InnKeeper’s Guide to the Best of Jamaica

January 2012

Jamaica Inn Hotel

Thinking of a Caribbean getaway with the girls but not into a generic ‘am I in Aruba or Jamaica’ all-inclusive resort? Here’s two lovely, intimate hotels in Jamaica, both of them run by wonderful and extremely capable women. They want women travelers to experience the real Jamaica and so share with us a few insider tips to the best attractions on the island.

1. Jamaica Inn Hotel, Ocho Rios

Complete relaxation with five star service.

Jamaica Inn is an elegant and intimate resort located in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Ideally situated on what many consider to be the best private beach in Jamaica, the inn is a perfect choice for any luxury girl’s getaway. General manager, Mary Philip’s favorite off duty activity is a blissful visit to the Inn’s spectacular spa perched on top of a cliff overlooking the ocean. Our favorite? Hanging out with the Inn’s rasta dogs!

Mary’s Guide to the Best of Jamaica

Jamaican Jazz and Blues Festival

This year’s Jazz Festival aims to commemorate Jamaica’s 50th year as an independent nation, and opening night, Thursday, January 26, is dedicated solely to the country’s music and musicians.

The opening day line-up includes Shaggy, Mykal Roze, Etana, Yellow Man, Marcia Griffiths, Derrick Morgan, Maxi Priest, Assassin, Half Pint, Pluto Shervington, Kymani Marley, George Nooks, Christopher Martin, AJ Brown, Lloyd Parks and We The People, Bryon Lee’s Dragonaires, and Marcia Barrett.

Special guest Celine Dion will perform at the Festival on January 27th, and the ever so cool Cee Lo Green will be there on the 28th. Wow, what a line-up! With this star studded event, Jamaican hotels are filling up fast so if you’re thinking of attending, reserve your hotel room soon!

Good Hope Plantation

Good Hope PlantationSitting high in the lush secluded landscape of Jamaica stands an Eighteenth Century Great House named Good Hope. On 2,000 acres 600′ above sea level, Good Hope is surrounded by dramatic blue–gray mountains and is renowned for its exquisite gardens and hiking trails, this is the Jamaica that most tourists do not see or even realize exists.

Good Hope Plantation in Falmouth has been lovingly restored as a fabulous estate, and is perfect place to stop for an elegant tea service or lunch. Take the time to wander the plantation, head out on one of the many hiking trails or visit David Pinto’s pottery studio. The more adventurous visitor can try out the zipline or go tubing down the Martha Brae River.

Noël Coward’s FireFly

Firefly Estate was Sir Noël Coward’s vacation home, it was renamed Firefly by the famous author because of the abundance of the cute little glowing insects on the property during the evenings. The house is now listed and maintained as a National Heritage Site by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.

The view from the estate, now a museum dedicated to the English playwright, is magnificent. The property was originally owned by pirate and one-time governor of Jamaica, Sir Henry Morgan. Crafted as the perfect lookout spot, the estate has the best views of St. Mary harbour. Captain Morgan had used it over 3 centuries ago for dastardly piratey deeds and he even dug a secret escape tunnel to Port Maria.


2. Hotel Mocking Bird Hill, Port Antonio

Imagine a dazzling white villa high up on a hill surrounded by lush tropical greenery, cooled by gentle breezes scented with garden perfume, and tantalizing views of turquoise blue ocean. Add in mouthwatering wonderful Jamaican inspired meals, secluded gardens, and staff so friendly they feel like family.

Then overlay on top of this a strong philosophy of sustainable tourism, and two remarkable innkeepers who understand that thinking green doesn’t have to mean doing without, just doing things differently.

The hotel?

Mocking Bird Hill, a small eco-chic hotel, is nestled into the northeast coast of the island near the town of Port Antonio.

Owners Shireen Aga and Barbra Walker’s vision for Hotel Mocking Bird Hill is one of “guiltless indulgence” They believe that hotels should not provide luxury at any cost but should instead concentrate on sustainable luxury. With Mockingbird Hill’s full Green Globe Certification and recent award from Virgin Holiday’s initiative for promoting eco tourism, the hotel has proven itself a leader in sustainable tourism in Jamaica.

They also provide an unforgettable travel experience for their guests.

Shireen and Barbra’s Guide to the Best of Jamaica

Reich Falls

Waterfalls appear around every bend of the river, caves to explore and secluded little pools of cool turquoise water for swimming. All this beauty and we were the only ones there, priceless.

Shireen and Barbara recommended a visit to Reich Falls during our visit to Jamaica. It is still one of the most memorable parts of our travels on the island. They suggest getting to the Falls before mid-morning to enjoy the best light as the sun hits the river.

Blue Mountain Hike to Old Tavern Coffee Estate

The drive to Blue Mountain is guaranteed to provide tons of stomach clenching excitement, with cars twisting and turning up a tiny road hugging the side of the mountain, the hike up to the coffee plantation with guide Roger (Park Ranger and budding musician) is both educational and entertaining, but watching the clouds drift in and surround the estate while you sip Blue Mountain coffee… magical.

Jamaica safety tips for women travelersRio Grande Rafting

The adventure begins at Grant’s Level, which is about six miles north of Port Antonio. Here, rafters board the two-person bamboo rafts for the two- to three-hour trip downstream to Port Antonio.

You’ll drift slowly along the Rio Grande River on the long Bamboo rafts, encountering enough rapids to add a bit of excitement. Half way down the river, the river captains will stop so you can cool off with swim, and lunch at Belinda’s Riverside Café.

This day trip in Jamaica is a perennial favorite, taken by all sorts of folks from the Queen of England to yours truly!

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