(originally published on February 11, 2013)
At the risk of giving away all my trade secrets and revealing just how particular I can be in preparing for travel, I've decided to write a little guide to "resorting" in warm places. Whether you have saved for years for your dream vacation, are headed somewhere for a short extended weekend, or have the good fortune to be able to do this every year, or even multiple times a year, this is for you.
I've not always been a savvy resorter. I've had the painful experience of arriving at a Club Med completely unprepared for the color-themed attire required each evening. I've been to a resort where I completely missed the fabulous adults-only infinity pool only to find out about it after I returned home. Or the hot tub hiding in the tropical foliage on the far side of the complex. Or felt completely underdressed and underprepared for pretty much everything except floating around in the pool.
Like most things in life, I learned from experience and by obsessively observing others. Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing some insider tips, some of my favorite sources for your resort needs, and a little sneak peak sprinkled throughout into what I'll be bringing on my next resort trip in March.
First up: what do I wear?
I used to wear shorts and a tshirt over my one and only black swimsuit. With my one and only pair of flip flops. And then we took a trip to Cancun. That Club Med I mentioned, to be exact. Where everything is communicated in at least three different languages and most of the people there are from Europe. And very, very chic.
The week we visited, there was rain off and on so we spent just as much time in the lounge with our fellow resorters as we did at the pool. And that's where I noticed The Caftan. It was stylish, yet modest. It was so much lovelier than my half damp grey tshirt. And it totally changed my approach to vacation. Resorting is about enjoying yourself while wearing things you might not normally wear at your local pool.
You will spend your entire day in a swimsuit and coverup. Leave most of your shorts and daytime casual outfits at home. (I'll pack only one or two just in case we travel offsite. Even so, I wore a swimsuit and coverup to Rick's last time, just in case I wanted to take a dip in the ocean.)
So here's the deal, I do not believe in spending $300 on a beach cover up. That is just dumb. It gets wet. It gets sandy. It gets strawberry daiquiri on it. I've found some great ones in places you'd never expect to look (JC Penney!), but my favorite source is Echo Design. I always hit the sales at the end of the summer and probably own thirty plus now.
And swimsuits are really, really hard to find if you are anything other than tall and skinny. You also need a lot of them because nothing ever dries in the Caribbean. My favorite swimsuits come from Hapari. They really do fit everyone and provide enough coverage and support that some of us need! I also usually get a sturdier classic tankini set from Lands End for "sports" -- snorkeling and for the slide on the catamaran. Our first year in Jamaica, I brought four swimsuits, but noticed several of the ladies had many more on rotation. I now bring a different suit for each day.
Do not forget a beach bag! I usually bring two or three to accessorize my outfits. Above is my favorite from last year.
Sandals and flip flops: Honestly, there is no better choice than Old Navy. They come in great colors (including sparkly ones) and cost less then $5. I also have these fantastic Jack Rogers jellys that I am bringing with me this year.
Generally, you are expected to dress for dinner. Not crazy fancy but, seriously, leave the shorts and printed tshirts behind, guys. I bring pretty basic dresses that I Caribbean-ize with lots of fun accessories and shoes. I also bring a lot of white linen pants that I pair with tunics and colorful shirts. Boden and Fresh Produce have great tunics, dresses, and colorful basics. And J. Jill has THE best white linen pants. I have five pairs.
It is truly all about the accessories! You don't really want to bring expensive things with you so its the perfect time to hit up Etsy and stores like So Good for items that will be perfect for the bright colors of the Caribbean.
The clutch: Ladies, nothing is more important than bringing a few clutches with you. If you carry a camera and iPhone with you, you will need one! I keep my eyes open all year round, especially on sites like Gilt, where I found the super cool bag above. Etsy is also a great place for unique and fairly inexpensive clutches.
Still to come in the Resorting series: I'll be spilling it all ... what to do before you leave so you can really enjoy yourself while on vacation. And some of the things I bring with me that you may never have thought of! To cap it all off, a video I've been working on from last year's Jamaica trip. You'll be booking a trip by the time this is all done!