In a nutshell, we had a lovely time and would happily go back. It’s still fair to say that an all-inclusive resort isn’t our best vacation fit, but after meeting several couples around the property, we gained a better understanding of the concept…and can see the beauty in a lush and friendly landscape where (almost) anything is possible.
#1: A tiny bespectacled couple from Los Alamos, New Mexico were celebrating their first trip to the Caribbean — and their 40th anniversary. Their week-long stay, a gift from their five grown children, had wowed them into a hushed reverie.
Their anniversary status entitled them to a free couples’ massage at the spa. They splurged on a candlelit dinner for two, right on the beach. They gushed about the elaborate swan-and-flower “towel art” that decorated their bed each day, and about the cello and guitar duo that played “49th Street Bridge Song” just for them in The Palms Restaurant. They rarely left the property, and only then to indulge in what their stay included, like a shopping excursion to a craft market in Negril and a catamaran cruise at sunset past cliffs and sea caves.
#2: A twenty-something couple from Toronto were looking to escape the cold and reconcile different tastes. She hates anything spicy, he loves it. She was hoping to hit the spa hard, while he wanted to be on the beach as much as possible. They both wanted to see a little of Jamaica through an off-site excursion, and after a simple booking with the on-site concierge, enjoyed a relaxed day of Black River pontooning and splashing in the Y.S. Falls.
#3: An older man and his much younger wife had come from London to have a unique experience of Swept Away’s stretch of Negril’s famous Seven Mile Beach. The wife, blind since birth, wanted to feel soft Jamaican sand between her toes and hear the gentle roll of the Caribbean. At Swept Away she was safe to wander, breathe deeply and taste/feel/listen to a strange new country on a fully-contained yet sprawling property.
#4: An impressively toned middle-aged French couple in spandex shorts had come exclusively for the 10-acre Sports Complex, which features an Olympic-sized lap pool, weights/machines pavilion, several tennis and squash courts, yoga and Pilates studio and jogging track. Each day at the breakfast buffet they went for egg whites, fruit and black coffee and sat without speaking, staring alternately at the sea and each other until it was time once again to return to the proverbial treadmill.
#5: Two sets of old friends from the Boston area had stashed their kids (their phrase, not mine) with respective grandparents and come for massages (the wives), workouts (the husbands), mojitos, pools and complimentary scuba certification. They’d all been to Jamaica before, done some exploring, and were ready to spend most of their time sitting down together, having child-free, linear conversations.
And there we were, feet up on the coffee table of our sea-and-garden view verandah, enjoying kick-ass wi-fi and hilarious Jamaican music videos; strolling the beach at sunset, sipping fresh watermelon juice and collecting little shells; wandering hand in hand across the property’s garden landscape, admiring exotic trees and flowers; applauding the almost absurdly talented strangers at piano karaoke night; and staring open-mouthed at the green wilds of inland Jamaica on our own private off-site excursion to the Martha Brae River.
Even while on the job, I have to say — it was a great vacation.
Some of the details weren’t spot on, but there was always a consolation.
For instance, the complimentary minibar that so excited us proved to have only beverages and no snacks, but the Veggie Bar on the opposite end of the property featured sweet potato chips and homemade hummus.
The Thai menu at the flashy Lemongrass, prepared by a talented chef from Bangkok, was (if not Jamaican, then at least) delicious and at times, downright inspired.
The spa’s official waiting area was one vinyl settee with mylar-silver pillows, but the unofficial one was a long, tranquil pool beneath shimmering abalone-shell chandeliers. A couple of the treatment rooms are set next to the thwacks and shouting of the tennis courts, but you won’t find us complaining about our relaxing couples’ massage or the eucalyptus steam rooms.
True, it costs a lot to stay at Swept Away — upwards of $675 for an airy, white-washed double room set amongst waving palms — but not having to pull out cash for food, beverages, lots of excursions, water activities, etc. can be a great perk. (Deals are available, or special packages can be booked through a travel agent.) For travelers like us, though, who also long to spa it up and explore, the base rate can merely be a jumping off place to truly exorbitant.
Fits the bill for a short Travels With Two-style break from work, but not a long stay.
We fell in love with the gorgeous beach at Swept Away; the warm, funny staff; and the calm, quiet vibe that encouraged us to relax and unwind. Our last night, we sat out by a pool and gaped at a black blazing sky full of stars while steel drum reggae wafted from the direction of a glowing bonfire on the sand…and agreed that we could handle this kind of romance every now and then.
It’s one of the things, in fact, that inspires us to travel in the first place.
See related posts
Off to Jamaica, Take Two
Jamaica: Couples Tower Isle – What We Loved
Jamaica: Couples Tower Isle – What We’d Love to See
Traveling Couples: Lyn & Arthur Dobrin
Jamaica: Glory Be to Sans Souci
Jamaica: Dunn’s River Falls
Jamaica: Notes on an Island
TWT Travel Binder: Jamaica