SunVillas Experience - Representing Jamaican villas since 1996
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Frequently Asked Questions about your Jamaica Villa Vacation

Villa Questions:

Tipping:

Ground Transportation and Car Rental Questions:

Money Issues:

Jamaica Questions:

Telephone and Internet Questions:

SunVillas Policies:

Villa Questions:

Are there lounging floats for the pool?

Some villas have floats but as these are perishable items, we cannot guarantee they will be there for your visit. We advise our guests to purchase any pool toys in the US if they really want them and take them down. Most pool toys and floats can quickly become unusable in the hot sun and when this happens are disposed of by the staff. [Return to Top]

Are there hair-dryers available in the villa?

Many of our villas have hair dryers. Please check the 'Features' link on the villa page for information for your specific villa. [Return to Top]

Is there a stereo, CD and Tape player?

Each villa will be uniquely equipped by the owner. You can find the specific electronic equipment in a villa on our web site under each villas 'Features'. [Return to Top]

Is a converter or special plug needed for US appliances, computers etc?

The current in Jamaica is 120V the same as US. All your US appliances, radios, computers will work in Jamaica. The telephone lines also have standard RJ-11 plugs.  [Return to Top]

Suppose I want to cook when I am there?

You may use the kitchen. Please ask the staff to help you if you want. There is no rate reduction if you do your own cooking. [Return to Top]

Suppose we want to go out for a night on the town, could we leave the kids?

Yes you may. We can arrange for nanny service. Depending on how late you will be out you may have to pay for the night or pay for the taxi for the nanny to go home. The rates will be reasonable. [Return to Top]

Can I have guests over if I rent the villa?

You may have a few family members or friends over to visit; however, there may be additional charges for meal preparation and for any other services or facilities used beyond that provided for the rental party. You may not invite groups of people (separate from the rental party) to the villa for functions, such as family reunions, meetings, weddings etc. without prior written consent. Guests separate from the rental party may not stay overnight. We ask that you do not invite strangers (people you did not know prior to your trip) into the villa for security reasons. The occupancy for the villa is as stated in the reservation invoice and may not be modified except by prior written agreement. [Return to Top]

How do we shop for food?

There are a couple options. One option is to let the villa staff purchase all the food on your behalf based on a menu that you prepare. The staff will present you with an estimate for the cost for the cost of food and transportation and return any change along with the receipt. Some villas have prior arrangements with the grocery store to provide groceries in advance of payment: please check with your villa staff. The daily cost for food and beverages per adult per day runs about $30-40 per person depending on whether you are a light or heavy eater. The cost would be more if you add in alcoholic beverages - especially imported wines and champagnes. The second option is that you go to the market and grocery store either with the cook or by yourself and purchase the food. We find that a trip to the market with the cook is quite interesting. Making at least one trip to the market and grocery store will also give you a perspective on the cost of food in Jamaica. [Return to Top]

Do grocery stores accept credit cards?

Yes most of the larger grocery stores do accept credit cards: General Foods, Ocho Rios, Scotties, Discovery Bay, L&M Supermarket, Runaway Bay and Shoppers Fare in Montego Bay. [Return to Top]

Are there any items we should bring with us?

Sun block, mosquito repellent, favorite foods, film for cameras, pool float, snorkel equipment, duty free imported liquors.  [Return to Top]

What does the villa come equipped with?

Your villa comes fully furnished and with a full staff. This includes items such as beach towels, bed sheets, room towels, tableware, cutlery etc. A complete list of of amenities for each villa can be found on each of the villa's web pages. [Return to Top]

Should we provide you with a list of things we want at the villa when we arrive, like alcoholic beverages, etc?

We ask for a pre-order list of food items one month before your trip. This includes the menu for the first night dinner and next day breakfast, any problem foods, and any liquor you might like to have us pre-order. You will pay for this at the local grocery store after your arrival (next day). [Return to Top]

Is there a place to buy decent wine in Jamaica?

Yes you can purchase wine and liquor in most supermarkets. They have a fair selection of South American, French and Australian wines; but a more limited selection of California wines. Prices may be slightly higher than in the US. We advise our guests to bring in wine if they have very specific requirements (2 bottles per person allowed). You may also check out our selection of wines and specialty foods with Indulge that would be purchased before your trip and delivered directly to the villa. You may pay in cash in Jamaica upon receipt of your order, or prepay by credit card through SunVillas. Credit card payments will incur a 3% processing fee. [Return to Top]

Tipping:

What would you recommend for staff tips?

Tipping guidelines are provided on the Villa Guide for each villa. A 10-15% tip (percentage of the full villa rate) is suggested for the staff to be distributed the day you leave. A suggested allocation might be: Cook-50%, housekeeper-35%, Gardener-15%

If your villa has a butler we suggest: Cook – 40% Butler – 30% Housekeeper – 20% Gardener - 10% We typically place the tip in individual envelopes for each staff member. We give it to them when the van picks us up for the airport. You should also tip your van driver (10-15% of the van package rate) after he drops you off at the airport on your return. [Return to Top]

Ground Transportation and Car Rental:

Should we rent a car in Jamaica?

We strongly advise our guests NOT to rent a car as driving themselves in Jamaica can be a hassle (bad roads, left hand driving, no signs etc). We suggest you consider a van or car and full time driver. We price this package less than if you rented and drove yourself. The rate includes one tank of gas and unlimited mileage. You can go anywhere in Jamaica. We have excellent drivers very familiar with your villa and the area who can also act as your guide, take you cook to market and just basically insure that you can focus on your vacation and not have the worry about driving in Jamaica. Take a look at our web site details for ground transportation. [Return to Top]

Money Issues:

How easy is it to exchange money?

It is very easy to exchange US and Canadian dollars at local Cambios. All they do is exchange money. There is much less hassle than going into a bank, which we never advise doing unless you have to as the lines are awful and the exchange is not as good. [Return to Top]

Will they accept US$ cash just about everywhere?

You can use US$ in most places but you will probably not get the best exchange rate and you will get Jamaican $ back as change. For street vendors and in the outdoor markets you should use Jamaican currency. [Return to Top]

Are there ATM machines in Jamaica?

Yes; most banks have ATM machines. The ATM will dispense Jamaican dollars and some US dollars. There is normally a charge for using the machines, and they have daily limits of about $200-300. Your US bank will charge your account at the current exchange rate. [Return to Top]

Jamaica Questions:

What documents are required to enter Jamaica?

USA/Canada Citizens: Valid passport: The US Government requires a passport for re-entry into the United States. Those visiting as tourists may remain for a period not exceeding six months.

UK Citizens: Commonwealth citizens need passports (no visa is required). Japan Citizens: Passport required. Visa is required for stays of over 30 days. All other countries: Please contact the Jamaican Tourist Board office nearest you for requirements. [Return to Top]

I have heard there are safety issues in Jamaica. Are there any "problem areas" we should avoid like Kingston?

Here is what TripAdvisor has to say about safety in Jamaica: Jamaica is not the crime ridden, "danger lurking around every corner" island that it is so often painted to be. Visitors (especially first time visitors) are often warned by others to not venture off the confines of their resort. To not do so would be to miss out on the opportunity to really see and experience the wonderful and diverse culture that thrives in Jamaica. So, what about all those scary crime statistics? Fact or fiction? Actually, a little of both. Jamaica does have a problem with gang violence and turf wars that is confined generally to parts of Kingston, Spanish Town and Montego Bay. Each of those towns have mostly safe areas and are worth visiting. The crime will have little impact on the average tourist providing they do not stray into the crime hot spot areas. Seeking local knowledge or reading Jamaican news sites will guide visitors away from dangerous areas. Reports of violence perpetrated against tourists are actually very low. There are occasional crimes of "opportunity", i.e. petty theft, pickpockets and purse snatching's, but they are few in number and probably occur less frequently than the same things that happen back in the tourist’s homeland on a daily basis. General safety tips are the same as any savvy traveler would take when visiting a place with which they are unfamiliar. Do not carry large amounts of cash on you; do not go off with "friendly" strangers; don’t flaunt expensive jewelry (better yet, leave the gemstones at home --- you are on vacation after all); don’t wander around alone at night either in the cities of Montego Bay, Ocho Rios or on the beach in Negril. Most importantly, don’t check your common sense right along with your luggage at the airport. Sure, Jamaica is paradise, but if you get drunk and stupid someone, just like in Boston or Omaha, will likely take advantage of the situation. Once you get a feeling for the laid back atmosphere of the island and it’s citizens and take normal travel precautions, you can get on with the best part of any trip to Jamaica --- soaking up the sun, jamming with the music, eating wonderful local foods, and best of all, getting to know some of the wonderful, warm Jamaican people. Most of our guests use our van and driver service which really prevents them from getting into problem areas. Our drivers know Jamaica and can allow the guest to enjoy Jamaica and their vacation rather than worrying about driving. 

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What arrangements are there if I get sick?

There are a number of doctors in most of the main towns where our villas are located.  Your villa staff will know how to reach a doctor. For serious problems, we recommend Montego Bay Hope, a medical diagnostic and treatment center which has a link with a hospital in South Florida should you need to be transported off the island. Before your visit, please check with your insurance company so you know what procedure to follow just in case you do develop a medical emergency. [Return to Top]

What is the Departure Tax at the airport?

Jamaica has a departure tax that is payable in cash only at the airport upon your departure. Currently, the tax is JA$1800 or US$20 (or equivalent in foreign currency). Most airlines include the tax in the price of your ticket. [Return to Top]

What do I do in the case of a Hurricane?

If you are traveling to Jamaica between June and November, please note that this is considered hurricane season. In the event of flight cancellations due to a hurricane SunVillas will do everything possible to help with either extending your vacation or rescheduling at another time. We would encourage you to purchase trip cancellation insurance to protect your investment as villas owners are not required to rebate rent. In the past 55 years only 5 hurricanes have hit Jamaica. These were: August 1, 1951, Charlie, October 5, 1963, Flora, August 4, 1980 Allen, September 12, 1988, Gilbert and September 10, 2004 Ivan. [Return to Top]

Telephone and Internet Questions:

Can family and friends call us at our villa?

Yes. Jamaica uses the North American Dial Plan, so people can call you at the villa from the US or Canada by dialing 1+ Area Code and the 7-digit telephone number. From other countries, callers should normal international dialing procedures. The area code for Jamaica is (876). [Return to Top]

Can I use my cell phone in Jamaica?

Check with your wireless provider to see if you telephone and calling plan are supported in Jamaica. Cable & Wireless and Digicell, the major Jamaican providers, do have roaming agreements with the most service providers. Most of our villas have wi-fi internet service and your phone could also connect with that for making Skype type calls. [Return to Top]

How do I access the Internet in Jamaica?

Most of our villas have computers with Internet access or wi-fi. You can access the internet from Internet cafes in all of towns where our villas are located. [Return to Top]

SunVillas Policies:

How closely do you adhere to your cancellation policy?

In fairness to our villa owners we must strictly adhere to our cancellation policy. While we may empathize with you in cases of unforeseen circumstances, a cancellation is very costly on our part. As a result of your cancellation we do incur non-refundable charges ourselves, not to mention the lost opportunity to rent the property for that time period. To protect your investment we recommend that you purchase trip insurance. Check out www.insuremytrip.com for good choices on Trip Insurance. [Return to Top]

Is there a minimum rental period?

Stays of one week or more are preferred but we will consider rentals of 4 nights or more. [Return to Top]

Is there an added service charge?

We charge a 3% service charge when you prepay for tips, food and activities. Your villa rate includes all Jamaican Taxes, but not food, ground transportation or tips. [Return to Top]