We just returned from a week in a villa over Thanksgiving. This was our first trip to Jamaica so I had no idea what to expect. We were picked up at the airport by the shuttle driver who took us straight to Villa 58. We were met outside by our butler, cook and housekeeper and a manager who checked us in, took financial details and gave us the keys. She handed me a huge stack of room key cards which I thought was odd. After she left I realized that our L shaped villa was open air and every bedroom and the one living room had a key lock on it. Had I realized what an enormous pain in the butt this was going to be with 4 kids I would have asked to be moved right then but I was just getting settled. Over the course of the week we were constantly harassing each other for keys to get into rooms the kids had locked themselves out of. We worried about our 4 year olds who were sleeping in rooms of their own not being able to get into our room at night and we worried about the easy access to the pool. I was told later that only a few of the villas are set up that way. They would be ideal for several couples traveling together because the rooms are very private. Why they put our young family in there I don’t know? The bright side was the pool was beautiful and we could see the ocean and waves breaking from the patio even though we were not ocean front. PS other than the view of the ocean, I don’t see the point of being ocean front. There is very little beach in front of these homes, you still have to drive in your cart to get to a swimming beach.
Our villa staff was excellent. Our butler Prince saw to every need. Our cook Janice made spectacular meals and outdid herself on Thanksgiving. Our maid Lena was cheerful, helpful and kept us in order.
The villas are old and crumbly in a charming way. If you go prepared for this you won’t be disappointed. Think quirky beach house NOT 5 star resort. They are on large lots, each with their own pool and accessible by narrow roads for golf carts only. A tropical garden surrounds each property and they are lovingly maintained by their staff. Each villa has it’s own staff and it has a village feel. Our villa had it’s quirks. The rooms with queen size beds had mattresses that were hard as rocks. Even my 11 year old son decided to bunk with his little sister in a king room to avoid having to sleep on it. 2 of the rooms had older TV’s that only got half the available channels, the rest were too snowy to watch. I did see a cart piled with new flat screen TV’s on the resort grounds so hopefully they are in the process of replacing these. 2 of the rooms had sporadic AC units. Sometimes they were freezing and I couldn’t get them to turn down. Other times they wouldn’t cool all day then suddenly start working. We had a maintenance worker come by after fiddling with them and he showed me the up and down arrows on the remote. Um duh of course I tried that.
Working with your villa staff is a process that I think the resort could better prepare you for. When you arrive you’re supposed to set up an account at the store so your cook can buy your groceries. There are 2 stores (one in the resort and one in the shopping village) and I had to go to both separately in person to open and then go back on our last day to close the accounts. This was silly and ate up a lot of time. I don’t know why they can’t work together? Prices were okay, not as outrageous as I expected and the food was fine. The best meal we had was chicken on the grill next to our pool. Next time I’ll ask for more of that because the other dishes were rather heavy. We had great salads and fresh fruit. If there was an item the store didn’t carry they’d get it for you. Janice and Prince went out of their way to meet our needs. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about having staff and it took me a few days to get the hang of it. The only thing I didn’t like was feeling intrusive if I went into the kitchen. It really is the cook’s domain.
The resort is huge and lovely. It’s old and crumbly like you’ve been invited to an old British colony in the West Indies. If you stay in regular room rent a golf cart or bike so you can look around. The west end beach was always crowded but the beaches between the hotel and villas were empty and tranquil. The grounds aren’t perfectly (and artificially) groomed but they are authentic and cared for. There were times when we were driving along in our cart thinking this was truly paradise. The villas come with 2 6 seater carts. Occasionally your staff will need to use one to go buy groceries. Otherwise they have to walk and it’s ways away. The woman who checked us in told us our it was our choice if our 13 yr old son could drive but he was “pulled over” by a security guard who escorted him home and was told he was not old enough. He was mortified and I wish they’d just told us upfront. We rented bikes for our boys for the rest of the stay.
My boys did the dolphin experience and loved it. I would have loved if the photo CD was included after forking over $500 for 45 mins instead of paying another $100. My girls spent a day at the children’s village and loved it. Unfortunately they got came down with colds and I couldn’t take them back although they begged to return. We used the resort nurse and on call doctor twice. You contact the nurse and she’ll come to your room or see you in her office. Then she calls the doctor with an idea of what’s wrong with you. The doctor makes a house call for $180 and brings medicine for an additional charge. Fingers crossed my insurance will reimburse for this. My bill for a sinus infection was $400, my daughter’s $300. They were both nice and I was glad to have them there. There is also a pharmacy within cart distance in the shopping village who had cheap cough remedies etc.
We went to the BBQ event one night and thought that was fun and a great way to sample lots of Jamaican dishes. The rest of the nights we ate at our villa. Once we went to Sea Grape for desserts that were awful. I sure hope their regular food is better!
This is a quiet resort great for extended families and those looking for a laid back time. The villas are ideal for large families to share or groups traveling together which would make it much more economical. My only complaints would be the TVs not working and the hard mattresses. At $1000/night this is unacceptable. We had a lovely stay and would like to return.