Jamaica: All Inclusive, Local Airbnb, and Ethical Dilemmas

Week-Long Snowbirds

My wife and I decided to go to Jamaica this year for a short reprieve from the cold weather in Boston. During the first part of the trip, we stayed at an all-inclusive adults-only Hyatt hotel, the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall. We then rented a car and drove to Treasure Beach, a small beach community which has seen an increase in tourism over the years. Finally, we returned for two nights at the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall, the family-friendly version of Hyatt’s all-inclusive hotels.

I have quite a few thoughts regarding our trip, so I will be separating them into a few different posts. For the final iteration in this series, I will also be interviewing a Jamaican co-resident to get her insights on growing up in the country.

Sunset Over Lover’s Leap (St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, 2018,  ©  JOEL ANG PHOTOGRAPHY)

Sunset Over Lover’s Leap (St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, 2018, © JOEL ANG PHOTOGRAPHY)

Jamaica Posts:

  1. Initial Thoughts

  2. Hyatt Zilara/Ziva Rose Hall

  3. Treasure Beach, YS Falls

  4. Ethical Dilemmas

  5. Interview with Najwah, a Jamaican Podiatry Resident

Three Impressions

Here are some things that I came away with from my first visit to Jamaica.

1. The People Are Incredibly Friendly

In general, everyone was pretty laid back and willing to engage in conversation. Of course, it helps that there was no language barrier, with English being the official language of the country. Perhaps the ganja helped as well. But even when we were driving in rural parts of the country, we received many smiles and waves from those walking on the side of the street.

Daily Catch (Treasure Beach, Jamaica, 2018,  ©  JOEL ANG PHOTOGRAPHY)

Daily Catch (Treasure Beach, Jamaica, 2018, © JOEL ANG PHOTOGRAPHY)

2. Driving is a Little Treacherous

There are a significant number of potholes in Jamaica, so much so that some consider avoiding them a national pastime. In Brunei - where I grew up - the roads are not that great either, but I was not prepared to dodge a pothole every two minutes. Add in the fact that some roads were very windy, only a car-and-a-half wide, and on the side of a cliff, and you can see why I was exhausted after two hours of driving. I would go as far as to suggest that most Americans should avoid driving and just take a tour bus instead.

Red Stripe (Treasure Beach, Jamaica, 2018,  ©  JOEL ANG PHOTOGRAPHY)

Red Stripe (Treasure Beach, Jamaica, 2018, © JOEL ANG PHOTOGRAPHY)

3. The Food was Fine

The food at the resort was as expected - not great, but not terrible either. However, I was surprised to find that even the food at local establishments was not amazing. My wife and I drove to quite a few well-known restaurants - Scotchies, Little Ochie, Eggy’s, and Smurf Cafe. We left feeling full, but not terribly impressed. I cannot say the food was that cheap either. Our seafood dinner at Little Ochie was about $60 USD for two. Cheaper than Boston, for sure, but not a downright bargain.

Dry Jerk at scothies (Montego bay, Jamaica, 2018,  ©  JOEL ANG PHOTOGRAPHY)

Dry Jerk at scothies (Montego bay, Jamaica, 2018, © JOEL ANG PHOTOGRAPHY)

Stay tuned for more!