Vacations are great. Vacations in a beautiful place are even better. But I submit that perhaps the very best vacation one can have is a villa vacation in a beautiful place. That, my friends, is next level. It’s pinch-me-this-can’t-be-real good.
Last month, our family was able to get out of NYC and spend the last two weeks of the year in Jamaica. It was special for many reasons — 1) being in the islands at Christmas time is a legit vibe, and a tradition Jordan and I have tried to maintain since our first Christmas together, 2) because Jamaica has been on the Zika list, and we’ve been in phases of trying to get pregnant or being pregnant, it had been more than two years since our last visit, and 3) we got to spend the first four days of our trip at a villa owned by family friends. And it. was. magical.
Four Winds Villa is located at Old Fort Bay, which is just outside of Ocho Rios. We flew into Montego Bay and drove 90 minutes to the house, and we were joined by my mom, my cousin Jenny, her husband Ram, and their baby girl Blake. (You might remember that Jordan officiated Jenny and Ram’s Hill Country wedding).
Four Winds is a gorgeous five-bedroom house that basically has everything you could want. Like amazing views, a private beach, swimming pool, hot tub, and a tennis court.
The villa has all kinds of games and sporting equipment, including kayaks. Jordan and I took the risk of potentially having an argument and kayaked to a nearby waterfall called Laughing Waters. Jordan was gracious, even though I did a horrible job of paddling consistently. But I’ll blame the fact that I was totally distracted by the amazing color of the water. And Laughing Waters was so peaceful, I would have stayed for hours if we didn’t have to get back to the kids.
In addition to all of the natural surrounding beauty, what makes a villa vacation so special is the talented and hospitable staff who work at the home. The chef at Four Winds is an amazing cook, and every single meal or snack we had was delicious. She prepared all of our favorites — fresh fruit, ackee and saltfish, oxtail, fricassee chicken, bun and cheese, and breadfruit chips. And it was so nice to eat every meal outside.
Jenny is an awesome athlete — like won a national championship when she played lacrosse at University of Maryland (#GoTerps). She was kind enough to lead us through a yoga routine that was manageable for my no-exercise-routine-just-trying-to-survive self.
It started off all peaceful, as we did our sun salutations and gazed out at the sea. Aaaaand then, Jameson decided he wanted in on the yoga action. I blame Sesame Street for having an episode about yoga. This guy cracks me up…
If you guessed that it might have been hard for me to complete all of my moves as intended, you’d be correct. This dude was jumping on my back, putting his foot in my face, and laying on the mat under me, so that every time I dropped down for a chaturanga, he’d wrap his arms around my neck, pull me in for a hug, and die with laughter. I can’t lie — my yoga practice looked crazy, but getting hugs in the middle of the routine was kind of the best thing ever.
Outside of the swimming, kayaking, eating, and yoga-ing, we spent a whole lot of time just enjoying each other and marveling at the fact that we were getting to enjoy such a beautiful place. I don’t think I put on shoes for the entire four days, and it was the best thing ever.
There were, of course, challenges with the kids — Blake and Josiah were born just eight days apart, so they both had sleep challenges that came with adjusting to a new place. And Jameson was so excited by the water and wide open spaces, that he sometimes didn’t know what to do with himself or how to act. He also basically ate rice for 75% of his meals (God bless the staff for being so accommodating.)