Before I get into the reviews of all of the resorts that I visited during my recent trip to Jamaica, I wanted to touch on the specifics of actually getting TO the island. (plus, these resort reviews will take forever and I’m procrastinating bigtime). Since this was my first time going to Jamaica, as well as my first time flying internationally unaccompanied, I had a healthy amount of anxiety going into the trip. I repeatedly confirmed that my passport was with me and not about to expire — fortunately, it doesn’t expire until 2022, but it’s still worth checking, right? (smh)
Prior to leaving the US, I purchased an arrival/departure package from Club MoBay, an exclusive service operated by VIP Attractions in Jamaica. There is also a Club Kingston for those guests flying into Norman Manley airport. Upon arrival, Club MoBay provides guests with escorted arrival services through baggage claim, a fast track line for Immigration and Customs, and a VIP lounge complete with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (rum punch, anyone?), snacks, warm towels and free wi-fi while awaiting resort transfer. It feels good to get off of the plane and have a person standing at the end of the jetway holding a sign bearing your name. It was also nice to skip all of the lines in the terminal and go straight through immigration. This service would be very beneficial to folks traveling during Jamaica’s busiest tourist seasons, couples there for their weddings, senior citizens, and families traveling with small children. The less lines, the better.
Sandals also has an exclusive arrival lounge for its guests, as does Couples Resorts. Although you won’t be able to fast track through immigration/customs, it is nice to have a place to relax after several hours of flying.
Resort transfers are operated by independent drivers contracted out by the receiving resorts. (I saw several drivers from JUTA Tours). I point this out because, since we were going to a Sandals property, I expected to see a Sandals bus waiting for us in the parking lot. Not so. The independent drivers do not work for the resorts and therefore are able/willing to accept tips for their services. So many sure you have plenty of small bills.
Departing Jamaica was much easier than I expected, outside of the inherent sadness I felt about leaving paradise. After dropping off my bags at the ticket counter, I located my Club MoBay admission voucher and was fast tracked through security. I located Gate 9, where an elevator (or stairs, if you choose) took me down to the Club MoBay departure lounge. This lounge was much larger and more expansive than the arrival lounge, covering 2 large rooms each with their own full-service bar, a childrens’ play area, a spa and restroom/shower facilities. There was also a hot/cold self-serve snack bar, which had Jamaican patties, sushi, egg rolls, and sandwiches. Not to mention, free wi-fi. I spent about an hour hanging out in the lounge, uploading pics and catching up on email. It definitely beat the other option of sitting at the gate. The receptionist at the front desk announced boarding flights on the Club MoBay loudspeaker to ensure that no one missed their flight. Which causes me to mention the only complaint I had: by the time they announced my flight and I arrived back to my gate, they were already boarding Zone 4. I was in Zone 3. It didn’t really matter at the end of it all, but some anal people like me prefer to board when their actual zone is called. If you’re anything like me, I would suggest keeping a watch on the time and heading up to your gate at the time on your boarding pass, instead of waiting for them to call your flight on the loudspeaker.
I’ve told anyone who cares that the Club MoBay experience was worth the money. They charge $35 per person (separately) for arrival and departure, or you can bundle the experience for $70. (These prices may be subject to change). A few extra dollars for a lot more comfort and convenience? Why not – you’re on vacation!