Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Destination Jamaica: Ocho Rios

Preparing for a visit to the Caribbean can be a bit overwhelming, there are so many islands to choose from. However, if it is adventure, landscapes, history, and beautiful beaches you are seeking, you simply have to visit Jamaica. You can make your visit to Jamaica all the more special by renting one of the many Jamaica villas that cater to singles, couples, families and friends. These Jamaica villas are an alternate to a hotel, offering you apart from services and facilities all the privacy and space you could ever want to make your visit extra special.

One of the most well known destinations in Jamaica is Ocho Rios, located on the northern coast of Jamaica. It has become an incredibly popular destination for cruise ship passengers. Once a small fishing and banana port, Ocho Rios is today the cruise ship capital of Jamaica and is frequented daily by visitors who are looking for a world class holiday destination.

There is so much to see when you visit Ocho Rios. But first, if you want to be close to all the action, you can stay in one of the Silver Sands villas, located close by. These villas encompass a beautiful, pristine, private white sands beach and provide all the comfort and privacy you could wish for during your stay. The villas employ a local staff who are well versed with the island and can provide you all insider perspectives and tips to go off the tourist track and explore the road less taken. The Silver Sands villas also organize tours to Ocho Rios.

If it is adventure that you are looking for in Ocho Rios, you can check out the Dunn’s River Falls. Located to the west of Ocho Rios, the 600 foot cascading waterfalls are a sight to behold. You can plunge right into the water and be a part of the human chain that leads up the stone steps right to the top of the waterfalls. It goes without saying, the views from the top are simply breathtaking. There is a small fee to go to Dunns River Falls Park; currently this is $15 for adults and $12 for children. After climbing the falls, you can relax on the beach, spend time in the picnic areas and explore the tropical foliage.

You can also visit the nearby Dolphin Cove conveniently located next to Dunn's River Falls in Ocho Rios. The visit is sure to be a one in a lifetime experience. Here in the park, you can swim with a family of Bottle Nose dolphins. The cove is surrounded by four acres of tropical rain forest and is also home to other marine species such as rays, eels and sharks as well as tropical birds, like the macaw.

If it is a beach that catches your fancy, the Turtle Beach is just within walking distance. If you wish to make Ocho Rios your base, you can also make the Turtle Beach Towers apartments your base, more so if you are fond of water sports. There is plenty of action here to keep you busy and apart from the water sports, there are plenty of shopping plazas and a craft center where you can shop for local crafts. One shopping center definitely worth a visit is the Taj Mahal Shopping Centre where you can shop for luxury items and great duty free goods. If it is more traditional Jamaican goods you are interested in, you can head to the Island Village Shopping Centre where you can find branded stuff, jewellery, hand made cigars, and the famous Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.

Then there are other attractions in Ocho Rios that you can explore. If it is the historical that catches your fancy, you can visit Prospect Plantation, a working plantation which grows a variety of different foods such as sugar cane, banana, cassava, avocado, and pimento. You can also enjoy the spectacular views over the White River. A miniature golf and horseback riding is also available.

What ever your idea of holiday, Ocho Rios will not disappoint. Beautiful Jamaica villas located amidst breathtakingly beautiful surroundings, spectacular beaches, plenty of action, great food and great duty free shopping, you couldn’t ask for more.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A memorable holiday in Jamaica

We were a group of friends who had planned a one-week holiday to Jamaica. All of us desperately needed a break and one week of the Caribbean sun in one of the most beautiful islands in the world seemed to be a great idea. We wanted the trip to be special and more than everything we wanted to get away from it all, to let go and for some days, be what we actually wanted to be and not what was expected of us. A hotel environment seemed too impersonal, too formal. We wanted something more relaxed, more private and a holiday villa seemed to be more in tune with our needs. We searched around on the internet, compared property photos and prices and finally settled on Fantasy Villa on the beautiful Bengal beach. A part of the secure Silver Sands villas community, the three bedroom spacious villa was ideally located in Rio Bueno, St. Ann, off the North Coast Highway, beside the Coconut Lagoon Rest Stop. This designer-decorated home featured a large swimming pool, next to the beach but elevated for privacy.

We had booked an airport pickup and there was a driver and a jeep waiting for us. The drive to the villa was lovely. The driver was a local and he had a great knowledge of the place. He pointed out some of the attractions during the journey.

On reaching the villa, we were greeted with refreshing drinks. The staff then helped us settle in and assisted us with the luggage. The villa included the services of a cook and food was one of the greatest highlights of our stay in the villa. It was nothing like we have had before—heavenly is the adjective that best describes it. We enjoyed a variety of foods including the famous Jamaican jerk chicken, which was amazingly good.

From the patio, we could take in the spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea. The water was every shade of blue and green you can imagine. We dined here most of the times, taking in the views and enjoying the cool, gentle tropical breeze.

We enjoyed the usual beach activities—swimming, snorkeling, and playing volleyball. The long walks under the star lit sky with the wind playing among the palms, was an experience we will cherish for times to come. For the first time in life we knew what real contentment really is.

Soon it was time to venture out and explore what the rest of the island had to offer.

We went to the deceased reggae artist Bob Marley’s home and saw the rock where he rested his head while thinking of his music.

We next visited Ocho Rios, Jamaica’s most famous landmark. The 600-foot waterfall is simply spectacular. The tourists can wade right into the water. We joined the other tourists and formed a human chain to climb the stone steps leading up to the waterfall. All in all, it was an exhilarating experience.

Far too soon the week came to an end. We had captured the scenic surroundings on camera. The warmth and hospitality of the people and more so the staff of the Silver Sands villas was imprinted in our hearts for ever. We left with the promise to visit the beautiful island of Jamaica, again, again and again.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A trip to Jamaica

A trip to Jamaica

Just returned from a family trip to Jamaica and had a great time discovering the attractions and connecting with the family. A friend had recommended Silver Sands villas and we duly checked out the accommodations. The rates were affordable and the villas looked superb. We chose Seagull Cottage, a beautiful and comfortable 3 bedroom villa overlooking the scenic Silver Sands beach. We couldn’t have asked for a better accommodation option for our trip; the views of the Caribbean from the verandah were stunning. The place was tranquil, the surroundings blissful. The beach was just a few minutes walk away and we had a great time picnicking, relaxing and swimming. Back to the villa, we were treated to the choicest of local dishes by the cook. All our meals, morning, afternoon and evening were served on time. The staff of the villas was really efficient and accommodating and all our wishes were met with and all our queries were answered. Indeed all the staff was local and they not just loved their jobs but also their country and provided us invaluable inside tips and information from what to see, transport, safety precautions etc.

We had a great time at the beach but then wanted to explore the other attractions. The staff suggested Luminous Lagoon and we decided to check it out. We were intrigued by the name and assumed the waters shone under the moonlight and so the name. But we were informed otherwise.

We took a boat ride and discovered why the lagoon had been named so. The lagoon is home to a rare phosphorescent microbe known as dinoflagellate. The movement of the water causes the microbes to move and glow with an ethereal neon-green color, making the lagoon luminous. We were told that this phenomenon could be witnessed only in four places in the world and Jamaica was considered to be the best amongst them. During the cruise, we also stopped to swim in the shallow waters under the moonlit sky.

We also visited one of Jamaica’s most beautiful attractions, the Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios. We climbed up the stone stairs and from the top took in the panoramic views of the surroundings and of the water gushing down over the rock terraces. The falls provided us with immense photo opportunities and we clicked away till to capture the memories till our next visit to Jamaica.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Silver Sands villas guide to Jamaica: Kool Runnings Park

There are many advantages of staying in Jamaica accommodation rentals and if you are staying in Silver Sands villas, apart from the comforts of your ‘home away from home’, you also get convenient access to some of the island’s most important attractions. One such attraction worth a visit is the Kool Runnings Water Park, which was established in early 2007 in Negril. Ever since it has been a great hit with the locals and tourists.

This welcoming family-friendly entertainment option in Jamaica is a state-of-the-art water park featuring attractions for visitors of all ages.

Your adventure begins once you go through the park’s intriguing entrance. Once in, you will be confronted with a water world featuring huge water slides, lazy rivers, and more. The waterslide options suit all tastes and ages from the secure slides for kids to those meant for the adventurous and the brave.

For those looking for a tranquil trip, there is the “Rio Bueno,” a lazy river that is one-quarter mile long. You can sail gently down the river and take in the majestic views of the lush Jamaican landscape. On the other hand, if you are looking for something more active, you can enjoy the “thrill rides” offered by Jamaica Bobsled Ride, the Kickpuppalick, the Duppy Conqueror, the Green Grotto, Lightening Bolt, the Sly Mongoose, the or the Red Snapper. Some of these slides are for one person only while others can accommodate upto three people.

Of these the Green Grotto waterslide is a favourite with the visitors. This 40 feet high, 54 inches wide, and 385 feet long slide features the latest in 3D virtual reality image and sound technology. It has been designated “the ride of your life,” and once you take this ride, you’ll understand the reason why. You can choose a theme you want to experience, and the press of a button. You’ll soon find yourself sliding through the Green Grotto, named after the famous cave and underwater lake on the island. This ride can be experienced on either a single or double tube.

There is much in store for the children, for example, there is the Coconut Island that is perfect for children under 48” (4 feet). The slides here are less intimidating and end in shallow splash pools. There are well-trained lifeguards on duty here. The island also home to Mikie Manatee and Captain Mikie, the mascot of Kool Runnings Water Park and his alter ego who is said to have been shipwrecked there. The story goes that after years of being a mean and thoroughly nasty individual, Captain Mikie finally realized how much better it was to be nice. And in sync with the change in his attitude, he now welcomes children to share in interactive water games, one of which involves a giant coconut that dumps water on people when they least expect it.

Anancy Village is a dry area of the park that offers its own kind of thrills and adventures, for example, there is the traditional merry-go-round called the “Peenie Wallie Carousel,” perfect for adults and kids. You can also enjoy horseback riding or jump on the “Bug-A-Boo Bungee Trampoline.” The ropes and wires of this trampoline mimic the web of the spider Anancy, which is famous in traditional Jamaican folktales for its smart tactics. For those looking for adrenalin rush, there is the Palisadoes Go-Kart Track which is well worth a try.

If all this action leaves you hungry, you can check out the wide variety of themed restaurants at Kool Runnings, which serve everything from snacks to traditional Jamaican cuisine.

After a fun-filled day, it is time to return to your home at Silver Sands villas where after a long relaxing soak in the tub, you can share your day’s adventures with your family and friends.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Easter celebrations in Jamaica villas

Jamaica is a year round destination but there is no time like the Easter holiday to enjoy its warm and unspoiled beauty, savour some of its best food preparations and experience its rich customs and traditions. And there is nothing like a stay in Jamaica villas to be part of the action and experience first hand the way Easter is celebrated on this beautiful Caribbean island.

As a custom, Jamaicans refrain from cooking on Good Friday and so they prepare fish, a staple during the festivities on Holy Thursday. They also put egg white in water at night; the belief is that it would foretell what the future has in store for them. For example, if the egg white forms the shape of a ship or airplane, it would mean that there is travel in store for the person.

Good Friday witnesses the convergence of people to the churches to pray and reflect on Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. The festival is also marked by the bleeding physic nut tree, which, when cut, oozes a red substance representing the blood of Christ. The general belief is that the crucifixion was carried out on a similar type of tree.

Come Easter Sunday and people once again go to the church. Both homes and churches are beautifully decorated with flowers, especially Easter lilies, the flowers that embody the purity and innocence of Christ and His resurrection. The communal festivities are then followed by a home-cooked family dinner of rice and peas, and fish.

Easter Monday is the most fun-filled day of the festival celebrations. Friends and families gather together on the beaches to relax and spend time together. For the lovers of soca and calypso music, the festivities couldn’t get any better. There is music in the air, and people decorated in brightly-coloured, jewelled costumes throng the streets as part of a weeklong Carnival.

Through out the festivities you can enjoy the sweet Easter buns. If you are staying in Silver Sands villas, you can relish some of the best home cooked buns in Jamaica.

Hotel or Jamaica villa for your vacation?

This is a question that bothers all those who are planning a trip to Jamaica. So which one to choose, a hotel or Jamaica villas? The answer would depend on what you are looking for in your vacation. If it is cost savings and a completely new experience that you want, Jamaica accommodation rentals definitely have an upper hand.

In terms of costs, Jamaica villas prove to be more affordable, especially if you are traveling with your family and need a lot of space. Then again, if you are here for an extended stay, hotels will be very costly. A stay in a hotel over a long period of time can be a strain, especially if you are in a new destination for a long period of time. As a rule, people are more comfortable staying in a home than in a hotel. Once the novelty wears of you want to simply let go and relax, eat what you like, when you like, dress how you like and in a nutshell be what you are. This is not possible in a hotel unless you are cooped up in your room. All the time you have to be formal and this is something that will take its toll in a few days time. Ultimately, holidays are about letting go, about relaxing, about being away from the dictates of civilization. In your Jamaica villa, this is exactly what you can do—free from the cares of the world, you can be with your loved ones and rejuvenate in the healing touch of nature.

So if it is a new experience that you want, if it cost saving you are looking for, and if it is privacy you desire, book a villa in Jamaica and make all the difference to your trip. If all the listings on the net leave you confused, simply reserve your accommodation in Silver Sands villas and get the best quality of services at the most affordable costs.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Jamaica accommodation rentals

Many people who go to Jamaica prefer to rent a home rather than stay in a hotel. Renting a home on the island means reserving accommodation in Jamaica villas and cottages because these offer the visitors many facilities that are not offered by hotels. Take for example the case eating meals. In Jamaica accommodation rentals, you can cook your own food and eat out when you like without missing set meals that you have already paid for.

It can be a bit tricky booking accommodation rentals in Jamaica as compared to making a hotel reservation. But then it is well worth the effort. The problem basically is of finding the right villa to suit your needs and requirements. Search the net and you will be bombarded with choices. So how to make the right choice?

One, you may see the photos of the properties and be carried away. But are you sure what you are seeing is what you get? Then again, you have to consider various other factors. Cost is definitely one of them. It is important to point out here that Jamaica villas can really help you save money, especially if you are traveling in a large group and you are there for an extended stay. Again, take the case of meals. You can well imagine the costs that will pile up if you have to eat out all the time not to mention the toll that it can take on your stomach. In Jamaica accommodation rentals you have your kitchen/kitchenette where you can prepare your own meals or have the cook come in to prepare traditional dishes for you. So when you rent a property make sure it has a well equipped kitchen and the services of a maid and cook are included in the costs. Otherwise, you may end up doing household chores which is something you really wouldn’t want as part of your holiday itinerary.

Then again, if you are traveling with your family, lets say kids and grandparents, you would want that you stay in a place which caters to all ages and all needs. For example, you may want to go out for river rafting, then the grandparents can watch TV or catch their favorite film on the DVD. Or may be they would like to relax and take in the beautiful views of the Caribbean from their balcony. Do the rentals have separate play areas for children or even a special pool for the kids? All these may seem small, but little things like this can make all the difference to your trip.

So basically it is not about choosing a villa but the right Jamaica accommodation rental that can make all the difference to your trip. So if you are planning a trip to Jamaica and don’t know which accommodation to choose, you can browse through the Silver Sands villas, a secure community of cottages and villas surrounding a serene white sands beach. These villas cater to the needs of families and accordingly each and every detail and requirement is taken care of. If you are still not convinced, you can read the reviews of the satisfied customers listed on their website and you the number of repeat visits that are recorded. With Silver Sands villas, you get the best of services at the most affordable costs.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Jamaica villas vacations

Travelers to Jamaica will find no dearth of choices for accommodations. You can stay in a hotel, an all-inclusive resort or spend money wisely by staying in Jamaica villas. Reserving a Jamaica villa is the best way to enjoy the scenic island and if you choose your rental judiciously you can really save money and look forward to a more quality experience.

What are Jamaica villas?

These are actually private homes owned by individuals and companies who generally employ property managers to rent it to travelers who come to Jamaica through out the year. These Jamaica rentals can range from one to eight bedrooms and are perfect for singles, couples, families and groups. Usually, these villas have staff including housekeeping staff and chef that works at the site and takes care of the property and guests from morning to night.

The size of the staff varies from villa to villa and can range from two to ten, all of whom are locals. Smaller villas usually include a cook, to prepare three traditional Jamaican meals a day. Then there are rentals that also include butlers, who function more like concierge in reality. His duty is to look after the property, serve the guests drinks and meals, and coordinate with outside companies to link guests with off-site vacation activities. Larger villas can include maid, a bartender, a gardener, and even a driver, who can take you to the much-sought out destinations like Fern Gulley, Dunn's River Falls in Ocho Rios, or Bob Marley's birthplace at Nine Mile.

What is the cost of these villas?

Costs depend on various factors. For example, it will vary from season to season. So during the high-seasons costs will be high; in the low season, you can look forward to great discounts. Then again, the cost will depend on the size of the rental and the amenities it provides. For example, Beach Haven villa, a three bedroom villa in Silver Sands costs around $1000 to $1200 during the low season for a 7 day stay and $1200 to $1600 during the high season and for the same period.

What are some of the best villas?

There are many great villas in Jamaica. To review a large collection of villas, you can browse through Silver Sands villas that offer the best services at the most reasonable costs. As a case point, you can consider the two bedroom Pineapple Cottage in the Silver Sands villas that is perfect for a small family. Amongst its numerous amenities, it includes a private solar heated pool and a hot tub. It is just a few minutes walk from the pristine Silver Sands beach. In case you are traveling in groups, you couldn’t ask for a better option. The cottage shares a large gated lot with Pineapple Villa, which is a 7 bedroom rental unit, making these two properties perfect for large groups and reunions.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tips for renting Jamaica villas

So you are planning a vacation to Jamaica and are not sure where to stay? This year, make all the difference to your holiday but staying in luxurious Jamaica villas, apartments or cottages, especially if it is a family or friends get together you are planning. You’ll not only make great savings but will have more privacy and space to relax and enjoy in your home away from home.

Here are some tips to rent the best Jamaica accommodation rentals

Search the internet

Log on to the internet and you will come across numerous sites with home listings. Before you bookmark a site simply because you liked the photographs of the property in question, do a thorough study of the facilities it has to offer. It is important to point out that some of these photographs may not entirely be correct and on reaching the property, you may realize you have been taken for a complete ride. It will be in your interest to contact the owner or the marketing agency of the villa in question for details before making a decision.

Compare rates

Check out the rates of the properties before deciding. Rates will vary depending on the facilities on offer, the size of the rental and its location. So be sure what you are looking for. You can check out many homes, see their price listings and the most suitable dates available for booking.

Pay by credit card or PayPal

When booking vacation accommodation rentals in Jamaica, make sure to pay by credit card or PayPal. Always ask for references and make sure to read the finer print or you may just end up paying more than you bargained for. It is always advisable to check out references and read client testimonials on site. Never shy away from contacting the marketing agency or owners to ask questions. If they are not willing to answer, its time you looked further.

Know exactly what is included in the package

The Jamaica rentals will be your home away from home during the period of your stay. To ensure you have a hassle free, comfortable stay, be sure to check what is included in the package. Be sure to double-check everything. For example, the property may say, internet included. Does this mean you get a Wi-Fi high-speed connection or is it just basic cable? Then again, you’ll find rentals that say electricity included in the package, and if you don’t read the finer print, it may just say included upto the first $250.

The management company of the rentals
Ideally the management company should be local or in other words, the staff should be local so that they have relevant knowledge and can give you inside information to make your stay a special one. For example, the staff should be able to advise you on what to see, when to go, book ground transport etc. Then again, lets say the dishwasher breaks down or there is some other problem with the property. Local management would know who to contact for these services because these are things you wouldn’t want to get involved with. After all, you are in Jamaica to enjoy a vacation and not get into the nitty gritties that you have left behind. It is therefore important that you have the phone number and email address of the local contacts for a smooth stay.

Is the vacation home family-friendly?

This is especially important if you are traveling with kids. For example, you may be traveling with three kids and the property may have just one king-sized bed. So make sure the home fits in with your family needs in terms of providing facilities for the kids to remain occupied and well taken care off, especially if the adults want some peaceful moments for themselves.

Book early

Avoid disappointment by booking your vacation rental early because there are certain times of the year, or during the high season, when there will be none available. During the off season, don’t shy away from contacting the marketing agency or owners for a better deal.

If all this seems to be too much of a bother, you can book your vacation home with Silver Sands villas. Silver Sands is a secure community of privately-owned villas and cottages on Jamaica's North Coast about thirty miles east of the airport at Montego Bay. Silver Sands offers a wide variety of accommodation to suit every budget, from large villas with magnificent sea views, private pools, hot tubs, and warm and friendly staff to smaller cottages with all comforts required for a comfortable stay. These homes are clustered around one of the best beaches in Jamaica - hundreds of yards or crisp white sand and the sparklingly clear waters of the Caribbean Sea.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What do Jamaica villas have to offer?

If you are planning a trip to Jamaica, you can consider staying in Jamaica villas for they have lots to offer. Experience the best of Jamaican hospitality and services in surroundings that are your home away from home. As a case point, book a villa with Silver Sands and you will know what we are talking about.

If you select the airport pick up option while booking with Silver Sands villas, you’ll find their rep waiting for you at the airport. The transfer to your villa will be in a private vehicle which means you don’t have to wait for the other guests to arrive and then be packed in a bus and driven to your destination.

There will be no stops en-route and you will be driven directly to your destination. However, the experienced driver would be able to point our some places of interest which you might consider exploring during your stay.

If you are traveling with kids, you can let the staff of Silver Sands villas know in advance and car seat/s for the kids will be arranged for their comfort.

On reaching your Jamaica villas, you will be welcomed with a refreshing drink to wash away the strains of the journey. Once refreshed, you can proceed to your villa and appreciate the beautiful surroundings.

Once a week, the Silver Sands villas holds an entertainment or welcome party where you can bring along your family and intermingle with the other guests.

Again, if you are traveling with children, just let the staff know well in advance and they will arrange an extra cot/crib at no additional cost.

What makes the Silver Sands villas stand apart is the fact that the staff is very caring and they all realize that the guests have come from distant lands and so they go out of the way to ensure that their stay here is a smooth and hassle free one.

These are only some of the advantages offered by the Jamaica villas. Stay in one of their Jamaica homes to discover all what they have to offer and in all probability, you would be returning here again and again for your family vacation.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Jamaica villas versus hotels

If you are planning a trip to Jamaica, and especially a family trip comprising of grandparents, parents and kids, choosing the right accommodation option would make all the difference to your trip. A family trip can be fun but only when all members of the group are satisfied. A step in this direction is choosing where to stay.

Search the net and basically the choice would fall between two categories, hotels and Jamaica accommodation rentals. A hotel is something everyone is familiar with. Jamaica accommodation rentals, on the other hand, may require some explanation.

In order to spend quality time together in a distant land of their choice, people bought vacation villas, cottages and apartments where they spent some time of the year with their families and friends. These accommodations remained empty for the remaining part of the year and this gave birth to the concept of vacation rental accommodation. What this means that instead of staying in the impersonal environs of the hotel, you can book your own privacy and space and also get all amenities and services of a hotel in the bargain. So you can now book Jamaica villas and cottages for the duration of your stay either directly from the owners or through the marketing agencies that represent them.

These Jamaica rentals are your home away from home and have all the amenities required for a comfortable stay and to remain connected with the rest of the world. These rentals also include the services of a housekeeping staff and chef so you don’t have to bother with the everyday necessities. All you need to do is to forget all the cares of the world, explore the breathtakingly country and rediscover the joys of spending quality time together with your loved ones.

One area where Jamaica villas score over hotels, as is obvious from the above, is in terms of privacy and space. The second is these rentals can prove to be more cost-effective in the long run, especially if you are there for an extended stay. For example, you can eat in home cooked food in your own dining room. Not only would this prove cheaper, especially when you consider eating out all three times a day, if you stay in a hotel, but it would be easy on the stomach as well.

Then again, you may want to spend some time alone away from the children. Alternatively, the children would also want to spend time on activities that interest them the most. Most Jamaica rentals also provide child care facilities. For example, Silver Sands villas, a secure community of villas, cottages and apartments provides childcare facilities and also has special pool for kids and also play areas to keep them busy. Here, they can mingle with the children of other guests and make new friends. You can also go out and enjoy yourself, secure in the knowledge that the kids are in safe hands. All this is not possible if you decide to stay in a hotel.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hiking the Blue Mountains in Jamaica

We are a group of friends who visited Jamaica for a short vacation. This idyllic country is famous as a beach destination but we wanted to do something different and so the idea to hike up the Blue Mountains. We had booked our accommodation at Ocho Rios Apartments and from there taken a jeep to the village, Jack's Hill from where we began our hike.

The Jamaica Tourist Board referred to the Blue Mountains hike as a "classic trek." Hikers usually travel up Blue Mountain Peak in darkness to reach the summit just in time to greet the sunrise. This is exactly what we did.

The fabled Blue Mountains coffee fortified us against the cold and gave us the push we needed to begin the journey at 2.00 am in the morning. The dull orange of our torchlight illuminated our way and our journey had well and truly begun.

The Blue Mountain Peak is the highest on the island rising to an altitude of about 7402 feet. Needless to stay the climb is difficult but each step is well worth the trouble. The cold winds blew the remaining sleep from our eyes and we kept on. At each step, the stars seemed to come closer and there were times when we felt that there was nothing between us and the vast expanse of the sky above. Suddenly, life seemed to have become very fragile and the everyday cares very distant and unreal, as if belonging to another world, another time.

We moved on, and the path gradually became very narrow. It was really narrow and steep at the point that is known as Jacob’s Ladder. As we moved up, we could gradually make out the shadowy outline of the dark forest. The dawn had begun to break and suddenly it our journey seemed to be a race against the sun. The moonlight began to give way and the vistas that opened up were simply spectacular. The path was not only difficult but botanically rich as well.

Finally, we reached The Peak, exactly at the same time as the sun rose over the mist-laced mountains. We were lucky for it was a clear day and we could see for miles ahead in all directions. From the peak, we could see the Buff Bay and Port Antonio's Navy Island to the North, and Kingston, Portmore, St Thomas' coast to the south and the dim form of Cuba.

We rested for some time and soon enough, it was time to begin the descend. The journey downwards was equally mesmerizing. We passed through elfin forest where the canopy was so low, it seemed we were passing through a deep green tunnel. From the clearings, we could take in the dramatic views of the majestic mountains. The trail was lined with tree ferns, bamboo and Eucalyptus trees. Colorful wildflowers dotted the path and the bird calls provided the natural soundtrack for our awe-inspiring trip.

The overall hike took seven hours and soon we were back to the comfort of our accommodation in Ocho Rios apartments, soaking up in the waters of the bathtub and feeling the tiredness wash away from our bodies. And then it was time for a sumptuous dinner and sharing our views on the recently concluded hike to the Blue Mountains in Jamaica.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Silver Sands villas travel tips to Jamaica

Jamaica as a tourist destination needs no introduction. This beautiful Caribbean country has much to offer the visitors in terms of sun, sand, sea, natural attractions and plenty of opportunities to indulge in activities both on land and water. However, if you are traveling to the country for the first time, here are some tips that you can keep in mind for a more enjoyable stay in Jamaica.

Visas and passports

As a first step, ensure all your documents are order, including passports and visas. If you belong to a European country, USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Israel, you do not require a visa to enter into Jamaica.

You don’t require a travel permit; however you would need to fill in an immigration card both on arrival and departure.

You would also be required to show your return or ongoing ticket. Besides, your passport validity should be six months or more. So be sure to check the expiry date of your passport well in advance.

It is also advisable to opt for travel insurance to protect yourself against accidents and mishaps. Also travel insurance can cover all delays and cancelation in travel arrangements.

What to avoid in Jamaica

Sandflies: Avoid sandflies especially during the late afternoons when they are very active. In case you are bitten, apply over-proof rum to stop the itching.

Tap water: Even though Jamaica may proclaim that the tap water is safe, it is always better to drink bottled water. Also, be sure to rub clean the mouth of the bottle because even though bottles are recycled in Jamaica, the cap areas are left as is. A better option is, refill your bottles from your Jamaica accommodation rentals before venturing out.

Sun burns: Do wear a cap and apply sun tan lotion generously before going for outdoor trips like rafting. The activities can be fun but you should never underestimate the sun.

Getting caught in the rain: Avoid getting caught in the rain without a jacket. Bring along a light, foldaway umbrella which is easy to carry. You can always gift it to a local when you are leaving.

Lonely areas: Avoid traveling single and if you must, try to keep to the tourist friendly areas. Avoid lonely areas especially once it gets dark.

Travel smart in Jamaica

Do remember to take your camera along so as not to miss the photo opportunities and they are tremendous. If you wish to photograph the locals, remember to take permission because they are sensitive to being photographed without being asked.

While in Jamaica, you’ll be approached by vendors selling knick knacks, eatables and souvenirs. Don’t mistake their persistence with harassment; just refuse politely and firmly.

Also do not disclose your Jamaica accommodation rentals address to strangers on the beaches and elsewhere. This is not just for your own safety but to avoid potential salesmen who may land at your door trying to sell their wares.

As a final note, make your trip to Jamaica all the more special by staying in Jamaica villas and apartments that provide all the services and comforts of the hotels as also the privacy and space that only a home can provide. If you decide to stay in a Jamaica apartment, you can consider booking Ocho Rios Apartments that provide the best services and comforts at the most affordable rates.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Weddings in Jamaica Villas

Jamaica is without doubt the most popular wedding destination in the Caribbean. The scenic wonderland offers an endless variety of exotic venues for a day which you will remember for the rest of your life. From a small intimate ceremony to a large elaborate event and everything in between, Jamaica has it all. So let your imagination run wild to make your wedding day extra special and be assured, all your fantasies will turn into realities in the fascinating country that is Jamaica.

Choose an exotic location

Exchange your wedding vows in a beachfront villa, with the sun setting in the distant horizon and the sounds of the tropical breezes mingling with the music of Bob Marley’s One Love playing in the back ground. Choose a sunset ceremony on a sailboat bobbing in the sparkling waters of the Caribbean or opt for a catamaran cruise. Some of them are large enough to accommodate up to 100 guests and a band, so dancing and dining on the water are definite options!

If it is a mountain setting that catches your fancy, you can say ‘I Do’ against the backdrop of the cool and misty Blue Mountains; the spectacular views of the surroundings provide the perfect opportunity for dramatic wedding photos that you will cherish for times to come. Explore the possibilities presented by Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios or Reach Falls in Port Antonio. The choices for wedding venues in Jamaica are many ranging from waterfalls, mountains, beaches, countryside, rivers, and gazebos to how far your imagination can fly.

Hire the services of a wedding planner

If you wish, you can make the arrangements yourself. Otherwise, you can hire the services of a wedding planner to take care of the necessities while you relax, be pampered and get ready for the special day. From a private ceremony for two to full celebrity-style events, the wedding planners in the Caribbean can help you fulfill all your romantic expectations in the dream destination of your choice. The services would include arranging for bridal bouquets, photography & video, wedding cake, and champagne to wedding music, transportation, and other wedding amenities. The wedding planners will also arrange for the license and necessary paper work so that the ceremony is completely hassle-free.

Stay in luxurious Jamaica villas

Make your wedding ceremony all the more special by staying in a luxury vacation villa in Jamaica. Well furnished and well equipped with all modern amenities, Jamaica villas in the Caribbean give the best of luxury hotels a run for their money. Apart from the comfort, the vacation villas in Jamaica also provide you the advantage of privacy, a home away from home, which no hotel can offer.

If you are looking to rent Jamaica villas, you can consider Silver Sands villas, a secure community of Jamaican villas and cottages, at this fabulous white sand beach. Located on Jamaica's famous North Coast, about 30 miles from the airport, midway between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, Silver Sands villas provide you with the best services at the most affordable rates. The villas provide rooms in which the wedding guests can stay after the ceremony to continue with the celebrations.

If you are planning a wedding, honeymoon or a vacation trip to Jamaica between April to July, you can avail of the special packages for some of the Silver Sands villas. So avail the special offers and begin your ‘happily ever after’ in Jamaica---a place where dreams turn into reality.

Why stay in a family resort in Jamaica?

A family vacation can be very exciting but it is never easy to plan one. First, the children are very hard to please and secondly you would also like to find time for yourself to indulge in activities that are not suitable for children. So the question is how to find a perfect balance where everyone is satisfied? The answer is, stay in a family resort.

So what exactly is a family resort? First, it is important to point out that Jamaica has pioneered the concept of all-inclusive resorts and has played an important role in shaping the growth of the vacation rental industry across the globe. Vacation rentals or homes are a great alternative to a hotel stay in that they combine the services and luxuries of a hotel with the privacy and space that only a home can provide. Well furnished and tastefully decorated, these vacation homes come equipped with all possible modern amenities and also include the services of a chef and housekeeping staff to take care of the necessities.

More in terms of facilities, these resorts also have play areas for kids where they can keep busy. Besides, family resorts also invite other guests who travel with families, which means your children can make friends with kids of other guests. Take the case of Silver Sands villas, which has its own private beach for guests and a special play area for children. So you can bask in the glory of the sun while children indulge themselves in numerous activities. Then there is a special pool that is perfect for kids to take a dip. If you wish to go out for activities that are not suitable for kids, Silver Sands villas will also arrange childcare facilities, which means you can spend peaceful moments without having to worry about the welfare of the kids.

The resorts are also all inclusive in the sense they arrange events and tours and so you don’t have to plan where to go and how to go. In fact, these resorts take care of all your requirements so that you don’t have to do anything except enjoy yourself, away from the cares of the world and its responsibilities.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Jamaica villas travel guide: Suggested Itineraries

In a world where people are hard pressed for time, taking a vacation has become really difficult. Gone are the days when you could take long leisurely breaks. Today, vacations are all about a lean-and-mean break with too much packed into ridiculously short a time. Well it doesn’t have to be that way. A well planned itinerary can take you places (literally) and ensure holidays don’t turn into an activity that you do but a time when you let go, relax and rejuvenate, leaving all the cares of the world behind. If you are planning a travel to Jamaica, here are some possibilities you can try.

Tour the countryside

Jamaica is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful Caribbean countries and the reputation is well-deserved. Drive around the island, appreciate the dramatic landscape, and capture the untamed beauty on camera for memories of a lifetime. To make the best of your tour, you can consider taking a driver. The reasons for this are many. First, an experienced driver will know where to take you. Second, you can concentrate on the scenery and finally, the most important—the scenery is spectacular; the roads aren’t.

Wear a seatbelt if you are sitting on the front seat and not just to obey rules. Drive along the roads and you’ll realize how badly you need it. Breakdown assistance is limited in urban areas and practically negligible in rural sectors.

Go Jamaican

If your vacation spills over to the second week, it is time to read the finer print. Once you are done with the beaches and scenery, its time to do in Jamaica as Jamaicans do. So for some time, develop a temporary amnesia, forget the lifestyle back home and go Jamaican. Try getting your hair braided into deadlocks or learn Jamaican patois, the unofficial language of the island. Research the Rastafarian religion to better appreciate the lyrics of reggae music. While you relax on the beach, give some thought to the construction of the jerk pit in your backyard. And as you savour the sumptuous jerk on the beach, ask lots of questions about the spices used during the cooking process.

Shop till you drop

What’s a vacation without shopping? Do buy the knick knacks sold by the beach vendors but also take out time to venture into the heartland. Jamaica, as a shopping destination does not disappoint and apart from the rum, there is much on offer. Browse through the visible body of work by the Jamaican artists or buy the magnificent woodcarvings.

Stay in Jamaica accommodation rentals

Make your visit to the beautiful island all the more memorable by booking your own privacy and space for these are what the Jamaica accommodation villas provide. Be pampered by the staff of the Jamaica villas, savour the choicest of local dishes prepared by the efficient chefs, spend quality time with your loved ones while recollecting the joys of the day in your own living area and watch the sun setting in the distant horizon from your own terrace. In Jamaica, with so many rentals, you will be spoilt for choice. And if you don’t know which villa to choose, try out the Silver Sands villas that provide the best services at the most reasonable rates.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Jamaica villas: A relaxing alternative to a hotel stay

Most people who come to Jamaica for a holiday come here for a blissful tropical escape, to relax on the beaches and to discover its natural attractions. However, a visit to Jamaica can be made all the more special by staying in Jamaica villas. So what is special about Jamaica villas? Well for one, Jamaica has pioneered the concept of all-inclusive resorts with villas, cottages, condos, studios, and apartments to suit all tastes and budgets.

Jamaica villas have given a whole new dimension to travel. A visit to Jamaica is not just about discovering beaches and attractions but about rediscovering each other with these majestic attractions forming the perfect backdrop. You can rekindle the bond in your relationship in the privacy and space that only a home can provide. Your Jamaica villa is your home for the time of your stay but it is different in that the housekeeping staff and chef will take care of all your needs and so you don’t have to worry about the daily chores from which you have escaped from. All you have to do is to sit back and relax and concentrate on spending quality time together while basking in the joys of Jamaica.

These villas give you a first hand perspective of the local way of life. You can live like locals amidst the locals and gain an insight into their ways and culture. Instead of eating hotel food for everyday of your stay, you can have the chef prepare for you the choicest of local, home cooked dishes.

These Jamaica villas provide convenient access to all the major attractions in Jamaica. The friendly yet unobtrusive staff will arrange tours and transfers and will also advice you on what to see and what to do.

Besides, these Jamaica villas are located in all-inclusive resorts which also provide childcare facilities and play areas. If you want to spend quality time with your spouse or partner, you can leave them is safe hands and indulge in your favorite activity.

Search the internet and you will come across numerous listings for Jamaica villas. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all deliver what they promise. One way to book a villa you can trust is to check for client testimonials. If you are not sure which one to book, you can try Silver Sands villas that not provide the services they promise but the most reasonable rates as well.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Silver Sands villas for the best vacationing experience

Jamaica is an idyllic holiday destination promising lots to see and do. You can make your trip to the idyllic paradise all the more memorable by staying in the Silver Sands villas. Jamaica is well-known for its all-inclusive resorts so what makes these villas so special?

For one Silver Sands villas are ideal for couples, families and large groups traveling together. This secure community of villas, condos and cottages encompasses a private beach where you can find your own quiet space. If you are traveling with children, they would be able to make friends with children of other guests staying in Silver Sands villas.

Each villa, cottage and condo is tastefully furnished and well equipped for a comfortable stay. Each rental has a dining room, kitchen, living area and private balcony from where you can enjoy the views of the Caribbean. The services of a housekeeping staff and a cook are included in the package. Besides, additional services such as childcare facilities can also be arranged.

There is also a community area, bar and grill, and a tennis court on the premises. There is also a separate child play area on the premises. The romantic villas are perfect for those on a honeymoon or wish to exchange their wedding vows here.

Silver Sands villas are located on Jamaica's famous North Coast, about 30 miles from the airport, midway between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. They are just a mile North of the small town of Duncans and ten minute drive East of the historic town of Falmouth. So by staying in Jamaica villas you can be as far or near as the crowds you want. As an added advantage, these villas provide convenient access to the main attractions of Jamaica.