(Whitehouse, Westmoreland/ January 2022): Irish by birth but Jamaican by heart and soul, David
and Elaine Mcanulty refer to Jamrock as their 'home'.
The couple, from Banbridge on the east coast of Northern Ireland, have been coming to
Jamaica since 2007. They are Sandals Ambassador guests who have spent over 440 nights at
the luxury-included® resorts and 250 of those nights have been at their favourite watering hole
in Jamaica – Sandals South Coast – where they are affectionately known as Mr. And Mrs.
Rumhead. They even have their own personalised Sandals name badges to prove it.
A CHANCE ENCOUNTER
"It was by sheer chance that we ended up in the Caribbean," David shared. He explained that
back in 2003 he and Elaine actually planned a trip to Hong Kong but had to cancel as there was
an outbreak of SARS. Still yearning for a new adventure, they decided to go west instead.
“Sandals Regency La Toc in Saint Lucia seemed like the best choice then as we could get both
flights there and suitable accommodation, so we went for it and that became our introduction to
Sandals,” said David.
“We started with Sandals in Saint Lucia and we loved it but then we thought ‘there are other
properties’ so we’ll try them too, all of them,” said the couple. Thereafter they island-hopped
between Saint Lucia and Antigua, made a stop in The Bahamas and then eventually touched
down in Jamaica. “Our trip to Jamaica was the first time that we left a vacation saying ‘we’re
coming straight back’ and we’ve done that every January since,” David added.
Even though David and Elaine have continued to take the odd detour to other Caribbean islands
over the years, rest assured that their hearts always lead them back to where the vibe is irie, the
sun is warm and the people are even warmer.
“What first got us hooked on Jamaica was the staff at Sandals South Coast and the interaction
with staff and guests.” Elaine still remembers meeting a watersports attendant by the name of
Dennis on their first trip to Jamaica. “Dennis taught us real Jamaican patois, not the one we
found in a glossary online,” said Elaine with a laugh. Learning patois was fun for them as they
felt it provided an opportunity for unique interaction with staff and to this day they love the
reaction they get whenever they speak patois.
Over the years the couple has had a lot of opportunities to not only learn the local dialect but
also experiences on and off the South Coast’s beaten tracks from trips to Appleton Estate, YS
Falls, Lover’s Leap and Jack Sprat. “As a matter a fact, I remember we were on the very first
Island Routes® boat tour to Floyd’s Pelican bar and that was quite an experience,” said David.
But they aren't just in love with Jamaica, it's Sandals too and Sandals South Coast in particular.
"I've had some amazing memories here," shared David. Now when the ‘Rumheads’ visit, they
take the time to switch off and focus on the other thing that got them hooked on Jamaica; the
friendships they’ve made over the years.
“We’ve made some of our closest friends here, friends from all over the United States and
England as well,” said David. “A number of them have even come to visit us in Ireland,” Elaine
added. The couple agrees that those friendships are indeed priceless, and are what makes their
vacations so special. “On this trip there are about 20 of us here,” Elaine went on to share, “and
with technology it’s so much easier to stay intouch and plan our trips together.”
"That corner of the main pool right next to the bar is our office everyday starting at 10am and the
team members here are our family. This is home,” David chipped in.
THEN THERE ARE THE PERKS
The perks that come along with being members of the Sandals Select loyalty programme are
also a plus for the couple. “It’s just great to know that while you’re spending to come on
vacation, you’re also getting something valuable in return; from token Sandals collectables to
loyalty points to spend on accumulated paid nights; knowing that each trip gets you closer to
achieving another level is great,” said David. “And we absolutely live for those free week stays.”
The couple has another vacation booked for this November and another for January 2024. And
already it can’t come fast enough; because to say their lives back home are far removed from
their Jamaican exploits would be an understatement.
Back in Ireland, David is a recycling manager for the local government with just enough time for
a game of golf on the weekends while Elaine, an avid entrepreneur for the better part of 30
years, balances running a successful spa business with running marathons. She actually holds
the honour of being the female with the most marathon runs in all of Northern Ireland.
“Back home our lives are fulfilling but extremely hectic, so Jamaica for us is always such a
welcome escape,” Elaine remarked. “Also there’s not as much alcohol back home, and the
options are very limited,” she added.
And with that the couple returned to the main pool at Sandals South Coast or their ‘office’ as
they call it. It might be 10am in Jamaica but for them and their ‘crew’ it’s five o’clock somewhere,
the rum is readily available and the good times are always included, so cheers!