Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Yeah Mun: Riu Ocho Rios

So, the big question:  was the honeymoon worth the awful trip there and back?  Short answer:  yes.

Long answer is a bit more complicated.

OK, so we know from my last post that when we finally--finally--arrived at our resort, I was beyond exhausted, I was more tired than I have ever been in my life.  Naturally, I wasn't in the greatest mood.

So when we trekked up to our room to find it dark and rather gloomy, I was not inclined to forgive.  The blankets were super thin which I guess makes some sense in Jamaica, but they were not very comfortable.  The beds themselves were worse.  They were super hard and not at all inviting even in my nearly comatose state.  The colors in the room can only properly be described as "blech," and even with the windows completely open, the room was dark.

I was not happy.  We seriously considered switching to a much more pleasant-looking suite even though it was an extra $150 per night. We probably would have gone for it if the suite beds had been softer.

Granted, I was not in an easy-to-please mood when we first laid eyes on the room, and Daniel didn't mind it nearly as much as I did, but the decor seriously put a damper on the trip for me.

 The only thing I liked about our room's interior was the differently shaped towels they would leave us each day.
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Fortunately, the rest of the resort was far more pleasing.

Riu Ocho Rios

We stayed at the Riu Ocho Rios, a large resort in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and it was basically what it promised to be.

The view was the best thing about our room.
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We had a view of their wedding gazebo.  We actually saw a wedding there.
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 Couldn't resist a new wrap.
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Being a lover of all things water-related, the ocean access and pools were a big selling point for me, and I was not disappointed.  Though not huge and annoyingly roped off to a shallow area because of the reef, the beach was long, warm, and inviting with lots of trees, chairs, and tropical drinks.  There were only a few people there trying to sell things to you, and it became clear to us quickly that they were not supposed to be there, making them easier to avoid.  The water itself was a fantastic temperature though cloudier than I expected.  All in all, certainly satisfactory.

The pools were better.  Normally, I ditch the pools for the beach when it's right there and the same temperature, but these pools did not want to be ignored.  They were large with fountains, waterfalls, lounge chairs (in the pool!), and the crown jewels:  at least one swim-up bar in each pool.  Heavenly.  I cannot express how pleasant it is to swim up to the bar, grab a Jamaican Smile, and then sidle over to a bubble-filled booth to sip it.  I'd say we spent at least 70% of our time at the resort in the pool.

 Pool Bar

Riu is an all-inclusive resort, so we did not have to pay for food or drinks at all while we were there.  I cannot express how gloriously freeing it is not to have to worry about the prices of these essentials (yes, alcohol is essential on your honeymoon).  We ate and drank whatever we wanted and did not have to worry about it.  I left mounds of food on my plate everyday uneaten, and I do feel a little bad about that, but it was my honeymoon, damn it, and I'm not going to apologize for it.  The free drinks were the best part.  Not only did we not have to finish them, but we could try all sorts of things and not have to feel cheated if they tasted bad or if we decided halfway through that we didn't feel like a drink after all.

This is how we discovered rum cream.  Rum cream is an amazing and wonderful substance that I have only seen in Jamaica, and I expect never to find its equal.  It's like Bailey's if Bailey's was made with rum instead of whiskey.  For low alcohol, high sugar drinks fan like me, it was perfect.  My drink of choice during the trip was the Jamaican Smile which is essentially a slushy with rum cream.  It.  Was.  Awesome.  (Btw, thanks Laura for recommending it!)

From reviews, we knew not to expect much from the food, and it was pretty much what we expected.  I definitely had a tough time finding things to eat the first few days because my stomach was all wacked out from the time change, stress, and lack of food I had had in the weeks leading up to the wedding.  I really wanted easy to digest foods at that point like pasta, but there wasn't much like that.  I definitely would not recommend Riu Ocho Rios to vegetarians because you will starve.  The meat was definitely the most edible food.  Anyway, as my stomach returned to normal, I found things I liked.  The jerk chicken was by far the best dish available.  And there were so many things to try that even with the food being less-than-stellar, I gained five pounds by the time we went home.

Now, that was for the buffet-style restaurants.  Each guest was allowed to visit each of the "real" restaurants once during the week, and their quality was vastly superior to the ones open to everyone.  Those restaurants looked classier, had dress codes, used actual servers, and had genuinely good meals.  The steak was good enough that I ate my entire massive portion unassisted even after gorging on rum cream and sweets all day.  I wish we had been able to go to these restaurants for a couple more meals because they made us feel like we were really on our honeymoon.

Overall, we had a pleasant experience there.  You could tell the resort was on the cheaper side, and I don't think I'd go back, but for the amount we had to spend at the time, it served well enough.  It was certainly worth the less than $200 a night that we paid.

From the entrance hall.
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