When you think Jamaica, mega, all-inclusive resorts probably come to mind. But the island is home to some pretty awesome, unique boutique hotels too. Good things come in small packages. So if you usually go large, consider doing something different next time.
You’ll have no regrets with these boutique hotels. Take your pick, there is no wrong choice.
For a total escape, check into Kanopi House in San San for a stay in an eco-friendly luxury treehouse snug-as-a-bug in a jungle of 100-foot Banyans. The view from the secluded hillside that overlooks the Blue Lagoon is one you’ll never forget. Make your way around the property via stairs and more stairs, winding bamboo and pathways with ginger-lilies and an array of flora and fauna. It’s downright dreamy, just like your treehouse, think luxury, comfort. The bed is the kind you never want to get out of. Lounge at the lagoon, take a tour of the lagoon, kayak, or let the concierge know you’d like to have a boat take you to nearby Monkey Island for a picnic on the beach. The Living Room is an open-air restaurant, bar, chill out spot. Often on Saturday evenings there is live music. Even after you’ve finished your meal of authentic Jamaican dishes like coconut curry chicken, ginger scallion fish, ackee, green banana and callaloo, you’ll find reasons to linger, and it’s not just the library. The views of the Caribbean Sea from on high are sensational, especially at evening over a candlelight meal. It’s romance 101. There are no crowds, with just eight treehouses, it’s you and yours, and an energetic, friendly staff.
Geejam Hotel is the “it” spot in Port Antonio. Secluded, where the rainforest meets the sea, luxurious, and home to a music studio, A-list celebs such as Drake, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé and Jay-Z have stayed there. With three private villas, four deluxe jungle cabins and 12 recently launched Rumba Rooms, each with more than 40 pieces of art, you’ll feel like royalty too. Another recent addition is the infinity pool with a panoramic view of flora, fauna and the ocean. You’ll only want to get out when you’re water-logged and the lounger is all but calling you. Not a pool fan? No worries, relax on the private beach or take a kayak out. If billiards are your thing, grab a cocktail from the Bushbar and show off your skills at the outside pool table. You can blame an off game on Mother Nature’s distracting beauty. There’s nothing cookie cutter here. Take, for example, the four-bedroom Panorama Villa, it was once the vacation getaway of Audrey Hepburn. At Geejam, the vibe is sophisticated, hip, but comfortably chill. The food is fab. Breakfast is so sumptuous you won’t need lunch. Fill up on ackee and saltfish, plantains, callaloo, green banana, yams and Johnny cake. Dinner is romantic from the open-air Bushbar, overlooking the ocean. Jerk-marinated lamb chops with mashed potatoes and garden veggies with champagne or a wicked rum punch is highly recommended. The service is high touch, impeccable, the staff warm. Chances are you’ll meet Steve Beaver, co-owner and music industry veteran. He freely mingles with all his guests. Don’t be surprised if he pulls up a chair and chats. On departure day you’ll feel like you’ve been visiting a friend. Expect to feel cranky when it’s time to head home.
Bluefields Bay Villas
There’s something to be said for being in a world of your own. You can do that at Bluefields Bay Villas in Bluefields on Jamaica’s stunning south coast. They are perched along the hilly coast and overlook the ocean. There are a mere six all-inclusive luxury villas, so privacy is a premium. Each villa has IG-worthy views, private pools, butler, maid service, full kitchen and chef. You can get nanny service 24/7. There is elderly care for seniors. Here there’s no pressure. Do as little or as much as you like. You can arrange dive tours, deep sea-fishing, glass-bottom boat cruises and more. Make your way down the stairs that lead to a private, spacious gazebo, with hammock, and comfy chairs and tables. The view of the ocean extends as far as the eye can see. At night the biggest noise is the cicadas’ concert. The food is scrumptious. For lunch, think red snapper in callaloo sauce, roast pumpkin and salad with mango dressing. The service is first class, with real silver cutlery, china, and antiques, but with that down home Jamaican ease.
Eclipse at Half Moon
Half Moon in Montego Bay is one of Jamaica’s legendary luxury properties spread over 400 acres of grounds that were once a sugar plantation. Last year Half Moon unveiled its latest addition, Eclipse at Half Moon, is a resort within a resort. When you enter the enormous open-air lobby of Eclipse and glimpse the glistening Caribbean Sea, it’s just wow. This is paradise. Eclipse, designed by resort architects Hart Howerton, exudes luxury. It has 57 rooms and suites, two restaurants, three bars, a market café, Fern Tree Spa, infinity-edge swimming pool, and the private beachfront with a swimming cove. Choose among three types of accommodations, all outrageously spacious. A big bonus is the covered outdoor space, a patio to dine, as well as the ability to chill in a lounger looking at the sea. Relax. The 68,000 square-foot Fern Tree Spa is over-the-top. Pamper yourself. Enjoy the whirlpool, and the Fern Tree Falls, which has three separate pools for cooling off between hot steam and sauna rooms. Treat yourself to a massage and yoga classes in overwater bungalows. Once revitalized, there are activities from golf, kayaking to snorkeling. Wind down your day listening to the calypso band before dinner. What’s your mood? Go for a private dinner for two on the beach or Italian seafood overlooking the sea at Delmare. Finish the night at Lester’s with cocktails made from a vast selection of Caribbean rums.
You know what they say about location. Rockhouse has that covered. It’s perched high atop the cliffs of Negril’s West End. The 40-room (villas and thatch roofed huts) boutique hotel is a site to behold. Each room is built with timber, stone and thatch, ideal because of the surrounding fossilized rock and jungle landscape. The buzz is about the new Ocean View suites, featuring king beds, a separate daybed, lounge area, and a huge balcony, perfect for watching the sunset with a glass of champagne in hand of course. How would you like to start your day? A swim in the Caribbean Sea, a class in the Yoga Pavilion where you can meditate and take in ocean views? The spa at Rockhouse has a mission, “to help you unwind by any means necessary.” Who will argue about that? One of the signature treatments is the Blue Mountain coffee scrub in the tropical garden. When you’re ready for action, snorkel, or go to nearby mineral baths or zipline. You know you’re someplace special. Word is that in the ’70s Bob Marley, the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan hung out on the cliffs here. The Rockhouse restaurant puts its own spin on traditional Caribbean cuisine. Here it’s about local ingredients, including hyper local from the property’s own garden.