Half Moon Resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica

Half Moon Resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica

Half Moon Resort Jamaica

My husband and I desperately needed a getaway so a few weeks ago, I went looking for somewhere warm where I could relax, swim and enjoy the sea. We settled on Montego Bay, Jamaica. We had been there before for a work function and stayed in the Secrets St. James, which was very nice. But we wanted something a little different and a little more classic. So, we chose Half Moon in the Rose Hall Plantation area. What a great choice!

RESERVATIONS AND OUR ROOM

There were so many room choices that I called Half Moon so I could talk to someone and get a sense of where we wanted to stay.

Half Moon Pool Suite

I spoke with Monique and she was so helpful. She also gave me a better rate than I could get online. Thank you, Monique!

We decided on a pool suite. It is a suite with it’s own private or shared pool. Ours was a shared pool, but we got lucky and no one was in the other room we shared it with. So we had it all to ourselves. Score!

Our pool suite was so spacious. It is one of my favorite resort rooms I have ever stayed in. Everything was up-to-date and pristine. We had a front porch with outdoor seating for six, a sitting room with a couch, chair, television, dining room table and mini bar, a spacious bedroom with King bed, and a bathroom with stall shower and soaking tub. Our bedroom looked out on the pool Every morning, we woke up to this and honestly, it was kinda dreamy:

Hall Moon Pool Suite

THE BEACH

Half Moon spreads out along two miles of beachfront and I loved every bit of it. It’s not one long sandy beach; there are some rock areas scattered throughout and some little hideaways tucked in the rocky sections. We were in the West Cottages. These cottages were the original buildings at Half moon, which began in 1954. They were spacious and gracious. And they are on the best part of the beach for swimming. If you like to swim, stay in the West Cottages or Hibiscus Suites (which are close to the resort pools and a short walk from the beach). This beach also has complimentary non-motorized water sports. They have kayaks, stand up paddle-boards and sailboats. They also have other water activities for a fee.

Farther down the beach, there is a new section being built which should open later this year. We didn’t notice the construction because we were so far away from it. Beyond that is another sandy beach and the villas (for larger groups).

Half Moon Resort Beach
the beach in front of our cottage
Half Moon
Half Moon
looking back along the West Cottages
Half moon Resort sunset
The sunsets from the Cedar Bar were amazing.

THE POOLS

Half Moon pool

Besides the pool at our suite, we spent time at the resort pools. There are two hot tubs, a lap pool and another pool with a swim-up bar. The swim up bar pool was the most beautiful resort pool I have ever seen and it was a fun and relaxing place to spend and afternoon.

THE ACTIVITIES

Half Moon mini-golf

We spent most of our days alternating between the beach, the resort pool and our suite’s pool. But every day we took walk and had some fun. There is a mini-golf course, a basketball court, tennis, a fitness center and an equestrian center. The mini-golf was more like 18 holes of putting greens and we played every day. There is also an 18 Hole golf course. We didn’t play but my husband and son will play when we return (which we will). Other guests told us that the golf course if stunningly beautiful. I may have to take up golf!

horse at Half Moon

We also happened to be at the beach when someone did one of the coolest horseback rides I have ever seen. You ride the horse bareback into the ocean and then swim with it. There a guide to help. It looked amazing, but the wind picked up and the surf got rough the next day so we didn’t try it. This prompted my husband to declare that everything at Half Moon seemed like a date from “The Bachelor”. And he meant that in a good way.

Bright blue bikes are all of the property and you can get one and ride it to the other beach or around the property.

THE FOOD

The food was amazing. We had the Premium Plan. it included breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as $120 of drinks. In my opinion, this is the way to go. We would have mango colada on the beach and save up our drink credit for dinner. Every night we had a really nice bottle of prosecco or champagne with dinner. We don’t do that very often and we loved that the plan allowed us to make every single evening special.

There are food and menus on their website and I loved every meal I had there. Breakfasts were a buffet with stations where you could get and omelet or a smoothie made for you. We ate lunch at Moonchies, the jerk chicken stand on the beach–YUM! And we ate dinner each night in different restaurant. I loved the Sugar Mill and Il Giardino.

Half Moon Beach Barbecue

On Monday night, we went to Beach Barbecue. Do this! It was so much fun! The dinner was amazing and there were so many options, I think I ate two meals. The show was wow-oh-wow! And the band was great. They were the perfect decibel level: loud enough that you could hear them but still have conversation.

THE PEOPLE

A post about Half Moon would not be complete without mentioning the truly wonderful people who work there. The service is incredible. Everything we needed, they got for us. They also take the time to talk to you and get to know you. One waiter, Romain, noticed how much I liked Sour Sop sorbet. One day it wasn’t on the menu. Without my asking, he brought me a bowl for dessert.

On the way to the Beach BBQ, I was telling my golf cart driver how much I liked the Sour Sop sorbet and juice and he told me he had a tree at his house and he would bring me one so I could see the fruit.

These are genuine and friendly people. What a gift!

WHO SHOULD GO

I think just about everyone will find something they love at Half Moon. Its wonderful for celebrations, honeymoons, getaways, families with children, retirees, foodies, loggers and athletes.nIf you are looking fora ton fo nightlife, this may not be your place. After dinner, people seemed to hang out in the bar and that was about it for nightlife.

What I loved about Half Moon was that there wasn’t all of the jockeying for space on the beach like at other resorts. You don’t have to wake up early and stake your claim on beach chair. They were readily available throughout the day. There is no specialty VIP Service and no special section on the beach for VIPs because they treat every single guest like they are a VIP.

As you can tell, I loved it. I will be back. My only regret is that I didn’t buy one of their bathrobes. They were the nicest hotel bathrobes I have ever worn. So soft, comfortable and flattering. So I have to go back and get one, right? Feel free to ask me questions and I will give you my thoughts.

note: all photos are mine and are copyright, Kara Cox.  Please ask me for permission to duplicate.

This article was written by me about my personal trip and I received no promotional consideration or gifts. It is simply my opinion and my experience, yours may differ.

Momentary Snapshot – March

Momentary Snapshot – March

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It’s technically still the first week of the month, so I am taking a momentary snapshot. Some call it “taking stock”. If you could take a snapshot of my life at this moment, here is what it would look like:

Reading: just finished “The Keeper of Lost Things” by Ruth Hogan, getting ready to start “A Place for Us” by Fatima Farheen Mirza

Listening to: The Pet Shop Boys. Seriously. At some point this month, I heard on of their songs and instantly wanted to hear all of my favorites so I downloaded them. Thankfully, this 80s flashback didn’t make me want to get a perm!

Watching: “The Bachelor”. Yes, I admit I watch it. My daughter and I love discussing it. And any excuse to talk to her is golden. I really thought Colton was going to end up with Caelynn, but he sent her home last week. What? And then this week happened and things went haywire and he did jump the fence and WHAT?

Worrying: about my mom. I’m not sure anything adequately prepares us for aging parents.

Gearing up for: March Madness. I went to UVA. My husband went to Duke. You get the picture.

Channeling: my inner smile. It’s March. I have seasonal depression. March can be hard. So I am exercising and focusing on the sunshine to come.

Beginning: a new chapter. I was a stay at home mom for years. During that time, I served on many local boards. I’ve been named a trustee of a charitable foundation that gives away large grants in my local area. My first meeting is tomorrow. It’s a huge honor and I am thrilled to be part of it. I’m nervous, but really excited to learn more about my community.

Wishing: I was still floating in this pool @halfmoonjamaica. The sea, pool, sunshine and supremely kind hospitality there were the perfect antidote to the winter doldrums. Post coming soon on that.

Purchasing: the bathrobes at Half Moon were so comfortable.  Like, honestly, this was the most comfortable bathrobe ever.  I am kicking myself for not buying one.  But I think I found them online, so I am going to treat myself!

Accepting: all of those freckles and lines and age spots (for the time being). They are part of my story. And I’m not perfect. I’m just me.

Biltmore House and Gardens – Asheville, North Carolina

Biltmore House and Gardens – Asheville, North Carolina

note: all photos are mine and are copyright, Kara Cox.  Please also me for permission to duplicate.

The article below was written by me about my personal trip and I received no promotional consideration or gifts. It is simply my opinion and my experience, yours may differ.

My husband and I took a trip to Biltmore House and Gardens  in Asheville, NC  and I want to go back…immediately!  It was beautiful, the food was good, our hotel was wonderful.  I have no complaints! I took a lot of pictures because everywhere you turn, there is something to photograph.

A quick introduction: Biltmore is the Vanderbilt Family estate, opened in 1895 after six years of construction.  The unbelievably magnificent house was a family home for George Vanderbilt and his wife, Edith and their daughter, Cornelia.  It is still owned and operated by their descendants and has been open to the public since 1930. The house still has original furnishings and incredible artwork (the family portrait artist was John Singer Sergeant).  George Vanderbilt spared no expense outfitting the home with things unheard up to that time: electricity throughout, a lighted indoor pool, elevators, and hot and cold running water on all four floors.

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The Biltmore, reflected in The Lagoon. Late afternoon.

 

Checking In

Our visit began with checking into our hotel,  The Village Hotel at Antler Hill Village.  This hotel is one of two hotels on the Biltmore property.  It is the less pricey option and therefore, you do a little more for yourself.  We are no-frills travelers so this worked well for us. They provide carts for you to roll you luggage to your room and you have to do things like get your own ice. Our room was a lovely Village Studio King, and the pictures and description on the website are accurate.  We had a view of the mountains, a very comfortable king bed, and a refrigerator to keep drinks cold.  If you want a full service hotel, they have one of those too– The Biltmore Inn is just up the hill (the rooms at the Inn don’t have refrigerator, so if that is important to you, stay at the Village Hotel.  We ate all of our meals there (yummy!).

Our package came with unlimited visits and free shuttle rides to Biltmore House.  I went up to the house at least twice a day.  I visited the interior of Biltmore House, and took my power walks through the gardens.  I love a walk with a view:

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The bridge at the Bass Pond was featured in “Last of the Mohicans”.

 

Biltmore House

We went inside the house twice. We took a Guided House Tour, which included the main floor and the upper flors of the house. It was so good we wanted to know more. So, the next morning, we returned to tour the basement.  Our package also had Audio Guides included so we picked up handsets and did the self guided tour.  I highly recommend both of these tours.  Do not miss the basement!  It is incredible. There are the kitchens and staff rooms, but also the pool and a bowling alley.

 

Scenes from the Guided House Tour

Clockwise from top left: The Library Ceiling (thats a canvas not a fresco), Mrs. Vanderbilt’s bedroom, the Tapestry Gallery, The Banquet Hall, and The Winter Garden (with Chihuly)

 

 

Scenes from the Downstairs Audio Guide Tour to the Biltmore House

Clockwise from top left: The Kitchen, The Kitchen, The Stone Hallway, The Bowling Alley and the Swimming Pool

 

My favorite spot was The Loggia.  I imagine that I had been a guest at Biltmore House, I would have spent all day out here, reading and looking at the mountains.

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The Loggia

 

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mountain view from The Loggia

 

 

Gardens

Biltmore’s gardens and grounds  were so extensive that I took a guided tour of the gardens. There are so many trees and flowers that our guide warned us ahead of time that she would not be able to identify every plant. It wasn’t until I got into the gardens that I fully understood what she meant.  The landscape was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, who also designed Central Park.  Much like Central Park, Biltmore’s landscape is huge. I enjoyed learning about the history of the gardens and seeing them in full bloom.  The guide said we need to come back when the Azalea Garden is in bloom (Spring).  I will.

We also had the great fortune to be there when they had the glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly were on display in the gardens.  The exhibit is open through October 7, 2018 and well worth the visit.  I particularly enjoyed the ones in the ponds in the “Italian Garden” as the vibrant colors reflecting in the water were quite stunning.

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“Float Boat” by Dale Chihuly, 2017 with Biltmore House in background

 

 

If you go, don’t miss the two Chihuly works on display in Antler Hill Village.  One is especially spectacular at night:

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“Alabaster and Amber Spire Towers”, by Dale Chihuly, 2017 photographed at night

 

 

A Few small tips for enjoying your stay:

  1. Stay on site if you can.  It is well worth it to have access to the house and be able to go back to your room when you get tired.
  2. Talk to your shuttle drivers.  They are wealth of information.  Had it not been for one of my shuttle drivers, I would have missed photographing the house reflecting in the The Lagoon.
  3. Visit “The Biltmore Legacy”, the Vanderbilt Family exhibit in Antler Hill Village.  It only takes 15-30 minutes and it’s free. It goes a little more in depth into the family and their life.  They have family tree so you can keep track of who is who.  They also have some amazing antique silver and other items from their collection on display.
  4. Love wildflowers and sunflowers?  Walk (or drive or rent a bike an ride) the road from The Village Hotel to The Lagoon. In September, the entire roadside was abloom with sunflowers and wildflowers. Gorgeous!
  5. Take your best camera.  There is so much to photograph.

 

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The sunflower field runs for an entire mile along the road to the Village Hotel.

 

Biltmore would be great for girls weekends, couple getaways, romance, marriage proposals, adult gatherings, weddings and groups. We were there for two and half days, but I easily could have been there a couple days longer.  There are so many activities to do on-site: hikes, bike rentals, Segway tours, fly fishing, wine tastings, check it out!

There is a lot of walking. It is a challenge to get around the grounds of the house and gardens if you are in a stroller or wheelchair or have mobility impairment.  It can be done, and asking someone is advised because ramps are sometimes not readily visible. Inside the house, the original elevator is still working and is available for those who need it.

Feel free to ask questions and I will do my best to answer.  Enjoy!
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