After much deliberation and hand-wringing over dates and prices, we've booked a belated 8th wedding anniversary trip to Jamaica. We had talked about going to Mexico but then when I started looking at the price for all-inclusive resorts there versus in the Caribbean, I just couldn't talk myself into Mexico. I dunno, I've never been but every time I start thinking "tropical vacation" Mexico always ranks in at #2 or #3 on my list.
At first we were thinking we'd go to Zihatuanejo but flights were insanely expensive and were just as long as getting to Riviera Maya. Then I found cheap, direct flights to Puerto Vallarta but I don't want to actually stay *in* PV (I did find a gorgeous looking eco resort a 20-30 minute boat ride down the coast that I bookmarked for future trip consideration). Then I started looking at what we could use our timeshare for and while we could have exchanged into one of the large AI resorts in Playa Del Carmen or Cozumel, the fees on top of what we'd already paid for the timeshare were more than Expedia was charging and that just turned me off.
The whole time I kept going back to, "I think I want to go to the Caribbean." I did a ton of research over Christmas break and found a handful of resorts that I'm really interested in staying at but the prices were more than Alan wanted to spend. The one resort I really, really, really loved the look of (and the reviews for!) was Couples Sans Souci in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Unfortunately a Saturday to Saturday trip was extremely expensive so I filed it away as a "maybe later" destination. In talking with a travel agent via email she reminded me that mid-week rates were likely much cheaper. In fact, the difference per person doing a Wednesday to Wednesday trip to Ocho Rios was nearly $1000!
I checked with my boss on the days off (6 weeks after our actual anniversary) and before seeing Avatar on New Year's Eve booked us 6 nights at an oceanview room at Couples Sans Souci! I was able to get an extra $100 off in addition to the cheaper rates from when our last hotel in Dublin screwed up our reservation and Expedia gave me a coupon to use for our trouble (have I mentioned how much I love Expedia's customer service?).
I'm really looking forward to the rest and relaxation that are the staples of AI style vacations, but I'm also looking forward to the fact that our particular resort is laid out in a way that it never feels like one of those mega resorts that we had initially looked into. Not that there's anything wrong with them - we had a great time in the Dominican with our friends in 2008 - but for a romantic celebration I like the fact that there are cozy and private pockets of the resort where we don't have to be surrounded by 50 other couples. Oh, and best of all - NO KIDS! Above all that really was the deciding factor in this vacation versus all of the other ones we could have booked. I really wanted a child-free trip and Sandals resorts seemed just a bit too cheesy for my liking. If the TripAdvisor reviews are to be believed, we're in for a fantastic trip this spring.
I know, I know - it would have made more sense to post these pics before I did the year in review but when you're sick you don't often do things in any logical order. I just now managed to pull most of these from the camera and there were a few good ones that I wanted to share. Besides, it's my blog and I'll post when I want, when I want. :-)
On NYE we came home from seeing Avatar to notice that Dakota was exhibiting all the classic signs of a UTI (she's had one before, several years ago). We waited a couple of hours to monitor her behavior and then at 1 a.m. took her to the 24 hour emergency vet where she was examined, had urine taken and given some antibiotics for us to give her ever 12 hours or so. We got home around 2 a.m. and crashed.
In the meantime, I've been fighting off a nasty head/chest cold since last weekend which really hit me hard on NYE. While watching Avatar at one point I was having feverish hot flashes and couldn't breathe through my nose at all. I've only gotten progressively worse. Today I slept until 1:30 p.m. and while I feel better than I did yesterday (for one, I can talk) I still feel like I got hit by a mack truck. My whole body - including my hair - hurts and I'm unable to breathe without the extensive aid of Afrin and I'm alternately sweating from my fever and having the chills. Dakota is lying here in bed next to me - the ladies of casacaudill are making a poor showing of it all around.