Is it possible that after 22 trips to Negril in 22 years that I could experience Jamaica in a whole new way? I can tell you that it is.
We were given chilled, rosemary-scented wet towels and cold fruit punch as soon as we sat down to check in. The staff, acutely aware of how precious our time at their property is, makes sure the transition from home to here goes as smoothly as possible. Without even feeling the shift, there is an unspoken realization that “here” is now our new, temporary home. I feel welcomed; I feel relaxed, and I feel my usual acclimation period has been cut down to record time. The property’s simplicity and tranquility are in the subtle details of sun peeking through Buddhas amidst the beautifully manicured gardens and open floor plan. The lack of music allows us to hear the birds welcome us as well.
Our bags are quickly brought to our private tree house. Two separate rooms are attached to the same well built wooden structure so we have our own space, but we are still connected. My room is clean, inviting, and sits up in the trees. The verandah has a day bed that I will spend many hours in the trip lounging on and reading. I never hear voices when I am in my room, not from the fellow tourists or staff. I rarely need the AC because the ceiling fan moves the air from the three walls of ventilation around. At night, the tree frogs lull you to sleep.
What I loved about Sunset at the Palms is that it maintains its Jamaican character at all times. I felt pampered and safe, without feeling like I could have been at any resort in the Caribbean. There was a careful balance between comfort and convenience with Jamaican beach life.
The property is a boutique hotel, with less than 90 rooms on the property. All meals were buffet style, with one fine dining restaurant option called The Lotus Leaf. We ate all of our meals except for one at the casual buffet, which was never crowded, and the mostly Canadian clientele became part of the close-knit family environment that is so carefully crafted there. Live music played at the Bamboo Bar each night. The beach bar and grill are very casual and the bathrooms are kept very clean at all times.
The lobby was our living room, with several dimly lit seating areas tucked away. We always found time to sit here throughout the day and night to relax and talk. The martini/piano bar was in the same large area. A tennis court, state of the art gym, pool, Bamboo pool bar, Cambio (bank to change money), and gift shop were also available for anyone interested. The internet room is a narrow space without windows with one computer, but the free WiFi in the lobby more than makes up for it.
Each night, the buffet had a different theme (Journey to Japan, international, Italian, Jamaican), but lunch was always traditionally Jamaican. The wide bread selection and pastries were all homemade on the property. We made reservations for one night at The Lotus Leaf. There are two seating choices, 6:30 PM and 8:30 PM. We decided to forgo one sunset to dress up and eat at the restaurant at the first seating. They serve a five-course meal that includes your choice of appetizer, soup, salad, and entrée. The plates that lead up to the dinner were small so you did not fill up.
The beauty of this property was the combination of the staff, its beauty, and the attention to detail.