Monday, June 27, 2011


You guys may remember our summer family vacation last year to The Tyler Place, which is a wonderful family spot that everyone on the planet seems to love unabashedly, but for a number of reasons, was just not quite for us.  Tyler Place really emphasizes fun for the entire family, but there's also quite a lot of separation of children's and adult activities, which is probably great for people who spend a lot of time with their kids at baseline, but want vacation time to be a vacation from all aspects of their everyday lives, including having to cater to a lot of child-centric activities.

I'll be totally honest with you when I say that Joe and I feel like we don't spend enough time with our kids as it is, and the last thing we want when we're on a hard-won family vacation is to spend a lot of time away from them.  So when we were planning our summer vacation this year, we deliberately looked for a place that was low-key, a little more free-form, and allowed for a lot of family time and activities that we could do together.  And after some extensive research (OK, I'll admit, when it comes to vacation planning I usually do most of the research and Joe's job is to vote yay or nay--usually yay by the time I'm done making my case because as a writer I can be very persuasive) we found Bluefields Bay.

I'm telling you all this partially to give you a little more information about the Blogging from Bluefields program, which I had mentioned in a few earlier entries but had not gone into too much granular detail about because, to be totally honest, it's the kind of thing that can kind of make people write mean anonymous messages to you.  But I was making the reservation for our annual summer vacation, talking with the owners, when I mentioned to them (they are very friendly, and the entire resort is family run) that it was going to be a perfect time for a vacation, because it was going to come about a month and a half after my book release, so we'd probably be due for a little quality family time right around then.  Talk of the book begat talk of the blog, which ultimately led to a collaboration with the Blogging from Bluefields program, meaning Bluefields is absorbing a portion of the cost of our trip here.  I know.  I know.  I HATE ME TOO, GUYS.  But let's be clear about this also: they don't dictate content, and they don't edit what I write.  Probably the only thing that's appreciably different is the immediacy and extent of my writing--I'm blogging while on vacation, in other words, instead of putting up one big entry after I get home.  Otherwise, it's just a matter of sharing our experiences, which, lord knows, I do more than enough in our normal lives anyway.  Anyway, I just wanted to make that all transparent.

OK.  So.  The food.

Joe and I don't take big trips all that often, but when do make travel plans, I find that although part of us would prefer to stay at smaller, independent hotels or B&Bs, taking kids along for the ride makes us lean towards staying at, like, Le Gigantic Chain Hotel because if all else fails (exhaustion-provoked self-destruct sequence or similar), there's always the hotel restaurant in the lobby, or in case of absolute implosion, room service to save the day.  When we visited Atlanta during our pre-residency graduation blitzkrieg during the February of 2008, we made the mistake of staying at a hotel without any kind of food situation save a vending machine, thinking, perhaps, that we could always find food off-site.  But traveling with a two and-a-half year-old and having to plot every single day where and when and how we were to find meals for a whole week (between daily job interviews, meetings with realtors, and preschool tours) was, to put it simply, THE WORST.

Let's cut to the chase.  You don't have to worry about food at Bluefields.  Ever.  All meals are included.  All snacks are included.  All drinks are included, and yes, that includes booze drinks.  (I'm no lush, but despite the limitations of being an Asian lady, I will occasionally partake in a booze.)  Not being a food blogger or anything even remotely close, I'm a little out of my element when it comes to talking about cuisine (though, for a better food blog, may I recommend Ginger and Scotch, the new and frankly fabulous food blog launched by an old high school friends), but look, a picture is worth a thousand words, so let me just show you what we've been eating the past few days.

Breakfast: saltfish and ackee for the adults; french toast with bacon and scrambled eggs for the kids.  (Not pictured, the mound of fresh tropical fruit at the table.  Very nice.)

Lunch yesterday and today: spicy beef crepes with fries; a local spicy fried fish with rice and veggies.  What kind of fish?  I don't remember. WHAT DO I LOOK LIKE, AN ICTHYOLOGIST?  On second though--don't answer that.  (It tasted good.)

Dinner last night and the night before: don't ask me to remember what it all was.  Though I do remember eating it all.

Each house has its own chef, who plans your meals with you in advance.  They told us when we arrived that they could make special food for the kids if we wanted--of the mac and cheese, chicken fingers genus--but I told them I usually preferred Mack and Cal to eat what we were eating, so that's exactly what they've been getting.  Of my two kids, Cal is the pickier one--he's far more likely than Mack to eschew a dish just because of the consistency or the sauce or some kind of specific spice that he deems "weird"--but I think he's been so hungry from all the activity and the food has been so good that he's basically been clearing his plate at every meal.  And Mack...well, when it comes to eating, I don't much worry about Mack.

All meals are served in your accommodations, by the way, so no schlepping around.  So special and wonderfully intimate, particularly for a family that rarely gets to eat its meals tout ensemble.  Our cottage is a little smaller that some of the others so there's no formal dining area, but this is remedied by the fact there's actually a separate oceanside pavilion in which all our meals are served, just one short flight down from the main house.  It's steps from the pool and steps from the beach, and that, as my kids will tell you, is alllllll right.

So, there you are. Food?  Diagnosis: DELICIOUS.  And now I will leave you with a picture of some local island drinks, and Cal's oceanside toast to his new favorite beverage, Ting.  

Tomorrow I'm going to talk about some family-friendly activities, both locally and off-site.  For example, tomorrow we're planning to take a short day trip to hike to a waterfall, where we will swim and have a picnic lunch.  AQUAROBICS.  Don't forget to follow along with my Twitter feed or look to the Flickr set for my iPhone photos, and I hope you're all having a good week.


  1. ackee and saltfish served with fried dumpling

    the fried fish looks like escovitch fish (probably king fish or yellow tail snapper)

    I'm not sure if there is one in Negril, but if you find a Mothers restaurant then try the beef patty.

  2. We don't hate you - this is a great thing! : ) How fun! I haven't checked in for ages, and the boys are darling! Sounds like an absolutely wonderful vacation - heck, I'd go just for the food alone!

  3. Your blog is funny and interesting and GOY for making it earn its keep! Hope you're having a lovely vacation - you all deserve it!

  4. Anonymous10:38 PM

    I, for one, am happy you all are getting to spend a relaxing and fun vacation together! Thank you for sharing, would love to give them business in the future.

    As for the people that are aghast about the expense of the villas, think about the *value*. When doing the math, if four adults were staying there: it would be around 960/week, or $140/night per person. For everything that includes, personal chef and 3 meals/day, clean house/beach, awesome swimming pool, aquatic rentals, wireless, etc. etc. ... seems like a great value to me! Sign me up!

  5. Anonymous10:58 PM

    Totally agree. We've traveled extensively in the Caribbean, and for a full week, all inclusive, this seems like a fantastic deal! And looks like you guys are having a great time! Enjoy! More pictures please! :)

  6. Yum! Love the pictures, and wish I could be partaking in such tasty looking food.

  7. I would like to see more pictures of Mack stuffing his said there were a lot. He's a cutie...I love his old man looks (the occasional smile is nice too)

  8. The food looks & sounds delicious!

    I see that most of the pictures of Mack are of him putting food of one kind or another into his mouth...LOL!

  9. Anonymous7:59 AM

    Bluefields is damn smart! Reading the details of your trip is making this half of a two-doctor, toddler-filled family want to spend my next vacation there!! If we go, I'll make sure to mention you and your blog when we make the reservation. Generate enough business for them and maybe you'll be invited back for free!

  10. Guys, wait a few more days, I'm going to be posting a promotional code for people who want to book, so you'll probably be able to eke a discout out of the deal for being referred from this blog. Let me work out the details with the owners first and I'll get it up here...

    P.S. Your wish is my command: see the Island Mack Eating Montage above.

  11. I guess the rain stayed away.

  12. Anonymous3:38 PM

    It looks lik you guys are having a ton of fun!

    So this is completely random. I think that one of the providers in the practice we go to as our PCP/peds (it's a dual med-peds practice) went to medical school with you - she graduated in 02 though. Her name is Deb Ganem. Sound familiar? I know that you probably didn't know everyone there but hey, thought I would try.

  13. Looks wonderful!

    We flew into Atlanta on Sunday night with a connection to Nashville. Our 7ish Delta flight was cancelled and they offered to get us on a flight on Monday at 7PM. Thanks, but no thanks.

    FYI, a taxi from Atlanta to Chattanooga will set you back $265 smackers (we couldn't get a rental car). One of our college age kids met us at an exit on the interstate, we finally found our bags yesterday and retrieved our vehicle from park & fly.

    Moral of the thyself to the nearest beach from now on!!! (Although I've already had a moment of weakness and checked rates at Bluefields)

  14. Anonymous4:56 PM

    Mack Eating Montage - beautiful.
    Enjoy your vacation! No more guilt please!

  15. Anonymous9:01 PM

    it is so funny seeing kids eat..

  16. Vacation looks like it's a blast! To those a few days later who claim you've sold out...they can suck it! Don't let their comments ruin your fun. Love the pix, and the food. I'm not entirely sure my kids would eat it though, I have one of those really picky eater types, and two very open-minded ones. But the picky guy wouldn't eat Mac and cheese either. As I said, have dun Michelle. Don't let the bastards grind you down!

  17. Have FUN, not dun. Stupid auto correct.

  18. The Mack Eating Montage was worth the trip back to this post. Totally hilarious.

  19. These are cool photos. Nice vacation:)

    Tumby Bay

  20. You could be qualified to get a Apple iPhone 7.