Writing about Xtabi is like writing about an old friend.
I first encountered this enchanted little cove on the cliffs of Negril in the late '80's thinking it was the best swimming hole in the world. My wife and I stayed in a garden room in 2005. I can remember imagining myself as a Taino Indian perched on the top ledge of the cliff looking for my next catch of fish. The intricate set of caves underneath Xtabi was my secret launching point.
This year we had a better budget and were looking for the perfect place to stay. I started looking at my old photos and suddenly the memories kicked in. We were going to stay on the cliff cottages and it was going to be the best.
We contacted Donna and Talcia at the front desk in December and before long we were hooked up - Cottage #3 for nine days in February. We checked out the reviews on Trip Advisor and started dreaming about the warm trade breezes and sunny weather.
Rarely does the dream get fully realized. But our stay at Xtabi was better than imagined.
Cottage #3 is like a picture postcard. The view from the front porch overlooking the Caribbean is framed beautifully by two old knarly trees growing right out of the cliffs. The cottage is set back a bit from the other three cottages nearby and provides a pocket of intimacy. As our neighbors in Cottage 4 who frequent Xtabi said to us - "your place has good Juju".
It really was like a mini Paradise. The waves from the Caribbean lulled us to sleep each night. We were wakened each morning by four beautiful and talkative green Parrots. We had Blue Mountain coffee brewing in the coffee maker we brought with us. We reclined in our comfortable king-sized bed and looked out our French doors to the panorama before us. The big issue of the day was where we were going to eat breakfast and dinner or what sunscreen to wear. We read and had long conversations about anything and everything. We got to know each other again. Everything a vacation should be. The staff was friendly, unobtrusive and always seemed to know when they were needed.
Xtabi is still the great swimming hole I remembered from the eighties. There are enough ladders and jump off points into the big Caribbean swimming pool. And the place has a nice sized pool on the garden side for when the ocean gets a bit rough. There is also a cave with a sandy beach inside of it that has to be seen to be believed.
One of the best surprises was the restaurant at Xtabi. The food was greatly improved from our stay in 2005. In fact, it ranked as one of the best places to eat we experienced this trip. The Jamaican breakfast, omelettes, grouper fish and curried Lobster were perfectly prepared.
If one needed to stay in contact with Babylon, wifi was available at the bar. If not, there were no TV's or telephones in the room and that was welcomed. We couldn't help but feel we stepped back into the 50's or 60's.
The gardens are lush, colorful and well-maintained. It just added to the Eden-like atmosphere of the place. It was a great dream for both of us at a time we needed to dream.