Our Sun Escapes
Jamaica – Our first Caribbean villa trip with allergies was to Silver Sands resort about an hour east of Montego Bay. Silver Sands (www.mysilversands.com) is a small community of about 40 villas and cottages built around a beautiful beach on Jamaica’s north coast. There are one- to seven-bedroom villas that are clean and comfortable.
Most have private pools and all are within a few minutes walk of the beach. All villas include a cook and maid who work six days a week to prepare meals, clean and do your laundry.
We think the villas here are the best value in Jamaica and, possibly, the Caribbean. The beach is amazing. However, the facilities are limited to a tennis court, a playground and a small beach bar.
On our next trip, we decided to try a luxury villa at Tryall Club, also in Jamaica. Tryall Club (www.tryallclub.com) is a high-end resort of 76 villas built on a championship golf course and beach, 30 minutes east of Montego Bay (Hillary Clinton has vacationed here).
They have two- to eight-bedroom deluxe villas, all with private pools and all are within a few minutes walk or golf cart ride of the beach.
All villas include a cook and maid who work seven days a week to prepare and serve meals as well as clean and do your laundry. Tryall also has a range of facilities including a restaurant, beach bar, kids’ club, fitness club and golf course, although the beach is nothing special. The villas here are more affordable in the low season.
Grenada – Our most recent trip was with 17 people (friends and family) to our nicest villa yet. Grenada is a small island with far fewer people and tourists than Jamaica and weekly direct flights from Toronto. We rented two villas next door to each other through Nick Hughes at Spice Isle Villas (www.spiceislevillas.com).
Hughes knows the island and the villas well, and can also organize tours and a car rental for you. He has a range of villas from one to five bedrooms, most with private pools, and all with maid service.
Most villas do not include a cook, but excellent catering services are available. The villas are reasonably priced and the beaches are beautiful, but we did have to drive to the beach.
If you go: A must-see is the Grenada Chocolate Co. factory (www.grenadachocolate.com). They make delicious peanut-free, nut-free, dairy-free, organic, fair-trade chocolate using solar power. I brought home 50 bars!
Morocco – Our most exotic villa trip so far was to Morocco with a group of 13 people, including another family with a daughter allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. There are daily direct flights from Montreal to Casablanca.
We rented the six-bedroom, six-bathroom villa (www.hotel-baoussala-essaouira.com) with a small pool directly from the French owner.
The stay included breakfast and dinner near the laid-back, walled town of Essaouira. Before going, I e-mailed and spoke to the owner about the allergies and food requirements, and she said she could manage them. Each day we planned that night’s dinner menu together with the owner or manager (who spoke English), and they explained it to the cook.
The food was excellent, with homemade nut-free, egg-free and dairy-free bread, freshly squeezed orange juice and great dinners to accommodate vegetarians, meat eaters and allergies. We were just a 10-minute drive from several beautiful, white sand beaches, which were miles long and practically deserted.
Our children loved the camel rides on the beach and getting henna art on their hands. One day a herd of goats jumped the wall of our villa and started eating the garden plants. The young boy herding the animals had to come in to get them out.
Our children thought it was very funny to see the boy chasing goats through the garden. Another day, we went for a walk and found someone had “parked” their camels in front of the villa for the day by tying them to a tree. These are the kinds of things you just never see in Canada.
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