By: Kim Guerra
It’s not often you’ll find the words luxury and kid-friendly in the same description of an all-inclusive resort, but the Royalton Negril Resort and Spa in Jamaica is a tropical paradise for families.
Located on golden sandy beaches and calm, turquoise waters, the panoramic lobby set the tone for my stay while smiling staff offered me a cocktail as I checked in. Relaxation was in the air. Knowing my stay was short, the most difficult decision was which of the reservation-free gourmet restaurants I would visit first that evening.
Given the choice of three distinct areas unique to guests’ needs and vacation styles, I chose to explore the family-friendly Resort Club and take notes for my son who was back home in Houston. And I opted instead for the butler-style service and luxury of the Diamond Club. I’d save for the adults only Hideaway for another trip.
Most will ask you about the tourist hotspots of Long bay and Seven Mile Beach, a colorful and vibrant nightlife of hotels, bars and shops. During the day, this is a great snorkeling and scuba destination as the bay is protected by a coral reef and popular with tourists and locals, alike. It’s a $3-5 taxi ride from the resort.
For my stay, I was never tempted to leave the luxurious ambiance of the Royalton Negril. Decadent dining at the Dorado restaurant doesn’t begin to describe the fresh Caribbean seafood and the warm ocean breeze under a blanket of stars with a glass of wine in hand. It was a magical way to end my first evening on a Jamaican beach.
The following day, our group decided to jump into Jamaica and all its reggae charm with an hour’s excursion to Mayfield Falls. We hiked a gorgeous waterfall and posed for photos after a refreshing swim in the natural spring pools. Be prepared – the water is freezing, but amazingly beautiful and crystal clear. Hiking up to the top, we built up a pretty big appetite. When we came back down we were presented with a delicious Rastafarian lunch served on site under a thatched roof. It was a great way to end this adventure.
On the way back to the hotel, we enjoyed the sites along the way. The local charm and architecture were a lot to take in. We even spotted an Ostrich hanging out in one local’s yard. I guess you never know what you’ll see!
One of my favorite experiences on this trip was watching the cliff divers at the at the world famous, Rick’s Café. A quick bus ride from the hotel just before sunset put us at the perfect spot to watch the sun go down.
Back in my elegant suite, a quick change, and I was ready for C/X Culinary, the resort’s restaurant renowned for its incredible experiential dining. A personal chef took my group through seven courses with musical selections to accompany each dish. If you are a foodie, this is a must. The food was absolutely delicious, and the wine pairings were perfect.
Waking up to the sound of waves, I welcomed our second day itinerary of the beach, spa and me-time. Most beaches are private, and the Royalton is tucked away from the masses in its own private bay. With cabanas peppered down the beach, you can spend the day under and out of the sun, as need be. Drinks and nibbles are readily available, and it doesn’t get much better than this for recharging. That is, with the exception of the Royal Spa at Royalton Negril! You definitely want to make sure that you squeeze a treatment in!
When the sun goes down, the music and nightlife on the property kick up. The outdoor venues are perfect for families. Because of the way everything is set up, the kids feel right at home jumping on the dance floor and joining in on the line dances or dancing to their own beats! The fun, family atmosphere offers a great way to end your stay.
Packing to leave this tropical paradise wasn’t easy. But the hour-plus drive to the airport was a tropical, rain forest adventure, with a shared shuttle ride and friendly driver. I highly recommend the direct flights from Houston offered by Southwest and United airlines. Jet-setting from Houston to Jamaica for a family getaway has never been easier or more affordable.
Royalton Negril Resort and Spa
Five-star reservation-free restaurants
24-hour concierge service
Clubhouse Kids Club (ages 4 – 12)
Hangout Teens Club (ages 13 – 17)
Sports and Recreational activities
Southwest & United offer Nonstop Flights (approx. 3 hours)
Airport: Montego Bay, Jamaica – MBJ
Airport Transportation: Approx. 80-minute ride to Royalton Negril. Charter ride or taxi.
Currency: Jamaican dollar
Timezone: Eastern Standard Time
Climate: Typical 80s, with cooler evenings. Less humid than Houston
Excursions: Organized tours are available, but easy to go it alone. *TIP from Kim – Be sure to look over excursions offered through hotel partners and book in advance of your trip. The popular excursions book fast!
Negril Family Excursion Check List:
Mayfield Falls a picturesque hour’s drive from Negril, this is a must to discover these beautiful water falls, mineral pools and natural spring-fed jacuzzis. An entire day’s excursion is worth every minute.
Built in 1894, the Negril Lighthouse is another must-see. It offers a scenic view of the cliffs and the Jamaican sunset. It’s free and opens at 9am.
Negril Hills Golf Club
Outside the resort, the prestigious 18-hole Negril Hills Golf Club welcomes visitors. The club, restaurant and bar are surrounded by beautiful scenery whether you play or decide to spectate.
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville is located along Negril’s world famous seven-mile stretch of white sand beach., Margaritaville Negril provides the perfect mix of family entertainment options and open air dining;, a Tiki beach bar, and all day island music.
Rick’s Café sits amid the West End Cliffs of Negril and is famous for its world-famous sunsets. Enjoy great food, live music and cliff diving with caution.
Jamwest Motor Sport & Adventure is a great place for ATV’s, horseback riding and ziplines.
Kool Runnings Adventure Park keeps kids busy with ten thrilling water slides, children’s play area, leisure river and wave pool. pPlus an Adventure Zone with paintball, outdoor lazer kombat, go-karts, Jamboo rafting, canoes and kayaking.
Negril Fun Diving Ltd offers beginners and certified divers a 20 minute boat ride to explore the turquoise waters and reef with trained guides.
Events & Festivals
*Bob Marley Celebrations -February- Weeklong celebrations throughout the island to celebrate life and achievements of legendary superstar the Rt. Hon Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley.
*Tmrw Tday Culture Fest- May-A seven-day journey of consciousness, conviction and growth through wellness, music, dance, art, nature and natural therapies.
*Reggae Half & 10k Marathon- December-An international, two-day event welcoming athletes, good vibes and lots of Reggae music.
www.royaltonresorts.com/royalton-negril and www.visitjamaica.com
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