Luxe Jamaica

Jamaica excels at cooling down and chilling out. Montego Bay and Negril lure in the tourists, but the parish of Portland is a quieter spot and home to some of the island’s most seductive beaches.

Montego Bay and Negril lure in the tourists, but the parish of Portland is a quieter spot and home to some of the island’s most seductive beaches. Expect warming sunshine, sizzling soca bars and spicy jerk chicken. Luckily, Jamaica also excels at cooling down and chilling out. If the heat gets too much, cool off with a dip in Jamaica's turquoise waters or sip an ice-cold rum-infused drink…tiny umbrella optional.

Geejam Jamaica Mr & Mrs Smith (Check Availability)

Geejam’s cabins are the colour of coconuts – hewn from dark wood, dazzling white inside – with spectacular rainforest-meets-sea views. This sun-kissed retreat (owned by two music producers) even has its own recording studio, beloved of No Doubt and Grace Jones. The laidback Bushbar is equally cool, serving up fragrant curries and fruity cocktails.
Eat alfresco at the laidback Bushbar, built around two three hundred year-old fig trees, and lit romantically at night with candles. Offerings are Jamaican-Asian, with dishes such as spicy lobster pasta, red Thai shrimp curry and grilled mahi mahi with cream sauce and capers. Breakfast is worth writing home about (so we are) – croissants and bread baked by the in-house pastry chef, fruit and vegetables freshly plucked from the gardens and West Indian specialities: steamed dumplings, ackee, salt fish and plantain. Bushbar sits at the edge of the rainforest, surrounded by lush greenery and with the ocean in sight – expect wow-factor views.
Frenchman’s Cove was voted one of the world’s top five beaches and is just a five-minute drive from Geejam (the hotel’s drivers will take you there). The beach has soft white sand, shimmering waters and a river with enormous climbing trees and Tarzan swings. An entry fee keeps the hordes at bay, but Geejam’s guests get free passes. According to popular legend, the Blue Lagoon is bottomless. It’s also a brilliant place to tap into your inner child – there is an almond tree with branches trailing the lagoon’s waters, so you can climb, dive, and repeat. Take a kayak out and spy on the amazing waterfront houses. Put aside three hours to float down the Rio Grande on a 20ft bamboo river raft, admiring Port Antonio’s hidden coves and inlets on the way. Geejam can organise all of the above (and more).

Trident Hotel Jamaica Mr & Mrs Smith (Check Availability)

Occupying an enviable beachfront perch, the Trident hotel, on Jamaica’s mellow northeast coast, is a tranquil retreat from the crowds that exudes an effortless glamour. Awash in beach white and with mid-century modern style, the 13 villas all have secluded terraces, plunge pools and loads of space. Take your breakfast steps from the sand, bronze yourself at the infinity pool or private beach and catch live jazz nightly at the sultry speakeasy-inspired supper club. 
Fetching as the Danish design tables and mod chairs may be, the sweeping ocean views take centre-stage at The Veranda. This open-air restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and light snacks with a modern take on classic British and American dishes. For dinner, saunter over to Mike’s Supper Club, a speakeasy-inspired restaurant serving delicacies local to Port Antonio, with live jazz nightly. 
The area around Port Antonio has some of the most stunning natural scenery in all of Jamaica, and the Trident hotel is within an easy drive to breathtaking beaches, waterfalls, caves and lush rainforests. Just 10-minutes from the hotel you’ll find Frenchman’s Cove, voted one of the world’s top five beaches. The beach has soft white sand, shimmering waters and a river with enormous climbing trees and Tarzan swings. Set off on a dragon-hunting excursion to the bottomless Blue Lagoon (of cinematic fame), which local legend says is home to a mythical winged critter. Take a kayak out and spy on the amazing waterfront houses or stop and to take a swim in what is the largest of the island’s spring fed lagoon. Perhaps a lazy float down the gently winding Rio Grande, with a boatman steering your passage as you relax back in your two-person settee admiring Port Antonio’s hidden coves and inlets on the way. Or, cool off with a swim in deep-rock pools and explore caves by boat at Somerset Falls. The hotel can arrange tours with knowledgeable guides for to experience any of these natural wonders. 

GoldenEye Jamaica Mr & Mrs Smith (Check Availability)

Boutique island getaway GoldenEye’s name is not a coincidence; this idyllic cluster of whitewashed cottages and suites on Jamaica’s Oracabessa Bay is indeed the inspiration for the Brosnan Bond vehicle. But this is no gimmick either: Ian Fleming penned all 14 of his James Bond novels in his villa, now the hotel’s centrepiece. He may not have had access to the swim-up hillside spa, watersports area or treetop restaurant, but the setting alone was enough to keep him here – these days, there’s no excuse to leave.
Two: the elegant Gazebo is set in the treetops, reached by an illuminated drawbridge. Chef Colin Hylton uses ingredients grown on owner Chris Blackwell’s 2,500-acre organic farm to create upscale Jamaican curries and fresh vegetable dishes to accompany jerk chicken and grilled lobster. For the best flavours, order the chefs’ tasting menu. Bizot is a beachy, casual restaurant serving breakfast and lunch.
Feeling sprightly? Wake up for an 8am run along the coast. Tailored to suit all skill levels, the hotel-sponsored activity is organised by Oracabessa Foundation, a US Peace Corps-supported project that benefits local economic development and children’s activities. Gallop through the waves on a horseback ride through Chukka Cove, and stay for an afternoon swim. Dinner can’t get more local than a fish you help to catch. Hit the water with local Oracabessa Bay fishermen and help haul in the morning catch of wahoo, mahi mahi or tuna. If you find a fish you like, bring it back to the chefs at GoldenEye to cook for dinner. Climb Firefly Hill, east of Ocho Rios, for pristine, postcard-perfect Caribbean views at the national heritage site that was once Sir Noël Coward’s vacation home. The country converted the home, which once hosted Churchill, Queen Elizabeth and Laurence Olivier, as a museum to the author.

Kanopi House Jamaica Mr & Mrs Smith (Check Availability)

Cushioned, carpeted and curtained with greenery, Kanopi House’s treehouses are set deep in the rainforest, flanked by 100-foot, vine-wrapped banyans. The hotel’s philosophy is equally green – all the wood is sustainable, no trees were felled when Kanopi House was built, and local craftsmen and artists contributed to the design.
Gather in the communal treehouse, the Living Room, for meals cooked up in the House Kitchen. Continuing the wood-and-white theme, the Living Room’s hand-crafted mahogony day-beds are dressed in white linen and scattered with cushions. Shots of colour come via the views – the open-plan space overlooks the jungle and Alligator Head. Pick a banana from one of the trees on the deck, but don’t get full – freshly caught snapper, lobster or meat cooked on the open grill, flavoured with herbs and greens plucked from the mountain garden, await. All the Jamaican staples (callaloo, plantain, ackee, breadfruit, yam, wild cocoa, sweet potato and curry) are present and correct, cooked with love by Elaine and served by Carla – entertainer, housekeeper, and all-round superstar.
Frenchman’s Cove is fit for a film set, with its white sand shores, clear waters, enormous climbing trees and tarzan swings. Lunch on jerk chicken and rice, or freshly caught fish cooked for you on the beach. Long Bay, a 45-minute drive from the hotel, is a great spot for surfing –after your salty session, toast the gnarly waves with an ice-cold Red Stripe. Forget Venice – float down the Rio Grande on a bamboo raft, your boatman steering the way as you recline in the two-person settee. The four-hour trip includes a Jamaican buffet lunch, cocktails and chilled beer. If you’ve over-indulged in all things jerk, set off on a bike ride in the Blue Mountains. Along with the historic coffee plantations, there will be a wealth of butterflies, blossoms and birds to admire on your way. Kanopi House can organise all the above (and more).

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