Female single traveller in her late 30's. First time in Jamaica. Traveled in October 2012... same week as Hurricane Sandy. Yikes! More about that later.
Check out the Negril Yoga Centre website and Jamie Lee Yoga Instructor's website (tripadvisor won't let me post the URL) for PICTURES of the place. There are few pictures of the room interiors, but let's just say that the majority of rooms are not like resort rooms. If you're looking to stay in a resort-like room, then stay at a resort! :)
No one saw Hurricane Sandy coming. Not even the Jamaicans. It formed suddenly about 50 miles off the southern coast and did not take a usual route. Amazingly, the hurricane went east and hit Kingstown. Negril didn't experience any hurricane-like winds or sea-surges. Just some wind and a bit of rain that caused no damage to the Negril Yoga Centre at all.
I stayed Oct 20 - 26/12. This is an extremely slow time for Negril tourism. So I found myself as the ONLY guest! Which was weird and wonderful. There were no other guests to hang out with at Yoga Centre, but I did spend many hours chatting with the staff. They did everything possible to make my stay comfortable and safe.
Let's start at the beginning.
This was my first trip to Jamaica. I arrived at the Montego Bay airport with an open-mind ready to unwind and relax. It's an hour and a half drive from the airport to the Negril tourist area. I arranged a transfer ahead of time with JUTA and it cost me $36 USD round trip. The shuttle buses were air conditioned, but there were no stops along the way. Use the washroom before leaving the airport.
As a single female traveler, I was greeted at the gate by Earl, the night guard, and the resident dog, Blondie. He took me to my room (Likle 1) and made sure that the lights and fan worked. I hadn't eaten since morning, so I asked him to escort me to somewhere close and cheap. He gladly did so. Earl was there every night from dusk to dawn to look out for me.
Fattie's is right next door. It's a little place to pick up some chicken/rice&pea and drinks. It was almost 8 pm and it was open. It was good soulful food, but the portion was too big for me. Not bad for under $10 USD. Check out a jamaica tourism website (tripadvisor won't allow me to post the URL) for an extensive list of restaurants, bars, etc... and an interactive map.
You are staying in a garden. I don't just mean "garden" as in Paradise, but literally. The villa-cottage like rooms are literally IN a garden. The trees and plants are very well maintained. I saw someone clearing away debris everyday. That being said....
Birds, little lizards, little crabs, frogs, butterflies, other bugs, and .... the resident dog and 3 cats :) . You will see some and hear others. I thought it was cool.
It's like camping with maid service. So I can't say this enough : INSECT REPELLENT!
I used insect repellent with deet. I failed to apply some before leaving the shuttle bus from the airport, I was wearing shorts, and it was night when I arrived... so I was not surprised to find four mosquito bites on my legs the next morning. They also bite during the day. So REAPPLY the repellent according to the label's instructions. I used a mosquito net, provided as requested (bring your own?), along with burning the mosquito repellent coil (provided in every room). But still got a bite or two through out the week. If you're surprised reading this, let me ask you : If you go camping/cottaging in North America, are you surprised to get mosquito bites despite your best efforts to avoid them? Same same. Bites heal if you don't scratch them. Use itch relief spray/cream. And get a map and check where you are! It's the tropics baby!
I'm a heavy sleeper. Once I do fall asleep, little can wake me.
October month it's a 12/12 day/night cycle. The sun sets at 6 pm and rises at 6 am.
At dusk the mosquitoes come out in full force. Close up the room door, put the mosquito repellent coil on it's little metal stand on the plate ON THE FLOOR where you won't step on it, light it like incense, and the smoke goes up into the room.
Next thing I can't say enough : EAR PLUGS.
In North American we have crickets chirping... in Jamaica it's frogs. Frogs make a peeping/chiming sound all night. It's a nice sound, but maybe not to a light sleeper.
Also the Yoga Centre is right on the main road that has various vehicles zooming pass day and night... motorbikes are the loudest. Also, you'll hear the "Island Alarm Clock" : Roosters, dogs, and even donkeys. They need to let everyone know the day has broken.
The room WINDOWS do not have glass. It's a screen with horizontal shutters. At day break the sun jumps up and light does get in through the cracks of the window shutters. I might suggest a SLEEP MASK.
October was HOT, HOT, HOT! 30s degrees Celsius during the day and 20s during the night. If you don't like it HOT, then adjust the fan (carefully stand on a chair if necessary) so it doesn't turn and aim the airflow right on your bed. On high speed I was very comfortable... I even had to turn the speed down in the middle of the night (2 am) because I felt a little too cool.
The beds have sheets and a light weight blanket. I found it to be enough. The mattress was a bit firm but acceptable. My IKEA pocket-coil, pillow-top mattress at home is better of course, but I was still able to sleep alright.
Annette is one of the lovely friendly ladies who cooks and cleans. She will tell you what is available on the menu, cook it fresh, and serve it to you where ever you want to eat it. There are stone patio tables and benches in the garden (don't mind the ants, they're tiny so just flick them away... or the cats, just shoo them away)... or you can eat in your room. The menu includes vegetarian options and local dishes. It's reasonably priced. I ate breakfast and lunch all week in the Yoga Centre and they ran a tab for me. My total tab was just under $100 USD.
There is also a common kitchen available. I didn't use it, but took a look at it. It's very basic. No fridge (book a room with a mini fridge). A sink, camping-style gas range, pots/pans, toasters, a few plates, bowls, cups, and utensils. If you plan to do your own cooking, I suggest you bring some basic implements.
You can walk into "town" (10 minutes), a few small strip plazas, and buy food. There are a few small but full grocery stores and outside fruit stands. You can get all the foods you'd see in a North American grocery store.
A few rooms include a kitchenette (A Frame and Chickie rooms) which is also basic : mini fridge, sink, and camp-style gas range.
The Yoga Centre provides variety when it comes to accommodation. It depends on what you have to spend. See their website for rates.
I even believe they will allow you to literally pitch a tent on the property.
It's BYO: Bring-Your-Own. Bring all the toiletries you might need. They provide storage shelf and rail, towels, toilet paper, small bar soaps, mosquito coil and matches, drinking cups, and breakfast/lunch menu.
I stayed in three types of rooms throughout the week. The first move was due to a rain puddle leak on the Likle 1 room's front step. I was transfered to another room immediately, Bamboo 3, no questions asked. The second move was due to Hurricane Sandy.... they moved me to one of the most secure rooms on the property, Casa Blanca Villa 1.
LIKLE ROOMS (jamaican slang for "Little") are the most economical. A wooden walled and peaked tin roofed room with just enough space for two single beds, side tables, lamp, small storage shelf and rail (hangers), and a fan. Access to a shared basic toilet, sink, and shower.
BAMBOO ROOMS (named for the bamboo growing along side them) are an upgrade. A wooden walled and peaked tin roofed room with double bed and a single bed, side tables, lamp, chair, larger storage shelving unit with rail (hangers), safe, fan, and mini fridge. IN-ROOM private basic toilet and shower (yippee!).
CASA BLANCA VILLA ROOMS (best rooms in the place). A much larger dry-walled, flat-roofed room with two double beds, side tables, lamp, chair, largest storage shelving unit with rail (a clothes drawer!), fan, air conditioner (extra fee), and mini fridge. Private fully tiled shower and toilet (more and bigger towels!). Private veranda with patio furniture (cushions stored in the room).
I didn't see the other rooms. But some had patios with hammocks out front. As mentioned above, some have kitchenettes.
Overall, the rooms are VERY clean. I didn't see any mold or dirt. The bathroom fixtures could use an re-model (the place is over 30 years old) but otherwise it's ok.
The place practices water conservation. Which means "please don't waste water". Water pressure is VERY WEAK because the sources are a very large barrels on the roof of the buildings. So it's gravity. The water type is "soft", which means more rubbing to rinse off. There is HOT water... you just have to patiently wait for it. Run the shower or the tap for at least 5 minutes. It will increase in temperature. This goes for both shared and private bathrooms.
Toilets are flush-style. If you use a shared toilet, bring a small flash light to find the light switch in the night.
As a rule of common sense, I don't drink or brush my teeth with any tap water when traveling. I don't eat salad (may be washed with tap water), don't use ice (may be tap water), I peel all my fruit (may be rinsed in tap water), don't swim in pools, and don't sing in the shower (least water get in my mouth). I went to "town" and bought a large jug of filtered water ($3 USD).
I did drink lemon-grass tea (nice!) and fruit smoothies (great!)... and they might have been made with tap water... but I was fine.
I did eat tuna salad sandwiches (cause I like them :) ). The mayo may not have been stored at a correct temperature. I got diarrhea a few times. I took Pepto-Bismol and was fine.
Extremely friendly and helpful! They chatted with me through out the week!
I was directed to the store in "town" to buy a CALLING CARD. It was a school supply shop and they sold me a card good for an hour and a half for about $8 USD. The office manager, Martine, personally helped me call and email home.
I was given suggestions on what to do and where to eat in Negril.
A male staff member was going to "town" to buy food supplies and he allowed me to go with him. I felt very safe.
TIP : Be very careful crossing the road and "round-about"... it's "jay-walking" style crossing. Vehicles are zipping around bends. You will be offered rides by CABS... if you want to take one, check that the license plate is RED (it's a registered cab) and agree on a price BEFORE you get in! Otherwise, ride at your own risk.
When Hurricane Sandy was on the move, I was moved to the most secure building in the place. The staff reassured me that they had weathered many hurricanes in the past, even up to Class Three. The day Sandy was to make land fall, staff members came to the Yoga Centre to ensure that my needs and safety were taken care of... even leaving children waiting at home for them. Earl, the night guard, brought me an oil lamp in case the power went out. And it did, but came back on by 2 am. Even though Sandy didn't touch the east side of the island, the staff checked on and did everything possible to ensure my comfort and safety.
BIG TIP : Always, always, always,... and I ALWAYS do... register with your country's embassy or consolite BEFORE you travel!!! That way if there's an emergency that requires an evacuation (like a hurricane), you can be located and assisted.
FAN-TAS-TIC!!! Fannette Johnson is great! She's an older lady...60's? She has the spirit of 20! She's French decent and lives in Negril. I love her accent!
A one hour morning yoga class is offered daily for $10 USD if you are staying at the Yoga Centre. $15 USD if you're staying else where. There's a minimum of two students required or else it's a private class (ask for price). Yoga mats and cloths (comfort during face-down poses) are provided for use during the class. It's Hatha style yoga. The emphasis is on correct posture and movement into a pose and proper breathing. She provides spoken directions, pose demonstration, and personal posture corrections. She is very friendly, knowledgeable, and personal. She will learn and remember your name and give you advice regarding your stay in Negril. She even made me an audio cd of the yoga routine for $20 USD.
There is a large, clean, and comfortable open-air yoga area. It's for your use any time.
Montreal-based Yoga Instructor Jamie Lee comes in the spring with a group. I'm going to check it out.
This is a place to UNPLUG. It's an older, smaller, hippie-like place.
Even though... hee hee... they do have WI FI (no extra charge) if you want to bring a device. No tv, radio, alarm clock, or phone in the rooms. BYO : BRING-YOUR-OWN.
There are three shaded hammocks in a little hut to hang out in to read or take a nap. Lovely green surroundings. Peace and quiet. Great location! A 10 minute walk to "town". A 3 minute walk, across the street, though Sunset hotel property, to the beach. One of the most beautiful beaches ever!
It can be very economical! It depends on your budget.
I spent a total of just over $300 USD on accommodation and food!
I will be coming back in the future... if not next year... a year very soon.
The more you'll willing to spend, the more you'll get in terms of amenities.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.