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19 Reasons to Love Jamaica
Jamaica is a Caribbean Island steeped in history, culture and beauty that welcomes just over 4 million visitors each year. With the national motto of “Out of Many, One People” and unofficial motto of “One Love” you can expect to be welcomed warmly.
And what is there not to love? Endless white‐sand beaches, covered by lush foliage and crisscrossed by streaming rivers and cascading waterfalls. Capturing the essence of this enchanted paradise, there are so many all-inclusive resorts and vacation experiences in Jamaica. Come experience the warm hospitality and natural beauty this country is known for. Featuring some of the world’s best beaches, such as Negril’s Seven-Mile Beach, amazing scuba dive sites, and exciting experiences including adventure tours, championship golf and world-class dining, is it any wonder that Jamaica was ranked in 2019, the #1 Caribbean Destination and the #14 Best Destination In The World by Tripadvisor?
19 Reasons to Love Jamaica
Rastafari Did you know that Rastas live a Rastafari lifestyle based on so much more than just wearing dreadlocks and smoking ganja? Rastafari actually began as a political and religious movement in the 1930s by descendants of African slaves that were converted to Christianity but combines Protestant Christianity with pan-African political consciousness and mysticism. Besides their dreadlocks, you may notice that their primary wardrobe is made up of the colors red, green, gold, and black which are the colors of their flag. They also live a close-to-nature life with a vegetarian diet.
Even though Jamaica is synonymous with Rastafari because of Bob Marley, there is only about one percent of the Jamaican population that actually identify as Rastafari.
Red Stripe An iconic symbol of Jamaica, Red Stripe beer was created and first brewed in 1928. But the version you can find now when vacationing in Jamaica was formulated in 1938.
I love when a favorite product is combined with a good cause. The Desnoes and Geddes Foundation, named for Red Stripe’s inventors, runs a program called Learning for Life Programme which helps to teach hospitality, retail, entrepreneurship, and bartending.
Carnival Costume Soca music, parades, and costumes! Carnival in Jamaica is an experience like none other. This celebration happens across the country from Kingston to Ocho Rios. Be sure to plan in advance to get tickets to the best fetes also known as parties.
Carnivals began as celebrations among enslaved Africans as a way to have their own parties while their European settler owners hosted glamourous balls. They often included rituals and dances as well as elaborate costumes. The Carnival of Jamaica became an official celebration across the country in 1990 by Jamaican musician Byron Lee.
Montego Bay Resort From the ideal honeymoon with an overwater bungalow to a celebratory anniversary trip, Jamaica is the perfect getaway for romance.
Think differently about romance and luxury. Why not surprise your partner with a private bungalow over the Caribbean Sea? Enjoy your own hammock for relaxing and great views of the marine life with glass bottom floors as you take your luxurious vacation to the next level.
Heart Montego Bay Sign Montego Bay is a favorite Caribbean destination for more than 4 million passengers each year. And now you can commemorate your visit with a picture of the “I love Montego Bay!” sign. One of my favorite places in the Caribbean. I Love Montego Bay!
Bamboo Raft See Jamaica from a different perspective as you board a 30-foot bamboo raft with a local guide that will tell you stories or sing you a song as you relax and float down the Martha Brae River.
Legend says that Martha Brae town and river got its name from a Taino witch that was tortured by Spanish settlers looking for a chest of gold. After she shared the location of it, she used her witchcraft to change the path of the river and sealed the entrance to the cave full of gold. While we may never know if there really is gold, you can be sure that you will get an entertaining story from your guide as you float down that same river on a bamboo raft.
Dunn’s River Falls Original Arawak settlers had a name for places like Dunn’s River Falls called Xayamaca which means land of rivers and springs. And Dunn’s River Falls lives up to that name with its 180 feet of beautiful cascading waters. I highly recommend you plan an excursion or day trip to see and climb the falls on your next Jamaican getaway.
For a unique adventure in Jamaica, consider a day trip to Dunn’s River Falls. You can join a tour group led by local guides that know the falls like the back of their hand. Work together to form a human chain and help each other climb the falls with fun stops in natural pools along the way.
Water and Palm Trees Did you know that Jamaica has more than 900 kilometers, or 560 miles, of coastline? From big beach resorts to small family-run properties, you are bound to find a vacation spot that will give you a chance to enjoy a stretch of that coastline and beach while you gaze out across the Caribbean Sea.
Imagine…you are in the perfect beach chair on Seven Mile Beach with a cool breeze blowing in off the Caribbean Sea and a cocktail in your hand. Do you smell the sea? Do you hear the waves?
Negril Cliff and Water Besides the perfect movie backdrop, the Negril Cliffs are something to behold as they tower 40 feet above the water. And they are a great spot to watch a magical sunset given their location on the west end of the island.
Negril may be known for its beaches, but it also is a favorite spot for the adventure of cliff diving. Enjoy watching locals soar over the edge of the cliffs into the water or the brave traveler having a go at the experience.
Surfer Did you know that you could learn to surf on your next Jamaican vacation? Gentle waves near Port Antonio make it a great place for beginners to take a lesson.
American surfer Laird Hamilton once said, “The biggest sin in the world would be if I lost my love for the ocean.”
Ocho Rios Green Bank and White Boat Ocho Rios is considered the more natural and tranquil option when considering where to vacation in Jamaica. Its highlights like Dunn’s River Falls and Mystic Mountain Rainforest are just a couple of the natural wonders that attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
Ocho Rios is assumed to mean eight rivers based on its Spanish settlers and is lovingly referred to by locals as Ochi. But did you know that there are actually only four rivers that run through the town: Dunn’s River, Cave River, Roaring River and Turtle River.
Blue Mountains The Blue Mountains of Jamaica are a must see for nature lovers. The flora and fauna are unmatched with its greater than 800 species of plants and more than 200 bird species. See how many you can spot on one of the many hiking trails.
While there are some great hiking trails, the more advanced hikers need to remember to bring their machete to work their way through some of the tougher trails.
Coffee Mug and Beans Is there such a thing as luxury coffee? Blue Mountain Coffee is some of the most sought-after beans in the world as they are still hand-picked, and hand inspected.
“May your coffee kick in before reality does.” – Anonymous
Treasure Beach Boats From colorful boats to colorful fish, Treasure Beach is an off-thebeaten-path area in Jamaica with a 200-year fishing village history. Its beautiful location has resisted big resort development but is becoming a must-visit destination.
Off the south coast of Jamaica lies Treasure Beach known for its fresh seafood. Visitors often wait anxiously for fishermen to return with the freshest catch of the day.
Drummer Drums were initially used by slaves as a way to communicate but have long since evolved to be a symbol of Rasta worship as well as an important part of reggae music.
The undeniable sound of the reggae one drop rhythm is one that can easily help get you into vacation mode as you relax on the beach.
Craft Market Take a stroll through one of Jamaica’s Craft Markets to find the best in local crafts, hand painted pieces or even fresh fruits and vegetables.
From Kingston Market on the waterfront to the Harbour Street Craft Market in Montego Bay, you can find all the best handmade souvenirs like dolls, fans, dresses and more.
Wedding Couple Noted as one of the most romantic places in the world, Jamaica is a top choice for destination weddings and honeymoons. Leave your worries behind as you make beautiful and romantic island memories.
Warm weather, beautiful beaches, and stunning waterfalls are just a few of the reasons why Jamaica is known as a top location for destination weddings.
Reggae Falls One of the best kept secrets of Jamaica is Reggae Falls located in St. Thomas Parish. Take a day trip from Kingston to enjoy the beautiful falls and warm spring pools.
Reggae Falls is known by the locals as Damhead and was created around 1920 to power a hydroelectricity station. It is a quiet retreat that is visited mostly by locals but welcoming to visitors alike.
Bob Marley Mural Bob Marley is often thought of as one of the fathers of reggae and was known to marry reggae beats with ska music.
Aside from his music, Bob Marley was well known for his efforts to fight for peace and justice. His efforts earned him the United Nations’ Peace Medal of the Third World.
Bobsled Model Jamaica gained notoriety in 1988 when its army recruited athletes and sent its first bobsled team to the Winter Olympics.
“Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme. Get on up, its bobsled time.” – Cool Runnings Movie
Get in touch with Lia Vincent
Lia Vincent is the founder and owner of Vincent Vacations, All Inclusive Weddings, Magical Vacations, TravelAgentPro, Vincent Cruises and Vincent Events.
Vincent Vacations is an award-winning travel agency established in 2013 that is based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. All Inclusive Weddings is an affiliate of Vincent Vacations and was established in 2019.
Lia has been recognized for her own work as a travel advisor since 2002 but has transitioned her focus to managing the brick and mortar location as well as a team of over 250 independent advisors across the country. She is passionate about marketing and enjoys planning incentive travel and events for her team. She hosts an annual awards gala for the top in sales as well as recognition travel for agents with over 1 million in annual sales on her independent team. While being a sales powerhouse is of course a motivation, the culture of her agency is one of the things she is most proud of. The team loves to travel together, attend events and be in each other’s corner.
Lia was recognized as a Trendsetter with TravelAge West in 2021 for her agency growth during the pandemic offering training classes to dive into the travel industry. She took it as a positive and let’s get ready for when travel is back. Lia is a regular guest travel speaker on Oklahoma NBC news, member of American Airlines Vacations Advisory Council, Delta Vacations Emerging Leaders, Hilton Advisory, Marival Advisory and La Coleccion’s Think Tank.
19 Reasons to Love Jamaica
Travel Agent Near Me
Lia Vincent is the founder and owner of Vincent Vacations, All Inclusive Weddings, Magical Vacations, TravelAgentPro, Vincent Cruises and Vincent Events. Vincent Vacations is an award-winning travel agency established in 2013 that is based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. All Inclusive Weddings is an affiliate of Vincent Vacations and was established in 2019. Lia has been recognized for her own work as a travel advisor since 2002 but has transitioned her focus to managing the brick and mortar location as well as a team of over 250 independent advisors across the country. She is passionate about... Read More >>>
An expert destination wedding travel agent near me with five star luxury travel packages with a luxury travel company, Vincent Vacations.
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Lia planned my destination wedding in May to El Dorado Royale and it was the most amazing experience! -Haley McCarthy
3 week custom trip to New Zealand, Australia and Fiji
Lia went above and beyond planning a 3 week custom trip to New Zealand, Australia and Fiji for us. She even let us drive her car to Dallas when our OKC flight got cancelled at the last minute. Thank you. -Candace Adolphson Haggard
Disney Cruise for our Group! Amazing!
We just got back from our Disney Cruise through Vincent Vacations and had a blast! Lia walked through the details with me and answered all my questions! She prepared us for what we could expect so we were delightfully prepared for fun things like Pirate Night and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. We had a blast!! Thanks Lia! -Justin and Erin Cornell
Vincent Vacations is the best travel agency you can find. Lia Vincent has been planning our vacations for over ten years. I can't tell you how many times she has gone the extra mile to help my husband and me. One time we were headed to Europe. All flights were cancelled. Lia got on the phone and when a flight on a different airline opened up she got us booked. Lia even checked in us to make sure we made it. In Europe she researched and researched to find us perfect accommodations and restaurants. She and her staff learn about your likes and plans the perfect vacation. I don't know when she sleeps. She plans the best vacation for each client. Her clients are like family. If you want a top notch travel agent and vacation call Vincent Vacations. I can't tell you how many times I have referred her to other people. Thank you Vincent Vacations! You truly are the best! -Debbie Straughn
Destination Wedding Puerto Vallarta
We had an amazing experience with our destination wedding trip to Puerto Vallarta. We especially loved the resort with its great views and terrific food/service. It was the best trip we have ever been on! -Cary & Tiffany Hawkins
50+ Group Destination Wedding!
Lia Vincent and team booked and coordinated booking and travel for 53 guests and my husband and I for our destination wedding November in Montego Bay Jamaica! They were amazing to work with and helped us pick the best all-inclusive resort that was perfect for our group! I don't know what we would do without them! -Leah Flynn-Smalley
I get this question a lot. There are a lot of great all inclusive resorts for families but what about the ones for older kids. You know the ones that are not just going to be entertained with a daycare room or a bucket and shovel in the sand. Almost all resorts tote the “we have kid’s club” but will your kids even be interested in going? My boys are well seasoned vacation testers. Here’s what I have seen be a HIT with them.
Beaches Turks & Caicos
This resort does have a great young kid program. It was also a favorite when they were little….even babies. BUT as older kids (and when I say older 2nd, 3rd and 5th grade) what they love has changed. The kid’s club is more like a day camp. They have “cool” camp counselors that have all sorts of activities with them all over the hotel. They don’t even feel like they are in “kid’s camp” which I have found to be almost a dirty word in my house. They don’t want to feel like they are just being ditched at a daycare for littles. They also schedule downtime at the club which is an open air spot with game tables and bean bag chairs and movies.
In addition to the kid’s club experience, the kids love the included watersports. From hobie cats (mini sailboats), paddleboards, aqua trikes and daily snorkel trips, it is truly like an ocean playground for this age. The water has a “like a swimming pool” feel and is generally very calm to be able to do these activities year round. If your family is into scuba there is also a young certification program for as young as 10 that your child can try scuba diving in one of the most beautiful reefs in the world.
Of course this hotel also has a waterpark. The waterpark I would say is not a thrill seekers waterpark like you will see at some of the mega resorts. There are a few tall slides and a great lazy river. There’s a Flowrider which as always was a hit with the boys. There’s a swim up mocktails bar for the kids. There is also a 50s style diner with the typical hamburgers, onion rings and milkshakes. There’s outside seating for those in dripping bathing suits. They do not serve alcohol at the waterpark.
Adjacent to the waterpark is a game lounge. I think I had a bad attitude before my boys got a little older. I was, “Why does there need to be video games? They have this amazing resort to explore.” BUT it was a welcome change to break up the day. It was also a great option when we had a rainy day and the day after a sunburn. I stand corrected. The kids loved getting to run in there for some game time and I loved the break.
My family loves the Italian Village Family Suites at this resort. They are surrounding the Italian Village pool which is centrally located and one of the more lively pools during the day. The suites are a king bed and day bed in the main bedroom with a kid’s bedroom with a triple bunk. If you have a large family you can even get these rooms to adjoin so you could have sleeping for up to 12 all together. There are also some amazing villas at this resort. They book up early for prime family time so we try to book villas at least 2 year in advance (yup! You read that right!)
The Grand at Moon Palace Cancun
I was skeptical of this one. It’s a MEGA resort. When I say mega – think of the largest resort you have ever stayed in and it’s bigger. It is part of the whole Moon Palace complex which guest at The Grand can use the entire complex but it’s not reciprocal. It is set up like it’s own hotel. You check in at The Grand. The Grand has it’s own restaurants, pools, beach club, kid’s club and more.
The Grand has the most impressive waterpark I’ve ever seen at an all inclusive resort. There is truly something for all ages from toddler area, kid splash, lazy river and slide and some big kid slides that start at age 12. There is pop up entertainment (there was a really funny interactive marionette guy that involved the kids), included food (grilling burgers and hot dogs) and open bar. They also have 2 Flowriders (surfing simulators) which my boys just wanted to ride over and over at no extra charge. The quality is just elevated from the food to the towels (no towel cards here!) and staff.
The Playroom was a huge highlight at The Grand. This is their 2 story “kid’s club” but it’s a whole different level than any other hotel. The top level is for kids 7 and under with toddler play houses, maze and more. The lower level has an arcade, ropes course (bring tennis shoes!), bumper cars and so much more. I felt like we were at a free mini Main Event. My kids were obsessed with this laser game that was something out of Mission Impossible that they had to army crawl and jump over laser to make it to the other side of the room. The Playroom is next to the waterpark so kid’s can go back and forth. They just have to dry off but they have this dryer that blows warm air. It was so funny but it worked!
Off the lobby there is also a game lounge called Wired which was a hit. I think a huge thing for this was that there’s no extra charge for all the games. As a parent I really appreciate the games just being all included. There was a variety of game tables, a snack bar and even PC gaming. The kids were in heaven popping around from one spot to the next.
You can guarantee adjoining rooms by booking a family suite. This is a room with a king connecting to a room with 2 full size beds. I wish they were queens but alas I guess I can’t have everything I want at this hotel. I hope hotel designers read this and never plan a room with full size beds.
We were impressed with the food, the service was great and I would say the only bummer is the beach.. This hotel is prone to bad sargassum or seaweed in the water. If you’re hard core beach people then this might not be your spot but the rest of the hotel made up for it in my opinion.
Hard Rock Hotel Punta Cana
I sing this hotel’s praises a lot in different scenarios but it really is a great family resort. There’s something for all ages. It is kind of like a big cruise ship on land. There’s a huge casino, amazing golf course, fun disco, shops and lots of restaurants.
The waterpark here is huge and so fun. The kid’s loved all the slides and the water park play area. It has 3 different areas with the big kid slides, waterpark, and then a more toddler area. It sits in the back of the hotel but you can easily ride the golf cart service right to the front door. There’s snack bar type food. There’s not bar service here when we came. I know it was in discussion. I guess we need to go back and check it out. There is no extra charge for the waterpark.
The kid’s club isn’t anything to write home about. It’s there but more like a daycare room thus why this blog is about best for kid’s over 8. This club is basically a “drop off for an hour or 2 for a trip to the spa. I wouldn’t plan for it to entertain kid’s much longer.
This resort was my boogie board loving boys dream. The resort sits on a huge stretch of beach with turquoise beautiful water and waves. They sold boogie boards in the gift shop and it was hours of fun. They have measured beaches by the ability to enjoy a boogie board so this one wins. Sometimes the waves were a little crazy for mom though.
There are a lot of pools all spread down the beach so the pool hopping ability is impressive. There is live entertainment and DJs by the main pool. The snack bar by the main pool is quick and everything they like. Another super fun option is you can rent a golf cart here. There is almost nothing my kids love more than riding in a golf cart. You do need to pay a cash deposit so make sure to bring extra cash if you plan to rent a golf cart for some or all of your stay.
Favorite room? There are a lot of suites at this resort that work for families. Rooms have undergone renovations since Covid which has been a welcome update. One room category that I am obsessed with has 2 King size beds and a sleeper sofa! What?! It works so great for families of 5 like mine and you aren’t paying the higher prices for a big suite.
I think there are a lot of all inclusives families would enjoy. I think I said, “Well their childhood sure is epic!” multiple times while staying at these resorts. We would love to help you plan your next family vacation!
This is a common question we get from clients. Keep in mind Spring Break is wide spread. We were in Punta Cana March 7 – 10 which was Spring Break for University of Georgia, amongst other Universities across the country. I mention University of Georgia because word on the street was, there was a group of over 600 at the hotel for the week.
Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly.
The resort is huge. There’s so much to do from the expected beach and variety of pool selection to also the largest casino in the Dominican Republic, activities like VR, laser tag, bowling, arcade, and more. There’s also a ton of onsite shopping from tourist trinkets to trendy beachwear. I loved that there’s so much to do. The Spring Breakers were not bored. Even at night there was a huge outdoor disco set up with either a DJ mixing music at night or a live band and more. One night in the Moon Lounge they even held a Silent Disco where each guest wore headphones and chose their one genre of music. So fun. It’s really impressive how Hard Rock spends the money to keep everyone entertained. The casino has a ton of slot machines and table games. There were a lot of Blackjack tables were are my favorite and the tables start at $15 minimum. Something I want to note is the casino is available for outside guests to come in and gamble. Drinks are not included unless you are playing and there’s a champagne bar and restaurant that is not part of the all inclusive plan.
[video width='300' mp4='https://blog.vincentvacations.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/119561597_301295048594802_4496958459543366550_n.mp4'][/video]There are 12 pools. You could pick what style you want from extreme Spring Break party pool or a quiet adults only pool in the gardens called Eden or if you are traveling with kids you can venture down to the kid’s pool with some smaller slides and even a lazy river complete with tubes.
One tip I have - Spend the money on a cabana. I rented one for our pool day. It was $100 and came with a dedicated waitstaff to makes sure we were taken care of with drinks. She brought us a cooler of ice filled with Pepsis and bottled water. She took drink orders and we didn’t have to wait in the long line at the bar. You can reserve this upon arrival in the lobby. We loved seeing Ramon who is the star pool waiter at the main pool. He’s so talented bringing you drinks he can balance on his head while riding a bicycle. I told him I saw him on TikTok and he smiled and gave me a big hug. The main pool is where you are going to find the DJ mixing music, live dancers in the afternoon and a great snack bar. If you prefer quiet – I would recommend Eden pool. If you prefer something more in the middle then just do one of the pools next to the main. This is a great thing about Hard Rock Hotel Punta Cana. You can pick your mood each day.
Since I also take pride in being a “tell it like it is” travel advisor I also want to tell you the not so great parts. It’s crowded. At night if you enjoy a laid back bar for cocktails, don’t go during Spring Break. I know clients that this would be the end of the world to not be able to do. The young adult crowd really took over every bar. It was 4 and 5 people deep at every single one especially when it got to be later than 10PM. I kept saying it reminded me of Vegas. If you were out late, some of the bars even ran out of alcohol. I’ve never experienced this at a resort before. I was surprised. I kind of wonder if it was a true run out or a que to go to bed. Ha!
Another issue when you travel during peak times, like Spring Break, is it was also harder to get dinner reservations. You had to make a reservation even at the buffet for dinner time if you didn’t want to have to wait. There’s a place in the lobby that does all the reservations for the restaurants. Other feedback I had was it did also get kind of loud in the hallways at night. I can sleep through a marching band so it didn’t bother me one bit. I know some are light sleepers. I love to use the box fan YouTube to play if I need some white noise which would work just fine there with included free wifi. We also did see quite the scene with some drunk young adults but it wasn’t more than I would expect with the age occupancy like that. I have always seen how Hard Rock takes young people’s safety seriously. They will not hesitate to cut someone off. When you check in they also only issue the adult bracelets to over 18 years of age with a valid Passport.
To turn this around, let’s talk more about the food. We at the Mexican restaurant “Los Gallos” for dinner the first night. I had the cactus salad and it was so good. I ordered it to try something new which is the glory of staying at an all inclusive. It was pickled cactus and a huge slice of fresh avocado. I really enjoyed it. We also had some great flautas and fresh churros for dessert. The second night we ate at the steakhouse Torro. This is one of the most popular restaurants. I do live in Oklahoma so I don’t go into this like I’m expecting a prime steak. I’m all about setting expectations correctly. The steaks are thinner but they had good flavor. The atmosphere was great and the service was really good.
I will say the last night we ended up at “The Market” which is the buffet. I would say calling it “the buffet” doesn’t do it justice. It’s more like cooking stations around the world. I said “I feel like I’m at the Wynn in Las Vegas” because the décor is so cool. I ate a teriyaki chicken rice bowl and it was so yummy. I wish I had it earlier in the trip so I could have had it twice. I have been to this hotel multiple times and the food was just so/so. They have stepped up their game. Every meal I had I really enjoyed. I even had room service for breakfast on the last morning. It arrived within 30 minutes and the eggs were cooked correctly (I like over easy eggs) and everything was hot and fresh.
I think a highlight for me as a travel agent was seeing the room renovations they are completed at the hotel. I was in a Caribbean suite which is the back half of the hotel. I prefer the Caribbean Suite side as opposed to being in a Caribbean Sand in the front part of the hotel by the beach. A lot of people are always confused when I say this because typical hotel mode would be trying to get as close to the ocean as possible BUT there’s so much off the main lobby. I would rather walk to the pool/beach in my flip flops during the day and have a easy walk to the casino/restaurants when I’m dressed up at night. If you really don’t like to walk did you know they also rent golf carts? It’s a fun option and you can do it day by day that you know you’re going to use it. Anyway! The hotel renovations are perfect. They removed the big square tub from the middle of the room and put a jacuzzi tub on the balcony. They toned down the colors and added where you would normally step down and be at the jacuzzi is now a sitting area with a sleeper sofa. This is going to open up so many more sleeping options. Another amazing option is in some of the renovated islander junior suites are 2 King size beds and a sleeper sofa. It’s perfect for families traveling with 3 kids that need the extra room. The 2 King Islander sleeps up to 5 if 1 is a child. These also have the option to connect to a Rock Star 1 Bedroom Suite if you’re traveling with a group. The bedding combinations make this hotel such a great choice for groups with different needs.
[video width='300' style='float:right;' mp4='https://blog.vincentvacations.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/dominican-republic-travel-agents.mp4'][/video]Did I answer your questions about Spring Break? Keep in mind Spring Break runs from the 2nd week of March through April in most cases. It’s a busy hotel but with a lot to do to keep everyone entertained. If the increased young adult groups would be a turn off but you still want to go when kid’s are out of school, I would say this would be a great one for Christmas Break when it’s heavier on the family travel or summer if you are looking for a lower price point.
Traveling to celebrate a milestone? Ask us about their great group program called, “Rock Your Milestone” where you can get a private event complimentary. We have had this work out for graduation groups or big birthdays. It’s a great option.
We look forward to helping you plan Hard Rock Hotel Punta Cana.
What I liked and didn’t like about Disneyland Paris, including staying on-property.
We are a Disney family. We aren’t annual pass holders level, but I would say we are almost there. We go often and sometimes I personally go more than once a year with work events. My kids have stayed on property at Disney in all levels from Deluxe to Value, and at Grand Californian in Anaheim.
We headed on a European adventure and made Paris one of our stops. At the time of the trip my three boys were 9, 7 and 6. We flew from London to Paris and then took a cab to the hotel. The cab line was easy to find and cost about 90 euros (in a larger van since there was 5 of us).
Upon arrival, it doesn’t have the warm fuzzy feeling like at Disney World. There wasn’t a welcome greeting but a direct to take our bags to a X-ray machine. We then went through a metal detector. We had Compass Club so we were able to check in right to the left. This was a great time saver as opposed to the main check in desk so I highly recommend this.
We chose to stay at Newport Bay. It sits walking distance from the parks (about 10 minutes) and has a shuttle. We walked each time, but they said the shuttle came every 1 minute. Our room had 2 double beds and 2 sleeper chairs, which worked great for our family to spread out. The bathroom had a shower and a separate tub all in the same little bathroom so that was odd, but convenient. The room was stocked with a couple of bottles of water and bathroom toiletries including robes and slippers.
The hotel is kind of dated. The wall paper in the halls needs to be redone and a lot of the hotel is a little tired. I can only imagine how a kid oriented hotel is treated on a regular basis. The beds were comfortable, though so no complaints on that. I can just see some being surprised especially given the price point.
The hotel had surprise meet and greets, so our first hour of being there my kids met Pluto, which they were excited about. The staff was good about transitioning between French and English. I noticed there were a lot of UK families staying, but not many from the USA, which was expected.
The hotel has both an indoor and outdoor pool. It’s a whole check in where they ask your room number, which is different than in the USA. The most startling thing to me - the unisex locker rooms for the pool. This, I’m sure is the norm in France, but I can see this being awkward for American travelers. The European guests are also not as modest as most Americans. My kids were like “why aren’t they wearing a swim suit top?” and things like that.
For having a club level room, we had access to the lounge. In club level rooms at Disney hotels I’ve stayed in previously, the club lounge is in the area of the rooms. This was on ground floor close to the lobby. They served daily breakfast and then snacks from 4-530PM. Snacks included different kinds of cakes, cake pops, pastries, fruit, cherry tomatoes with mozzarella and a lot of yogurt. My kids ate so my croissants. I was glad they would try new things like this banana Mickey cake they had. My biggest shock is they didn’t serve wine or beer. I would have thought in all places like France that wine or champagne would flow like water. It did not. Ha! You had your option of Coca-Cola products, Fuze Tea, coffee or hot tea. The drinks were always available.
In case you’re not totally familiar, Disney in Paris is 2 parks connected to Disney Village which is their version of Disney Springs. We chuckled at all the American brands in Disney Village from McDonalds which was always hopping to a 50’s style dinner, a BBQ place called Billy Bobs, Planet Hollywood and more. Disney Studios kind of reminds me of Hollywood Studios. Disneyland is laid out very similarly to Disneyland in California but with some fun differences.
One of the things we loved, you are able to climb up in and around the castle. The castle is Sleeping Beauty’s castle. There are stairs going up and it tells her story in stained glass. You can also go out and wave on the balcony like you see characters doing at other parks. There’s a neat glass blowing shop also in the castle with a door in the back of the shop that takes you downstairs under the castle with an animatronic dragon. My kids probably talked about this the most since they thought they discovered something on their own.
The kids loved Skull Island which is their version of Tom Sawyer’s Island with playground and caves to explore. There is also a cute Pinocchio ride.
Just this last year they completely refurbished and changed Space Mountain into HyperSpace Mountain. This is all Star Wars themed with the song blasting you off at the beginning. A big change for HyperSpace? This ride takes you upside down on one loop. My oldest said it was pitch dark and he only knew he was upside down by how his cheeks felt. I was too chicken to ride it.
Another unique part of Disneyland is the Alice’s Curious Labyrinth. This is the Queen of Hearts garden maze complete with card characters popping up, cute photo stops and a fun castle to climb up at the end. If you’re a big Disney person just coming for the unique experiences I think is worth it.
One thing about the park is from my perspective it’s very understaffed. I’m going to assume this is a worldwide issue caused my the pandemic. I'm used to being greeted at rides. I’m use to a lot of staff everywhere. It was sometimes hard to find someone. It was surprising when we had that amazing Disney service from an employee. This was probably the most disappointing. It wasn’t the same. I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing but it wasn’t the interactive chatty happy workers like what we experience all the time in the United States.
Park hopping is common and you don’t pay extra for it here. You easily can walk between the parks. Over at Disney Studios they have a great Cars and Toy Story area. There are some unique rides including a race car ride from Toy Story that does this half circle fall. It reminds me of the boat rides at the fair that swing.
Disney Studios, of course, has a lot of shows. From Frozen, to a magician Mickey show. Their new attraction for the park is Avengers Campus. They have modified Rockin' Roller Coaster into Avengers Assemble: Flight Force an Iron man and Captain Marvel ride and also added WEB to the campus just a couple weeks before we arrived. This is the same Spider-Man ride at Disneyland in California. It was a resounding favorite of everyone. It can sense your movements so it looks like you’re really throwing webs to help Spider-Man fight off some evil spiders. It’s so cool. We said we need a quick trip to California just to ride this one again.
Here’s some important info. We were there over a weekend in the summer. The parks were at capacity. They do reservations just like we do in the United States. We wanted to be able to maximize so we upgraded to Premier Access Ultimate. This is something not in the USA parks so let me explain with a list to make it easier:
- Cost was 140 Euros per person on top of park admission - There was a list of 9 rides at Disneyland and 4 at Disney Studios that are included. - With Ultimate you can walk up to any of these rides on the list at anytime during your day and go to the Premier line (what we like to call Fast Pass or Lightning Lane). - You only could use your Premier once per ride per person.
There was an option that was less expensive that you could schedule each ride and come back during your time slot. With us not loving making a plan, this wasn’t ideal for our family, but it would be a way to save money. You can also purchase premier access one by one with specific time slots. They ranged from $9-$18 per person per ride. This is all done on their APP.
We really loved the Premier Access. The PA lines were minimal, if anything while the regular lines were over an hour or more. I was calling it a mini-VIP guide day.
Overall, we are glad we went to Disneyland Paris. We had a great time! It was a great highlight for the kids on a European itinerary.
I tried to be as transparent and honest with our experience so you know what you’re getting. If this sounds like a vacation you would love, then please reach out. My office would love to help you plan a European vacation with Disneyland Paris as part of your adventure.