Personal Butlers, an Underwater Adventure, and $1,900 Bourbon

The excitement was palpable as our guides outfitted us with our equipment. Like baby ducks following their mom, we began our trek through the hot, steamy jungle with our guides leading the way to the first zip line.

As I climbed to the first platform, I was a bit unsure of what lay ahead. Our guides quickly snapped the first person in our group to the line and gave a slight push, sending him zipping away to the next platform.

Finally, it was my turn. Kicking my feet up from the surface beneath me, suspended by a cable locked into my gear, I gave a thumbs-up, and I was off. Zip-lining through Jamaica’s jungle canopy with sunlight filtering down through the lush, green rainforest while native birds serenaded me was an exhilarating experience.

From the very beginning of this trip, my husband Jim and I were treated like VIPs. We were whisked through customs by a concierge and met by a chauffeured car. On the way to the hotel, we relaxed with canapes and cold bottles of water as we glimpsed picturesque villages dotting the coastline. Upon arrival, we were escorted to a private room, and given delightfully cold rum punches.

We also discovered that our room was not the common standard room we had booked…It was the most lavish room on the property—a two-story loft suite, right on the beach. The best perk of this room was getting our own personal butler staff. We had two butlers assigned to us, Basel and Theda. They saw to our every need. They unpacked our clothes, made our dinner reservations, escorted us to dinner, and put chaises on the beach under an umbrella for us each day. We even had a private cell phone to call them for anything we wanted. While on the beach, we used it to call for drinks and snacks, or whatever we wanted, so we never had to leave our sandy paradise.

One evening, following our dinner, we wanted to enjoy a bath on the balcony with a bottle of wine. Theda drew our bath and filled it with flowers. When we got back to the suite there was an ice bucket with our wine and glasses waiting for us on the balcony table.

A surprise tour, arranged by our butlers, awaited us on our third day. We were treated to a SNUBA tour. SNUBA is a cross between snorkeling and scuba diving. We got to swim with triggerfish and colorful parrot fish, while schools of snapper and jack darted everywhere in the turquoise water. As we floated above the reef, yellow and black sergeant majors swarmed around us. As we savored the sights of this aquatic world, several reef sharks slowly glided by, checking out the intruders in their environment. This amazing experience is one that I’ll not forget.

The cost of our Jamaica vacation (had we payed full price for it) would have been over $8,000. But because I’m a travel writer, we only had to pay $2,000.

These aren’t the only perks we’ve received on our travels. While spending four days in Kentucky, we toured eight distilleries, were treated to a stay at the Beaumont Inn, one of Kentucky’s premier B&Bs, and had a private tasting with Dixon Dedman, the innkeeper. Dixon treated us to a tasting that included his private collection, featuring a $1,900 bottle of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon.

On another excursion, we stayed at one of Georgia’s top beach resorts, the King and Prince, where we were treated like royalty in a beachfront suite. The cost of this trip would have been over $3,000, but we didn’t need to pay a dime.

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