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The Riu Palace Tropical Bay Hotel was refurbished last year


BOOK IT


A Junior Suite starts at £118 per person per night in low season, rising to £172 at peak times. Suites start at £164 or £225 respectively. riu.com


JAMAICA HIGHLIGHTS


Rick’s Cafe: Daredevils may cliff-jump into the water here to get their kicks but everyone simply comes to soak up the glorious sunsets. YS Falls: Head south to see this spectacular waterfall in its lush jungle surroundings. Those after a challenge can climb or zipline across it. Bob Marley: Visit the place where reggae began, aka the small town of Nine Miles, where Bob Marley was born and where he is now buried.


Riu Palace Tropical Bay Hotel, Jamaica T


ested by: Katie McGonagle


The sun was blazing, the palm fronds swishing gently in the breeze, and the waves lapping at the shore of Jamaica’s Bloody Bay, just moments from the spectacular Seven Mile Beach. But there was no lying back on a sun lounger just yet – the Beach Olympics were about to begin. Lining up against an American family and a young couple from Italy, I joined a team of Brits to represent the UK in this impromptu international event. Admittedly, our sport of choice happened to


be throwing bean bags into a goal a mere 15 feet away – not quite worthy of the real Olympics but exertion enough for a sunny day. I lined up, took aim and – missed (more than once), but finally managed to redeem myself on the last throw, albeit too late to secure a podium place for the Brits. Yet with a few cheers from our fellow guests and the promise of a cocktail to come, our lack of success didn’t seem to matter too much.


NEW LOOK Riu Palace Tropical Bay Hotel in Negril, which was the brand’s first foray into Jamaica when it opened in 2001, underwent an extensive refurbishment last year, reopening with a lighter, more modern feel. Its 452 rooms have been


transformed with the addition of light wood fittings accented with


splashes of turquoise, and walk-in showers instead of bathtubs. The lobby has also been upgraded, with bigger windows making it feel inviting rather than purely functional, and there’s now 24-hour service in the lobby bar, in addition to any-time room service. Restaurants range from indoor-outdoor buffet Negril and fusion restaurant Krystal – where the flavour combinations were a little hit-and-miss – to the much more reliable Italian restaurant Rimini, and Hakuchi, which serves excellent Japanese dishes. The decor has been upgraded across the speciality restaurants, which are part of the all-inclusive package with no reservations necessary. A new coffee and ice cream bar, Capuchino, has also been added. As with most all-inclusive resorts, life revolves around the pool or, in


this case, three of them: a chill-out pool featuring in-water recliners; another for volleyball and other activities; and one with a swim-up bar and music. There’s also a kids’ pool and new RiuLand kids’ club.


LOCAL LIFE Several companies offer activities around the island, with the full-day Rick’s Cafe excursion being one of the most popular options. Step outside the hotel and Jamaican life comes to the fore. Visitors travelling through the nearby parishes will see roadside food carts selling dwarf coconuts and sliced fruit from under corrugated iron roofs, swanky cars alongside crumbling brick walls, single-storey schools cheek by jowl with grand churches and courthouses, and cafes that double up as barber’s shops and hubs for local gossip.


60


27 JUNE 2019


travelweekly.co.uk


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