We’re soaking up the Caribbean sun at the romantic and relaxing at Jamaica Inn
Words Tamar Vanderhoek
From the moment you arrive at the Jamaican Inn, the rest of the world feels far away. The open-plan reception alone is enough to oust all thought of the nine-to-five with white and powder blue interiors blending seamlessly with an unmatched view of sky, sea and tropical palms blowing in the breeze. “Welcome.” We are greeted by the friendly staff – their hospitality as warm as the Jamaican climate, and take a sip of the hotel’s signature Planters Punch cocktail. And relax – we’ve arrived in paradise.
Despite its Ocho Rios location – bang smack in the cruise capital of Jamaica, with 2,000 passengers stopping off each day – there is not a crowd in site at the privately owned Jamaica Inn. The hotel has a conservative 47 rooms which are spread throughout two buildings and seven cottages. This, coupled with a private beach that stretches across the length of the resort means there is no morning rush to reserve a seaside lounger. The accommodation is equally as spectacular as the landscape; each suite is tastefully styled without TVs, radios or clocks to intrude on rest. But if you really must take a peak at emails, there is no need to worry about expensive roaming charges with complimentary Wifi within reach of every room. Not compromising on personal outdoor space, the suites also come with a balcony or verandah, complete with a full-size sofa and breakfast table to take in the panoramic views.
Established in 1958, Jamaica Inn is celebrating its diamond jubilee this year and is steeped in history. It quickly became the jet-set destination of the 50s and 60s, where Hollywood aristocracy would party with British nobility. It comes as no surprise then that silver screen siren Marilyn Monroe and Winston Churchill chose this as their place to retreat. Both stayed in the original premier offering of the White Suite, a large room situated on its own private peninsula, where breathtaking vistas of the Caribbean Sea can be seen from anywhere within the 2,000 square feet of living space. In the reception area a framed picture of a relaxed Mr Churchill is found alongside images of the glamorous Marilyn. She stayed here with her then-husband, acclaimed playwright Arthur Miller and both are pictured enjoying the company of friends while dining at
Speaking of dinner, there is nothing quite like drinking and dining during sunset at the open-air restaurant, where guests can choose from a variety of traditional Jamaican dishes and international cuisine, fit for all taste buds. A nod to a bygone era and its rich past, the Jamaica Inn maintains its sense of sophistication by employing an evening dress code; men must wear collared shirts and ladies are encouraged to dress-up. As the sun falls, a live band descends upon the patio, playing everything from reggae to requests, keeping guests entertained from starter to main, dessert and beyond.
In the morning, many guests return to the restaurant for breakfast. However there is the option to have it delivered to your door-step so as to feast on the terrace by the sea in total privacy. During the day, it’s easy to forget there is more to do at Jamaica Inn than lounging on a hammock or swimming in the sea. A range of activities are on offer including complimentary paddle boarding and snorkel excursions via the resort boat. The beach is patrolled by the resident black labrador Shadow IV – the fourth incarnation for the Jamaica Inn and just as popular with the guests as her predecessors.
Along with the domesticated pet resident, Jamaica Inn’s seaside plays host to a variety of marine and land wildlife, including birds, fish and most famously, sea turtles. Known to nest on its shore throughout the year, the beach at Jamaica Inn forms part of a group of protected shoreline in Jamaica, where conservation efforts ensure turtle hatchlings make it safely from the nest to the sea. Whether on the private beach or at another location, guests are invited to learn more about sea turtles and help the newborns by washing the tiny turtles, before placing them to a bucket where they are collectively released and scamper their way to the ocean. Truly a once-in-a-lifetime moment at a bucket-list-must destination. From the nostalgic touches to the impeccable service and the incredibly luscious setting, there really is something rather special about the Jamaica Inn. With such a variety on offer, both within and beyond its powder blue walls, there is a reason the Jamaica Inn has generations of returning clientele. Don’t be surprised if you book your next stay before you leave.
Rooms from $399 (approx. £281) per night