Saturday, March 21, 2009

FDR Pebbles Review

as promised...

FDR Pebbles Trip Photo Album

We visited FDR Pebbles from March 2 - 9, 2009. The visit exceed our expectations on every level. We are in our mid 30s and were traveling with our youngest son who is 5 years old and has severe autism. We contacted the resort in advance using their online chat feature to let them know we would be coming and what special needs he had. They assigned us a nanny, Tycia, who had experience working with kids with autism.

I cannot say enough good things about the resort, the staff and the personal attention our son received during our trip. Because the resort is so intimate, you get to know the other families and the staff very quickly, which is great. Whenever our son needed us, Tycia let another staff member know and they quickly came and found us. No mega-resort can offer this type of service or attention.

Our room was in building 4, room 113, second floor end overlooking the pool and above the kids club. This was an ideal location and I strongly recommend this building to anyone. The wi-fi signal from building 6 was strong, the view was great and the convenience to everything the resort had to offer was fantastic. The room is rustic. If you are looking for a bright, airy, tropical room then you should look somewhere else because you will not be satisfied. However, if you want an intimate, cozy, treehouse feel, this is perfect. I loved the fact that this was a "kid's resort" and I wasn't constantly worried about my son breaking something or damaging something because everything was pretty much kid-proof. This is a big relief for me and let me enjoy the vacation just a little bit more. The room is divided into two sections, a living area with two day beds, a desk, drawers, tv, refrigerator & mirror. The other section contains the parents' bed, tv, two small tables and balcony access. The bathroom is small but the large vanity sink is nice and the shower is hot with plenty of pressure. The resort supplies shampoo, body wash, soap, lotion and plenty of towels. Our nanny stocked our fridge with our favorites, including red stripe, coke, ginger ale, fruit, cheese, yogurt, cereal and milk. There is one air conditioner for the entire room, which is why the wall doesn't go the whole way up and completely divide the room, as some others have commented on. If this wall went the whole way up, the kids would never get any of the air conditioning. The room light is dim, our only real complaint. I would recommend a book light if you are a late night reader.

Much of our trip was a blow-out, weather-wise. The scuba shop was closed every day of our trip, which was very disappointing to my husband, an avid scuba diver. The wind was vicious and it wasn't terribly warm. Many of the nannies were seen wearing coats or wrapped in towels, trying to stay warm, although most of the kids didn't mind. This meant that my visions of sitting at the pool bar for hours on end or laying in the hammock reading didn't quite come true. I made up for it by playing chess and billiards with my husband in the game room, getting a wonderful pedicure and spending time at the ocean grill, reading or visiting with the staff and other parents. Everyone was happy and no one complained. The staff worked tirelessly, especially the pool staff, sweeping the sand, cleaning the windows, etc, working to limit the effects of the constant wind.

Freddy, the manager, is a constant presence and a joy to talk with. You can tell he is very dedicated to the resort, his staff and the guests. While we were there our son became sick. Because of his severe autism, he cannot talk, so sicknesses are very scary for us, especially in a foreign country. Our nanny took us to the nurse who looked at his ears and felt he had a double ear infection. We agreed to call the doctor who came to the resort within 45 minutes of her call. He examined our son, gave us 3 medications and was willing to take a credit card to pay for the service (under $200 total). This is better service then I would have gotten here at home. From that point on, everyone on staff knew our son had been sick and so extra special attention was paid to him, with staff asking constantly, "how is your little boy feeling?" Again, you cannot get attention or service like this at any other resort we've ever visited.

Tycia, our nanny, was exceptional. Her devotion and patience with our son was amazing. She is truly a very special person and I cannot recommend her highly enough to anyone, especially those of you who may have a child with autism or some other special need. She gave us instant comfort and our son was so excited to see her each morning. She understood his needs and our concerns as well, doing a perfect job of executing that delicate balance of serving both the parent and the child. We had her babysit on several of the evenings and it was such a joy to be able to go be with other parents, guilt free, knowing our son was being lovingly cared for.

Although our son was small, we also have two teenagers who did not come with us. We won't make the same mistake next time. We were afraid they might be bored, but the staff who worked with the teens was sensational. They took lots of trips and did lots of activities. They constantly made sure that the teens and pre-teens were engaged and having a good time. Even those who looked sulky and sullen were soon participating in slide-races, contests and dances. Even though the resort was only about half full during our stay, we constantly saw staff interacting with these kids, sometimes just one on one, playing billiards or x-box or just sitting and hanging out, listening to music. Again, truly exceptional service.

We are already planning our next visit. We have found our new home away from home, at least for this stage of our son's life. We cannot say enough good things about FDR Pebbles and would highly recommend this resort to anyone with children.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Jamaica trip

Long time, no blog, I know. That's because since my last blog post we snuck in a trip to FDR Pebbles in Trelawny, Jamaica. What a beautiful country, resort and amazingly friendly people. I am counting the days until we can return. I just posted a very long review on Trip Advisor. As soon as it is published I'll print it here as well.

We returned home last monday. Tuesday I celebrated my 39th birthday. Well, celebrated may be a misnomer. I should say I had a birthday. There was no celebrating to speak of unless you count my grams calling and singing me happy birthday over the phone. My own parents didn't even call me, my husband didn't get home from work until 1am and while my teens gave me hugs, that was about it. Oh, and I did laundry. But it was fine, really. I had just come home from a wonderful week in Jamaica -- who could ask for more for a birthday gift?

I did manage some knitting while I was gone, although I was super ADD and jumped from project to project while I was gone. I made the most progress on my 3:1 rib socks; I am now on the gussett of the second sock. I also worked on my Malabrigo cable socks, my cozy wrap in jojoland melody and on a lace scarf with a new alpaca yarn that is to die for. Photos of the knitting soon.

When? Well, when I'm feeling better. Yup, I'm sick again. I am so terribly tired of being sick. I am going to miss the first meeting of my spinning guild today because of this stupid cold. It is another of those stuffy head, runny nose, cough up your lungs, pee your pants colds. Sparky has threatned twice now to take me to the hospital because I am having such a tough time breathing. I'm a walking pharmacy. I'll have the flonase, allegra, singulair, benzotanate, mucinex, tylenol & naproxyn cocktail please. With a side of tissues.

Back to work on the crocheted kimono now. I really want to get it finished today if possible. Again, pics soon.

Oh on the cooking front, I've been too sick to cook the last few days, but I did manage to make Jerk Chicken with ingredients that I brought home from Jamaica. Next trip I will bring home more, since Sparky and the teens said it was fantastic. Nothing much to it really, just marinated skinless, boneless breasts for 24 hours in Jerk marinade. Then cooked them on the stovetop in olive oil. Served with a side of noodles and everyone was happy. I also made a great shrimp scampi over linguini this week, with lots of garlic and lime juice. Lately everything has had a bit of lime juice added. Guess I'm still feeling tropical.