Tryall Club - Seafore Villa

Old Aug 8th, 2005, 12:30 PM
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Tryall Club - Seafore Villa

Our trip report from our week in Jamaica. Sorry it's a bit long, but hope it helps if you are planning a trip.
If you want to be pampered in a beautiful spot … try Tryall. The villas are spacious and come with private pools (a delight for early morning and late evening swims). The views are incredible. But the best part is the staff. They were delightful, friendly, anxious to please, accommodating, not overbearing. They greeted us on arrival with a tray of ice-cold fruit juices and big smiles.
Our chef’s cuisine was simple which meant the kids (teens)liked it. I loved the fresh fruit (a platter of papaya, mango, pineapple, banana, melon every morning), the fresh-squeezed orange juice and the salads. She offered us quite a few Jamaican specialties including pumpkin soup, ackee with saltfish, callaloo, stuffed cho-cho, plantains, key lime pudding. Amazingly, my picky 18-year old tried everything. The main courses and desserts (many from a boxed mix) were just ok, and we missed having good bread and rolls with our meals. She charmed the kids by leaving a plate of peanut butter brownies out the night we dined out, and she won us over with a Jamaican fruit cake with lemon and rosewater icing (the traditional wedding cake there) with Happy Anniversary on it for our celebration. I read some complaints online about receipts for food. We had no problems on that score. Our chef gave us a handful of receipts and some change the night before we left.
Our housekeeper kept everything immaculate and provided fresh towels twice a day. There were new arrangements of flowers every day, too. The laundress was a treat. Our fresh-smelling clothes arrived neatly folded on a tray or on hangers. Our gardener had a smile every morning as he cleaned the pool area. The landscaping was gorgeous.
Our villa was the Seafore. It’s ranked superior – in the middle of the rating scale. It’s not luxurious or huge but is comfortable. The four bedrooms are in two wings, each with its own bath. We were able to rent it with just two bedrooms for a slightly reduced rate. The staff had set up the two bedrooms that opened to the pool area – though we had requested bedrooms in separate wings for privacy, those two were a bit larger and nicer since they had glass doors and a view. They were separated by a small hallway, and we were quite happy there (they did offer us the chance to use other bedrooms). We used the air conditioning at night. The mattresses were firm; the pillows, soft. The beds were made with two top sheets and nicely turned down each evening. The towels were huge, soft and absorbent. There were beach towels for the pool (and other towels available at the beach and main pool at the Great House). There was a television with cable channels in the living room. Lots of puzzles, decks of cards, and a good selection of books … but no board games or videos. The outdoor spaces were huge and comfortable. There were two couches at one end, 7-8 big chairs with a coffee table, a dining table outside (and a more formal one inside), a wicker table with chairs and 7-8 pool lounges. Plenty of lights everywhere.
Security was evident everywhere. Guards patrolled the grounds at night, and there were kiosks dotting the facility. We even spotted guards checking the trunks of the workers’ cars on the way in. We felt very safe. We had inquired about a safe (for cash and other valuables) before we went, but we never asked about it there. We trusted our staff completely and never worried about anything.
The beach, though small, is immaculate (we watched them rake and clean it early in the morning) and comes with a wide variety of sports equipment. The trampoline was most popular with my kids, but we also snorkeled and kayaked and contemplated the hobie cats (the sunfishes were unavailable). The basketball court had seen better days (don’t bother packing the b’ball shoes), but the croquet area was enticing. There were even lacrosse sticks to borrow. There were ample lounges with comfy pads and foam mats for lazing in the water. Plenty of towels and waiters from the nearby bar and restaurant came by periodically to take drink orders.
Our villa came with a golf cart. You need one at Tryall to get to the beach (3 minute ride or 10 minute walk) or the Great House (about the same distance) which houses the commissary, the duty-free shop, the main pool (spectacular view from the almost-infinity pool and steps), the internet room and more. It would have helped to have had two. Our staff needed the cart periodically which meant we had to wait for it to be returned. I’d look for a villa with 2+ carts on a return visit.
Tryall is a golf resort. We all tried the driving range, and my husband and son played one morning. The course is spectacular, pristine, never busy (we were there in the low season), and again, the views are amazing.
If there’s a downside to this paradise, it’s no night life. We went to the beach BBQ on Wednesday night (good food but overpriced -- $200 for 4 of us with 2 glasses of wine), and there were a couple of Jamaican musicians. Other than that, we amused ourselves. We all read quite a bit (that’s my definition of a real vacation) and played cards. We borrowed a backgammon board from the guest services coordinator for the week.
My husband had a massage the day we came. The masseuse arrived at our villa. It was difficult to keep the curtains shut (the wind blew them open), so there wasn’t quite the privacy they would have liked, plus he described the massage as just ok. Later, we went to Round Hill with my daughter. That spa is quite lovely (and expensive). His massage was heavenly (John, the Australian masseur) as were our facials. Only wish we’d brought our bathing suits and enjoyed the beach and pool there for a few hours.
We had a driver for the transfers to/from the airport. He was provided by Ken Smythe and was on time for both trips. Mr. Smythe offered us the use of a cell phone for the week so we could reach him for any other transportation needs. We were able to buy phone cards to use with the cell phone to call the USA (cheaper than using the villa phone). We hired a driver for one other day ($120 + tip) – that van was very nice though the driver hardly talked to us (we’d hoped he might give us a tour or some insights into the area). Still, he got us around safely.
We found the best shopping was at the airport on our way home. We’re glad we arrived early. We had virtually no lines for check-in or security and had time to shop and have lunch at Margaritaville (this time, the burgers were great, especially the jerk burger). We’d advise against having any vendors come into your villa. A few arrived at ours the first day, and we should have said no. We ended up paying premium prices (more than even in the gift shop at the resort) for items that were readily available many places.
There is a quite a bit of construction at Tryall now. We heard that 130 more villas will be built eventually (there are about 65 now). We never heard construction noise though (except for the last morning when some repairs were being done on our villa). It appears that the lots are all at least an acre so it’s unlikely the villas will be crammed together. In the high season, the beach, the golf course and other facilities are probably more crowded. I took the villa tour (though it was cancelled once – and I was the only one on the tour the day I went), so I saw a Great House villa (1 BR, nicely appointed but only comes with a housekeeper), the Villa Stella (truly luxurious, easy to understand the difference in price) and Merryland (up for sale, spacious and lovely). It was fun to see what else was available.
Linda Smith’s website offered photographs and accurate information about the villas, and her staff patiently answered my many queries before we left. I felt we were in good hands. You can also book through Tryall and through some of the villa owners directly.
The cost of all of this was about what we would have spent at an all-inclusive, but we had the luxury and privacy of our own home and own staff. Plus, no buffet lines, no camp counselor-types encouraging us to do pool games, no silly entertainment shows. We ate and drank what we wanted when we wanted. It was truly relaxing.
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Old Aug 8th, 2005, 04:50 PM
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Hi Kate, Welcome home! I've been checking for a trip report. Thanks for writing so promptly. Your vacation sounds like it was nice. What did your kids think? I'm torn between a villa in one of the secure resorts or someplace in Negril. Well, I have plenty of time to decide and I'm sure that I will have more questions for you if you don't mind.
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Old Aug 9th, 2005, 05:13 AM
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Welcome home.
I knew you would have a great time at Tryall.
We've been interested in Seafore as a possible villa vacation. But I've always had two questions. Now I have someone to ask them to!
Considering Seafore's location, did you have much road noise?
Also, again, considering the location, were you able to cope with the time and distance to the Great House and commissary? Which way did you find to be the fastest -- down towards the beach villas and then back up the hill to the Great House, or back inland up the road by Mahogany Hill and around to the Great House from the back?
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Old Aug 10th, 2005, 07:37 AM
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To answer the questions:
My kids loved the villa and Jamaica, though they would have been bored if we'd been there for more than a week. There wasn't much to do besides read and swim (and my son watched TV). There weren't many other kids around. Having said that, my kids appreciate each other's company on vacation, and we liked having meals together every day. Both kids said they'd love to go back someday.
We were not impressed with Negril though I know some people love it. An AI would provide more activities if your kids want that. Mine wanted the chance to kick back and really relax.
On the road noise, yes, there was some but not alot. You could hear trucks occasionally but it was not bothersome.
It took about 10 minutes (maybe less) on the golf cart to get to the Great House. I thought the two routes were about the same, but we always went by Mahogany Hill (my husband said it was faster and I preferred skipping the tunnels). It never seemed very far (in fact, we walked the entire property every morning -- 4 miles or so). I was glad the commissary and the internet room involved a little hike -- meant we didn't indulge in too many snacks or spend too much time online!
I realized I left a few things out of my post. We did bring some very little gifts with us for the staff (hand lotion, perfume, a baseball cap), and I think that got us off to a nice start. We also gave them Monday off (it was Emancipation Day, a holiday, and they really appreciated being able to go home to their families) -- that was the day we did our excursion. And we tipped a bit more than the 15% suggested, just seemed appropriate since they'd waited on us all week. They were there from before we got up until we went to bed, very long days.
Hope that helps.
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Old Aug 10th, 2005, 05:15 PM
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Thanks for the detailed report, sounds very relaxing!
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