Ten years ago Michael and I got married in a beautiful park in Ocho Rios Jamaica. When we started to plan our anniversary trip, we thought it would be cool to return to Jamaica. We narrowed the options to Montego Bay (Round Hill) and Negril (Rockhouse and The Caves) and picked Montego Bay.
Round Hill Resort sits on 100 acres in a private hillside cove. The property started as a plantation that grew sugar, coconuts, pimento, and allspice. The plantation was turned into a boutique resort in 1953; it has an old-world, classic, relaxed vibe.
There are individual cottages (villas) scattered throughout the property and a small hotel, the Pineapple House. The villas have enclosed bedrooms, open outdoor spaces, and are ideal for groups who want to share common areas. Each villa is privately owned, so they are individually decorated. We picked a small villa (two bedroom) without a pool, Villa 24, Room 94. We were lucky that nobody stayed in the adjoining bedroom so we had the entire outdoor area to ourselves. Each villa has an attendant who will prepare a cooked-to-order breakfast (an awesome way to start the day). Our attendant, Joy, was really friendly and hospitable. She has worked at Round Hill caring for the same villa for 28 years!
The resort has a small private beach and there are several water activities available. Michael did some snorkeling and saw puffer fish, stingrays, lionfish, moray eel, mantas, conch fish, and more. There is also a spa and a fitness center (nope, we didn’t visit the fitness center – but we should have). On several nights there was a themed dinner; we tried the beach barbeque buffet. It can’t get much better than eating dinner barefoot in the sand surrounded by tiki torches just a few feet from the sea.
There are so many things to see and do in Jamaica. We planned to visit Negril, Blue Mountains, Port Royal (what Pirates of the Caribbean fan could resist), and the Appleton Rum factory. But when we realized how far everything was from Montego Bay, we got a case of the lazies and decided to just chill at Round Hill.
The only time we left the resort was to take the daily shuttle to town. We thought the shuttle would drop us off and then return a few hours later, but it turned out to be an organized visit to selected locations. The first stop was a souvenir shop on the Hip Strip (main street in town). We are not too into generic souvenirs, but were happy to find Blue Mountain Coffee. Next it was off to a “craft market,” Fort Street Craft Market. The Market is a series of brightly colored huts with more generic souvenirs. We headed across the street to Fort Montego instead. It is more like a small park than a fort, but there are some cool old cannons. On the way back, we asked the driver to stop at the local food market. It is a no-frills indoor/outdoor marketplace filled with beautiful fresh produce, along with spices, herbs, and more. One woman in the group got a handmade wooden cooking spoon with a long handle. That’s the kind of souvenir shopping we prefer.
My favorite time was the evening. The villa lawn is the perfect spot to watch the sun set over the bay. At night, the local critters come out to sing (I think they were crickets) and the temperature cools off. We often ate eat dinner outside and then watched movies (on the computer) under the stars.
Jamaica Travel Tips
If you like fish, try the local dish – salted fish and Ackee. Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica. (Watch for Michael’s blog post about ackee.)
Round Hill Resort
The villas are not fully enclosed – the windows have screens and shutters (no glass), so the rooms are a bit warm, even when the air conditioning is on. There is an extra daily charge for the ‘cottage restaurant’ (breakfast). This charge is not quoted when you make a reservation.
The resort is in the flight path of the airport, so planes frequently fly low overhead. We didn’t mind, but I thought I would mention it because it may bother some people.
Take a stroll on the path that leads to the spa. The path is cut out of the cliff and is surrounded on one side by giant trees and vines. The other side hugs the sea and you hear the waves crash on the rocks. The spa has a small outdoor, adults-only pool that overlooks the sea. There is a huge grassy area with trees, lounge chairs, and hammocks. This part of the resort is the perfect location if you seek a quiet place to relax.
If you get hungry in the afternoon, pop over to the daily tea and snack on finger sandwiches, pastries, and of course – tea.
Try the pina coladas at the beach bar – yum!