This our first trip Jamaica and I was wondering what are the best deals when shopping there ? We are at CSS , I think I read somewhere that they allow vendors on the resort . What type of products they have and some idea of prices would be handy to know so we know how much money to bring with us .
There will be some vendors allowed on the resort by Couples to sell products. Mostly these are large and small wood carvings, sandals, bead jewelry, shirts, etc. The beach is private so they only allow these people on resort. At CSA and CN there is a public beach and some vendors do walk the shoreline. Bring small bills for most things but they will hold things if you need to go to your room for more money. These are souvenirs. The shopping trip off resort is to a type of shopping "mall" area with an assortment of stores. Also remember that everything on Jamaica, on and off resort, is a negotiation so the price you are quoted is not necessarily the price you will pay. The best deal is the deal you make for yourself. You should always have some cash for things like this and to pay your baggage handlers $1 per bag at the airport, tip off site excursion guides like to Dunns River Falls, and to tip your driver who takes you to the resort and back to the airport. Non Couples employees should be tipped. Couples employees are not allowed.
For the Beach Party they allow vendors to come onto the resort as well as during the day by Water Sports. They'll have all kinds of crafts from paintings done by local artists, to jewelry, as well as carved, sown and woven objects. How much you spend will depend on what and how much you buy. Some items can be purchased for as a couple bucks while others can be closer to $100. Of course they're always ready to make a deal so be ready to haggle...it's not considered rude but normal to do this. The good thing is that you can spend whatever you would like...as much or as little. It's really hard to say how much cash will be needed but we usually bring about $400-500 though all is not ear-marked for vendor purchases.
Another good place to get good deals is the craft market that is next to one of the places they take you in town for shopping. The key there is to not stop unless you're serious about buying as it's much like what happens when walking onto a used car dealers lot. Of course be ready to barter for the price you're willing to pay and be ready to walk away if they won't meet your bottom dollar. As in any business venture it's all about the respect that each shows the other.
If you go shopping at the Plaza in Ocho Rios (were Margaritaville is), do so on a day when there are no cruise ships or if there is a ship, wait for it to leave (around 2p-3pm) and then shop. The shops downtown will raise the prices if there is a ship at port but then you can make some awesome deals. If looking for t-shirts, there is a great shop located their. Always ask for a deal. This plaza is patroled and is very safe.