Sunday, April 6, 2014

Montego Bay and the NAJASO Convention - July 18-21, 2013

Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller addresses the NAJASO Convention

Diana and I returned to Montego Bay on July 18 from Kingston in the afternoon and arrived 30 minutes late at the Secrets Montego Bay for the NAJASO conference welcome. The mayor of Montego Bay, the Director of Tourism, the Governor General of Jamaica, the president of NAJASO and others gave speeches. Afterwards was a cocktail reception and music by The Mighty Beestons, this time with bass and drum set added. Diana dropped me off at Sandals Carlyle at about 10:30. My room number was 303. Showered, tried to sleep but was too hungry, so went down to the bar/restaurant area for a late snack of chicken fajita wrap. Room 303 has a balcony with a nice view of the Hip Strip (toward the south) and the small beach to the right.

July 19: The breakfast buffet at Secrets had varieties of cheeses, also had a ham and cheese omelet, along with a banana smoothie and coffee, and lots of water. Waitress was nice and called to me when I forgot my suit jacket. 

There was some delay in starting the seminar, but the AM focus was on education. There was some networking time afterwards. At lunch the keynote speaker was the leader of opposition and former Prime Minister.

Arriving at Secrets Montego Bay

Ate escovitched snapper at lunch buffet at Secrets, accompanied by sweet potatoes, salad and rice with peas. Dessert was chocolate mousse and key lime cheese cake with caramelized pineapple. Had lots of Ting soda, rum punch and coffee.

The afternoon was dedicated to tourism. Diana led the panel discussion with the ex-Tourism Minister, Theo Chambers and the rep from the Jamaica Tourist Board. Diana asked me to provide a short testimonial, and I said that my experience far surpassed any other tourism and culture experience that I had. 

Diana McIntyre-Pike poses with Rick Nugent (left) and Dr. Alston Meade

After the end, we stepped outside for photos, and I didn't stay for the panel discussion on Six Sigma because Diana had to leave early. I got back to Sandals Carlyle, showered and went down to the Jacuzzi.

Later I went to the dining area for dinner. One of the waiters told me that there was a dress code and that I needed to wear a shirt with a collar. I obliged and returned. I had two pieces of what tasted like raisin bread and ordered spring rolls for appetizers, followed up by an entree of snapper with rice and vegetables. Dessert was a flambé. Afterwards, I went back to poolside and let myself nap to soft music from the iPod.

Housekeeping had my laundry ready at about 10:20 PM - a pleasant surprise.

Streamer tail hummingbird in the garden at Sandals Carlyle
July 20: Had our 8:30 AM mtg with Christopher Elliott, Diana and Khadine Daley at Sandals Carlyle. Christopher is the General Manager of the resort and Khadine was in charge of media relations.) Lots of good discussion, and we learned that Sandals is also connected with community outreach. Diana and I went to Secrets, we caught the tail end of the young professionals meeting and part of the medical professionals meeting. I met the former honorary consul of Jamaica in Philadelphia, Dr. Alston Meade and had a nice conversation with him regarding how he got his start in the city.  Lunch was buffet style at Secrets with Diana, Theo Chambers and Melida Harris-Barrow of Panama. 

In the afternoon I went back to Sandals Carlyle and rested by getting a beef patty for a snack, lying in a hammock, taking pictures of a hummingbird, resting in the hot tub, lying on a float in the pool, and swimming. Later I showered and got ready for the banquet. The Prime Minister of Jamaica was in attendance. There was lots of dancing in that nice, easy reggae style and we didn't get back to my hotel until 12:30 AM.

July 21: Breakfast at Sandals Carlyle: gave most of photos and videos to Diana (she doesn't have those from camcorder or iPhone). During breakfast she was copying them from my two memory cards to her laptop. We also had a good conversation but I was preoccupied with the time and don't recall it, except that she was also going to copy all the photos for Sandals Carlyle to use, and perhaps some discussion of her upcoming trip to St. Kitts to set up the community tourism network with those islands. She took me to Sandals Royal Caribbean for the tour with Rochelle. There was little time but I was able to see the spa and other parts that Adriana and I may have overlooked last year. I recall mentioning to Rochelle my experiences in Treasure Beach, particularly Jakes and the unique room I stayed in. I hopped on the shuttle and Rochelle continued the tour at Sandals Montego Bay, including the chapel sometimes used for weddings and the restaurants. Sandals let me use a room to change, complete with whirlpool bath -very nice! I had lunch (pizza), a pina colada at the bar and a little beach time before heading to the airport. 

I had dropped a memory card in Diana's car, but fortunately it was an empty one that I had bought in Black River and didn't work in my camera anyway. I had also left my toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash in my room at Sandals Carlyle, thinking I was going to return to the room but then time ran out and I forgot that I left those items there on purpose to brush my teeth there and then pack them. My tie, which I kept misplacing at various intervals, had disappeared altogether when it was time for the reception at Secrets on July 20.

Checkin was smooth and I was able to pay for my checked bags in Jamaican dollars. I had to transfer items from one bag to another because the first bag was over the weight limit. I used a skycap for the bags and the tip is $1 per checked bag (displayed on sign).

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