Every morning I pick up my phone and immediately go to my gratitude app. I list out what I’m grateful for right at that moment. On Monday morning of last week, my first day home from a whirlwind week in Jamaica, I about broke that app. My gratitude list was a mile long. The sweet memories just kept on coming, I had to keep adding them in.
Crawling out of bed and making my own breakfast was hard that morning, I tell ya. But my heart was full and I was still smiling after our time at Beaches Negril. I attended the Social Media on the Sand Conference at Beaches Negril via #BeachesMoms and it couldn’t have been better.
Listen, this is the first resort that we have stayed in, that my husband said “We’ve got to come back here next year” about. I need you to understand what a big deal this is. I’ve been traveling with this man a few times a year since we met back in 2001. Through boutique hotels, various cruises, and all inclusive resorts… he has never, ever said that he wants to return to a specific resort. (and without any prompting from me!)
Beaches got him hooked! (And once I told him about Sandals being child-free…his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree.)
So here’s my Epic recap of the conference as well as the gorgeous resort Beaches Negril. Enjoy!! And feel free to send any questions my way!
We had a long ride from Runaway Bay to Negril. We used a great company for the transfer, and I highly recommend them to anyone. Our driver, Errol was early (I love that) personable, and let us stop where we wanted for breaks and beef patties. He pointed out interesting sights (Like where Usain Bolt lived and went to school) but wasn’t overly chatty, which I appreciated with the two napping preschoolers flanking me in the car.
Arriving at Beaches Negril was sensory overload. Ro was cranky, we were all tired, and Kai had to potty like nobody’s business. I thought it would be a quiet peaceful lobby, and I could run Kai to the potty..but…It was like mardi gras!! There was music playing, everyone dancing, singing, a DJ announcing beachesmoms as we entered, people giving us flower leis, the sesame characters were out to say hi, there was a mini parade and a receiving line that had us feeling like celebrities! (John was high fiving his way down the aisle!) I wish I had been able to get photos before shuffling the kids to the potty. #myoneregret
It was a warm welcome to say the least!
We checked in, got our details for the days ahead and went to our beautiful room. Beaches Negril has it’s rooms splayed across the most beautiful beach. From garden view rooms to 3-bedroom butler suites, there’s no bad room on this property. We were in room 711, a second floor ocean view room. We could see the gorgeous sunset from the bedroom area window as well as from the balcony. (Quick Room Tour Vid) Our room was large enough to comfortable fit a family of 6! John and I shared the comfortable four poster king size bed, and there were two trundle beds! We used one for Rohan and Kais beds and the other was our couch. There was also a desk w/ chair and a vanity. The bathroom had double sinks (so clutch!) and a nice size tub. Closet space was huge! Also appreciated the high bed, it felt…royal…and also we could easily store our luggage underneath.
Quick backstory: My husband works a lot. He leaves the house at 8 and gets home at 9:30. Needless to say, that only leaves weekends to have quality time together as a family of four and he doesn’t have much daddy/daughter daddy/son time these days. Well, this trip was extra special for him because he got a hearty dose of his children! They hit the waterpark together each day while I was at the Social Media on the Sand events.
Oh yes…. the events!
Our first day at the conference was one I will never forget. Before the trip Rohan and I shopped for school supplies and packed up two bookbags for children in Jamaican schools that needed them. On this day we got to deliver them, and so much more, to schools via the Sandals Foundation!
The Sandals Foundation does so much good work in the caribbean! They are working with vetted non profits to help Haiti and the Bahamas after hurricane Matthew, they partnered with School Speciality and other great companies to provide books, school supplies and more to schools in Jamaica. They work with the hospitals too, to do good work in the pediatric cancer research arena. (Check them out, and donate here: GoFundMe.com/BeachesMoms)
We visited the Mount Airy School. It was about a 30 minute drive from Beaches Negril, up a windy hill. The children there were so much fun. I got to work one-on-one with a bright little 6 year old named Tiesha. She sang Let it Go for me, and we worked on her ABCs, writing, read a couple of stories and did some reading comprehension questions. She was smart and also very artistic. We colored in a message that Sandals Foundation is sending to children in Haiti that were impacted by Matthew. I may be biased, but I think she made the most innovative rainbow I’d ever seen.
After the one on one all the children sang songs for us and I got to watch Tiesha interacting with her friends… This girl was the perfect partner for me. She was a little busy body, minding everyone’s business, answering the teacher when they asked someone else a question and generally being a little extrovert. I love her.
The #BeachesMoms team really had a lot of treats in store for us. We had fun parties each evening. There was even karaoke, tho I didn’t get to attend that event. The first night cocktail party had mini spa treatments which was sweet and appreciated by us weary travelers. The closing night party was pretty epic, (foam party!) though I had to leave a bit early to make it to dinner at the hibachi restaurant.
The beach party was my favorite, and I wish my kids were in better spirits for it. Dinner was on the beach, open bar, great music and all this after a parade with dancers, fire dancers and most importantly, the Sesame Street characters through the resort and out to the beach. It was so much fun! Then there was an amazing presentation with magicians and contortionists etc. The DJ was great, playing clean versions of today’s hits and reggae favorites. It was such fun for us BeachesMoms.
At the conference we learned a lot about the Sandals/Beaches brands. We got the scoop on the history and the future of what’s to comes from Beaches resorts (the family brand) and Sandals resorts (the couples-only brand and parent company). The brand is big on topping itself, and wants to reinvent, be ahead of the trend and amaze guests. They were the first to have butler service in the Caribbean and they are now the first to offer over-water bungalows there!
image via sandals.com
This year I started travel blogging in earnest, and I’m putting some of the places in the Beaches/Sandals family on my wish list to partner with in the future to share with you. They look amazing and judging from Beaches Negril, the quality will be awesome.
The conference session I attended on FB Live basically let me know that I am totally doing it wrong. I learned about some good gear to get for live-streaming (or doing any type of video) I especially enjoyed Rene Syler’s (Good Enough Mother) presentation to us at the conference. She spoke to my soul reminding us to be women first, moms second, take time for ourselves so we can take care of our families and have more of self left over when kids are gone. So important.
Social Media on the Sand’s last day was full of fun. We networked, did fruit carving and broke into various sessions. Some took sailing lessons, underwater photography, I took the Jamaican culture session which had us chattin’ in patois and doing reggae dances. We also learned how to play a song I love on the steel pan drums! I was a natural. (not!)
The BSM Media team and the entire Beaches/Sandals crew and all the sponsors really did an amazing job. The conference was a lot of fun, a great family getaway, and balanced the fun and education with free time in a natural way. (Check out some of our sponsor gifts here)
Beaches Negril was the perfect setting for the Social Media on the Sand conference. The resort was large enough to have a whole host of activities, but small enough to not be annoying. The food options were great. We could (and did) grab a beef patty as an appetizer at the poolside grill, enjoy a dinner at the Mexican, Caribbean or Sushi restaurant with no reservations, then go to the Parisian Cafe for a cappuccino and dessert. I tried both of the restaurants that require reservations, the Italian and Japanese Hibachi spots. Both were delicious with excellent service.
I loved how kid-focused the resort was and every resort employee seemed to be. Every staff member seemed to light up at the sight of our kids and was extra friendly with them. The resort itself offered so much for kids of any age to enjoy. The waterpark was a lot of fun for children and adults (John and I did those slides quite a few times!) There was a DJ Academy for teens/tweens, a separate kids camp divided by age so nobody gets bored, and so much to do all day long at each one.
For littles like mine, the Sesame Street themed kids camp was perfect! They did activities like baking cookies with Cookie Monster and bird watching with Big Bird. The offerings for parents of littles were exceptional! A breakfast with all the characters, a beach photoshoot with your choice of characters, and the best ever: A tuck in with the character of your choice.
I told Rohan he had a special nighttime surprise all day and got him excited. He thought he knew what it was. He thought my dad was coming to visit him, ha! He said it’s grampa… then opened the door to see Elmo standing there. He gasped so loud, screamed ELMOOO and ran to him for a hug. It was precious. Then Elmo came in with his helper, and did stretches to get ready for bed, then read a bed time story, sang a song, and went to sleep. Rohan was angling for Elmo to stay the night but we finally convinced him that Elmo had to sleep in his own big boy bed.
Kaya was scared of the characters, but she hung with Elmo for the tuck in and only freaked out once when he tried to touch her. She finally gave Abby (one of her faves) a hug on the last day. She straight up told the count she didn’t like him and screwfaced the rest of the characters like she does everyone else in life. #SMH Rohan was the perfect age for these experiences. He called the characters “moving elmo” and “moving grover” hahaa! Kaya calls them “real elmo.”
Balancing out all the kid centered action at Beaches is a lot for parents to enjoy. John and I enjoyed our first scuba dive together in a long time. The dive operation is top notch, and is included in your room price! Other water activities that are included are snorkeling, glass bottom boat rides, snuba diving (cross between scuba and snuba), banana boat rides, kayaks, stand up paddleboards… Lots to enjoy as a family or while the kids are in kids camp.
If you’re not the watersport type there were patois lessons, jamaican dance classes and other dry activities. The great thing is, you could be as lazy as you want. If you don’t want to participate you’re not hassled to. You could laze in the huge pool with swim up bar or enjoy the beach like a beachbum. The beach here was so beautiful, clean, and full of life. We found many small seastars in the water, small fishies, and even saw a sting ray hanging out. The water was warm enough for even me and I’m always cold.
We all had an amazing time at Beaches Negril. We had a lot of firsts as a family. My first time attending the awesome Social Media on the Sand Conference. Our first trip to Jamaica, first time at a Beaches resort, first resort vacation for the kids at at all, first time they had to use passports, first time with the kids meeting “real” characters, first beach photoshoot which I’ve wanted to do for ages. Loved this entire trip.
Ever since we’ve been home I’ve been answering questions about Beaches and I’ve had one of my friends book a trip for next year to Beaches in Turks & Caicos! I would recommend this resort to any family no matter the age of your children. If you have any questions for me, I’m happy to answer. I can’t wait to go back to Beaches!