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.
SPECTACULAR SMALL HOTELS
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.
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.
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.