Reader Submission by Erin Cooper
I am the first to admit, I like All Inclusive resorts. I like the ease of everything and having everything I could possibly want or need right at my fingertips. Free flowing alcohol, buffets, beach side grills, entertainment, pools, etc. But there is one thing that the All Inclusive CAN’T provide. A REAL Jamaican experience.
If you stay on an AI then you can certainly relax (and get drunk!) but honestly it could be located anywhere for all you’ll know, Mexico, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Cuba or Jamaica. If you really want to see and experience Jamaica you need to stay in a guest house. Still extremely safe, clean and with some amenities (depending on the guest house you choose) but more of a Jamaican experience. You get to mingle with the locals, taste more Jamaican food and get more of a feel for what the island is all about. People, music, food and respect.
A great choice for a guest house in the Ocho Rios area is Executive Shaw Park Guesthouse. It is a little more expensive than some of the other guesthouses in the area but it has a view to die for and a rooftop pool. It also has air conditioned rooms and that is a necessity for me.
I paid $5000 jmd per night which is the equivalent of around $55-65 Canadian but because it was close to where my friend lives, has a bar within walking distance (that has REALLY cheap rum!), has a small grocery store on the corner and because it isn’t right in the heart of Ochi (NOISY!) it was a good fit for me.
I only stayed for 4 nights but would definitely stay there again. I do have to mention I had a difficult time making a reservation. A friend of mine had suggested it to me and I tried for almost a week to get in touch with the guesthouse to book but to no avail. I called, I emailed….nothing. I was getting quite frustrated but then a local friend helped me out and it was smooth sailing from there. Apparently there were some issues with weather and phone service when I was calling.
The rooms are basic but clean and comfortable. The only complaint I had were the pillows. They were HUGE and hard. My room was quite spacious with lots of room to move around and for storage of my suitcases. There were plenty of channels on the TV and the air conditioner worked like a charm.
The bathroom was large but the decor was quite loud. I have come to learn that this is quite typical of Jamaican houses and guesthouses. Bright paint, tiles, curtains is the norm. The water was hot, the shower pressure was fab but bring your own towels. There were very few and they were tiny.
THE best part about Shaw Park is the view. Panoramic views all around and from the veranda outside my door this is what I saw…
For that is was worth every penny.
The lady in the office was very pleasant and helpful (when you run out of toilet paper, she is your girl!) and they don’t mind at all if you have friends come over to visit. One night I had 8 people in my room for a little impromptu party, music and drinks, and not a single word was said to me about my guests. This is also when the mini fridge in each room becomes quite useful!
All in all I would stay at Shaw Park again. It would be nice if the “on-site” restaurant/bar and gift shop were ever open as it is advertised on their website. But for the location, cleanliness and friendliness it is hard to beat Executive Shaw Park guesthouse. CLICK HERE to visit their website.