Take An Extended Vacation in Jamaica

#Snowbirds! Jamaica’s best small hotels and villas for a holiday or extended vacation


A stay in an intimate, luxurious small hotel or villa makes Jamaica an even more enticing getaway for a holiday or extended vacation. The island is already a vacation hot spot for Canadians with 403,000 visitors in 2012. I’m Jamaican by birth, and came on a four day tour to visit some of the island’s best small hotels and villas that would be ideal choices for a winter get away or an extended vacation.


Jamaica Inn (jamaicainn.com), the iconic, 1950s colonial style small hotel located in the resort area of Ocho Rios is a beauty alright, and unquestionably the highlight of the trip for me. I gasped on first seeing the white and Wedgewood blue colour schemes of the expansive terrace, overlooking the private white sand beach with views of the Caribbean sea. One can easily imagine guests like Katherine Hepburn, Errol Flynn, Noel Coward, Ian Fleming–even British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill who lived here in 1951–all dressing for dinner, enjoying cocktails on the terrace, perhaps dancing under the stars. In the living room are hung pictures of Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe on their honeymoon. Yet, despite its old world elegance, it’s also beautifully contemporary. All 48 suites and cottages have ocean views, large modern bathrooms, no TV or radio, but free Wi-Fi throughout. You can book a private yoga class or some pampering at the KiYara Ocean Spa, where rooms overlook the sea and all treatments use local plants from organic farmers. I recommend the Naniki Naturals Sun Oil SPF12, a sumptuous blend of Jamaican organic coconut oil, cocoa and shea butters, plus annatto, an indigenous tropical, antioxidant-rich, plant whose natural colour gives the skin a light, golden hue.

Bright and early, we’re on the road headed west of Negril to visit the Rockhouse (rockhousehotel.com), a boutique hotel comprised of 34 thatch-roofed units located at the top of a cliff. Featured in the book, “1000 Places to See Before You Die,” the property’s natural beauty and breathtaking ocean views are a perfect antidote to the overstimulation of urban Toronto. After touring the grounds I head into the Zen atmosphere of the Rockhouse Spa. Lying on a massage table listening to the ocean lap against the rocks below while breathing in the scent of Caribbean ginger, orange & lemongrass essential oils, my stressed, tense muscles slowly loosen during one of the most expert massages I’ve ever had. I’m finally feeling relaxed and at home.

Next: Uniquely  Jamaican Island Vibes


What makes Jamaica unique from other beautiful ISLAND beaches and posh hotels is the way of life of the people, the overall easy-going ‘no problem’ atmosphere of the country, and particularly, Jamaicans’ creativity expressed in dance, music and food. Pop star Mylie Cyrus may have popularized ‘twerking’ to North Americas, but you can catch the real dancehall divas Wednesday nights at Pier 1 (pieronejamaica.com), one of the hottest nightclubs in Montego Bay.

Music—old and new, reggae of course, but also country, soul and every category of popular music– is everywhere and a big part of my Jamaican experience. Arcade Fire, Canada’s Grammy Award winning indie-rock band, are big fans of Jamaican music and recorded their latest chart topping album Reflektor here. The food also deserves special mention. Each breakfast is a feast of fresh, antioxidant rich, sun sweetened mangos, pineapples, and papaya. Fresh local seafood is plentiful. Scotchies is the place for ‘the’ place for authentic jerk pork or chicken—marinated and smoked meat that has been slowly barbecued.

Next: Villas with a View


Perched on the hills in Montego Bay sits the luxurious, fully staffed Fairway Manor (www.jamaicavillas.com), a two level, 7 bedroom/8 bathroom villa overlooking the Half Moon golf course. It’s a beautiful contemporary style villa with a relaxed ‘home away from home’ atmosphere that invites you to roam the house—play the piano, try the air hockey and Ping-Pong table, pull a novel off the shelf, watch cable TV or relax in the heated infinity pool and hot tub.

Twelve miles west of Montego Bay is the ultra luxurious Tryall Estate Villas and Great House, which was once a sugar plantation, (www.tryallvillasjamaica.com). Overlooking Tryall club’s eighteen-hole championship golf course are 71 privately owned and designer decorated estate villas that look straight out of a magazine, complete with lush tropical gardens and private pools that would be a dream location for a long-term vacation. The Great House functions as a clubhouse and serves high tea on the terrace Afternoon Blue Mountain coffee and a round of golf or tennis? Don’t mind if I do!