Aquamarine waters, white cliffs, Blue Mountain iced coffee : the essence of irie (Rastafarian for total peace of being) at the Rockhouse in the always relaxed Jamaica. Unlike the frenetic lights-on energy of Vegas, the 24/7 availability of New York, the debauchery of Jamaica is the guilty pleasure of doing nothing and then feeling not guilty at all for doing it.
Thanks to you guys, I discovered the hotel via Twitter-surfing (special thanks to the Bergdorf account) and then via its hordes of accolades (a favorite of Travel and Leisure, GQ, Brides) for a four-day long-needed girls trip back in May. Jamaica is mostly known for the ease of all-inclusive packages like Sandals, but the extremely attentive staff, four-star accommodations, and stone’s throw ocean access make it just as facile and a favorite of people like Nanette Lepore and John Slattery, who visit every year.
It’s a stereotype that Jamaicans are friendly, but as some say, stereotypes are based upon a modicum of truth, and in this case, a mound of truth. Jamaicans are hands-down some of most friendly people I’ve met in my travels. “How are you” has become somewhat of a misnomer for conversation-starting nowadays, but not so in Jamaica, where they actually expect a real response and listen to it! Starting conversation with random people is an everyday interaction in Jamaica, and conversations can evolve quickly from asking where the best jerk pork pit stand is to an impromptu invitation to another guest’s weekend wedding.
The closeness and intimacy of Jamaican conversation is echoed by the Rockhouse’s natural tropical village décor, with thatched palm-roof huts (or rockhouses) and cool paved stones. There are about 34 mini-villas, all bordered by the cool sapphire of the Caribbean waters, where the adventurous can cliff-dive straight into the water and the more cautious can descend in via private side ladders. Others can tan on private sun patios or venture to the infinity pool and bar.
The rooms have four poster beds flanked by canopy mosquito net bedding and outdoor showers stocked with locally made Starfish toiletries. Palm fronds and tropical bougainvillea gardens border the villas and walks to the Rockhouse’s three restaurants: the Pool Grill and Bar, Rockhouse Restaurant and Bar, and Pushcart Restaurant and Bar. I’m reserving a post on Jamaican food for another time but a few things not to be missed at any of the Rockhouse’s awesome restaurants: the creamy Jamaica porridge, the hearty bammy and ackee (saltfish) breakfast, and the out-of-this-world moistly delicious banana bread with local butter.
The Rockhouse is able to charge incredible rates, ranging from $150 to $350 in the off-season, because your dollars also do double-duty for the Rockhouse Foundation, a charity that supports the rehabilitation and expansion of local schools. Local school visits can be arranged at the front desk to see your dollars at work.
It’s common in Jamaica to ask visitors if they’re visiting for their first time as people frequently make return trips. After staying at the Rockhouse, I understand why. The Rockhouse is located at West End Road in Negril, Jamaica. Call 876.957.4373 for reservations.