This is the most magnificent beautiful island only 44km by 23km renowned for the famous Piton Mountains - twin volcanic peaks rearing more than 700 metres out of the sea . The flight time is approximately 9 hours and is 4 hours behind GMT. This stunning lush island is made...
Jamaica- Couples Tower Isle Hotel Ocho Rios
We were travelling to Jamaica last April for our friends wedding ceremony, and I must admit, Jamaica wasn’t at the top of my list of destinations I wanted to visit. I, like some other people, had certain preconceptions about the place, but I have to say- I couldn’t have been more surprised.
With a background in travel, I obviously like to choose my holiday destinations carefully, researching hotels, resorts, best time of year to travel etc. etc. but travelling as a wedding guest- all that choice was taken out of my control. Luckily, the Couples hotel that our friends had chosen as their wedding venue- was absolutely perfect, and I felt privileged to have been part of their special day, in this very special place.
Our friends had chosen this hotel, for many reasons. Firstly it’s relatively small, chic and boutique. It was build in 1949, and has a very ‘Art Deco’ feel about the place. Quite unusual compared to some of the larger all inclusive resorts you will find in the Caribbean. Of course, it has been modernised and updated over the years, but it remains very stylish and classic in style. It was also popular in the 1950’s with Hollywood film stars! The other reasons for choosing the ‘Couples’ hotel was the fact it was obliviously adults only.
There is also a great deal included in your overall package. There are various excursions included in the price you pay upfront, and there is also a ‘no tipping’ policy which means you can literally go, and not spend a penny extra.
So, we arrived in Jamaica after a pleasant Virgin flight. We were ushered into the private ‘Couples’ lounge area whilst we waited for our transfer coach. This lounge is exclusive to the Couples guests, and they provide you with complimentary beer, water or soft drinks, and give you cold towels to freshen up. We sat and chilled for half an hour listening to reggae music, and this set the tone for our holiday- utterly chilled and relaxed!
When we arrived at the hotel, we were greeted by the friendliest smiles and welcomes. Fruit punch and cold towels, again were offered. Check in was incredibly quick and within a few minutes we were up at our room. We were in a Premier Ocean room, which was very spacious and tastefully decorated, with a huge king bed, bathrobes and a fully stocked mini bar.
As we had arrived later in the evening we ordered from the room service menu. Within 15 minutes- a full three course meal had arrived- all of which was complimentary and included in our package price!
After a couple of hours sleep (due to a little bit of jet lag!) I went out onto our balcony to watch the sun rise, and the view was simply spectacular. When arriving during the night, you’re not sure what to expect in the morning, but our sea view was absolutely stunning. A full view of the Tower Island, white sands and palm trees. I decided to walk along the beach on my own that morning at 6am and it was magnificent- so much so that the first thing I decided was that a week was not going to be long enough in this paradise, so I went to reception to enquire about staying a few extra days!
The Tower Island is actually a ‘Parque Au Naturale’ or nudist beach to you and I! There are boats that go back and forth all day. There are various water-sports available on the beach, and fishing trips most days.
The staff at the hotel were incredibly friendly, and helpful. They don’t believe in saying ‘no’ to anything- they will do whatever you need them to do. They genuinely want you to have a wonderful holiday experience. Many guests at the Tower isle are repeat guests, and I can certainly see why, because the service you receive is second to none.
So, the ‘package’…… included in the price of your holiday are excursions to: The famous Dunns River falls, a trip to ‘Margaritaville’- drinks and entertainment. A shopping trip to a local market and centre. Scuba Diving trip, snorkelling, and a glass bottom boat trip. You could go on a free excursion every day if you wanted to! These did get booked up quickly though so you had to go to reception early on certain days if you wanted to guarantee a certain time/day.
We did the Dunns River trip- which was so much fun. The falls are spectacular, and you climb them in groups. Beware- you need decent slip proof shoes for this. I took some but they weren’t suitable so we had to stop on the way- on the side of the road there are people selling/hiring Crocs- a very strange but funny experience- leaning out of the window of the bus to hire a pair of shoes!!
At the falls you are placed in small groups and given a guide who helps you climb the falls. The whole time he is taking photos (take a disposable water camera) and he is videoing the experience- which you can buy on DVD afterwards- set to Bob Marley music- just brilliant! Afterwards you can have a look round the stalls on the way out of the reserve- locals selling everything you can imagine- so take some money if you want to shop.
We also did the sunset catamaran cruise- this we thought, would be a romantic chilled evening trip out. We sailed out late afternoon and they took us around the coast line. Complimentary drinks were flowing and we jumped into the sea – the staff continuing to dish out drinks whilst we bobbed in the warm waters watching the sun go down. Then we set sail to go back and it turned into a bit of a party boat! Music, drinks, dancing, and lots of fun. Not what we had anticipated, but actually a really lovely experience, with really lovely people.
The wedding.. if you are looking for an intimate Caribbean wedding venue- Tower isle is ideal. What could be more romantic than having your own private island? There are various options of location for ceremonies and renewals- all of which were picture perfect. The staff were very well organised and the meal after the ceremony was exquisite- and very private. There were only the four of us there- Bride, Groom and my husband and I as witnesses, but we did see larger wedding parties – but not too many of them. Our friends wedding was very informal and took place on the beach. A section of the beach was cordoned off, they had a beautiful gazebo, and they walked down the ‘aisle’ to Bob Marley’s ‘two little birds’. How very Jamaican- how very perfect:)
The food….The hotel had several restaurants and bars…….. Two Caribbean, an Asian infusion, main buffet, pool snack bar and Veggie health bar. The Asian infusion restaurant was in a beautiful setting and the food was fantastic. The Buffet restaurant was exceptionally good and the Caribbean a la carte was very special indeed. The food was plentiful, and of a very high standard- so much choice- too much choice!! You could literally eat all day. The veggie bar was great during the day. Freshly squeezed juices, freshly made fruit smoothies, vegetable chips, paninis, fruits and nuts. There are also various gala evenings where there will be speciality foods. One evening they put on a garden party on the front lawns, with fairy lights, lanterns and sculptures – it was beautiful.
Entertainment is fairly low key. There is something on most evenings most not too loud and brash. Most people are there to eat, have a few drinks, relax and make new friends. If you want a jam packed entertainment programme and evening shows- this may not be the hotel for you. Frankly– this is what we loved about the place – it was so chilled! The bar staff remembered your names, and choices of drinks- and they were there waiting for you.
There is a beautiful spa with a comprehensive treatment programme. A hair salon and beautician, and a gymnasium. The Tower Isle has been ranked number 1 – three years in a row for ‘Top Hotel Spa’s in the Caribbean’.
Our experience of the Tower Isle is one we will always remember very fondly, The friendly Jamaican people, the stunning beaches and beautiful sunsets, the chilled out – laid back ambience and of course- our new found love of Bob Marley:)
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