LoungeBuddy's Jamaican Retreat (Part 1)

Last February, we crafted an in-depth post detailing LoungeBuddy's first company retreat to Puerto Vallarta. A year later, our team has grown by leaps and bounds, and we've just returned from our second annual retreat all refreshed and ready to forge onward. With our memories from this year's trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica still fresh in mind, we'd like to take this opportunity to recount the time we spent at this beautiful sun-soaked island paradise.

This post is Part 1 of our full length feature. Click on the corresponding link for Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.

Departure From San Francisco

Due to inclement weather, our flight out of San Francisco International Airport was initially delayed for several hours. Once we boarded our flight, an electrical failure was discovered onboard the aircraft, which necessitated our evacuation just moments after having settled in. It was back to the gate area, where we would wait an additional hour for another plane to arrive and ferry us to our destination.

Our CEO passed the time by starring in a documentary about the airport experience.

While everyone else was fast asleep, the LoungeBuddy team was getting charged up.

While things didn't get off to the best start, this experience was not all unpleasant, and provided a reminder on why LoungeBuddy was so valuable for air travelers. The highlight of our time at SFO was dinner at the Centurion Lounge.

SFO Centurion Lounge

The Centurion Lounge is just a flight of stairs away.

We first visited the SFO Centurion Lounge when it opened in late 2014. While certain aspects of the lounge experience have changed, the lounge has retained all the amenities that attracted our attention in the first place - a cocktail bar, wine dispenser, and a delicious culinary smorgasbord.

Because we got to the lounge near closing time, we had the entire place to ourselves.

It's not often that you'll have your pick of this many seats.

Moments after we came in and made ourselves comfortable, the kitchen staff brought out a fresh batch of boneless fried chicken. Talk about an amazing welcome gift!

Chef Cédric Vongerichten's custom-designed dinner selection.

The Centurion Lounge is vegan friendly.

Discover good food, drinks, conversation, and wi-fi at the Centurion Lounge.

When it's time for last call, order a couple cocktails for later.

Welcome To Montego Bay

After seven hours in the air and a quick dash through Miami International Airport to make our connecting flight, we made it to Jamaica in one piece.

Our CEO is in Airplane Mode.

It doesn't get much better than this.

Last year, we had a fantastic stay at the Hyatt Ziva outside of Puerto Vallarta. This year, we would once again have the opportunity to experience Hyatt's high standards of hospitality at the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall.

As Hyatt VIP guests, we visited the Hyatt arrivals lounge at Montego Bay's Sangster International Airport to wait for our shuttle ride to the resort.

Entrance to the arrivals lounge.

The Club Mobay VIP Arrivals Lounge, located just across the hall.

Seating is first come, first served.

Fruit punch, pineapple juice, and Jamaica's famous Blue Mountain Spring Water were among the complimentary refreshment options on offer. Red Stripe beer, one of Jamaica's most popular cultural exports, is available upon request.

Guests speaking with a Hyatt representative.

Free Wi-Fi is arguably the most popular amenity.

Getting To The Hotel

On our 15 minute drive along the idyllic coast, we were afforded the opportunity to soak in our first impressions of Jamaica. The abundance of greenery was one of the first things that immediately stood out. For some of us, the warm, tropical climate was a welcome respite from the cold and windy San Francisco winter.

Stunning natural beauty is a common sight along the Jamaican coastline.

The warm and humid weather in Jamaica was excellent. If your skin is not used to basking in the tropical heat, sunscreen is definitely recommended. Based on weather forecasts, it seemed that rain would be an issue, and there were plenty of hints in the form of thunderous waves and dark clouds. To our surprise, the rainfall levels were much lower than expected. In fact, the rain was more soothing than unpleasant when it did occur.

A refreshing mist envelopes the resort after a brief, but powerful bout of rain.

Along the way, our driver pointed out several must-visit landmarks, including a popular jerk chicken restaurant named Scotchies.

Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall

We arrived at the majestic Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall, a Colonial style resort that exudes the rhythms and beats of Jamaica. The Rose Hall name is derived from a nearby mansion, the Rose Hall Great House. This mansion, built in the Jamaican Georgian style, is considered the most visually impressive house in Jamaica. The resort's location is ideal, sitting in between the sapphire waters of the crystalline Caribbean Sea and the famed Blue Mountains.

Vast lawn by the Rose Hall Village complex.

The Ziva Rose Hall is a bit understated at first sight compared to the Ziva towers in Puerto Vallarta, with five floors of rooms at the maximum. It makes up for this with a more sprawling layout. The Zilara, Hyatt's adults-only all inclusive resort, is located right next to the Ziva, and adult guests from each resort are able to freely access the other with minimal restrictions.

Hyatt Ziva rooms overlooking a row of cabana day beds.

Hyatt Ziva rooms on the right side, view from the main building.

Upon arrival, we were whisked to the Club Level Lounge on the fifth floor, where we experienced our first taste of the all-inclusiveness that would make us happy guests all day and every day for the next week. Arguably the best part of this was all the Dirty Bananas, Rums and Cokes, and Poolside Passion cocktails we could handle.

Two orders of Rum and Coke, along with a Dirty Banana.

The Club Level Lounge offers quiet surroundings, a tremendous view of the resort, and several types of appetizers and snacks. While there are quite a few bars on the premises, including two swim up bars, the Club Level Lounge is your best bet if you're looking for quality.

The Club Level Lounge's food choices are pretty sweet.

Go To Part 2 >

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