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Sunset Time Lapse at Ladera Resort, St. Lucia

Sunflare with flair at Ladera Resort St. Lucia

I’ve been on St. Lucia for the last few days staying at the fantastic Ladera Resort which I’m covering for the Glamping.com blog. This is my first trip to St. Lucia and I’ve quite enjoyed my time on this lush tropical island. Last night I decided to make a sunset time lapse using the TimeLapse app ($4.99) on my iPad mini since my I was editing other images on my iPhone 5s. Here’s the result.

Sunset Time Lapse at Ladera Resort St. Lucia

I’m not a big fan of shooting with my iPad, but I do appreciate that is useful as a backup camera when my iPhone is otherwise occupied. I used the Movie Looks App ($1.99) to pretty it up a bit since the camera is lower resolution than than I’d get shooting on my iPhone 5s.

Ladera’s pool deck, perched above the Pitons in St. Lucia

Ladera’s location about 1,110 feet above the coast give it an amazing view of the local mountains, The Pitons, and the clouds were particularly spectacular. While I don’t plan on making a regular thing of shooting time lapse videos on my iPad, I am a fan of mobile technology and was grateful that I knew a way to capture last night’s gorgeous cloud action.

The Pitons after Sunset

If you are planning a trip to St. Lucia and want to take in this amazing view, know that reservations are essential at Dasheene Restaurant and the best seats in the bar are reserved for Ladera’s in-house guests.

Stayed tuned to both this blog and the Glamping.com Blog for more detailed updates about my trip to St. Lucia.

You can read about my second day glamping at Ladera Resort here.

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FriFotos: Service Dogs in Uniform at the Monkey Tail Ranch

Tim and Tater, the FEMA search and rescue dog, en route to Alaska

When I found out this week’s FriFotos theme was “uniform” I decided to take the opportunity to pay tribute to some very special professionals who wear uniforms– service dogs.

I’ve learned quite a bit about service dogs in the past year because my puppy, Zeppelin, is being trained by Tim and Elise of K9 Training Concepts who know quite a bit about the subject. In addition to training dogs as family pets (like my Zeppelin), Tim and Elise are both members of the FEMA Search & Rescue teams. Their dogs, Tater and Lupin, are are trained to find live human scent in disaster situations. These dogs have mad skills. Check out Tater climbing a ladder at the 1:15 mark in this video.

Tater climbing a ladder at the 1:15 mark is highly impressive

Tater in Uniform

Tim and Elise are also the co-founders of The Monkey Tail Ranch, a non-profit organization where they train service dogs to help those living with autism, post-traumatic stress, and other disorders that can benefit from having a service animal.

Nothing cuter than a puppy in uniform: Future service dogs in training

I didn’t know about autism service dogs until until I got to know Tim and Elise, and every time I hear updates about how the Monkey Tail service dogs have changed lives, I often find myself moved to tears. 

First time in uniform: 9 week old Bailey, a future autism service dog

If you know of anyone who might benefit from an autism service dog, I highly recommend checking out The Monkey Tail Ranch. I cannot speak highly enough of Elise and Tim’s commitment to dog training– be it their own FEMA search and Rescue Dogs,  service dogs for austim, and family dogs.

Lupin the FEMA Search and Rescue dog looking very handsome in uniform

Tim is also a full time firefighter, and while Firemen a reputation for looking fine in uniform, I don’t think he’d be insulted knowing that Tater and Lupin kind of steal the show. I’m grateful Elise and Tim train family dogs, too, like our Zeppelin. Zepp is an Instadog and won’t be officially home with us until he is fully trained this summer.

Zeppelin is proudly being trained by k9 Training Concepts

Above Photo Credit: Rebecca Adler Rotenberg

The Monkey Tail Ranch is located in Silicon Valley in Hollister, California.

The photos in this post are courtesy of the Monkey Tail Ranch and Rebecca Adler Rotenberg. Much thanks to Tim, Elise, and Rebecca. Without them, this post would not be possible.

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Hotel Review: A Stay at GeeJam in Port Antonio, Jamaica

Soaking tub with a view in Drum & Bass at GeeJam

After falling hard for Port Antonio, my friend Zan and I decided to extend our vacation by an extra night. After shuffling our flights home, we headed to GeeJam (which is managed by the same great staff as the Trident) and checked into the Drum & Bass suite, which is located directly under the GeeJam’s onsite Recording Studio.

Chic island simplicity in Drum & Bass

With only seven rooms– five of which are stand alone cabins and one three bedroom villa, GeeJam is intimate and cozy and feels like a five star glamping experience in the jungles of Jamaica. It’s more rough luxe than the sleek and chic Trident, but the experience is just as fantastic.

All the rooms at GeeJam are named after different styles of Jamaican music

Drum & Bass had a killer deck with a hot tub that we didn’t have time to use and chic island white decor. The glass paneled walls opened up, making the whole place be about indoor/outdoor living. GeeJam has killer public spaces– including the BushBar restaurant where bands perform live almost every night. Even if you don’t stay at GeeJam, I highly recommend coming for dinner at BushBar when their de facto in house band, the Jolly Boys, are performing. 

Love the Flintstones chic paver stones near exterior of Rock Steady at GeeJam

The Jolly Boys are Jamaica’s answer to Menudo– except all the “boys” are over the age of 70. They perform great mento music as well as some killer cover songs I’m particularly fond of their mondern mento cover of New Order’s Blue Monday.

Green grounds at GeeJam at the Jungle luxury

GeeJam is built into the side of a hill, and that might be an issue for people with mobility issues or small children (in that case, the Trident might be a better choice for you). Down the hill, there is also a private beach club complete with loungers, a bar, and paddleboards. If you want more of a local beach experience, the staff will happily drive you to nearby Winnefred Beach or Boston Bay Beach.

Comfy lounging area in Drum & Bass

In addition to wifi, GeeJam (like the Trident) gives guests a mobile phone so they can contact the staff wherever they are on property or in the area.

Left: the soaking tub at Drum & Bass Right: the hairdryer

The bathroom was modern with a HUGE soaking tub and enormous steam shower that I didn’t stay long enough to enjoy.

I slept exceptionally well in the comfy all-white bed in Drum & Bass

Musicians often stay on site here when recording in GeeJam’s studio (like Amy Winehouse and No Doubt).

Banana pancakes for breakfast at GeeJam

I loved the friendly and laid back luxury of GeeJam. The staff was top notch and made sure we were well taken care of. Room rates include breakfast which is a nice touch.

Jamaican swag on GeeJam’s chef’s uniform

The staff at GeeJam had no problem with my food allergies and was friendly to boot.

The exterior of GeeJam’s Recording Studio

GeeJam’s rates start at $395 per night, and you can find specials here.

The outdoor pool table at BushBar

Left: cozy lounge seating at BushBar Right: the view from the deck of Drum & Bass

Zan exploring the Beach Club at GeeJam

On the walk to GeeJam’s private beach, you can take a detour and explore nearby Drapers– which has some great hole in the wall bars and is very atmospheric. You’ll pay $2 for a Red Stripe.

The sharply dressed Albert Minott, lead singer of the Jolly Boys at BushBar

The Jolly Boys performing live at BushBar

Before things got hopping at BushBar

Left: BushBar has fab drinks Right: the outdoor pool table at night

GeeJam is a Jamaican gem and will appeal to those seeking a non-generic luxury experience. It’s part of the reason I am so crushing on Port Antonio (so much so, I’m already planning a return visit with my husband).

Night lights at GeeJam

GeeJam Hotel is located just east of Port Antonio in Drapers.

Skype reservations available on the GeeJam website

phone 1-888-4-GeeJam

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A Stay The Trident Villas in Port Antonio, Jamaica

The Trident’s infinity Pool stretches into the Caribbean

Port Antonio, Jamaica was the original hot spot on the Caribbean island. The marina is even named after Errol Flynn, who used to vacation here. After the depression, tourism dried up. When visitors started coming back, they did so by plane and the International airports a few hours away in Kingston and Montego Bay have kept those seeking convenience from discovering Jamaica’s true gem: Port Antonio.

Mid-century chic is the vibe at the Trident Villas in Port Antonio

But Portie (as it’s called) is having a moment right now and the cool kids are starting to come back… and stay at sexy and sleek  Trident Villas and Hotel. Recently renovated, this hotel has been the backdrop of multiple photo shoots for good reason– it has stunning lines, fantastic staff, delicious cuisine and great service.

Left: Lawn sheep at a touch of whimsy Right: manicured trees on the grounds of the Trident Villas & Hotel

Food and beverage costs are reasonable by resort standards you’d find on the more developed parts of the island. All this luxury doesn’t take away from all that is special about Port Antonio– the lack of major chains (no Starbucks) and package tourists. The Trident is run by the GeeJam Collection, who have a musical history far too deep to get into this post.

Wicker swing outside the Trident Lobby

As the poshest hotel in Port Antonio, the Trident is where Beyonce and her sister stayed during their girls getaway last winter before Beyonce’s secret album dropped. The location is ideal for privacy or those who want to escape the crowds. Port Antonio is easy to reach via a scenic 20 minute flight over the Blue Mountains to the Ken Jones Airport, which the front desk at the Trident can arrange. The drive from Kingston is about two hours and well worth it.

The modern chic decor of the sitting room in Villa 1 at the Trident

The hotel has it all– a gorgeous infinity pool, a private beach club in a cove, a gym, and great food served on the Veranda. After dark the action moves to the bar and Mike’s Supper Club, a modern speakeasy with top notch cuisine (jerked yellowtail= yum) and live music nightly.

Left: The Eames chair was perfect for reading Right: Orchids in the bedroom

I stayed in Villa 1 and loved it. It had every possible amenity: plunge pool, speedy wifi, huge closets, comfy reading chair, large living room and plush beds. The bathroom even feature a gorgeous outdoor bathtub with a peek-a-boo view of the Caribbean. Sunsets are particularly beautiful on the patio.

The Zen bedroom of Villa 1 a the Trident

The Trident is one of the few hotels where I was planning my return visit before I left– it’s that good. With only 13 villas, service is personalized and top notch. There is a spa and gym on property, as well as a playground for kids.

Villa 1′s outdoor has a peek-a-boo view

The Trident feels like the perfect choice for the destination wedding for founder of a start up that just went public. It has that off the beaten path charm, yet doesn’t sacrifice any of the comforts you’d expect in a luxury hotel.

The Trident’s veranda is perfect for breakfast

The food is delicious at the Veranda, where every morning you can try a different “Jamaican Breakfast of the Day.”

Left: fresh tropical fruit at breakfast Right: Mackerel + boiled banana =the Jamaican Breakfast of the Day

Left: Fish for breakfast Right: an omelette made to order

Waking up in Jamaica with Blue Mountain Coffee

There is no Starbucks, so Blue Mountain French Press coffee is the best way to wake up in Jamaica.

Left: nothing says “vacation” like a paper umbrella in a drink Right: Refreshing Jamaican lemonade

Red Stripe by the in-villa pool at The Trident

While the Trident Port Antonio has everything you could want right on the property, there is a lot to see and do in Port Antonio– from rafting down the Rio Grande to exploring the Blue Lagoon. You can even go surfing at nearby Boston Beach.

The poolside vibe was gorgeous and modern

The Trident is an exceptional blend of modern luxury and old school Port Antonio cool. It’s a great pick for honeymooners who want a refined experience and some interesting surroundings (and options for interesting and cool cultural excursions).

Splashes above the infinity pool at the Trident

The Trident is pure #luxuryrealness.

Left: Photo shoot action at the Trident Right: Killer coastline on the grounds of the Trident reminds me of Big Sur

You can walk to the Trident Castle next door, and Sunday brunch is sometimes served there.

Jamaican sunset as seen from Villa 1 at the Trident

Pool table in the Trident’s Explorers Lounge

The Trident has screening room and conference facilities should you be looking for a hip destination for a corporate retreat or conference.

Left: Trident Bar Right: Art in the Explorer’s Lounge

Jerk hamachi at Mike’s Supper Club

Live Jazz at Mike’s Supper Club

Night lights at the Trident Villas

Trident Hotel

http://www.tridentportantonio.com/

Address: Anchovy STP, Port Antonio, Jamaica

Phone:+1 876-633-7000

Rates start at $675.60

You can find special deals at the Trident here.

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Relax on a Rio Grande Raft Trip in Port Antonio, Jamaica

This Red Stripe cost $3 from a floating vendor on the Rio Grande

The most relaxing day I’ve had in 2014 included a raft trip down the Rio Grande in Port Antonio, Jamaica. The trip was arranged by the concierge at the Trident Hotel, where I was staying with my friend, Zan. It’s the best budget luxury I’ve found this year.

The Raft Trip Departure Center

A driver from the Trident drove for 20 minutes along the curvy roads of Portland Parish until we got to the departure center for the raft trip. There we met Pablo, our raft guide, who did most of the heavy steering of the bamboo raft that was our sweet ride for the next few hours.

The bamboo rafts are similar to the ones used 100 years ago to transport bananas

Pablo was a fantastic guide and even let Zan steer the raft for a bit. As we floated down the river, various vendors approached us. For $3 you could buy a Red Stripe. That was a nice touch.

Belinda’s Riverside Canteen

As fabulous as the trip itself was, the highlight of the day was lunch at Belinda’s Riverside Canteen. Belinda’s cuisine is cooked Flintstone’s style over heated rocks in something that isn’t quite a hut. Despite the lack of high end appliances, Belinda’s meal of crayfish stew, brown fish stew, chicken fricassee, and rice and peas was the stand out meal of the entire trip.

Left: Belinda preparing lunch Right: Behold Belinda’s chicken fricassee

Belinda’s chicken fricassee was the best chicken Zan and I have ever had. Ever. I want to go back just to get more.

Belinda preparing a plate

Left: Crayfish, Jamaican style Right: Brown fish stew

Best. Lunch. Ever.

There were other stops too for swimming in warm swimming holes. The whole raft trip experience was highly enjoyable and very relaxing.

Pablo was a fun guide

Cruising with Pablo on the Rio Grande GIF

The Rio Grande Raft trip is a not-to-be missed excursion when you’re in Port Antonio.

Red Stripe is the “Champagne of Jamaica”

The staff at the Trident Villas arranged our raft trip.

You can also book through Rio Grande Rio Grande Tours Ltd - Port Antonio

Raft & Guide (for two people) about $75 US (not including tip)

Lunch at Belinda’s Canteen about $15 (depends on dishes cooked that day).

Tel: 1 876 913 5434

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