In November of 2011 our daughter, Ashley, suddenly passed away and, as anyone who has lost a child will affirm, it was devastating! While undergoing grief therapy, our councilor mentioned that because anniversaries & holidays are some of the hardest times for survivors we might want to consider “taking a trip…maybe even out of the country” on the anniversary of her death. What a great suggestion that turned out to be! It would not only give us the opportunity to remove ourselves from our everyday lives, it would also give us the chance to spend a week celebrating our daughter’s life and remembering her in a fun, positive and optimistic way!
Therefore, we invited two of our closest friends to join us and we traded a couple of our RCI timeshare weeks for two Jr. Suites at the Grand Palladium Resort in Jamaica in November of 2012. It would not be an understatement to say that our trip to Jamaica literally changed our lives! We checked into one of the most luxurious suites any of us had ever seen and we spent the next seven days laying out on the beach, drinking Red Stripe beer, eating Jamaican Jerk Chicken & Paella, talking and thinking about Ashley and generally being treated like royalty by the staff at the Grand Palladium Resort!
Although I had spent some time in Jamaica as a teenager, I had forgotten how happy, friendly and gregarious the Jamaican people were! Everywhere we went we were greeted with, “Yes..Mon”! and “Wha Gwon”? And “Eiree, Mon”! Since this was the first time my wife had ever been out of America, it was important for her to be able to communicate with the locals and Jamaica was the perfect destination for that! (In fact, she loved it so much that she took my daughter-in-Law back to the Grand Palladium in Jamaica last summer for a quick get-away!)
While in Jamaica, we were invited to attend what we thought would be the “same old”, standard, tired, Sales Presentation like you get everywhere you trade into, but we were offered some pretty enticing gifts and upgrades, so we took the bait! Although we did not choose to join the Palladium Family that year, they offered us the chance to go to Riviera Maya in November of 2013 and it was there that we realized that “These people are on the level”! We joined the Palladium Travel Club at the “Governor’s” level while we were in Riviera Maya and the next year, while at the Punta Cana Resort we upgraded to the “Presidential” level, which has many increased benefits (like “Swim-up” rooms, extra free weeks, etc., etc.!).
The simple fact is that every November for the past three years we have taken what we call our “Annual Ashley Grief Trip” and each year we’ve ended up taking more and more people with us! It started with just four of us in 2012 and two years later we took five couples! Thanks to my membership in The Palladium Travel Club, I am able to offer my friends “Free Accommodations” (actually, they’re just using one of my 200 weeks, and the bonus for me is that every time we use 10 weeks, my wife and I get a free all-inclusive week for our own personal use!)
The best part of it all is that we get to invite our friends and relatives to join us as we travel to exotic locations; stay in luxurious resorts; eat gourmet foods from various countries; fellowship together and all the while we get to celebrate the wonderful memories of our daughter!
By: Bob Green