The silver dome is raised with a bloom to open my Cajun eggs prepared by Benedict. Crepes with fried rum and Chantilly cream from a local delicatessen are also revealed. This morning breakfast enjoyment takes place on a secluded hotel porch overlooking Jamaica's Montego Bay, one of & # 39; s most beautiful sea vessels in & # 39; e Caribbean Sea.
Yes, it is special, but also totally unexpected – because this is part of a package holiday. Where guests once expected to queue for a buffet with everything you can eat in some concrete monstrosity at Costas, you can now opt for room service for breakfast. In recent years, rebranding has seen the package holiday transform into the all-inclusive. Want to include a daily massage treatment? Ready. Vegetarian? No problem. Yoga for the kids and wi-fi? You bet.
It's easy to see why all-inclusives are the smart choice for families, honeymooners, bridesmaids and, yes, anyone who isn't looking for great value.
Drink it in: A swim-up bar and one of the resort's four swimming pools above. The cheerful beach is the & # 39; biggest attraction & # 39 ;, says The Mail on Toby Walne of Sunday
After all, once you have bought an ice cream as a sundowner, paid for an activity or two each day and are paid out for airport transfers, the total bill for other types of vacation can rocket.
My only previous experience of a package tour was going to the Caribbean as a fierce post-degree celebration in the & # 39; 90s & I, and I have unpacked most of it (remaining memories include sunburnt singalongs and rum around the clock ). Could slick marketing and luxury extras really make the difference?
We checked out the Sandals Resort, which is the first Sandals and its flagship resort. It has turned the concept of all-inclusive on its head. Moving with the times, the focus is on individual choice – and ensuring that guests are spoiled with a new level of luxury.
From the moment you get picked up at the airport in a top-of-the-range BMW (at some Sandals resorts, a Rolls-Royce is sent out!) And greeted by your own butler, you know this is something is special. Although not trained in a stiff Noel Coward way with the upper lips – the playwright lived at Firefly, just 75 miles away – our Guild of Professional English Butlers graduated in black belt and vest. And Nasha is a woman too. White-gloved hands smell theft of a bottle of bubbly in our room with little encouragement needed.
Spectacular: An oceanfront villa at the Sandals Resort with an outdoor pool and sitting area to enjoy a morning cup of coffee
After introducing Sir and M'Lady, we get a mobile phone delivered. The only finger we raise at this time is calling the butler, who comes up for the Germans to place a towel – along with ice-cream water and beer – on the most beautiful spots for sun loungers .
Nasha also books restaurant tables and brings fresh, cool strawberry daiquiris to the beach.
A super king mahogany business with four posters takes center stage in the room. The walls are adorned with coral shells and vibrant oil paintings by local artists. One of & # 39; s photos is on rolls and can be moved around a window and view of & # 39; to open a large shower.
The refrigerator is so jam packed, there's no room for one-liter bottles of gin, rum, vodka and whiskey – they have to sit on it.
Two 52in satellite TVs provide further business – one sits in a high-ceilinged bedroom and the other in a separate living space that you can close. Open the glass doors and you step out to the balcony. In addition to the & # 39; s breakfast table setting is a & # 39; rest & # 39; tub, where you can listen to waves that jump wide off the coast.
This resort caters for all tastes. Young British honeymooners are shrugging shoulders with free-spirited middle-aged Canadians and Americans in search of gourmet food. Children are not allowed.
The spotless beach is the main attraction, but there are four swimming pools and four whirlpools if you want to relax from old.
And if you get itchy feet, sign up for a free water sport – you can snorkel or dive at world-famous reefs. Later you would try your best to stay up while skiing.
Then there is 'kitchen', not food. There are nine world-class restaurants at this resort and no less than 23 on-site restaurants and bars within ten minutes away in two adjoining Sandals retreats. Think sushi at Soy, green curry on the Royal Thai private island, crisp to the formal Oleander, as fish and chips at The Cricketers Pub.
Fill your boots: The resort has nine world-class restaurants on site. Pictured above is Bayside Restaurant
An all-inclusive seven-night stay at Sandals Montego Bay in a Seaside Oceanview Luxury room starts from £ 2,047pp, or from £ 2,931pp in a luxury beachfront suite with butler and balcony bath. The price includes Gatwick Virgin Atlantic flights and resort transportation. For more information visit sandals.co.uk
An impressive cocktail list accompanies this endless menu wherever you go, including at the over-the-water latitudes, where you sit at a fireplace at night. In the meal, why not pop into Cafe de Paris to try one of six ice creams – maybe pistachio, or rum and raisin – or treat yourself to a mille-feuille and ice cream. You can live from these indulgencies, making a dozen visits a day.
In the evenings, walk under the stars on a low beach, listen to the spout of a steel drum band, or go wild and & # 39; mash up the place & # 39; at a reggae party.
If you want to see more of the country, you can pay £ 175 extra for a half day tour.
That's not a rep you count on a bus. Instead, you are handed the keys to a Mini Cooper convertible and follow an experienced manual that sits behind the wheel of another car.
Motivating around the lush tropical landscape, such as an extract from The Italian Job, visit the famous Dunn's River Falls and Discovery Bay of 1000ft, where Christopher Columbus first set foot in 1494.
Back at the resort, spa removal is not included. An hour's pummeling of & # 39; tropical paradise & # 39; is £ 250.
Turn off the boat with a private candle light dinner for two on the beach and that's £ 140 extra. You can tie the knot – or renew vows – at a chapel, for £ 230 over a glass vault running above the sea.
On the modern all-inclusive vacation, the only scheme to follow is your own. I feel nostalgic about my package past, but now that I'm older, my expectations of a great vacation are higher, so it's those little touches of luxury that don't make the difference.
Five OTHER PACKAGE BREAKS TO BLOW YOU AWAY
To prove just how far the package holiday has come, we've compiled this list of great deals.
Remarkably, these seductive options can be found at high street businesses and are all-inclusive.
KENYAN SAFARI ADVENTURE
Bush tucker: Alfresco dining at a Kenyan safari
Closes the deal: Camp on safari in a luxurious tented suite overlooking Mount Kilimanjaro. A private deck in a desert home overlooks water holes where you can observe hippos and crocodiles while on game drives looking for lions, elephants and giraffes. Each tent includes a free standing copper bath. The Finch Hattons Suite has a plunge pool, plus a personal chef and butler.
Total cost: From £ 5,499pp for a seven-night stay with Kuoni (kuoni.co.uk), based on two adults who share. The price also includes return BA flights to Nairobi, forwarding flights and transfers, and an additional overnight stay in Nairobi.
GRAN CANARIA FAMILY DUTIES
Closes the deal: All ages and activities are catered for in the Arguineguin resort. Children are taken from your hands for adventures in the resort & # 39; mini-country & # 39; and swimming pool. Alternatively, you can share in the fun with family-focused yoga and gymnastics. Teenagers can escape to their own music and wi-fi lounge, while discos and evening entertainment are provided for all age groups. The apartment has a kitchenette where guests can make snacks and drinks. Adults can also relax in a spa, enjoy beauty treatments and take fitness classes.
Total cost: £ 2,296 for a family of four for a seven-night stay in a studio apartment with balcony overlooking the sea. The price includes return flights. Visit thomascook.com.
HEAVEN FOR FOODIES IN TENERIFE
Closes the deal: You may not think you can choose between two Michelin star restaurants, or stay somewhere as fancy as a Ritz-Carlton Hotel on a package – but you can now with Jet2. Choose the Ritz-Carlton Abama and you'll also get the chance to play golf on an adjacent 18-hole course.
Total Cost: A week long stay with breakfast and dinner, return flights from East Midlands Airport, and private transfers to the resort, costs from £ 1,366pp. Visit jet2.com.
ST LUCIA FOR SPORTS AND SPAS
Closes the deal: Windsurfing and water skiing sessions in the sparkling Caribbean Sea are included for guests at the BodyHoliday Hotel. If you prefer to stay on land, enjoy free Pilates and golf classes, cycling, tennis and yoga. Output? Head to the spa on site for free daily treatments. End your day in an award-winning fusion restaurant.
Total cost: Tui (tui.co.uk) offers seven nights all-inclusive for two starting at £ 1,879 pp, including food and wine and return flights.
THE MALDIVES FOR HONEYMOON PARADISE
Private paradise: Beautiful island of Kudadoo in Maldives, where you have a butler and a chef
Closes the deal: Take a 40-minute ride by plane to Kudadoo Island Private Atoll. A marine biologist will snorkel you with turtles, manta rays and dolphins, or you can go kite surfing. For relaxation, go to the spa of the Himalayan Salt Room. You will also have a butler and chef.
Total cost: From £ 10,150pp for seven days, based on two parts. Braids are not included. Visit kudadoo.com.
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