Trip to Jamaica Dec 26/13 to Jan 2/14
Stayed at SAM SARA up on the cliffs. We had a superior room with A/C, ocean side, ground floor overlooking the hot tub. Pretty. Terrific view. Good snorkelling – bring your own gear. No peddlers. QUIET, maybe too quiet. Food ok, but don’t buy the all inclusive - the “buffet” consists of 5 choices. Facility is overall run down. Tiles missing in the pools, hot tub; lounges are OLD. Blowups in the pool are free to use. Bring your own beach towels and facecloths, otherwise you’ll pay $19 U.S. for a beach towel. Ask for or bring an old towel to use as floor mat in case of rain...you’ll want to wipe your feet (it rains everyday around 4pm). Bring your own hairdryer, soap and shampoo (they supply tiny soaps only) and a small flashlight...you’ll need it as lighting is dim or non-existent at night. They DO supply toilet paper, LOL. Beds are firm – we slept very well. Bring your own snacks to this resort – they don’t have anything available to buy (think gummys, chips, popcorn, licorice, nuts – you’ll be glad you did). Easy to get a cabana bed...just show up before the 10:15 bus from sister club Legends. Avoid Sam Sara for breakfast, lunch – over priced and very limited buffet offerings - can order from menu but wait is too long (even when it’s quiet). Have dinner there once, then go elsewhere, anywhere. Avoid their pizza, crust sucks. Do have dinner there on the night they do Jamaican buffet – that is a good way to try the jerk chicken, callalloo and it was good. Don’t pay for wifi in your room ($24 for one day or $36 for the week) – it’s free to use by the bar.
Best breakfast was across the street to the left of the hotel at PRESSA ONE LOVE restaurant – Pressa makes a terrific Jamaican breakfast – I LOVED the sautéed callaloo/saltfish, my husband preferred the ackee/saltfish. LOVED his fried dumplings!!! LOVED the coco bread! Depending on what he has on hand, Pressa could give you toast instead of coco bread, but coco bread is divine. Also, Pressa gives you a small plate of tropical fruit after your breakfast and Blue Mountain coffee is served with condensed milk (instant sweetener!). Make sure you go just after 9am – a tableful of cab drivers arrive for breakfast by 9:30 and all orders are suspended until these working locals are served, even if you were there ahead of them :(.
We also went to PABLO'S, across the street (on the left side of the convenience store). Went for the Jamaican breakfast, but it was not as enjoyable as Pressa’s...Pablo’s breakfast is a bland exercise in starches: yams, sweet potato, plantain and boiled dumpling, all served with the callaloo/saltfish and no fresh fruit. We did not enjoy it at all and didn’t go back. However, we were pleasantly surprised by CIAO JAMAICA Italian Restaurant across the road! Excellent jerk pizza! Excellent al dente jerk pastas and sauces! AMAZING homemade key lime pie (I am not a fan of key lime, but this is VERY good – we went back 3 times for the pie LOL). Went to CHICKEN LAVISH to try their self-proclaimed “world famous” conch soup – this had to be the most disappointing meal of the trip. My soup had 3 tiny pieces of conch in it and was nothing special at all... hubby had a few more larger pieces... we would not go back. Take a cab – a scary walk at night, NO sidewalks and drivers race by 24-7....Celebrated New Year’s with dinner at CHARELA – seafood crepe (ok); snapper with coconut sauce (yaaawn) but the wines were divine, the company great and the disco DJ made for lots of dancing by everyone – Happy New Year!!
Be sure to go to RICK'S CAFE, a 5 minute cab ride from Sam Sara – our friends rented a cabana for $75 with bottle service – DO THIS!! Was quiet when we arrived around 1 pm but at 3pm all the party boats start to arrive with guests that want to jump off the cliffs and the bar is suddenly packed – you will be grateful to be in your private cabana! Our friends ordered a bottle of vodka, a bottle of cranberry, a bottle of orange juice and a bucket of ice...you’re all set. If the new American owners aren’t in town, you can rent their cabana overlooking the jumpers – do this!! And if you’re brave enough, JUMP from the 35 ft cliff! Smaller cliffs available too. Our foodie son had Rick’s jerk hamburger, said it was juicy and AWESOME. Locals say that Dennis Brown is better than Bob Marley – have a listen, buy a CD.... If you’re a fan of GREAT WEST for their jerk chicken, you’ll be disappointed – they’ve gotten caught up in their reputation for great jerk and are now slapping the chicken on the fire with a mere dip in jerk sauce – doesn’t seem to be marinated anymore – and the recipe has been changed!! WHY?! The sauce is not the same, the resulting chicken is not the same...the girl says it IS the same but calling a snake a rose just doesn’t make it so. Another customer leaned over conspirationally to say he’s been coming to Great West for 10 years and it was definitely different, as of last year’s trip...hmmmph! At least the Red Stripe was cold, mon! And the coco bread WAS divine! Then we scootched across the street to MARGARITAVILLE to gain public access to the beach...ended up in a line of people entering from a busload and were banded and given free rum punches...ya mon! Walked next door to CRYSTAL WATERS resort to catch up with friends – this is a terrific, small, cottage style resort that comes with a maid/cook to prepare your meals...how awesome is that? Onto 7 Mile Beach where we were greeted with open arms by the many vendors selling their varied and nefarious wares...you won’t get this at Sam Sara resort! But a little goes a long way, you get tired of the relentless badgering – a polite “No Mon” or “I’m good Mon” or “Respect, Mon” will go a long way (or at least free you up for the next vendor LOL). Cheapest beer on the beach is at COUNTRY COUNTRY, a few buildings down from Crystal Waters. Most expensive drinks are at Margaritaville ... Best jerk chicken, hands down, bar none, was back up on the cliffs at 3 DIVES... OMG – THIS was the jerk chicken we had been searching for! Freakin’ hot, the chicken was lovingly marinated and had heat through and through...they provided a bottle of jerk sauce to splash your chicken with if you wanted more heat...DELICIOUS! SPICY! MOIST!! This is why we came to Jamaica! And the view was spectacular as well – if you love serious jerk, you can’t go wrong with a visit to 3 Dives.... Can’t forget to tell you about LEGENDS, the sister resort to Sam Sara – you have the option to take the free shuttle at 10am down to Legends (returns at 4pm or take a cab back). Legends beach is the size of a postage stamp and sunworshippers are packed like sardines on lounges if you can find one...but hey, you’re in Jamaica, mon! Tried to get a Pina Colada at the bar, but apparently they only have one blender and it was being used in the kitchen over lunch...mon, spring for a second blender!! Our afternoon was only spoiled by a crazy local, who picked our beachfront to rant and rave – kept dragging on a spiff he kept in his pocket, and chomping on brownies. The poor resort security guard finally had to call police...but our haranguer disappeared, only to reappear after the police left and continue his rant...we went for a walk to get away. Were happy to get up to the peace and quiet of Sam Sara.
Our final evening - had dinner at THE SPA RETREAT, a boutique hotel recently opened by Canadians – they will pick you up or else take a cab over - it’s 45 seconds by cab from Sam Sara (we would never walk at night – no sidewalks remember – just not a good idea). Beautiful place, beautiful people...our meal was completely average and our company’s pasta dishes had to be sent back (wrong sauce) only to arrive back underdone (we’re not talking al dente); I had a trio of Jamaican favs – oxtail (very good), jerk chicken (boneless chicken in a sauce...dryyyy) and something else that slips my mind (but doesn’t stand out) and lots of callaloo (so-so). Wine was delicious, company was great, and they didn’t charge for the pasta disasters so that was decent of them. I would try it again, we think they just had an off night. Dress up. I’d like to try their resort spa sometime – they even recreated a beach on a section of cliff! Very smart.
So that’s it, our trip to Jamaica. FINAL ADVICE – please tip your maid. She is about the only one that genuinely smiled at us at Sam Sara – well except for Peter, the concierge...tip him too! He works hard to keep you safe crossing that road. And if you are able to take advantage of it, for GOSH SAKES, pay the extra fee for CLUB MOBAY at the airport! All inclusive drinks and snacks, and a comfortable place to wait while waiting for your flight...really comes in handy if your flight is delayed, too! Finally, a shout out to GRANVILLE BROWN, our cabbie from SWEET JAMAICA TOURS – he picked us up and got us everywhere safely and on time; was polite, courteous and knowledgeable. Beautiful, clean vehicle, professional driver, will definitely book him again. Look, I even have his number for you to reserve: toll free 1.855.872.2135, his cell is: 876.860.2135 or email@example.com. And I have CIAO JAMAICA's card too: oops, they didn’t put an address or number on it? Oh well, you know where to find it...in Jamaica mon!!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Unique oceanfront boutique hotel with 50 rooms catering to international clientele for over thirty years. Spectacular sea view and spacious sun deck with easy sea access for swimming and snorkeling. Amenities include sea view restaurant and bar, swimming pool, splash pool, tennis court, seaside massage center, billiards and table tennis, tennis court, gift shop, and free WiFi throughout hotel. Air-conditioned rooms range from traditional hotel rooms to tropical cottages and ocean front pillar huts (non a.c.). Daily maid service and free shuttle to sister hotel on the beach, Legends Beach Resort where guests enjoy exchange privileges. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Samsara Cliffs Hotel Negril
- Samsara Hotel Jamaica
- Samsara Cliffs Negril
- Samsara Cliff Resort