Four Days in Paradise at Half Moon Resort Jamaica

Half Moon Bay Jamaica

After four days of rest and relaxation, today is my first day back to work and the real world which included a 5:30 AM alarm. The good news is that our quick trip down to Half Moon in Jamaica left me rested and energized. This trip was unlike any trip I’ve taken before. There were no husbands, no large group of friends, no excursions or even dinner reservations. Instead, the relaxing girls trip for two included lots of sleep, long conversations during beach walks, reading by the pool and making last minute dinner decisions based on the recommendations we received that day from the staff or guests. We chose to stay at an all-inclusive property for this trip as it allowed us to minimize expenses and relax more. While I realize many people would say that staying at an all-inclusive resort doesn’t allow you to get the true taste of the island, for this trip we prioritized rest and relaxation over culture.

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In case you all are planning a tropical trip anytime soon, I highly recommend using Expedia to search for resort specials. We changed resorts just weeks before our trip as we received a price drop email informing us that the top resort on the island, Half Moon Bay, had cut their price in half. The zika virus has limited the number of people traveling to the Caribbean and therefore many resorts are offering unheard of discounts. If you’re curious whether it’s safe for you travel to Jamaica or other Caribbean countries, I recommend you consult the CDC website as well as your doctor, which is what both Amy and I did before this trip.

Half Moon Jamaica Bikes

So while I dream of yoga overlooking the ocean and the delicious rum drinks, sit back and enjoy a glimpse into my long weekend trip to Jamaica.

Our Room

Steps away from the beach, our junior suite included two queen beds, a deep sinking tub, large living room and a balcony perfect for watching the sunset. Decorated in traditional, Jamaican colonial style the space was very comfortable. We were greeted with a local delicacy, rum cake, as well as a full mini-bar which was included in our all-inclusive plan. While we didn’t spend any time in the living room, we did spend a few hours reading on the balcony during the afternoon rain storms and each enjoyed hour-long bubble baths in the evening.

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Beach

There are two large beach areas at Half Moon Bay, one closer to the main property and another one about a mile walk from the main area.  Due to the proximity, we spent our time on the main beach which allowed us to enjoy lounging in the beach chairs, swimming in the clear water and sandy walks from our villa. This main beach, Sunset Beach, is the swimming beach and also where all non-motorized water sports are rented. Snorkeling, kayaks, pedal boats and beach floats are included in the resort rate. While we didn’t rent any of these due to the choppy waters, watching others navigate in a kayak for the first time or try and stay on their float provided hours of entertainment. Since this beach is also near the main bar, you are able to easily bring both food and drink to your beach chair. The other beach, Sunrise Beach, is strictly for walking, lounging and motorized water sports. There is no swimming at this beach nor chair attendants.

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Half Moon Jamaica beach

Pools

There are three pools on property, each with their own character. The pool we frequented, the Hibiscus Pool, is popular due to the swim-up bar. This pool also has a staff who will bring you water, towels and even freshly chopped and cracked coconuts throughout the day. The pool is quite large and naturally has an adult section towards the bar and a children’s section near the fountains and shallow end. The other two pools are the nearby 50 meter Olympic lap pool which features five lanes and the smaller Oleander Pool which is on a terrace near Sunrise Beach. While the pool wasn’t heated, it was warm enough to enjoy in the Jamaica weather which was 85-90 degrees each day.

Half Moon Jamaica swim up bar

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Spa & Gym

As soon as you walk through the gate to Fern Tree Spa you are transported to an oasis of relaxation. The 68,000 foot space includes multiple relaxation rooms, over water bungalows, lush gardens, sauna and steam rooms as well as a full gym. We avoided the rain showers on Friday afternoon with three hours in the spa, including an hour of reading in the large relaxation room and time in both the steam and sauna rooms. While the spa is not included in the all-inclusive package, we both decided to add a 60-minute signature Swedish Massage which included lemon grass tea and a foot bath before the massage even started. An added bonus, ff you choose to have a massage, this allows you access to the spa area for the rest of your stay.  The gym was modern and well appointed offering a cardio room, weight room as well as two studios where 4-8 group fitness classes take place daily. We enjoyed over water sunrise yoga on our first morning which was breath taking and one of the most memorable of yoga experiences. The 60-minute Vinyasa flow style yoga was taught in a three-walled bungalow over the ocean, allowing the view and sounds of the water to merge with our practice. The teachers strong Jamaican accent was also a relaxing touch as she guided us through the poses.
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Half Moon Jamaica Spa 2

half moon jamaica yoga

Food & Alcohol 

As part of our all-inclusive plan we truly had everything included whether that was a meal, beverage, snack or mini-bar treat. The highlights included the breakfast buffet which included freshly cut fruit, omelet station, made to order smoothies, mimosa and bloody mary bar and all the breakfast options anyone could imagine. Each morning we dined a la carte while sipping coffee and chatting. For lunch, we walked to the beach shake, Monchies, to enjoy freshly grilled Jamaican specialties like jerk chicken and fish. Paired with a Red Stripe, this was our favorite meal at Half Moon Bay. The dinners were only okay compared to the breakfast and lunch. While the new Sugar Mill Restaurant is beautiful and highly recommended, our meal wasn’t the best. Our final meal at Il Giardino, the Italian restaurant was by far our favorite dinner. In regards to the alcohol, this all-inclusive resort does not skimp when it comes to the liquor drinks. The liquors used were all considered mid to top-shelf choices and many of the fruity drinks included fresh fruit.  The wine by the glass options weren’t to our liking though their wine by the bottle offerings were far better and included in the all-inclusive.

Half Moon Jamaica restaurant

Half Moon Jamaica breakfast

Half Moon Jamaica Food

Staff

The staff at Half Moon Bay took the resort to the next level. From the moment we were greeted at the airport to our wave goodbye when we left, everyone greeted us with a smile as well as asking if there was anything they could do or anything we needed. Bartenders offered specialty cocktails made based on our tastes and you could tell that everyone on site was passionate about their role in making the resort experience enjoyable for guests!

Half Moon Jamaica bartender

Is it too early to plan our next trip to Half Moon Bay?

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Friday Favorites – April 22nd, 2016

Half Moon Bay Jamaica

Happy Friday and greetings from Jamaica! Even though we’ve been friends for more than 10 years, this is the first time we’ve traveled together as a duo without a race or work event. We arrived at Half Moon Resort in Jamaica yesterday around noon and have been relaxing ever since. Seriously, our hardest decision today has been whether to have jerk chicken or jerk shrimp for lunch. Every now and then, unplugging and getting away from it all is necessary. Other than a few snaps, Instagram pics and this post we’re both unplugging. We started the day with yoga overlooking the ocean before moving to the pool where I read three magazines  (People, Women’s Health and SHAPE) before switching over to my book, The Nightingale.  I’ll be back on Monday with a full recap of our time here but until then, let’s dive into this week’s edition of Friday Favorites, including recipes, articles, posts and other things that caught my eye this week.

  • I’m 110 pages into The Nightingale and can already tell I won’t be able to put it down until I finish it. The story follows two sisters during World War II and shows a side of the war that is often untold – the women’s war that they experience while their loved ones are fighting.
  • Since we arrived in Jamaica, Amy and I have both worn these Neor Mosquito Repellent Bracelets. The breeze seems to have kept them at bay, but the citronella scent also helps ensure that bugs don’t ruin our vibe while relaxing beach or poolside. They are less than $10 a pack and come with four replacements and two bracelets, perfect for Summer outings with friends.
  • Even though I haven’t tried the popular Charleston restaurant, Husk, I’ve heard people rave about it for years. Imagine my excitement when I read that Sean Brock is opening two new Husk locations in Greenville, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia in the next twelve months.
  • This workout class is basically nap time and it sounds amazing! You’ll find me at Crunch in the coming weeks, as this class is available to ClassPass members in NYC!
  • Always trying to discover new ways to stay healthy, I loved the tips and tricks in this article for people who work long hours but still want to lose weight.
  • Before deciding to invest in a juice cleanse for a quick fix, read this article to ensure you know what that expensive cleanse will actually do and not do. Don’t get me wrong – I love fresh pressed juices but I don’t rely on them to “cleanse my system.”
  • Reading race recaps always inspires me but there is something about Boston Marathon recaps that stay with me long after I read them. Maybe it’s knowing how hard each runner worked to get there or the way the late Spring timing can always surprise the runners with a mix of weather. Regardless, I recommend reading these recaps Pumps & Iron Stuft Mama as they each inspired me to lace up my running shoes, even on vacation!

How about you? What are you loving this week?

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored and instead is a list of the things of my favorite things this week. As normal, it includes lots of beauty and fashion items which means there are a few affiliate links via ShopStyle. It takes time and money to maintain a blog so I thank you for the support and few cents that come from clicking through the links!

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The Hardest Class I Took at the YMCA

Thanks to the YMCA of Greater New York for sponsoring this post.

Over the past two months, I have taken multiple classes at the YMCA including, but not limited to boot camp, yoga, spin, TRX, water aerobics and even a trampoline class. While each YMCA location had it’s own individual community vibe, I loved that every class format provided a safe environment for all abilities with teachers providing modifications throughout class.  The instructors took time before and after class to engage with students and it was clear that in most classes, I was the only new person. The YMCA members are loyal to their classes and instructors, and this was especially clear in my final class – Insanity.

After reading about the Insanity workouts on other health and wellness blogs, I was excited to discover that YMCA branches offer this workout to its members for no extra charge. Typically, the Insanity workout is only available when purchased through a Beachbody coach or their official website for 3 installments of $39.95.  This intense workout uses only your body weight and is a maximum interval style workout. This means that you push yourself, as hard as possible for 30 second to 1.5 minute increments and then have a very brief recovery between moves.

Chinatown YMCA

Offered Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the Chinatown YMCA, there was a line waiting outside the studio when I arrived, ten minutes before class. I asked a few of the students if they were regulars and took the class often. Their responses quickly told me that this class was going to be intense and I should fill my water bottle up and grab a towel because I’d be a sweaty mess by the end.

This class is awesome. 

The workout is efficient and killer!

Wait, this is your first time? Good luck! Make sure to tell Marc. 

Spoiler alert – this 45-minute class was beyond hard. In fact, it was not only the hardest class I took at the YMCA but one of the hardest classes I’ve taken – ever!

Insanity after

This class, while open and available to all members, is not for all abilities. Even though the friendly and high energy instructor, Marc, asked students about injuries and provided some adjustments, it as non-stop plyometric work. Almost all the moves were high impact including lots of jumping, side to side movements, sprints, and bursts of power. I can’t remember all the moves but the ones that stuck out in my head were the tuck jumps, ski jumps, cross jacks, ski abs, and clap push-ups. It wasn’t necessarily any individual move that made this class tougher than most of the classes I take at Barry’s Bootcamp, Fhitting Room, or Brick but instead the constant intensity. There weren’t alternate exercises to use as a “rest” such as weights or erg pieces. Instead, you were constantly moving between these high impact movements.

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Now that I have experienced Insanity, I can understand the appeal. For people who want to take their fitness and health to the next level, this is a great option especially if you workout at home. If you do the routine the 6 days a week that founder Shawn T recommends, you will get into fighting shape. However you will also put your body at a very high risk of injury if you don’t already know the right form and have a strong fitness base. Instead of trying this at home initially, I would recommend seeing if your local gym or even ClassPass studio offers the class so you can try it in-person with an instructor. If that isn’t an option, try to partner with a friend who has done it before or is experienced in high intensity workouts so they can help you with your form.

If you’re a member of YMCA of NYC and looking for a challenge, Marc’s twice a week Insanity classes will leave you sweating and out of breath. His friendly smile and awesome playlist will make you forget that you have 44 minutes left of class after you’re already out of breath in the first minute of tuck jumps.

Your turn: Have you tried Insanity yet? If so, what were your thoughts? 

Live in NYC and want to see what your local branch offers? Check out the YMCA website.

Disclosure: This post is part of a sponsored partnership with the YMCA of Greater New York.

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