others– subject to a little plane-hopping where Antigua, the Bahamas and St. Lucia are concerned.
“We met guests staying in Ocho Rios who had wined and dined in the Far Eastern splendour of Tokyo Joe’s in Sandals Montego Bay, enjoying freshly cooked Dim Sum. They had even made reservations later in the week to visit Royal Thai, a spicy dining experience on a private offshore island belonging to Sandals Royal Jamaican. “It makes the holiday more exciting” they confided “and we get to see more of Jamaica at the same time.”
It sounded like fun and two nights later we were off to Sandals Royal Plantation for French-inspired Caribbean cuisine at Le Papillon.
Each night our Ocho Rios hotel offered a new dining experience, and we took the opportunity to dress up a little and enjoy the luxury of elegant, intimate dining. We ate Italian cuisine at Valentino’s flavoured with herbs from the hotel’s kitchen garden, savoured Caribbean specialities prepared on an open grill at the Reef Terrace and if the mood had struck– which thank heavens it did not– could have enjoyed a snack of Jerk Chicken at three in the morning from the Beach Grill.”
It isn’t just the quality and quantity of the food, the presentation is a feast for the eyes. Where else in the world do people rush to get their cameras and take pictures of an international buffet.
You will see it at Sandals. Ice sculptures adorn heaping trays of shrimp. Great sides of roast beef stand piping hot on a carvery. Chefs sauté the garlic in preparation for your personal pasta. Desserts defy you to deny the ultimate aftertaste.
So there is my excuse for not losing weight. It is all those talented chefs at Sandals, those masters of culinary art. Next year I’ll really work out and lose weight before I go and then I’ll take advantage of all the activities to burn off the calories as I enjoy my meals. Of course I will be one year older…..
(Photos courtesy Sandals Resorts — www.sandals.com)