June 13th, 2013
For an authentic, laid-back Jamaican experience, leave the crowds behind and head to the South Coast. It’s just a scenic two-hour drive from Montego Bay but trust us: It feels like worlds away.
Jake’s is the polar opposite of a cookie-cutter resort. Upon arrival, we were instantly smitten with the warm feel of the colourful and bohemian boutique property. Plus, it’s a family affair: The resort was built and designed one cabin at a time by Sally Henzell, is now owned and operated by her son Jason and Jason’s wife Laura runs Driftwood Spa and teaches daily seaside yoga classes. Besides the casual feel and eclectic look, we love Jake’s commitment to community through support of non-profit organization BREDS as well as local farmers. Rooms from $79 876-965-3000, www.jakeshotel.com
Speaking of local farmers: Both on-property restaurants, The Restaurant at Jake’s and Jack Sprat, serve delish dishes made from locally sourced produce and seafood. The former features a menu that changes daily while the latter is a popular hangout for hotel guests and locals alike. Three words to remember? Jerk. Sausage. Pizza.
Tucked in the Nassau Valley in the parish of St. Elizabeth – a site that just happens to be the perfect micro-climate for growing sugar cane – is the legendary Appleton Estate. Take a Rum Tour to learn about the brand’s history, visit the factory and, of course, sample some rum punch. 876-963-9215, www.appletonestate.com
Dunn’s River Falls is one of Jamaica’s biggest attractions, which often means big crowds. The alternative, the South Coast’s YS Falls, is frequented by locals and in-the-know tourists. A quick tractor ride whisks us off to 7-tiered waterfalls, stunning scenery, a thrilling zipline course and a gorgeous natural spring pool. 876-997-6360, http://www.ysfalls.com
July 5th, 2012
Turquoise lagoons, adrenaline-pumping activities, cultural landmarks… all served with a side of rum punch and Bob Marley, of course.
Kick back in style at the timelessly elegant yet warm and cozy Jamaica Inn, a favourite of celebs ranging from Marilyn Monroe to Kelly Rowland. With zero distractions (read: WiFi or television), grab a Planter’s Punch and soak in the views of the hotel’s private sandy beach. The toughest decision we had to make? Choosing whether to watch the sunset from our room’s private deck, the beach, the al fresco spa or one of outdoor dining spaces. 1-800-837-4608, www.jamaicainn.com
For a little bit more action, it’s all about the Round Hill Hotel and Villas in Montego Bay. Besides the Nantucket-esque vibe (rooms were refurbished by Ralph Lauren, so pack those nautical stripes!), there’s a slew of on-site activities to choose from, ranging from a coffee and sugar body scrub at the spa (housed in what was a plantation house during the 18th century) to deep sea diving and tennis. Kudos if you manage to ever tear yourself away from the stunning double-edged infinity pool. 1-800-972-2159, http://www.roundhill.com
Ocho Rios, the city where Christopher Columbus is believed to have first set foot in Jamaica, is home to some of the country’s most exciting, not-to-be-missed attractions, including Dunn’s River Falls and Dolphin’s Cove.
Take a trip back to colonial times with a visit to Greenwood, a house built by Richard Barrett (Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cousin) in the 1800s. It is filled with fascinating artifacts from both Europe and Jamaica and the view from the breezy veranda is more than worth the slightly treacherous trip up into the hills.
There are patties aplenty (look for Juici or Tastee, the two most popular shops), but Jamaica is jerk country, so grab an outdoor seat at one of several Scotchies locations and enjoy some authentic jerk chicken, pork or fish The combination of jerk spice and grilling on wood planks produces the deliciously addictive flavor. Add some Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce – a.k.a. one of the world’s hottest peppers! – at your own risk but don’t skip the yummy sides (think fried dough balls, pumpkin rice and a Red Stripe).
Ja man! —Christine Laroche
For snapshots of our trip to Jamaica, visit the Editors’ Diary.