Lovebirds Caroline and Marc jetted off to Jamaica for a week-long honeymoon, staying at a couple of the island’s hottest hotels…
Jamaica has something for everyone. Yes it can be noisy and upbeat with its two international airports, bars and bustling capital, Kingston, but we also discovered lushness in abundance everywhere that we explored and the many quiet spots are easy to find.
But while you would be forgiven for assuming that it’s reggae and not the plethora of birds and wildlife that make up the sounds of nature, it’s really the vibe of the island that resonates; whether it’s the music, the consistently friendly welcome from absolutely everyone, or just the sound of the sea taking its turn on the beach before the next wave gently takes its place.
We flew into Montego Bay where it’s a short journey to the town of Ochos Rios (eight rivers) and the first of our island stays, Jamaica Inn (jamaicainn.com). A grand, low-rise hotel, its Colonial style perfectly complements the island’s relaxed feel, from the elegant and beautiful interiors to the warm welcome that greeted us on arrival.
Jamaica Inn does things a certain way – the right way – and you feel like they’ve been doing it like this for years. In fact some of them have. We were met by Marvin, a newbie (he’d only been there for seven years) and when we strolled down to the beach bar, we pulled up a stool and listened to Teddy the barman recall stories from a bygone era, which saw star guests like Joan Collins and Marilyn Monroe appreciate the unique flavour only drinks served here could give.
The rooms are really romantic, particularly the recently refurbished cottage, which has a charming four-poster swathed in netting and a private lounge. To be honest, all of the rooms we had a peep in were fantastic and fronted the ocean – no partial or garden view suites here. One of our favourite parts of the hotel was the Kiyara Spa. Affording more unspoilt views of the Caribbean Sea, it had the rustic, back-to-nature ambience down to a tee. All the ingredients used in the treatments, like coconut oil and ginger, are freshly put together for your treatment and used immediately. Natural bliss!
After our massages we felt so relaxed that we bypassed the restaurant and ordered room service. We loved the way staff brought each of the many courses separately in silver platters, which were lifted to reveal delicious dishes like grilled mahi mahi and jumbo prawns – it was a truly intimate experience we’d wholly recommend.
The hotel was so heavenly it was tempting to just veg out, but with so many attractions nearby it seemed a bit of a waste to come all that way and not explore. So, we climbed Dunn’s River Falls (tip: go before lunch otherwise it’s quite crowded) and took a taxi into Ochi to try a patty from a Juici Patty shop and jerk chicken at Scotchies, which is easily the best on the island.
But our favourite trip was one to boutique hotel Strawberry Hill (islandoutpost.com). Perched high up in the Blue Mountains above Kingston, it offers a wonderful escape from the heat enveloping the many resorts below. The excursion took a whole day, but it was worth it for the lunch, bursting with tasty Caribbean food, the views overlooking the capital on one side and the stunning mountains on the other. We vowed to stay for a night or two next time we visit the island, perhaps for an anniversary!
We were sad to leave Jamaica Inn, but also excited as we headed along the coast to Oracabessa and the prestigious Goldeneye resort (islandoutpost.com). Built around the former home of James Bond creator Ian Fleming, Goldeneye prides itself on being the ultimate luxury retreat while maintaining its character and allowing you to do the things that make your holiday special – relaxing in our case.
The villas have the deepest, biggest sofas you’ll ever have the chance to bury yourself into and sexy outside showers and bathtubs. Although we loved having our own sun-loungers directly outside our villa, I must confess it did make us lazy. On many occasions we didn’t even make it the three meters to the edge of the sea for a dip when temperatures rose, and instead lay there sipping the finest Jamaican rum we’d ever tasted (Blackwell Rum, in case you’re wondering). I’m not sure how many years it had been aged, but we finished our bottle in only a few hours!
Our favourite part of Goldeneye was the lagoon, which has six villas dotted around its pristine ultra blue water and opens out into the Caribbean Sea – it’s one of the moat idyllic places we’ve ever been to. We spent time kayaking around the lagoon and out into the bay but sometimes we just lay in a hammock together, happily forgetting what it’s like to be anywhere else. We loved Goldeneye, we loved Jamaica Inn and we loved Jamaica.
Words by Caroline Carpenter
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