Saturday, December 15, 2012

Couples Negril - Jamaica

Couples Negril - Jamaica

Ah... my first visit to an all-inclusive adults only resort and I've got nothing to say but good things. This place was paradise and near perfect for any type of escape from the realities of life.

As we first landed in Jamaica from fly WestJet (our preferred airline here in Canada), the warm sea salt air was a welcomed invasion of humidity from the dry flight. Stepping into the Montego Bay Airport, it was a surprisingly well developed terminal with all the modern amenities that you would expect. We made our way through customs and headed over to the Couples Resorts waiting area where we were greeted by friendly staff and most importantly... an ice cold Jamaican Red Stripe beer.

While we checked in, staff took care of our luggage and we had a chance to refresh while we waited for the shuttle bus to come get us. This was a fantastic perk with Couples Resorts as other resorts that don't have private shuttles could be a pricey trip from the airport.

The ride was an uneventful one (which is great), but the driver was friendly and we made our roughly one hour trip to the resort soaking in the views of the ocean and the sites of local small towns.

Arriving at the resort, our bags were taken care of and the driver was appreciative of the $2 USD tip. They don't actually work for the resort and so are not part of the "all-inclusive" gratuity package. We were immediately greeted with glasses of champagne and seated on comfortable couches while we filled out the check-in paperwork.

Following our host, we were guided to our room where we quickly settled in and took in the views from the balcony. Our luggage arrived promptly and I immediately felt the rush of relaxation and the worry-free attitude come over me that Jamaica is so well known for.

We gave ourselves a quick tour of the resort, ignoring the guided tour that the resort offered. I'm sure it would have been helpful, but we just didn't feel like waiting the extra couple hours before the tour started. The resort was wonderful and intimate. It wasn't huge, which is a great plus in my books as it didn't take much walking to get to any specific area.

The pool was clean and the pool bar always had good service. Tons of beach chairs are readily available and it was never an issue getting one with a great view and lots of sun.

The food was excellent and the staff as friendly as they come. The all day grill was great and we definitely enjoyed the chicken. Evening meals could be had either at the buffet (Casava Terrace), the asian restaurant (Lychee), fine dining (Otaheite), or at the beach bar/grill. I'd recommend Casava Terrace and Otaheite the most. Be sure to make reservations at least 24 hours in advance for Otaheite as it's a fine dining experience and there's a dress code in effect. Although Lychee was tasty, my palette was a bit too sophisticated for the asian tastes that they could produce; it just wasn't up to par for asian food, but I observed many other people enjoying their meals.

The included water sports worked out great. The SCUBA diving staff was phenomenal and I'd give them all a kudos. They were amazing. Sugar, the SCUBA manager, was amazing and is definitely an asset that Couples should never lose. His instructional skills and patience in teaching newbie SCUBA divers was great. My fiancĂ©e had a blast and became a SCUBA Open Water diver under his tutelage.

Overall, the experience was amazing and I truly do hope to return to this little piece of paradise in Jamaica. It was simply amazing.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Chronic Tacos - Vancouver (Gas Town)

Chronic Tacos Cantina on Urbanspoon

So there I was, walking by myself on water street, wet, cold, and hungry. I had initially made it a goal to find a good sushi restaurant, but that plan fell through when the only one I found had a line up. I continued down the street when I saw Chronic Tacos across the street. My stomach grumbled and demanded that I feed it, so, with my stomach in control of my mind, my legs obeyed and in I went into the Chronic Taco.

On first entry, I was not very impressed. My first impression was that this was some dingy pub that had been abandoned and turned into a make-shift Mexican joint. Red walls and shoddy decor definitely didn't help. There was TVs every where like a sports pub but no bar. The first sign you see is: SEAT YOURSELF PLEASE. The servers were friendly enough, since I was dining alone and there was no bar, I ended up taking over a table for 5 by myself.

I ordered a Corona which was on special for $4.50, they were sold out. That's disappointing; a Mexican restaurant without Corona, oxy-moronic? I ended up with a Pacifico, not my typical taste in beer, but my stomach reminded me I was thirsty.On the servers recommendation, I had a fish taco and a meat taco, both with a soft tortilla shell. The real Mexican name escapes me at the moment. She said they were both really good and only $3.50 each, so for the price, why not?As I sipped my beer and stared out the window at the depressing rain that vancouver is so famous for, a basket of tortilla chips appears with what seems like a homemade salsa. Instinctively satisfying my hunger, my hands and both begin working in unison to consume the basket. The salsa wasn't anything special, I think I could have made it in my magic bullet at home, but it was free and went well enough with the beer.

My two tacos took about 15 minutes to appear. By the time they got to me I had already finished my beer. I took at look at the dish and it looked appetizing enough. No utensils were to be seen. I guess this is the authentic Mexican experience. So, with what I hoped were clean hands, I formed the soft shells with their contents into a taco shaped form and began stuffing my mouth.

First to introduce itself to my tongue was the fish taco. The fish was battered and there was tartar like, but more mayo-ish dressing on it. Combined with the lettuce, guacamole and some salsa, it was surprisingly tasty. I engulfed the whole thing with a hungry four bites. If I ever came back here, that's what I would order.The meat taco was nothing special and quite honestly, other than having some bite to it, is not even worth mentioning.

All in all, for a quick... Wait, for a fairly cheap dine in lunch experience in Gas Town, it's not a terrible place. I think this place needs a huge renovation as it seems to have an identity crisis. The whole bill came to about $18 for the two tacos, basket of chips and salsa, and two beers. Not bad I suppose.

Would I make a special trip for it in the future, doubtful...Service was good tho... And easy on the eyes...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Beer Revolution - Calgary

Beer Revolution Craft Beer and Pizza Bar on Urbanspoon

1080 8 Street SW 
CalgaryAB T2R0J3

Now here's a pretty cool place that I didn't know existed until just recently. The Brewster downtown across from Safeway on 8 ave SW is where this wonderful new Craft Beer House is now located. Brewsters got split in half and this beer oasis now occupies half the property.

On first entry, the modern decor and multiple television screens were a welcome sight. What really caught me off guard were their airport style listings. It took me a while but then I realized what they were.

These screens showed the magic of Beer Revolution. 24 taps, and each type of craft beer listed which were on tap at the time and how much was left in the keg. Brilliant.

The manager/owner explained to us that they had over 300 beers in kegs but only 24 taps, every time a keg taps out then they flush the lines and but in a different kind of beer, then update the board. Brilliant. Another thing to note is that the lines to the kegs are only about 4 feet long... not like Craft where the lines are 50+ feet, thus reducing the amount of beer that sits in the lines and goes bad.

These guys really have a passion for great beer and their enthusiasm and service shows it. Food is nothing to scuff at either so have a look at their menu and try out some foodies!

They really know their beer and if you're a beer connoisseur, I highly recommend checking this place out!! I'm looking forward to my next trip back...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sorry... long time...

I know it's been a while since i've made any sort of entry... but it's been one hectic month for everything. I've got a list of places that I'll be bloggin about so hopefully I'll get around to it this month and before I leave on my trip to europe in July. Some things to look forward to in the next little bit:

Beer Revolution
Five Guys Burgers


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Raj Palace - Calgary

124 Country Hills Landing NW 
CalgaryAB T3K5P3

Raj Palace (North West) on Urbanspoon

In a few words, delicious, fantastic service, great food. 

I would like to commend this restaurant for its excellent indian food. I was extremely impressed with the level of service and found the food great tasting and plentiful.

We had ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala, Lamb Vindaloo, Mysore Masala Dosa, Chicken Dum Biryani and Garlic Naan. What a feast.

The Chicken Tikka Masala and Lamb Vindaloo were fantastic. Both had a delicious sauce that was easily a take home item afterwards to be mixed with my own rice. They were rich in flavour and the meat was tender and full of flavour.

The Garlic Naan was the best that I've ever had. Some other places I've been to simply use garlic butter on their naan, however here there was a nice spread of finely minced garlic all over the naan. It was delicious and definitely gave me the garlic breath that I was hoping for after eating a few. It was a perfect compliment to the chicken tikka masala and the lamb vindaloo.

The Chicken Dum Biryani was excellent. It was my first time ever trying this dish and I highly recommend it. It comes out as a bowl of deliciously spiced rice and buried within it are a couple drumsticks and thighs. It was superb and the blend of spices were intoxicating.

The Mysore Masala Dosa was like a potatoe pancake. Well, at least that is how I related to it. It was delicious and piping hot when it arrived at our table. I highly recommend this dish as it too was my first time trying it and I loved it. 

The customer service was great and I could only assume that it was the owner who was serving us. Each dish was explained as it arrived and when asking for recommendations they were very knowledgeable. 

Check this place out the next time you're in the Country Hills area. They are definitely worth the stop and their prices are fair. Good job folks!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

My name is really Ada Wong

And yes... I really am that hot. So if there's anyone out there who doubt my validity, by best friend James Wong can vouch for me. Check out my website for recent pics.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Pro Dive - Cairns, Australia

This adventure started out back in October. Through what I thought was thorough research. I happily booked a dive trip for myself, my sister and my friend. Both my sister and I were booked for open water dives and my friend for the open water course. We had booked through an agent, Aquapro Dive Travel,, because they were offering a slight discount, however the five trip costed us $620 AUD and the OW course $740 AUD.

As we arrived into Australia from Canada, we landed in Sydney where we spent a few days vacationing. The day that we planned to fly to Cairns, Quantas had a labour dispute and shut down the airline that weekend. As a result of this, our flight was cancelled and we could not get to Cairns. I immediately called Pro Dive and explained the situation, however they were apathetic to the reason and told us that because we didn’t cancel within the 48 hours of our plans that we could not receive a refund. I was extremely disappointed.

Pro Dive then offered to credit our money for a period of six months so that we could use it again at a later date with the stipulation that we could only use it as a wait-list for their boats. I did not have much of a choice and therefore accepted. Upon my return to Canada, I began to make plans for the next trip to Cairns to try again to make this great GBR dive.

I kept in contact with Pro Dive over emails throughout my winter months and we came to the conclusion that March would be the best time to go as it was their low season. My sister and I made plans to fly around the world again. We were assured time and time again that the dates that we had planned would be great and that we wouldn’t have a problem with getting on the boat. We had put our names down on their lists for the option of 3 different days and started our travels with confidence.

Prior to our departure from Canada, I reconfirmed with Pro Dive that the dates we listed for would be available and they assured me that we should not have a problem. As we arrived through Hong Kong on our connecting flight, I received an e-mail from Pro Dive saying that things were not looking good anymore but they were trying to keep a couple spots open for us. I was worried and replied that we would be there within eight hours.

As soon as we arrived to Cairns, we immediately went straight to the Pro Dive Shop and introduced ourselves. Nicky, the lady that helped us out immediately provided us with a smile and began to explain that the dates that we had selected were all booked up.  Disappointed and frustrated I asked her if there were any more available, she explained that there was an opening on a Sunday (We had listed for thur, fri, and sat). I jumped at the opportunity, however frustrated because now I knew I would have to re-arrange all our flights, accommodations and my work schedule back home, but I flew around the world just for this trip!

Nicky tried to book us for the Sunday trip however she ran into problems and could not. She called the head office asking for help when they started to explain to her that she was not allowed to put my sister and I on the boat and that we had to be wait listed. The only way was for us to pay for the whole trip again to be confirmed. I was outraged!! I’m standing right there in front of them having travelled for nearly 20 hours and they tell me that they can’t put me on the boat. Nicky then continued to tell me that they were having a special that week and that the trip was cheaper than it usually is, $535 AUD. Although her intention was good, her impact was not. Why were they discounting the trip to fill the boat when they assured me that they were trying to keep the spots open for us before we arrived?!?!

This was absurd! I travelled around the world to use money that I already paid them in confidence that they were going to help us out in getting us on a boat for a range of dates that they confirmed were a good idea. They then would not put us on a boat when I arrived knowing that  I was the one that had to change all my plans (at a hefty financial cost) to accommodate for them. They then said I had to pay again!!!!!???!!!

I was naturally upset, however, I remained calm and tried to reason with them. They had already taken my friends money with no regard or refund, and were trying to swindle more money from us. I offered to pay them a premium (of about $100 AUD) to confirm our spots on the boat for Sunday, however they refused. After a while of pacing and realizing that I did not want to miss this opportunity having flown around the world, I tried to make other compromises. I asked if I could have the credit made transferable so that if I could make this trip I could at least give it to a friend of family member, they refused. Finally, I said that I would pay the price of the confirmed trip providing that they take the monetary value of the credit and give it to the crew as a gratuity. The business had already taken my friend’s $740 AUD without providing services, why should they take our money as well?!? I was more than happy to make this deal because I could see that Nicky was frustrated too and that she did want to help us. The company still refused!!

At this point I was very angry. My sister was in tears and I knew that I had a lot of work to do in order to change all our plans and still have to pay the full (but discounted for this week!) price to make this dive happen. Here came the biggest mistake I made, I paid for the trip in full, again!!

Their consolation was that they would keep our credit live for another 6 months and now offer transferability of the name, but why would I let someone go through the exact same experience I just had?!?

I am really disappointed in the way this business is run. I understand that every business is out to make money, however this business pretty much bullied my money out of me. My mistake was letting them do it. Every business will come into contact with extenuating circumstances, it’s how you deal with those circumstances which speak loudest.

-When Pro Dive refused to give us a refund or even partial returns, they acted like a greedy company.

-When they were told that my friend could not return for a second trip to Australia from Canada, they refused to allow any transferability of his credit and said that there was nothing they could do.

-When they told me that they were doing everything they could to hold our spots for our arrival, tell us that it’s a good time to travel, then say that the spots were full, and I find out they were offering a special week discount to walk-ups for those dates that we had agreed to, they were being UNTRUSTWORTHY, DECEPTIVE, and MANIPULATIVE.

-They would not empower their own employees to do what they knew was right.

This company is not reputable in my books and I feel like I let them steal from me. I suppose part of the problem was me letting them do what they did to me and now I hope that this won’t happen to anyone else.

The trip went well and their staff was professional, it’s a shame that they have to work for a company that does not put their guests first and is run solely for the purpose of extorting money from their customers. The way I was treated by the company makes me feel bad for the way they may treat their own employees.

It is my recommendation as a traveler, diver, employee of a major airline, that this company is not well run.


I know that I am not alone in similar opinions as when I spoke to other in the region while I was there, many people did not have a good opinion of them, had I known this, I would have never booked this trip with Pro Dive. Do not make my mistake! There are better businesses out there that deserve your hard earned money!!!