An Unforgettable Jamaican Countrystyle Vacation
by Pascal Charpentier
(Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada)
Astil Gage and Diana dancing in Beeston Spring
In December 2010, my wife and I decided to plan a trip to Jamaica.
As we had already been there, in an all-inclusive resort, and having done a day trip on the south coast to the YS Falls and Appleton, we were motivated to return to Jamaica to experience more of the diversity of Jamaica.
Therefore, we decided to contact Diana McIntyre-Pike, head of the Countrystyle Tourism Company, to plan a different kind of visit.
Rapidly, she responded through email and designed an itinerary which fitted our interest and budget. So it is with enthusiasm we bought our plane tickets and flew to Montego Bay.
Immediately upon our arrival at the Montego Bay airport, we were greeted by Diana McIntyre-Pike who, throughout our stay in Jamaica, proved to be a friendly, considerate and efficient hostess.
After driving us to our hotel in Montego Bay, the Wexford, she invited us to a presentation on tourism held on the premises of the hotel.
We had the opportunity to hear students sing traditional songs.
Afterwards we had time to dine and appreciate the Montego Bay hip strip.
The following day, on our way to Treasure Beach, Mrs. McIntyre-Pike arranged for a visit of the charming village of Beeston Spring Village in Westmoreland.
There we met Mr Astil Gage, the Village Co-ordinator, who guided us, and took us to visit a private home owned by Mr.Rolf Brown, a noted architect who maintains an extraordinary garden and farm.
We were also treated to a private concert with the Mighty Beestons Mento Band and learnt how to dance the mento way with the community and sampled some local specialties.
We then proceeded to Treasure Beach, with a few stops at local kiosks, the main one being Billy?s Grassy Park in Middle Quarters where we had lunch.
And at Marcia?s fruit stop we discovered new varieties of fruit, of which Jamaica seems to have an inexhaustible supply.
The following two days at Treasure Beach were very relaxing at the Sunset Resort with Kory South.
We had ample opportunity to appreciate deserted beaches, tranquil countryside and Jack Sprat Beach for a delicious lunch
We then departed from Treasure Beach and went to Mandeville, where we were greeted personally by Diana?s elderly mother at her home, before checking in at the Mandeville Hotel, which we enjoyed.
Mandeville is an animated and pretty town, which we enjoyed discovering.
Diana took us to a coffee factory where we bought Blue Mountain coffee at a reasonable price.
We were told that we could not have a tour that day, and were disappointed, but Diana arranged a special tour on our behalf and we were treated to a tour of the roasting plant.
On the following day, Diana expertly drove us to Kingston and into the heart of this city,where we visited Devon House and the magnificient Emancipation Park.
It is there that we were picked up by Mick, a surehanded driver who took us to Michael Fox!s Mount Edge Guest house where we spent two unforgettable days.
Mr. Fox and his personnel are knowledgeable, efficient and welcoming. I asked Mr. Fox to arrange for a visit of the Blue Mountain Peak on the following day, and after a few minutes he had already found a guide to take us there - an unforgettable experience!
On our last day of traveling along the north coast, we were treated to a memorable lunch in a secluded 17th century house in Runaway Bay compliments by Jason Henzell ? another unforgettable experience!
Diana drove us back to Montego Bay to stay at The Wexford which is easily accessible to the Hip Strip.
We had dinner at Margaritaville and experienced a live band at Coral Cliff Hotel.
We visited Doctor!s Cave beach on the day of departure before heading back home.
Throughout our trip, Diana McIntyre-Pike personally co-ordinated every detail of our itinerary and we appreciated her professionalism, attention to detail, and the trouble she took to make us feel welcome at every stop.
We were pleased with her choice of hotels - the Wexford, in Montego Bay, the Sunset Resort and Villas in Treasure Beach, the Mandeville Hotel, and the Mount Edge Guesthouse in Newcastle.
Each of these establishments offered comfortable accommodation and a courteous and diligent service.
We would like also to stress that at no time on this trip did we feel harassed or unsafe.
On the contrary, we found Jamaicans to be an interesting and welcoming people, and we look forward to another trip to this beautiful land.