The Daydream Series: Jamaica – One Love!

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Daydreaming is easy, healthy, and free!
Here at AAV Travel, we would like to give your mind a break and the opportunity to enjoy and learn more about the world from the comfort of your home.


Jamaica is a popular travel destination for March. This post is dedicated to the island of “One Love,” its people, and those that have had to reschedule their trip. #tourismstrong

Jamaican Flavors

Jamaica’s food is known across the world for its freshness and exotic flavors. Jerk chicken, likely being the country’s most famous export! If you’ve never had a chance to stop by Scotchie’s, you will want to put it on your list.

Although jerk varieties are plenty, we are in love with the patties!

Inspired by the British Cornish pastry, which typically is filled with meat and potato, the Jamaican patty has become its own delicacy. They make a great snack to pick up while on vacation but are also an excellent addition to your weekly lunch. Not to mention you can make several, so that you can freeze and reheat them at your convenience.

There are many recipes for beef and chicken patties out there. However, we opted to share a Rastafarian version, which is not only vegetarian but also vegan. Not to mention, super yummy!

Check out Our Green Planet’s recipe and let us know how you like it once you make it!

Copy of taste!

Music and Jamaica go hand in hand. You will be hard-pressed, not to come across a Jamaican that is either humming a tune or moving to the rhythm. Everyone knows Bob Marley and hearing his songs while in Jamaica is a guarantee. Jamaica, however, also has some incredible new talent, and if you want to get a better feel for what Jamaicans listen to these days, check out our Playlist on Spotify. It will take you straight to the Caribbean island!



When you can’t travel, movies and videos are a great option to get the daydreaming started. Jamaica has a few great options to consider!

Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond series, owned a house in Jamaica, and it comes to no surprise that his sixth novel, Dr. No is set on the beautiful island. Dr. No is interesting for several reasons, including the fact that it is the very first James Bond movie and introducing Sean Connery as the first James Bond. Of course, there is also some amazing Jamaican scenery.

If you are a James Bond fan in general and want to know more about the significant Jamaican movie locations check out Carib Journal’s post. 

The Port Antonio area provides most of the settings for the movie Cocktail as well as Knight and Day, which takes you to Frenchman’s Cove.

20,000 Leagues under the Sea features Negril and its cliff area, whereas How Stella got her Groove Back was filmed at the Roundhouse Villas, in Montego Bay.

If you just want to get a little feel for the island, have a look at this clip!


If you are ready to go deeper and learn more about the country as well as its history, culture, and behind the scenes, there are some excellent reads for you!

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Jean Rhys’s reputation was made upon the publication of this passionate and heartbreaking novel, in which she brings into the light one of fiction’s most mysterious characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Set in the Caribbean, its heroine is Antoinette Cosway, a sensual and protected young woman who is sold into marriage to the prideful Rochester. In this best-selling novel, Rhys portrays a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind. For more.

The Harder they Come by Michael Thelwell

Like the acclaimed film of the same title, this lyrical, lilting, densely textured novel is based on the exploits of the legendary Jamaican folk hero and reggae star Rhygin. With passion and precision, Michael Thelwell recounts Rhygin’s journey from a morally coherent rural universe to the teeming, predatory slums of Kingston, his rebellion against the poverty and corruption of postcolonial Jamaica, his blazing, simultaneous rise to the top of the charts and the Most Wanted list. For More.

A Brief History o Seven Killings by Marlon James

In A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James combines brilliant storytelling with his unrivaled skills of characterization and meticulous eye for detail to forge an enthralling novel of dazzling ambition and scope.

On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert to ease political tensions in Kingston, seven gunmen stormed the singer’s house, machine guns blazing. The attack wounded Marley, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Little was officially released about the gunmen, but much has been whispered, gossiped and sung about in the streets of West Kingston. Rumors abound regarding the assassins’ fates, and there are suspicions that the attack was politically motivated.

A Brief History of Seven Killings delves deep into that dangerous and unstable time in Jamaica’s history and beyond. James deftly chronicles the lives of a host of unforgettable characters – gunmen, drug dealers, one-night stands, CIA agents,  even ghosts – over the course of thirty years as they roam the streets of 1970s Kingston, dominate the crack houses of 1980s New York, and ultimately reemerge into the radically altered Jamaica of the 1990s. Along the way, they learn that evil does indeed cast long shadows, that justice and retribution are inextricably linked, and that no one can truly escape his fate.

Gripping and inventive, shocking and irresistible, A Brief History of Seven Killings is a mesmerizing modern classic of power, mystery, and insight. For more.



The Jamaican Rum Punch is a staple at many bars. Often you receive a pre-mixed version. However, if you are one for craft drinks and would like to make yours from scratch, check out Calvin’s recipe.


  • Pimento
  • Rosemarie
  • ½ White Rum
  • 1 oz Dark Rum
  • 3 oz of Ting or Grapefruit Soda
  • 1 dash of Angostura Bitters
  • ½ teaspoon of Strawberry Syrup


This list is compiled in response to the COVID-19 crisis, but also as a resource for anyone considering to travel to Jamaica, or wanting to get a feel for the island before their trip.

Please stay safe and healthy, wash your hands, and practice social distancing as long as it is necessary.

Being able to travel is an incredible gift. The experience can open our eyes to the unique cultures and spellbinding beauty of the natural world. But with this gift comes a responsibility – to protect the world as we know it. Please behave responsibly and show respect!

Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating customized travel itineraries. Originally from Switzerland, she started exploring the world at a young age and continues to expand her knowledge every year.

To plan a trip contact her at

The Fourth Day of National #PlanForVacation Day 2019: Private Cave Dining – Negril, Jamaica

Let’s face it, the majority of visitors traveling to Jamaica for a vacation choose to stay at one of the many all-inclusive resorts. Whether it is out of convenience, or simply because they are scared, some never take the time to explore beyond their hotel’s borders.

Truth be told, Jamaica has a lot of small boutique properties, spread all across the island. Whether you want to stay in the Blue Mountains and marvel at beautiful vistas, enjoy the nightlife in Montego Bay, or sunbathe cliffside in Negril.

While you might not be ready to commit yourself to a vacation at a smaller, not all-inclusive resort (yet), you have options to venture out and experience something different for just an evening for example.

The Caves Resort, for instance, provides a unique and highly romantic opportunity.  Their hotel structure spans across the cliffs and has many caves. When occupancy permits, they allow outside guests to visit for a private cave dinner.

It is recommended to make your reservation at least a couple of weeks ahead of time. To confirm you will need to put down a non-refundable deposit, the remaining balance payable when you come for dinner. The Caves’ helpful front desk staff will also arrange transfer from and to the resort you are staying at, should you wish to. Your dinner reservation will include all your food and drinks while at the resort.

Once you arrive, you can spend some time at the sunset bar for a cocktail before dinner. You will likely meet some of the hotel guests who will be raving about cliffside kayak excursions, amazing food experiences, and contemplate whether or not to jump off a cliff the next day.

On a sunny day, you will be able to enjoy a beautiful sunset. For us, it happened to be the end of a rather enormous downpour. From the sunset bar, you can see Negril’s Lighthouse and Rockhouse Resort in the distance.


Once the private cave is set up and ready for you, you will be escorted to your table by your waiter who will cater to your every need for the entire evening. Mind you, wear comfortable shoes as you will have to go up and down steep stairs.

A private dinner at the Caves is a unique and very special experience that you will want to spend with someone truly special.

To make a reservation, send an email to They will respond quickly with availability and menu choices.


Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel; a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. You can contact her at

Where to Honeymoon in September, October or November?

It used to be, that the summer months were the most popular, but lately, couples are choosing more and more to get married during the fall months.

With September being peak hurricane season, many ask where should we honeymoon in September or October? Is it safe to travel to the Caribbean during hurricane season? What do we have to expect from hurrican season? And, are there any alternatives?

sandals emerald bay, exuma, bahamas

Of course, choosing a destination has a lot to do with the time a couple has available as well as their budget. It also has something to do with what they ultimately want to experience.

Some couples aren’t worried about hurricanes and don’t mind a daily afternoon rain shower. That is mostly what you should expect during hurricane season. However, every now and then a hurricane forms and eventually takes one path or another.

Nowadays, hurricane tracking is fairly reliable and a hurricane’s path is predicted days before it actually happens. This can be both, great if indeed the hurrican takes a certain path and the chosen destination is affected, upsetting if you change your plans, only to find that the hurricane takes a different path or has weakened.


The most important thing to have in this situation is solid travel insurance. If you have a “cancellation for covered reasons” policy, chances are that you are only covered if the hurricane hits. Meaning, that if the hurricane is supposed to hit tomorrow, but you are traveling today, you have no option to cancel because “fear of a hurricane” is usually not covered.  If you want to have the flexibility to decide not to go because you are worried a hurricane might affect your honeymoon, you need a so called “cancel for any reason” travel protection plan.

But, which Caribbean island to pick during hurricane season? If you want an all-inclusive experience, go with Jamaica, the Negril side to be precise. The island’s Blue Mountains offer a natural, protective barrier to the other side of the island. They also catch most of the rainfall. If an all-inclusive honeymoon isn’t on top of your list, pick one of the ABC Islands (Aruba, Curacao or Bonaire). These are usually out of the hurricane belt and less prone to stormy action.


Whichever destination you choose in the Caribbean, or along the Pacific Coast, there never is a guarantee though. Weather patterns have been changing and are no longer as predictable as they once were.

For those who want to stay away from hurricanes altogether I suggest a trip to Europe. Fall in Europe is the best, and depending on where you go, you can still enjoy a beach vacation.

Here are some of my top choices:


doolough ireland aavexplorations

Great for nature lovers, couples on a tighter budget, couples afraid of long flights, and couples worried about language barriers.

How long does it take to get there? A quick 6- 7  hour flight from the East Coast will take you there.



Perfect for romantics, history buffs, art lovers, music lovers, food lovers… need I say more, the country screams amore and passion. Fall is less crowded, the weather mild, prices lower.

How long does it take to get there? Expect a little over 8 hours from the East Coast



For a laid back, sunny, island hopping experience. Sipping ouzo, nibbling on olives, watching a donkey go by. The perfect setting for a romantic, relaxing honeymoon. However, keep in mind that once October hits, many hotels, shops and even ferries shut down

How long does it take to get there? Expect a little over 10 hours from the East Coast



Douro River – image courtesy of Viking River Cruises

For a romantic river cruise along the Duoro River where vineyards abound and harvest season is in full swing. Lisbon is also one of the most stunning cities in Europe!

How long does it take to get there? Expect a little over 6 hours from the East Coast


subway station, metro , louvre rivoli, paris

For a three city power pack cultural experience. Each unique, each worth a visit. Super easy to connect via high-speed trains. Track Royals in London and have High Tea at Kensington Palace, stroll book stalls along the Seine in Paris and enjoy dinner atop the Eiffel Tower, and ride a bike in Amsterdam and check out the Anne Frank museum.

How long does it take to get there? Expect between 6 – 7 hours from the East Coast, depending on which city you fly in and fly out of.

stefanie pichonnat aavtravel


Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of  AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm, specialized in creating and customizing honeymoons. You can contact her at



Loosing Track of Time at The Caves

A visit to The Caves resort was one of our highlights during the recent stay in Negril, Jamaica. This unique gem is perched above and built into Negril’s steep cliff and cave side.negril-pic1

A narrow road winds along the coast directing us to the resort, making it easy to miss the hidden entrance. A small light blue gate, just big enough for a mini-bus, is the only entrance at the resort, which is hidden behind walls. The driveway is so small that there is hardly enough space to turn your car. The lobby consists of a small, two-story building with a blue fenced in front porch; nothing fancy, just pure Jamaican country charm. It’s like arriving at a friend’s home.

As we arrive, the hotel sales executive was the first to provide us with a warm Jamaican greeting. Filled with pride and excitement, he escorted us on a small winding path to show us the highlights of the property. The stone path leads us through beautiful gardens, which guide us to a few unique cottages. We then approache Macka Tree; right below is a giant carved-out bluehole where visitors can jump into, at their own risk. The bluehole directs the swimmer to a cave that soon approaches the wide open Caribbean Sea.

As we move further, we walk towards the edge of the cliff that leads to a small spa. The spa is very discreet, but incredibly beautiful with remarkable service to satisfy your needs.

Our tour continues by walking along the cliff’s edge again. We climb down a steep staircase towards the cave structures. Small terraces approach, and lead us to the first cave that invites guests to lounge and sunbathe while viewing the ocean below. Inside the cave it was so peaceful and secluded that it felt like the property was yours. The first cave was designed for guests to dine in private. At night, the inside of the cave fills your sight with beautiful candles and the sound of waves crashing below.

The second cave is a Rum and Cigar bar; a unique feature to Negril, which again at night becomes lit with candles and small lights. The bar invites guests to lounge in relaxing benches and enjoy a large selection of different rums and cigars. A warm evening breeze sways through the cave as the peaceful sound of crashing waves encircle it.

The last cave was also unique. A hot tub is built into the cave and opens up to the sea through a window. From there you can watch the sunset and toast a glass of champagne.

The Caves Resort treats their guests as if they were family. It is the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate. Guests enjoy cooling off in the deep blue sea by either jumping or climbing down a ladder. An inviting small pool that is above sea level allows visitors to relax while overlooking the breathtaking view of the ocean. Guests enjoy participating in snorkeling and kayaking, a favorite pastime activity at the Caves. There is also a variety of food to choose from that is cooked to your liking.

Feel free to check out the pictures we took during our visit! The Caves can be a wonderful option for a honeymoon, relaxing getaway, or a destination wedding.

Review – Romantic Getaway to Couples San Souci, Jamaica

Mid-April 2009 my husband and I were treated to 3 incredibly romantic nights at Couples Sans Souci in Ocho Rios. “Sans Souci” is French and when translated into English means “Without a Care” or “No worries” which is a cute way to refer to Jamaica’s famous tag line.

Sans Souci is a very special resort in that it is built around a mineral spring said to have healing powers. From the turn of the century, people from the small fishing village of Ocho Rios would congregate on Sundays, lining up for the whole day, to take their 15 – 20-minute turn in the mineral spring which is particularly good for rheumatism, arthritis, and skin problems. Nowadays you have the possibility to bath in these healing waters during a stay at Couples Sans Souci.

Ocho Rios has a very rugged coastline with rocky hillsides and small bays. Sans Souci was originally built along the hillside running down to the mineral springs. It was setup to become one of the Caribbean’s most luxurious beach-side complexes. In 1966 the property was bought by a Bermudian who was truly impressed by the “tropical beauty” of the place. On viewing the site with its steep elevation, Mr. Ward, the architect, remarked that it was an “exciting challenge” to his architectural skill. This was the beginning of Sans Souci, which as such opened its doors in 1984.

Today Sans Souci is a truly unique property which embraces its history. You can feel the love the different owners had for this place.

In 2005 Couples resorts bought Sans Souci, the Jewel of the Caribbean, situated on a high bluff of land. The property entails approximately 35 acres with terraced gardens leading down to the Spa. At the west end of the property within a small bay is a 400-foot sand beach.

Couples Swept Away
The resort is just off the main road so no long driveways or anything alike. You check-in at a desk in the lobby area where you also find the tour desk and the resort concierge. Check-in is fairly painless but the fun starts when the bellman tells you how to find your room. Sans Souci is small but pretty complicated and you can easily get lost within the small walkways (particularly on the day of your arrival).

We were allocated a suite in the D block which sits high on a bluff. We really enjoyed our suite which was large with absolutely gorgeous views. The most unusual feature was the shower which after having stayed there for a couple of days is still a mystery to me. I guess some people just have more imagination than others.

We arrived fairly late in the afternoon and we quickly learned that it wasn’t all that easy to get reservations at one of the specialty restaurants. We ended up getting a late reservation at the beach restaurant which serves Caribbean inspired fare. The setting was really gorgeous. Right at the beach, the tree lighted with small lights – it couldn’t have been more perfect. The food was very good and it was interesting to discover the different tasting foods.

The next day we signed up for snorkeling which was no problem at all. The site we stopped at was fine but for someone who snorkeled the Great Barrier reef, it wasn’t all that exciting. Other people on the boat told us that they sometimes take you to see a wreck which is pretty interesting.

Couples Sans Souci also has a great spa with very cute spa huts that are really romantic for couples massages… Since our time was limited I only tried a facial and it was very nice.

That evening we dined outside on the hilltop terrace at the Italian restaurant which turned out to be more Caribbean than Italian really. Again, the food was great and the setting truly romantic.

Nighttime entertainment is fun but it is by no means a party resort. It’s all about celebrating your love, rekindle the romance…some fun games, karaoke and a lot of cuddly dancing.

Our last day they organized the Gala Dinner which they do once a week. They spend the whole day setting up tables, food stations, decorating… just for an evening. The buffet and selection were great and it was nice interacting with other guests. For those who did not like to socialize the only other option available was room service, which by the way is available 24 hours a day and included.

Couples Sans Souci is a great resort if you are looking for a romantic place, something unusual with a Caribbean feel.