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Royal Decameron

Montego Bay, Jamaica

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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.

Royal Decameron: View of the Ocean 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 US.

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.

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