Our family of seven adults just returned from a six night stay at the Villa Rococo, a lovely open air villa perched high in the hills above Montego Bay with serene views of the mountains, the city, and the bay. The villa itself is not nearly as formal or imposing as might be assumed from the website; instead, we found it to be very liveable, casually elegant, and completely charming. The five bedrooms are large, airy and nicely appointed, each has a distinctive feeling and personality, and the king-size beds are seductively comfortable. All the rooms have air conditioners and ceiling fans but we only used the fans during our visit (the fan in the downstairs yellow room wasn't working, one minor quibble).
We cannot say enough good things about the staff. They were warm, soliticious, and made us feel most welcomed. We always felt safe and secure, and never felt it necessary to lock our doors or use the safe that is in each room. Each and every one of them went out of the way to make our vacation truly memorable.
The maid service was prompt and inobtrusive. By the time we finished breakfast the rooms were cleaned and the beds made up; the linens were turned down each night, and laundry appeared freshly washed and folded without request.
Louise, the cook, introduced is to island foods and cooking. She will fix whatever you request, but we invited her to share Jamaican dishes with us at each meal and were never disappointed. I wish that I had taken the opportunity to visit the local fish and produce markets with her to learn more -- we haven't eaten such healthy meals in a long time and will defintely add jerk dishes and tropical fruits to our home menus!
Bentley Gardner is the house manager. He went out of the way to accomodate our every need and interest, and was genuinely committed to making our vacation experience as enjoyable as possible. We used him as our tour guide for trips to Dunn River Falls, Ocho Rios, and Negril and cannot sing his praises enough. His insights on the land, people, culture, and history of Jamaica enriched our visit and made it much more meaningful than our usual hotel resort experience.
There is much we missed the opportunity to do -- I personally would skip the falls at Dunn River and try a raft trip if we had a do-over -- the roads to Ocho Rios are under construction and barely passable in places, and the falls, while beautiful, are overcrowded and feel very much like a theme park; but then, the stop at the limestone caves and Columbus's landing site did make the trip worthwhile. We never did make it to the marine park to canoe or go snorkeling -- the beaches were too inviting.... Our children, all in their twenties, loved Negril, Rick's Cafe, and the cliff jumping experience.
Some things you should know. The villa is secluded, a large part of its appeal, although it is only ten minutes or so to town and the beach. However, I would not even think of renting a car. The roads to the villa are narrow, unmarked, and dangerous, and the drivers are "Jamaimaniacs." The staff can arrange reliable cab service. Plan on $40 American for roundtrip service into town or the beach -- you can negotiate better rates for multiple trips during the day. By the end of the week it all averaged out to slightly more than the cost of a rental car with none of the hassle. Day trips are extra and rates are negotiable.
Bring books, games, and magazines if so inclined, and if you have children, bring everything you need to entertain them -- the villa isn't designed to cater for their needs. There is a satellite dish with extensive programming and a television in each room and the parlor. There is also a play station set up with electronic games in one bedroom. There is a table in a shaded alcove overlooking the pool and the mountains that is perfect for tea, drinks, or playing games. The internet connection is primitive, but there are internet cafes available intown.
Groceries were more expensive than we expected. It cost approximately $500 American to feed seven adults for the week. However, the food was plentiful and delicious. Again, the staff will work with you to tailor meals to meet your requirements.
All in all, the week at Villa Rococo met and exceeded our expectations. Very peaceful, definitely unhurried, and relaxing. We loved being able to gather on the veranda for drinks and conversation, swimming in our private pool on top of the world, and being pampered by a very attentive staff. If you are traveling as a family or with a group of friends, it is a lovely and affordable alternative to more traditional accomodations and we highly recommend it.
One final word of advice: Plan on getting to the airport to check in at least three hours before boarding time. The departure times are all clustered and the lines two hours before flight time are unbearably long and slow. The airline agents are not overly concerned with expediting the check-in process and you risk missing your flight. You might consider checking your bags and getting boarding passes early in the day, then returning to the villa for a final swim and lunch in order to end your vacation on a relaxing note!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Our first-rate amenities and services aim to provide you with the ultimate getaway world away from the demands of a hurried and frenzied atmosphere. Introducing a peaceful haven where there's sheer harmony and tranquility. This very private and gated community features endless luxuries including exclusive villa staff and home amenities, inspired cuisine, juices and liquor blends, health and wealth packages, memorable weddings, nanny services, wireless high-speed internet, chartered holiday services and much ... more less