A luxurious journey information to Jamaica: Gem of the Caribbean
Before the Covid 19 outbreak, I was most fortunate to visit Jamaica. Fascinated by the fascinating and colorful mix of culture and history, pristine beaches and the relaxed way of life of its people, Jamaica continues to attract millions of visitors from around the world.
When Columbus first visited Jamaica in 1494, he declared it was “the most beautiful island I have ever seen,” and it was certainly one of the most beautiful and fascinating islands in the Caribbean, surrounded by the sparkling azure waters of the Caribbean Sea.
By the 18th century, Jamaica was a “jewel of the British crown” producing 22% of the world’s sugar but at the expense of the thousands of slaves who were forced to work tirelessly on the vast plantations. Emancipation took place in 1838 and the plantation owners recruited workers from China and India, while the liberated settled in other parts of the island. Sugar productivity and profitability declined, and while income from coffee, bananas, citrus, coconuts, cocoa, allspice and yams all helped support the economy, other industries made important contributions.
Jamaica offers some breathtaking natural features like waterfalls like Reach Falls. Photo credit: Jamaican Tourism Board
Today tourism is Jamaica’s most lucrative source of income. Over two million tourists visit the island every year and everyone is looking for the perfect place to relax and escape the pressures and stresses of life. Imagine diving into the calm waters of the Caribbean in the morning, bathed in the warmth of the Jamaican sunshine, followed by an afternoon nap in a hammock shaded by a gently swaying palm tree on a beach of soft white sand. Jamaica offers all of this and more.
For those of us who are passionate about nature, a leisurely stroll through the 25-acre Shaw Park Botanical Gardens overlooking Ocho Rios Bay is the place to see a stunning tropical display of exquisite flowering plants and shrubs, including over 500 species of ferns . one of the highest concentrations in the world. Jamaica has over 200 native tree species including the majestic mahogany, poplar, cedar, Spanish elm, satinwood, and the national tree, blue mahoe. And as I wandered around, I noticed the sweet scent of wild orchids blowing in the genteel breeze. It was just heavenly.
For fans of the bird world, there is a wonderful opportunity to research and identify some of over 252 species, 27 of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world, including the streamer-tailed hummingbird and the bee hummingbird. One of the smallest in the world, the fascinating Jamaican toy that lives exclusively on the island and builds its nest in a hole in the ground.
The native wild animals include the tiny hummingbird with a streamer’s tail
As another example of the outstanding beauty of Mother Nature’s presence in Jamaica, I visited Dunns River Falls in Ocho Rios. Here is one of Jamaica’s national treasures. Dunn’s River Falls is continually regenerating from deposits of travertine rock that results from the precipitation of calcium carbonate from the river as it flows over the falls. The small dome-shaped cataracts are usually associated with the activity of thermal springs in limestone caves.
This process, combined with its location near the sea, gives Dunn’s River Falls the distinction of being the only one of its kind in the Caribbean. Visitors are welcome to swim and of course there is lots of fun and joyful laughter from those holding hands as they attempt to climb over the rocks and climb the 183 meter path without returning to the water.
After this grueling adventure, you’ll want to relax, like me, on a comfortable sun lounger on nearby James Bond Beach, surrounded by crystal clear waters against a backdrop of lush mountains. It is said that this is exactly where Ian Fleming was inspired to write the James Bond novels, and that memorable scene in Dr. No remembers when Ursula Andress emerges from the waves.
Jamaica is surrounded by the sparkling azure blue waters of the Caribbean. Photo credit: Jamaican Tourism Board
During the evening, international and local concerts are held on the beach. One of the most popular is the Bob Marley tribute concert, where the toughest toes play the wonderfully infectious reggae beat.
If you want to keep grooving, a visit to the Reggae Experience at Half Moon Shopping Village is a must. The exhibits offer a fascinating glimpse into the life of Bob Marley and the on-site shop is full of memorabilia, including the ‘Tuff Gong Collection’, Bob Marley’s exclusive and very trendy denim clothing line. You can practice your dance moves while you browse.
If you prefer a round or two of golf, the Ironshore Golf & Country Club in Montego Bay has an 18-hole, par-72, parkland-style course, well-bunkered greens, tree-lined fairways, numerous doglegs and water hazards, and some challenging elevation changes . After the game, head to the clubhouse for a refreshing drop or two, then perhaps indulge in a hearty seafood lunch.
For those with limitless energy, water sports are galore, from water skiing to jet skiing, parasailing, deep sea fishing, sailing and diving, snorkeling, sea kayaks, sport fishing and windsurfing.
The pristine beaches and clear crystal clear waters allow guests to relax or enjoy water sports galore. Photo credit: Jamaican Tourism Board
Shopping expeditions can be a little tiring when you venture into the local market as the vendors can be rather persistent and at times indignant. If you find that heavy haggling is not your idea of entertainment, there is an alternative. Visit the Old Fort Craft Park, where you can find an extensive selection of handicrafts. All providers are licensed by the Jamaica Tourist Board and the trade is a little less strained.
Wooden sculptures, hand-woven straw products, wall hangings and colorful Jamaican art jostle for pride of place. I was convinced to have my hair braided with a few brightly colored beads to show that I really am a beach baby at heart. Other products that might tempt you to part with your dollars include Jamaican rum, spices, Blue Mountain coffee, carved items, and all kinds of adorable trinkets.
After indulging in such energy-zapping activities, you will no doubt seek a retreat where you can relax and enjoy a top notch break. Indulge in glamorous surroundings at the luxurious Round Hill Hotel and Villas Resort in Montego Bay, founded in 1953 by John Pringle, who introduced a new concept to Jamaica when he invited prominent members of European and American society to join 27 cottages on his land to build.
It turned out to be an attractive investment for the owners of any vacation home, as they would benefit not only from the hotel’s income, but also from the fact that their properties would not go without attention during their absence. Noel Coward was the first resident, followed by other prominent figures such as Oscar Hammerstein, Viscount Rothermere, Errol Flynn and Ian Fleming. The Round Hill Hotel and Villas Resort soon received the Presidential Seal of Approval when John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy honeymooned at Villa # 1. 10.
The Roundhill Hotel and Villas offers timeless elegance and restrained luxury. Photo credit: Round Hill Hotel and Villas
The designer Ralph Lauren is one of the current residents and was involved in the recent renovation of the 36-room Pineapple House, the hotel area of the resort. The accommodations reflect the tropical surroundings. They offer cool white stone floors, magnificent four-poster beds made of mahogany bamboo and soft upholstered furniture in lively colors and create a calm atmosphere.
Each room overlooks the breathtaking panorama of the Caribbean Sea and the double infinity pool. The rooms have spacious vaulted ceilings and large folding windows with louvers that invite guests to enjoy the spectacular views. The villas offer two to six bedrooms, comfortable lounges and spacious verandas with private pools.
After a really luxurious and comfortable sleep, you will be refreshed and ready to enjoy the day in the truly laid-back Jamaican style.
For more information on Round Hill Hotel and Villas, please visit roundhill.com.
To learn more about the island, visit the Jamaica Tourist Board at visitjamaica.com.