By Claire Ballhatchet
I'm having an absolutely amazing time here in Beaches T&C! The morning flight on the Sunday was on time and we arrived Sunday evening. Cold towels and champagne cocktails were presented on arrival at the resort! Baggage was taken to the room directly! First evening meal was an a la carte new Italian restaurant, Mario's.
Monday morning, we were free to have breakfast at leisure - I chose Mario's restaurant again as I knew where it was and it offered a great buffet selection, including an amazing variety of options:
We had a resort tour, which took approx 1hr 30 as the place is so big... there are 7 pools in total and 16 dining venues! After the tour, we had a quick lunch and then went snorkelling - it was my first time and boy did my heart race when I jumped out of the boat and into the sea, breathing only through a small tube with my mouth!!
After the snorkelling, it was straight off for a massage at the Red Lane® Spa. I had quite a few knots in my shoulders after the snorkelling and it felt great to get pampered with some aromatic oils.
Dinner was at Kimono's - the resort's only reservation-only restaurant, which serves up Japanese cuisine cooked up in front of you by an entertaining chef! Here's me getting involved!
On Tuesday, a quick trip to the gym followed by breakfast at Barefoot by the Sea - an a la carte restaurant. I had a lovely smoked salmon and soft cheese bagel, washed down by orange juice and freshly brewed coffee. Next, the splashing began at the brand new Pirate's Island waterpark, featuring childrens and adults waterslides, including a tube ride!
Not forgetting the surf simulator, which can be used as either a body board or surf board. Unfortunately, I was far too chicken for this!
Instead, I would be cruising along around the 650ft lazy river, laying back and enjoying the sun!
It's clear to see why children would love this new area so much, they are even treated to their own swim-up bar.
After the fun-filled floatation, sunning and splashing, it was off to the beach to learn the art of windsurfing. With the sea so warm and enticing as it was, it's easy to see why many of us soon gave up learning to windsurf, and took to sitting in the sea and spectating!
That night, we had a meal at Schooners, the seafood restaurant on the beach front. One of the gourmet restaurants, it served a variety of fish dishes and I had an enjoyable conch salad and seafood risotto.
Wednesday was a little more laid back and gave me an opportunity to view parts of the resort I hadn't seen. The Café du Paris was a great little find and I couldn't resist the ice blended mocha drinks and little pastries, all served up with a smile.
The afternoon was scheduled for watersports and we managed to go hobie cat sailing, which was a scream! The instructor would tip us up on one side of the miniature catamaran and give us all a soaking!
We enjoyed a gourmet meal at Barefoot by the Sea, where I tried conch fritters (if only I'd known what conch looked like - I soon found out the next day (Thursday) during the island tour at Conch World)...
The tour guide kindly informed us the differences between the frankly icky looking female and male conch:
After the tour, it was quickly back to get dressed up and ready for the first night of opening celebrations at "Welcome to Beaches" Barefoot Beach Party. This was a truly spectacular night with candle-lit entrance, ice sculptures, hollowed out coconut drinks, shaped melons and a huge buffet... there was entertainment on stage including exotic dancers, fire throwers and limbo and congas.
After the party, we headed to the Cricketer's pub - new to the Italian Village, this English pub proudly serves up Guiness and an array of typical pub grub including some lovely fish 'n' chips.
Having played (and won) a good game of pool against marketing directors Karl and Phil there the previous night, I felt at ease at the pub. It was actually cooler inside than outside, and being such a nice evening, we chose to sip some drinks outside, before turning in early ready for our Sesame Street character breakfast the next morn.
The rest of Friday morning involved setting sail on a Kitty Katt catamaran boat cruise, a luxury add-on for guests that they can pay for, which includes a snorkel, drinks onboard and a lunch.
The afternoon involved a wine tasting session, where we learned about how sharp and sweet foods such as limes and apples affect the flavour of wines.
A few swigs, swallows and spits of wine later and we rolled off to see the Sesame Street parade, featuring dancers, drummers and favorite characters from the show.
During the parade, I sneaked off to try the sushi, as I knew I wouldn't get another opportunity to try it, so I ordered a sushi platter to try a bit of everything:
It was lovely - all very fresh and tasty! Then it was off to the Pirate Pool Party for a show and some singing and dancing.
DMC - picture right
Clique Girlz - picture left
The night ended by us getting glammed up and hitting the nightclub Club Liquid.
Saturday morning began by watching others enjoy the surf simulator. We also learned about how to scratch and mix vinyl.
This was very popular amongst the young 'uns as was the learning to beat box!
Saturday night was the big night for the opening ceremony and started with a cocktail party with canapés, before sitting down for the ribbon cutting opening ceremony. There were 2 hours worth of speeches and then the ribbons were cut followed by fireworks!
This marked the start of the masquerade carnival party, with entertainment from syncronised swimmers, acrobatics and a lazer show!
Drinks were free flowing and fantastic spreads of each type of food were on offer, including an amazing collection of chocolate!!
What a fantastic end to a press trip! Home time on Sunday!