Jamaica: Hedonism by Michael Sharp

My wife and I just returned from another trip to Hedonism II in Negril Jamaica and thought that I would report on the happenings/events there during our trip. There have been some changes since our last trip last October. We always go during the second week in October because of the price break and the low number of others that travel at that time. This year we met our usual group as well as some new couples from all over the country.

The temps were in the 90's during the day with a rather high humidity away from the ocean. Temps at night were in the 70's with lower humidities if it rained during the late afternoon. During October it has been our experience that it is pretty typical for it to be clear/sunny mornings with clouds building in the early afternoon. Around 3-4 pm, there are some rain clouds which built up and it rains for about an hour or so and then clears up. This year was typical, but it only rained on the resort three of the days. The rest of the week was without rain and we got to see some nice sunsets. The winds were light most days and the water was calm except for one day when the wind came up in the afternoon from the south and there were some small waves. The water temperature was very warm this year and was I measured the it while scuba diving to be 83 degrees (at 90 feet !!!!).

Activities: There were the usual activities this year although our water balloon battles were not allowed due to the complaints by others on the beach. We did manage to "sink" quite a few Sandals boats/kayakers/local ganja boats/booze cruise boats though. There seemed to be more people on the nude beach this year than in previous years. There were a lot more singles that ventured over, especially after the island picnic on Monday. There were many more single men than women that we noticed. I would estimate the nude hot tub was always full late in the day and in theevenings. There were some prudes that ventured over to the nude beach and the nude hot tube and refused to take off their clothing, which caused some complaints from the nude beach goers. The management of the resort was told of these incidents and for the most part it was taken care of, but some refused to leave.

We found that the security this year was not as good as past years in enforcing the nude only/no photography rules. We went to lunch with Gary Williams down the beach at Cosmo's one day and he told us of the upcoming Super Club happenings which I will elaborate on later in this post.

I and two others made a day trip to Montego Bay to play golf at Tryall, home of the richest golf tourney, the Johnny Walker Tournament. In one word I can sum up the day: HOT !!!!!! The course was difficult, but for my first time there (and being a bogie golfer) I managed to shoot my usual. Stay in the fairways and you will be okay....go out of them and your in trouble........The caddies were helpful and provided instant yardage help and club choices. The greens fees were not outrageous and rentals of clubs/shoes are available also at a reasonable price. Overall I think that the cost for greens fees, caddies and clubs was around $150 US.

Scuba diving boats were very full again this year. A large group of professional divers took one of the boats every day, so it limited the number of boats available for others. We still managed to go each day on a at least one dive. The reefs we visited were different than last year and seemed to be in great shape with a lot of fish and lots of nice coral growths. I would suggest going to Joe's Reef, Kingfish Point, and Treasure Reef. These were the nicest dives. I didn't get to go on the two-tank dive (due to my leaving that day on which they were scheduled . Joseph took a group over to the cliffs near Rick's Cafe for the two-tank dive. Hopefully they will continue exploring new reefs and trying new types of diving experiences. There was some talk of doing some night dives, but none were scheduled. Kingfish Point, Treasure Reef and Joe's reef would be EXCELLENT night dives. Hopefully night dives will also be the norm rather than the exception in the future. One had to sign up for diving the day before a trip although some openings on boats could be found to replace those that spent all night in the disco.

The scuba diving crew down there has always been pretty good and continues to be that. Even though we had dove with them before and they knew us, and we were advanced divers, they asked us to go out on a shallower checkout dive prior to making any of the more advanced dives. There were quite a few taking advantage of the scuba school there and getting certified. Please make sure that if you dive there that you be extra careful so as not to damage any of the reefs so that we can all expect to enjoy them for a long time. We had numerous instances of "advanced" divers plowing over the reefs and knocking parts off, etc. One girl pulled out her dive knife to pry off something until I glared at her and she put it away.....Take away only memories and leave only bubbles.....Please.....

The snorkeling/fish life off the beaches was still pretty good and there was a large green moray living in the rocks just off the pier in about ten feet of water. There were also cuttlefish, southern stingrays, spotted eagle rays and puffers at night off the pier. Take some bread down from dinner and feed them. There were numerous urchins in the water on the nude beach and we had one instance of stepping on one (ouch....). If you bring some bread down in the morning to the nude beach, the fish in the little reef down from the far raft will eat right from your hand. There were a lot of other activities during the week and most seemed to be popular.

The two island picnics seemed to be well attended and after the first one, made the nude beach more popular. This may have been due to the shortage of single women on the prude beach. There were a lot of entries in the body painting this year and there were also a lot of cameras and prudes checking it out. Once again security was lax. The Pajama party and Toga night were well attended and there were a lot of entries in the "most revealing"/sexiest categories for both events. The men seemed to be mostly in boxers or nude with a sock or something covering their penises and the women seemed to lean towards the see-through body suits or topless/open breast pajamas. There were a number of styles of togas that were pre-made by returnees and there was a minor fiasco for some when the housekeepers forgot to put sheets in some of the buildings on the nude side, so entire buildings didn't get their togas until right before dinner.

The piano bar was very active each evening and seemed to be the place to go after the dinner shows. The beach parties were well attended each night also. The reggae this year seemed to be a little less rap-oriented and more Bob Marley style. There were sand fleas out during the beach parties but were a minor nuisance. The pier was popular each night feeding the fish and seeing the rays/squid/etc. come in. Popular trips off the resort seemed to be horseback riding and trips to Rick's Cafe for the sunsets. We didn't make either of these trips but did manage to visit a local bar down the road owned by the son of a friend of ours.

Overall Negril seemed to be a safe place to go out and one wasn't threatened at all. There are a lot of locals who vend various products throughout the day, but security wasn't lax about keeping them off the property.

One of the couples that we met while there were making their first visit to Hedonism II and tried to fit in as much activity as they possibly could during their stay. I'm going to try to contact them for their opinions of the activities they took part in and post their responses. Believe me when I say that they tried everything. We called them the "adventure couple" !!!!!

Entertainment in the main dining room was better than in past visits in my opinion. There has been a great deal of change in the staff of Hedonism II andwith it has been a change in some of the entertainment. There was more professional groups from Kinston performing and there was an excellent steel drum group that entertained the entire dining room. Talent night still occurs on Thursday nights. Food and Drink: This year's meals were pretty much the same as last year's fare with a little more variation in the vegetables available. Other than the lobster tails on Saturday nights (small the first Saturday night but much larger the second Saturday we were there...) and the mushroom soup, the food was good but not exceptional.

There was a good variety of salad bar materials as well as meats and breads and no one should ever go away hungry from Hedonism. We did eat some breakfast and lunch meals in the main dining room this year and found it a change from our usual routine of going to the snack bars on the beaches for grilled sandwiches and French fries. There was a coffee brewed on the nude beach at DelRoy's every morning starting at 7-7:30 am and there usually was a platter of cookies or fruit there also for the early morning beach comers. The returnees party on Wednesday night had it's usual good fare and everyone was full when they left although we did go to the dining room for dessert afterwards.

After trying the newly opened Pastafari restaurant last year, we decided to give it another try this year to see if it had improved. While the service was much better and the rules as far as dressing had relaxed a little (no bare feet or swimwear),I found the food to be so-so, but it is no where near the hustle-bustle of the main dining room and was a nice change of pace. I would recommend trying the pasta choice with mushrooms/asparagus/sun-dried tomatoes.

It seemed to be the most popular choice among the 8 people at our table. DelRoy and Scuba still make the best drink's on the beach and Michelle does a wonderful job at the main dining room bar and there was no shortage of beverages. Popular non-alcoholic drink this year was Ting on ice. If you haven't tried a Ting (only available in Jamaica),then try one when down there.

We went to lunch with Gary Williams to a place down the beach called Cosmo's. Very good food at a reasonable price. A very good drink available there but not available at Hedonism is called a Shandy. It is a bottled beer/champagne combo that comes in a variety of flavors and is very good.

I did hear some complaints from some people that their favorite brand of beer wasn't available and that the only choice for beer was Red Stripe, but I guess that you can't stock EVERYTHING or please EVERYONE all the times. We found the choices to be more than adequate and the adding of Vodka Slush dispensers at the bars to speed things up. Now we just need a Dirty Banana dispenser and I'd be happy.....

I forgot to mention that someone with 14 visits took the prize at the returnees party......

NEWS: Now I can dispense some news that you all may have been waiting for. Gary Williams disclosed to us that he is still trying to get a nude pool put in at Hedo. A lot of the promised construction had been put on hold and may be put on further hold due to the construction that is starting in November on a new Hedonism II resort on the island of St. Lucia. It will be identical in amenities to Hedo-Negril and will be called Hedonism II also. It will be built on a peninsula with the prude beach on one side and the nude beach on the other. Everything as far as activities will be the same with the exception of NO SCUBA DIVING. Construction has been delayed due to the island not liking the idea of a nude beach.

A new series of SuperClub resorts will be opening soon and will be no-frill resorts but still be somewhat all-inclusive. They will not have all the activities of Hedo/Grand Lido/etc. The first one will be opening in Nassau, Bahamas soon and will be called Breezes. Apparently it was previously the Windom (spelling) and as soon as it has been remodeled, etc, then it will be opening.

Gary and Cornell also mentioned that the resort may revise the "stay 2 weeks-in-a-year-get-3-free-days" in the near future. For those that don't know about it, if you stay at Hedonism II 14 days in a CALENDAR year, then you can get three free days. Your travel agent or yourself must ask and keep track of it though. They didn't say if they were going to make the extension longer or cut it out.........if someone hears, let the rest of us know.....Gary, Cornell, and Kevin are all working hard to keep everyone happy and returning to Hedonism II. Let them know if there is a problem and they are very good about getting the problem resolved.

By the way.....check out Gary's new cigarette boat parked at the pier...

Miscellaneous: I thought that I would make a list of what we consider essentials to take with when traveling to Hedonism II especially for newcomers.

+Sipper cups--keeps out sand/water and makes for less trips to the bar

+ Zip-lock style bags--keeps things dry (like cigarettes and lighters)

+Inflatable rafts--Great for floating around on the water, especially if they have slots for drinks and then they can be used to supply the whole group. The dive shop will fill them for you and most people just leave them there for others when they leave.

+ Suntan oil/lotion--Bring lots since it can be expensive or not available. Make sure that you prepare for the intense sun or you may have a miserable sunburn.

+ Beach bag--works good to carry towels/snorkeling gear/etc. + Hat--intense sun....enough said..... + Water shoes--sea urchins...enough said

+ Medicated powder (Mexana)--prevents/heals sun rashes especially if you are on oral contraceptives.

+ AT&T calling card--only AT&T has direct /no hassle lines from Hedonism II.

We also flew again this year to Negril from MoBay via TimAir. They always have great service and schedule their flights around you. Cost this year was $220 round trip for two with a discount if you had others flying with you. Reservations can be made a couple of weeks in advance by calling:

TimAir Ltd 809-952-2516 809-979-1114
PO Box 122
Reading P.O.,St James FAX: 809-979-1113 Jamaica,W.I.

Other ramblings: Overall our trip was exceptional again and we will surely be returning to Hedo II next year. We have always been happy going to Jamaica in early October and have not had any bad experiences while there, although the day before we left some of the Halloween/Anniversary swinger crowd had started to arrive and perform their particular brand of exhibitionism in front of everyone. I had heard stories of some of these types of happenings and the reputation that outsiders had gotten of Hedonism II due to these groups, but until this year we had not seen it in person. I'm not criticizing the groups activities, but if exhibitionism/overt sexual freedom is not your cup of tea then you may want to check with the resort to see if these groups are going to be there when you are. The management did quickly act to prevent some VERY explicit acts on the rafts on the nude beach after they started for the second day. We are not prudes and we are not nudists but we really avoided these groups (which meant avoiding the hot tub) after witnessing some of the activities and that kept us from enjoying the resort. Luckily we were leaving the next day and didn't have to go through the hassles. If I had been a newcomer to Hedonism II and looked out on the nude beach rafts during the exhibition, I would definitely think about whether or not I had made the right choice of resorts

So that's my latest diary/impressions of our latest return trip to Hedonism II. I'll be returning, hopefully, next year and gather with old and new friends at DelRoy's.......til then.....