When clients ask to experience Jamaica the way it used to be,
nothing beats staying on the grounds of an 18th- or 19th- century
plantation, especially when the original Great House still exists
and is incorporated into the vacation experience. Here’s a look at
two superb venues that honor Jamaica’s past in unique ways.
A mere eight miles but a world away from busy Montego Bay, Round
Hill Hotel and Villas manages the difficult task of combining
old-world elegance with today’s casual lifestyle. Serenely nestled
into 110 acres of lush and rolling hills on palm-fringed Round Hill
Bay, this one-time sugar and pineapple plantation celebrates its
past in many ways, including its enchanting
“Colonial-with-a-Jamaican-twist” architecture. The original Great
House is not only standing, it has recently been transformed into a
luxurious, full-service spa (for a unique treat, advise clients to
try the signature pineapple scrub).
Guests can be accommodated in the 36-room Pineapple House Hotel
or in one of 27 stylish villas. All hotel rooms overlook both the
Caribbean and the resort’s seaside freshwater pool, and each has
been decorated by designer Ralph Lauren (a Round Hill shareholder).
Lauren’s hand is evident in the predominately white decor touched
by splashes of tropical turquoise and pink, the 300-count Egyptian
cotton sheets, the sumptuous chaises and the king-sized,
four-poster beds. The privately owned villas, which are rented when
the owners are not in residence, vary in size. Each offers stunning
views, gardens, a swimming pool and a kitchen where housekeepers
prepare breakfast each morning.
Lauren also designed Round Hill’s bar, with its billowy white
curtains, white-striped club chairs, palm-shaped pillars and solid
mahogany ceiling fans. Clients will spend a lot of time examining
the walls here, as they’re lined with photos of celebrities who
have flocked to Round Hill over the years.
Since the kitchen boasts a versatile and world-class Austrian
chef, dining here is a memorable experience. Most people enjoy
eating at the seaside terrace, where thousands of tiny lights
illuminate the almond trees each night. Theme nights keep things
lively: on Mondays, for example, there’s a beach party complete
with bonfire, a Jamaican buffet and local music. Saturday nights
feature an a la carte menu, a jazz band and dancing under the stars
until the wee hours.
Watersports include snorkeling along the nearby reef, scuba
diving, water skiing, sunfish sailing and windsurfing. Tennis
courts, a fitness center and jogging paths are onsite, and a
championship golf course is minutes away. Deep-sea fishing, rafting
and other outings can be arranged. Your clients might want to opt
for the all-inclusive Platinum Plan. At $150 a day per person above
the room rate, it includes all meals and bar drinks, afternoon tea,
an in-room massage and other amenities.
Situated in a peaceful valley about an hour from the airport,
the exquisite Good Hope, built in 1755, is about as close as a
client can get to historic Jamaica. Once a hugely profitable sugar
plantation, the original Georgian-style Great House, the Carriage
House, the River Cottage and other buildings have been restored and
decorated with 18th-and 19th-century Jamaican antiques. Throughout
the 2,000 acres are stunning views of the greener-than-green
rolling hills and the river valley far below. This is one special
Good Hope is ideal for family reunions, wedding parties,
business retreats or any group requiring their own space because it
operates as a villa. The smallest building is the River Cottage,
with three bedrooms. The Great House contains four bedrooms and
includes a large dining room, two living rooms, a bar room with a
pool table, a lily pond and formal gardens, swimming pool, tennis
court, Jacuzzi and much more. A total of 17 bedrooms, sleeping a
maximum of 42 people, are available.
Round Hill Hotel and Villas
Montego Bay, Jamaica
800-972-2159; fax: 876-956-7505
Commission: 10 percent
Hotel rates, depending on season and room size, range from
$260-$850 per night, double occupancy. Villa rates: $4,000-$14,400
per week (various meal plans for the villas are extra).
Special wedding, honeymoon, family and yoga packages are
available. Three meeting rooms can accommodate groups of varying
size. The business center offers high-speed Internet computers and