It's been "Jamaica" this and "beach front" that since one of our own returned from a recent research trip.
So we focus on the best-known Caribbean island using places we visited, stayed and loved as personal recommendations for you.
Jamaica is a place like no other. Sure, it’s got sun, beautiful beaches and the warm Caribbean Sea. But Jamaica touches you and stays with you, long after you’ve returned home. Like the island’s famous jerk chicken, Jamaica has more flavour.
Diversity makes it an exciting and vibrant destination. From the Blue Mountain range right down to the golden sandy beaches, it has a surfeit of natural beauty and there is something for everyone.
This is a world-class destination for golf, plus land and water based sports, hiking trails, river rafting and more sedate pursuits like bird watching or discovering the abundant flora and fauna.
Whether it’s the friendliness of the people, the pumping reggae beats or the brightly painted shops, signs and boats, it is a unique experience. Of course, the kind of experience you have is completely your choice.
Which is where we come in.
Here are four suggestions for a luxury island holiday break in a vibrant destination blessed with abundant beauty.
Take a look.
Once the Jamaican home of James Bond author Ian Fleming, GoldenEye was developed by Island Records founder, Chris Blackwell, and opened as a resort in 2011.
The lush, 52-acre property is home to private beaches, secret coves, a seawater lagoon and The Fleming Villa (where 14 James Bond books were written). There are two restaurants (The Gazebo and Bizot Bar), a unique FieldSpa and accommodations from Beach and Lagoon Villas, Lagoon Cottages, a Lagoon Hut and Ocean Front Villas.
In April 2016, Blackwell expanded his vision with the addition of 26 beach huts.
We stayed in one of these breezy, playfully painted structures, which were made to enhance the sexy beach vibe and seductive sounds of the tropics. High ceilings and oversized, louvered windows maximize cross-ventilation from ocean breezes, eliminating the need for air conditioning.
Inside, the wet room was excellent, and the huts look out to face either Oracabessa Bay or Snorkeler’s Cove. It's no understatement to say the bed was one of the most comfortable we've ever known.
For true privacy, The Fleming Villa—along with its Pool House and satellite cottage—is perfect. All restaurants and amenities are steps away, should you want to leave, of course. Ian Fleming designed this 5-bedroom base where he wrote 14 Bond novels. There are three bedrooms in the main house, and two, one-bedroom stand-alone guest cottages.
GoldenEye is located 20 minutes east of Ocho Rios. It’s 90-minutes by car from Montego Bay Airport and an eight-minute drive from Ian Fleming International.
Open year round.
Rene Leger, the expert of his time and author of The 300 Best Hotels in the World, said of Half Moon, “there is none like it.”
A stunning location combining old-world charm with modern touches, Half Moon, is the premier Caribbean resort and has been setting standards for more than 50 years.
Half Moon is a 400-acre luxury resort located on Jamaica’s North Coast. It features two miles of private, white-sand beach with 197 spacious rooms and suites.
Our suite backed onto the ocean, providing the most breathtaking vista. We also have to mention the huge bathroom stocked with free aftersun lotion – a little touch that speaks volumes about the detailed care offered here.
Additionally, there are 30 expansive four-, five-, six- and seven-bedroom villas all with private pools and personal staff of butler, cook and housekeeper.
We think these larger villas would be a shrewd choice for family groups or special celebrations, where the cost per head represents great value given the quality of service.
Half Moon also offers guests a wide variety of amenities and activities including:
A multi-award winning spa
18-hole golf course
Half Moon Golf Academy
13 lit tennis courts
54 swimming pools,
Teen activity centre,
Anancy Children’s Village
An intimate and elegant hideaway on Jamaica’s north coast, Jamaica Inn is a small and perfect all-suite hotel resting on 700ft of Jamaica’s premier private beach.
It whispers paradise. It whispers romance.
Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller toasted their honeymoon here. Noël Coward, Errol Flynn and Katharine Hepburn often graced the lounge, part of a resort still run by one family, the Morrows.
While more than 50 years have passed, the experience, setting and many of the staff at Jamaica Inn remain the same. There are only 48 Jamaica suites and cottages, dressed in crisp white and Wedgewood blue, set against a backdrop of green grass, vibrant flowers and glistening blue seas.
All suites feature a private, furnished balcony or expansive verandah overlooking a secluded beach or the Caribbean Sea. Each is comfortably furnished with a plush sofa, wing chair, breakfast table and writing desk. There are no TVs, radios or clocks. Only the magnificent surround sound of the sea.
We tried room 18, which had the most serene terrace backing on to the water. Someone else tried room 21, the 'White Suite' where Churchill stayed.
Jamaica Inn's private beach is the place to find complimentary snorkeling, kayaks and sunfish sailing, or a free Planters Punch or Blended Fruit Punch, served daily.
Round Hill Hotel & Villas
Originally opened in 1953, Round Hill Hotel and Villas grew as the world's socialites, literati and artists were invited to build private cottages on the property and to invest in the hotel.
Today, Round Hill retains that glamour and operates on the same basis – each of the cottages is owned by individual "shareholders" chiefly from the US and Europe. When the owners are not in residence the cottages are available for rent either as villa suites or as full cottages.
The resort is a 20-minute drive from Sangster International Airport. Upon arrival you will be struck by its power. Redesigned by Round Hill villa-owner, Ralph Lauren, the Pineapple House oceanfront guestrooms evoke a feeling of tropical beach living and feature white stone floors, romantic four poster mahogany bamboo beds and sumptuous upholstered furniture with splashes of pink and blue.
Each of the 26 villas are beautifully decorated by individual owners, reflecting a history of good taste and understated style.
Our rooms were unsurprisingly sleek, bright and breezy with splendid ocean views and a great place to observe a storm without getting wet.
The Spa at Round Hill is located in a beautifully restored 18th century plantation house on 10 acres of beachfront lawn. Facilities include an indoor and outdoor fitness centre, full service beauty salon, 8 treatment rooms as well as an elevated outdoor treatment area amid the lush Jamaican rainforest. The waterfront lawn is also used for post-treatment relaxation, afternoon yoga classes and massages by the sea.
The spa features aromatherapy lifestyle products by ELEMIS along with Round Hill’s own all-natural local blends that capture the spirit and rhythm of the island.
Dining options include the Grill at Round Hill, Seaside Terrace, The Restaurant at Round Hill, the Cocktail Bar, daily high tea, room service and private in-villa dining. Guests can also enjoy light snacks and refreshments on the beach and at the beach and pool bars.
We hope this taster has given you a flavour of Jamaica. For further details of these and any other of the island's resorts, we are eager to help.