Opened in 1958, the Jamaican beach resort where Marilyn Monroe honeymooned and Winston Churchill painted remains the epitome of the classy Caribbean hideaway.
Just east of Ocho Rios on Jamaica’s north coast, Jamaica Inn has been owned by the Morrow family since 1958. It is a shining example of the characterful, independently-run and pleasingly eccentric hotels that were once common in the Caribbean but are now increasingly rare as the big international brands move in. Discerning travellers who appreciate heritage, genuinely warm service, gracious fellow guests and a truly relaxing ambience will be most happy here.
How do we explain this enduring success? A small, safe and virtually private beach helps, which is bordered by glorious gardens and a croquet lawn where matches are played to the resort’s own peculiar rules. A most companionable hotel dog is another asset, in this case the black labrador Shadow IV, who is most adept at riding on the back of a paddleboard. Jamaica Inn’s 44 suites are generously sized, with an elegant, country house feel, while its loyal and long-serving staff have many impressive skills from shaking the definitive rum cocktail to carrying a breakfast-laden tray on their head while smiling.
Shall we dig deeper? Maybe it’s the way all the buildings are painted a most attractive Wedgwood blue and white; the breakfast menu that features daily Jamaican specials such as Pickled Mackerel Coconut Rundown (and Blue Mountain coffee); the fact that you never have to sign for anything; the thoroughly civilised check-out time of 1pm… Or perhaps, as owner Peter Morrow claims, it’s all down to having a beach with “the right colour sand” – not too bright, gently sloping, bordered with clear, warm waters, and fanned by a gentle breeze. Clearly a place for connoisseurs of the Caribbean, then – and carefully crafted over sixty years.
Images: lead – the deck of Cottage 3; final – a Premium Veranda Suite; image 3 © The Coconut Times