In2Events managing director Gavin Farley recently had the incredible opportunity to fly out to the stunning destination of Ocho Rios for a golfing experience at Sandals OCHI that combined both luxury and the laid-back charms synonymous with the sunshine filled Caribbean island of Jamaica. Here he shares his highlights of the trip…
DISCOVERING THE ‘RHYTHM AND SWAY’ OF JAMAICA
A dream location to visit, we set off from London and flew straight into Kingston. The long haul flight took approximately 10 hours, so a stay that was 3 nights and four days was ideal for us to get a true taste of the country.
From the airport, we were transferred to the Sandals OCHI resort. The road-trip was the perfect introduction to Jamaica, and the lush tropical landscapes were a welcome contrast to the grey skies of the UK, that we’d left behind hours earlier. As we neared the Sandals resort, a pang of exhilaration and excitement developed and the views of paradise that lay before us certainly made the drive from the airport well worth it.
Sandals OCHI is beautifully positioned on white sandy beaches, beaches which are intersected by the lapping waves of the clear and turquoise Caribbean Sea. There’s also a bountiful spread of trees and greenery which mingles into the landscape surrounding the complex, providing a real feeling of seclusion.
From the moment we stepped foot onto the resort, it felt like we were transported into another world; one where you’re removed from the stresses of daily life, united with peace and tranquillity and welcomed to experience 5-star Jamaican hospitality at its best. With such a laid-back atmosphere, it wasn’t long before we caught the chilled vibes of the island ourselves.
A TOUCH OF PARADISE INSIDE AND OUT
After checking in we were shown to our accommodation, the Butler Village Suite, which was quite simply stunning and provided a real feel of exclusivity and the wow factor in abundance.
The large resort offers a range of beautiful accommodation types and rooms; each comes with different luxurious specifications to suit the needs of discerning guests. The exceptional room options include: elegant villas offering private or semi-private pools, an eclectic range of breathtaking suites and garden cottages that offer perfect tropical hideaways, surrounded by Banyan trees and Ginger Lilies.
TASTE OF THE CARIBBEAN
After taking some time to explore the resort, we were invited to enjoy a five-star dining experience. The food was impeccable, just as you’d expect it to be, and the ambience of the restaurant setting was relaxed yet sophisticated.
The OCHI resort is “all inclusive, all the time”, meaning guests don’t have to worry about any hidden costs and can simply immerse themselves in their stay and enjoy the wonderful array of food and drinks on offer.
With 16 restaurants on the resort, there’s no chance of mealtimes becoming monotonous. From our first meal to the last, the variety of food we tasted was amazing and every mouthful left us wanting more. The standard of the service we experienced was also second to none and enhanced the overall gourmet experience.
Jamaica isn’t renowned for its golf courses, so as we headed down to the OCHI Sandals golf and country club, we weren’t expecting too much. But, we’re happy to hold our clubs up and say that our preconceived ideas couldn’t have been more wrong…
The fantastically maintained 18-hole course isn’t the longest, but it’s certainly a good test for golfers of any level. The conditions of the greens are immaculate, and the heat is more than bearable, especially with the added benefit of golf buggies and chilled Red Stripe (a Jamaican lager) fuelling you around the course. And, if you need some sustenance, there’s a great jerk chicken station located at around hole 9.
The caddies that joined us around the course also made our golfing experience unforgettable and had us looking forward to playing every day. Their knowledge and experience of the course helped us to navigate the greens and their warm personalities and funny anecdotes added authentic Jamaican tones to the game, from tee off through to the last putt.
After our time on the fairways, we got to check out the plantation-style clubhouse, which was inviting and really easy-going; a refreshing change to other more formal clubhouses you’d usually find on traditional golf resorts.
It was no surprise to learn that the OCHI golf club had been named one of the best in Jamaica by Golf Digest. But, not content with that accolade, the resort is looking to make more improvements, working with golf legend Greg Norman and investing heavily into the course to bring it up to the next level.
Our golfing experience, in a word, was phenomenal. The magnificent surrounding landscapes, with views of the sea and the Ocho Rios hills; the fantastic amenities and the friendly, stress-free culture, combined to make this a golf club you’d want to become a lifelong member of.
UNFORGETTABLE JAMAICAN VIBES
Although our trip was short, it was brilliant. We had such high expectations from the resort before we arrived, and we weren’t disappointed in any way. The resort really thinks of everything and finds unique ways to weave Jamaican spirit into every aspect of your stay with them. Plus, throughout our whole trip we felt safe, secure and we were totally looked after from the moment we were picked up, through to the moment we were dropped back at the airport for our departing flights.
As a golf destination, our perceptions have been utterly reversed and we couldn’t recommend the OCHI golf course enough to groups looking for a golfing incentive getaway, that really breaks the mould.
Jamaica was spectacular and it’s definitely secured a place as an In2Events top destination. The Sandals OCHI resort is a trendy spot and balances seclusion and exclusivity with an exciting mix of happening bars and restaurants that effortlessly entertain. We couldn’t have asked for more…
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