Taking the Kids — to a special Jamaican villa
The towel guy lounges on the beach at Sundown Villa

Taking the Kids — to a special Jamaican villa

The experience, of course, is entirely different, as I discovered. Think being on a mega cruise ship with morning-till-night activities vs. your own private yacht with a staff to cater to every whim

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At this Jamaican villa you won’t go home disappointed
The Hobie Cat at Sundown Villa

At this Jamaican villa you won’t go home disappointed

Villa rentals here and elsewhere in the Caribbean have become increasingly popular for extended families looking to get away together. The difference from other popular shared accommodations: A staff to see to your every need—and whim.

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In Jamaica, the story of Martha Brae and the Rio Mateberion
Rafting on the Rio Mateberion

In Jamaica, the story of Martha Brae and the Rio Mateberion

During the plantation and slavery era, the river was used to connect the sugar plantations in Trelawny to the port town of Falmouth--long bamboo rafts were used to float the sugar and other crops to the harbor and ocean-going vessels bound for Europe

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Vacationing like a 1 percenter in a staffed villa in Jamaica
Porch view on one of the Villas by Linda Smith in Jamaica

Vacationing like a 1 percenter in a staffed villa in Jamaica

It’s easy to see why these vacations are so popular with multigenerational families. No one is doing all the chores that typically come with a house rental.

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Meeting the locals in Jamaica: a great family experience
Sharing a meal with locals in Jamaica, as part of the Meet the People program

Meeting the locals in Jamaica: a great family experience

We were brought together by a volunteer program called Meet the People, which has been bringing tourists and locals together for more than 50 years over a shared interest — in our case, cooking and food. meeting the locals in Jamaica Did I mention the program is free? The volunteers will even come and pick you up.

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Meeting the people through a unique program in Jamaica
Eileen meets Doris Morgan of Meet the People

Meeting the people through a unique program in Jamaica

We are visiting Doris Morgan, who has been welcoming tourists—more than 1000—since the mid-1980s, showing them a bit of Jamaican cuisine and culture through the little publicized Meet the People program. Did I mention she does this for free and that there is no charge to the tourists?

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Learning Jamaican heritage on a walking tour of Falmouth
Fruits for sale in Falmouth Jamaica

Learning Jamaican heritage on a walking tour of Falmouth

In the early 19th Century, when grand balls were held at the famous courthouse in Falmouth, Jamaica’s oldest seaport, young women would sew fireflies into their gowns so they would literally sparkle.

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A private villa in Jamaica with a homey feel and lots of space
Pool area at the Villas by Linda Smith

A private villa in Jamaica with a homey feel and lots of space

We are eating dinner on the terrace listening to the ocean, feasting on Caribbean lobster. No we aren’t at a tony restaurant in Jamaica. We are at Serenity on the Beach, one of the 100 private villas in Jamaica managed by Villas by Linda Smith.

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