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In February my husband and I headed to Jamaica to help some friends celebrate their wedding anniversary without our little one. As I explained here, Jamaica was never really at the top of our “must visit” list, but we always love to travel with friends when possible, so we hoped for the best and went forward with planning a trip to Jamaica. We would have two nights in Negril where our friends were staying, and then two nights at the new Hyatt all-inclusive in Montego Bay.
Our drive to Negril was a little scary, but we arrived safely and headed to check into the Catcha Falling Star resort on the Negril Cliffs. Our friends have stayed here many times before, so they planned 100% of this part of the trip, which I’ll admit is a little hard for my sorta-control-freak-travel-planning-brain. This means when we checked in I really didn’t know what to expect, what room type we were in, or much of anything. I was trying to just “go with the flow, Mon”, but as you may have gathered from reading this site long enough, that isn’t really a great personality strength of mine. Still, I was trying really hard. Really.
It turns out we were booked into the Aries one-bedroom upstairs suite. There are a little over a dozen different configurations of rooms, suites, and cottages on the property and this one wasn’t an individual cottage the way some are, but it certainly seemed spacious enough for the two of us on a short stay. A highlight of the room has to be the outdoor patio that overlooks the Caribbean. It is an especially nice view at sunset!
The suite had a small kitchen that we didn’t really use on this trip, a living room, one bathroom, and the bedroom with a queen bed. The only part of the suite that was really air-conditioned was the bedroom, so it did get pretty warm even in February in the rest of the suite. I’m a Texas girl so I know all about heat and humidity outside, but usually I am able to escape that by heading inside to good air conditioning. This was really grumpy pregnant lady strike 1, but I totally get that in many parts of the world luxuries like central air conditioning are just non-existent.
Other than the A/C issue the suite itself was totally fine other than perhaps the bathroom. It wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t the cleanest facility I’ve ever used, and there were no toiletries at all other than a nondescript bar of soap. I usually bring my own so that is a non-issue, but of course this was the one time that I somehow had forgotten my main toiletry bag at home so I made do with the prison grade bar soap for our short visit. My hair looked super cute by the end of this part of the trip!
Of course you probably don’t go to Jamaica to hang out in your room, so we quickly headed out to see the rest of the property and find our friends. The property itself is not large, but it does have lots of beautiful mature flowers and plants to make it feel a little magical as you can’t see very much beyond the curve in front of you.
There is an on-site restaurant called Ivan’s that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner at pretty reasonable prices for a resort. The prices are high compared to spots locals go to away from the resorts, but they weren’t bad by vacation standards. The quality of the food was neither great nor terrible, it was just fine.
The service varied from being very prompt and attentive to taking 2.5 hours for a full meal to be prepared and delivered. This was a theme in Jamaica at large. Sometimes service was great, sometimes it dragged on and on. Again, just go with the flow…
One thing the resort certainly had going for it was some stand-out employees who remembered return guests year after year. In fact, it seemed that many of the guests here do return year after year and it is pretty much “their spot”.
Since Catcha Falling Star is located on the cliffs, it is no surprise that the views of and from the cliffs were top notch. Be aware that there is no beach here, and that to get in the water you either jump from the cliffs or climb down a slippery metal ladder into the water. This can be a bit tricky at times when the waves are pretty high, which did happen on multiple occasions during our short trip. This is absolutely not a place for kids or weak swimmers. In fact, the resort does not allow children under the age of 15 at all, which is probably a very wise decision.
There is a very small swimming pool at the resort, but it didn’t look super appealing to me, and I didn’t see too many people in the pool during our stay.
From what I have gathered, most people seem to go to Jamaica to get sun, drink beer, and/or smoke weed. All of those things certainly were happening at this resort, but one thing that was nice for large volume beer drinkers is that it was walking distance to a store that would sell you cases you could then put in the fridge in your room. This was a very accepted behavior at the resort, and it certainly would help to keep costs down on a longer stay. Just don’t get run over on the road going to or from the store as there are no sidewalks…
Being neither a big drinker/smoker and pregnant meant that much of the allure of Jamaica was sort of lost on me from the beginning. You can certainly not be big into those activities and still have a good time in Jamaica, but just be aware that both very prevalent in many spots. If you are also pregnant and therefore unable to do more of the adventurous outdoor offerings that Jamaica has you will be at a double disadvantage.
Still, there were some things I really liked about Catcha Falling Star. First, of course the view and the clear blue water were outstanding, and getting sun in February was a welcome change of pace from the rainy winter back home.
Had I not been pregnant, jumping off some of the smaller cliffs would have probably been a bunch of fun, too! Since I normally stay at larger chain hotels, it was nice to experience a small non-chain property as a good change of pace, but that probably had as many drawbacks as it did positives. Still, it really was a charming place that certainly had a strong following of repeat customers. I imagine this view has something to do with why people would want to come back year after year.
We had dinner one night at the nearby Tensing Pen Resort and the food there was the best that we had in Negril, so I highly recommend it. The service was also very good, and the location itself felt very welcoming and almost Hawaiian to me. It was too dark to get a great feel for the property, but if I were to return to Negril I would certainly be exploring the lodging options here a bit more.
Catcha Falling Star is also not far from Xtabi where we had some lunch overlooking the water and looked around their caves. This was a nice way to spend a couple of hours, and their virgin punch was really good! Our friends can vouch for the adult version of the punch, too!
From there you are not far from Seven Mile Beach, which indeed has white sand and calm, clear water. However, it also has tons and tons of folks selling anything and everything every few feet. It was not at all a relaxing place from my point of view, but otherwise it was a nice beach if you can tune out some of the other activities going on.
As you may have gathered, I had mixed feelings on Negril. I think that it has some very nice things to offer, but the timing for our trip with my husband being between jobs at the time, and me being pregnant made it tough to fully enjoy everything it had to offer. I’ve become a bit spoiled with accommodations, so I wasn’t 100% comfortable with where we stayed, especially with the heat issues from limited air conditioning. It wasn’t a bad place at all, it just wasn’t exactly the perfect fit for me at that time. I did very much enjoy the views from the cliffs in Negril, some of the food was very enjoyable, the friendliness of many of the people was great, and of course the time with our own friends was the best part of all.
Since above all else I aim to keep this site real and honest, I have to admit that on the third day when it was time to load back up for the trip to the Hyatt in Montego Bay I was ready to go. I was sad our time with our friends was up, but I was ready to see what the newly opened Hyatt had to offer…