Montego Bay, Jamaica
Montego Bay, on the north western coast of the Caribbean island
of Jamaica, is a remarkable town. Although not what you would call huge – it
has a regular population of just 120,000 – it is Jamaica’s second city. It has
grown on the back of one industry: tourism. Of course, this wasn’t always the
case. For many years the region’s economy, and, in fact, that of the whole
island, was driven by sugar cane, which was grown and processed into sugar here
before being shipped to Europe and North America for sale. These days few of
the old plantations are still working, though a couple, Rose Hall and Tryall,
have been converted into award-winning golf courses for vacationers who wish to
relax by playing around great courses in great weather.
The waterfront of Montego Bay itself – that is, the geographical
feature rather than the town – is dotted with hotels and resorts. One of the
most successful and popular of these is the Montego Bay Royal Decameron Beach
Resort. This resort falls into Apple Vacations ‘Value Plus’ category, although
to visit it you would think that the Royal Decameron was a more upmarket kind
of establishment than this classification suggests.
Vacationers certainly get value for their money. The resort is close to the
center of Montego Bay and only a short distance from the airport. It’s also
very close to the above-mentioned golf courses, as well as the Ironshore
course. The Royal Decameron is very proud of the level of service it offers –
the resort’s management are always keen to stress the quality of the resort’s
service and its resources – including its own stretch of private beach. A
certain amount of peace and quiet is guaranteed by the absence from the resort
of small children – if you want to take your kids, they need to be twelve years
of age or older.
Montego Bay itself presents a huge range of eating options, but if you want to
dine well you don’t have to stray too far from the Royal Decameron. The main
restaurant of the resort serves buffet-style food all day, alternating between
breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. A bar and grill on the resort’s own private
beach serves light lunches and late-night snacks, and a full a la carte evening
dinner menu is available at the Wok, the resort’s own oriental-themed
restaurant. As the Royal Decameron operates an all-inclusive policy nearly
everything you eat and drink will be included in the up-front price of your
vacation – though it’s worth checking with your provider before you go exactly
what services attract surcharges.
A wide variety of activities are available at the resort, many of them
water-based. If you’ve ever seen kayakers playing around on white water and
felt like having a go yourself, the Royal Decameron is a great place to try
your arm at paddling. The white water in question isn’t a river – it’s the surf
on the beach just yards from your room! Kayak surfing is great fun, and can be
learned much quicker than the complex art of classic surfing, which requires
considerable practice to perfect. The watersports activities schedule also
features opportunities to try out windsurfing, snorkeling, sunfish sailing,
paddle boats, water trikes and Scuba diving lessons in the pool. If you’d
prefer to keep your feet dry, you can play tennis in the nearby courts or put
your name down for a game of shuffleboard, volleyball, basketball, or even a
session of aerobics in the resort’s fully-equipped fitness center. If you need
to attend to vital business while everyone else is having fun, the resort also
offers broadband internet access.
It’s also worth getting out and exploring Montego Bay itself.
The town is very popular with duty free shoppers, as the journey to this side
of Jamaica makes for a reasonably short hop from more southerly states of the
If you want to get away from town for a day you could sign up
for a Hilton High Day Tour. This local company offers trips into the interior
of the island country to find out more about the local culture and way of life.
The tour has been running since 1983, and represents excellent value for money.
For US$64 per person (2005 prices) you get all transport, two meals (breakfast
and a traditional roast pig lunch) plus visits to local villages. All the
destinations on the itinerary are within the Hilton private estate, so there
should be no problems with security.
Montego Bay is a classic vacation destination for US tourists –
and if you visit the place,
you’ll soon see why it has earned this status. It must be very close to being
the vacation capital of the Caribbean.