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“A great stay if you're not too fussy” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Rio Vista Resort Villas

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Rio Vista Resort Villas
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P.O. Box 4 | Portland, Port Antonio, Jamaica   |  
Hotel amenities
St. Helier, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
42 reviews 42 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
60 helpful votes 60 helpful votes
“A great stay if you're not too fussy”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 17, 2008

We stayed in Villa Amour for our honeymoon. The villa has a nice big comfy bed with mosquito net (which we found to be essential), effective air conditioning, balcony overlooking the river, satellite tv with about 60 channels, a basic kitchen (fridge freezer, cooker, sink) and a basic en-suite bathroom (good hot water if you remember to leave the boiler on before you go out, but not much pressure)

We were picked up at Kingston Airport by "Mr. Bing" who was our tour guide for the rest of the holiday - he took us for the 3 hour drive to Port Antonio via the bumpy mountain road. On arrival late in the evening they'd prepared us a tasty dinner of jerk chicken.

For the rest of the stay breakfast was served on a veranda overlooking the river where Miss Odette served us tasty pancakes and fried eggs, bacon, delicious juice and good coffee. A couple of times we opted for the traditional Jamaican breafast of Salt fish and Ackee which is highly recommended.

Our honeymoon package included dinners which we enjoyed on the veranda at about 7.30 each evening and we let Mrs. Sharon serve up whatever she thought best and we weren't disappointed - delicious local food, even lobster on the final night!

At breakfast and dinner we were entertained by a family of lizards who scurried around between the plant pots that line the veranda.

We were the only guests for the first 5 days of our stay and it was only at the end that there were others. We got the impression that Rio Vista haven't been pushing their marketing in the last year particularly after the owner passed away.

The swimming pool is nice, perhaps a bit cool, with good loungers to relax on.

Inside the main building there was evidence of busier times in the past, for example a bar, which was unmanned during our stay but the staff were always happy to attend to us. (We bought our own drinks from the supermarket in the end, which stayed nice and cold in the fridge)

On the plus side this accommodation is good value and the food really is very good. The service is excellent from the friendly owner and staff.

On the down side, the peace and quiet of this beautiful setting is spoiled by the noise from the sand and gravel extraction operation close by which has big trucks arriving and leaving throughout the night, every day but Sunday. We were able to zone out the noise but some may not be able to.

Also in Villa Amour the lizards appeared to have a nest in the roof and some might be disturbed by the occasional rustling in the rafters!

A hire car is essential - we hired ours from Eastern Car Rental who were friendly and efficient.

If you go, be sure to take a raft trip on the Rio Grande - there are reviews of it on this site.

Stayed February 2008
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39 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (7)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
TheHague
Top Contributor
161 reviews 161 reviews
142 hotel reviews
Reviews in 139 cities Reviews in 139 cities
280 helpful votes 280 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 23, 2006

Great value for money, the hotel is in a beautiful location high above the Rio Grande with fantastic views from the breakfast area over the river valley and rainforest each morning. And a delicious breakfast too, especially the Blue Mountain coffee. Food is expensive by Jamaican standards, but superbly cooked, the shrimp and lobster especially. The pool is small but ideal for kids who can swim. The hotel is set in beautiful and well cared for gardens and the colour-changing lizards provide good breakfast entertainment.

Our room was in a lodge overlooking the river, complete with balcony, mosquito net and clean bathroom, plus a fridge. Air conditioning worked fine.

The owners Henry and Sharon are very friendly and helpful, always making time to chat and ensure the visit was a smooth one.

Just a couple of minor problems: first of all there is a commercial sand extraction company working on the river bed beneath the hotel, they start work at 7am and continue right up until long after dark each night and the trucks and diggers are sure noisy, so don't expect true peace and quiet. The hotel is also quite isolated, despite being on the main coastal road, so there's no choice for eating/drinking out or shopping locally, except at the hotel. The food/service at the hotel is great, but maybe after 5 days it could get a bit tedious. Also the bar area is normally shut and locked up by 10pm, so don't expect late night drinks by the pool. We made up for this by filling our fridge with food and beer bought at the supermarket in central Port Antonio.

Another thing we noticed is that the hotel is popular with American church groups, they never bothered us and seemed friendly enough, but the sight of midnight baptisms in the hotel pool and late-night hymn sing-a-longs were a bit weird ! Breakfast and meal seating is also limited and the group always got priority, so we had to fit our meal times around them.

Rafting: the Rio Grande tour ends by the hotel. Just don't do what we did and pick a day of heavy rain, as we got to the other side of the river, waited for the rains to stop and then spent 6 hours in a bar waiting for the water to subside before crossing back to the other side of the river again, so about 5 minutes of rafting in 8 hours !!!

A recommended restaurant is Dickie's Secret, run by rastafarians, and on the main road coming into Port Antonio from St Margarets. Overlooks the beach and has great food, but it has no sign outside so you'll need to phone ahead to reserve/get directions.

Blue Lagoon was still in pieces after the hurricane a few years back. Local boatmen will take you on a tour, although it costs nothing to "break in" and take a swim or snorkel.

Somerset Falls was the highlight of the area, a chance to swim in waterfall pools in the jungle and take an invigorating shower.

  • Liked — Location
  • Disliked — Noise from sand mill nearby
  • Stayed October 2006, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maplewood, New Jersey
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 22, 2006

Although we only had a few days and although it was the beginning of the rainy (aka hurricane) season, it was exciting to experience the heavy rains followed almost immediately by sunny skies. Everything was lush, and verdant and the Miller's herb, spice and flowers perfumed the air. We relaxed in the pool, savored Sharon Miller's outstanding cooking (try the coconut shrimp, Red Stripe fish, jerk chicken --and you'll never want to eat elsewhere; even our finicky-eater 11year old was won over) and felt serene as we took in the most beautiful views. We stayed in the main building, in "the studio" --the master suite with a veranda in the front that overlooked flowering trees and royal palms and our terrace in the back that overlooked the Rio Grande, hills and Blue Mountain. Henry knows everybody and (when asked because he's never pushy), he was happy to make arrangements for us. He will drive you to different places if his schedule allows, so be prepared to pay for the luxury of a safe and comfortable trip (he isn't a free taxi service. Private taxis cost about $15-$20 US). Our raft captain was Anthony (aka Brother-in-Law); he's very welcoming and informative. He took us on a short hike up to Scatterwater Falls, pointing out local plants on the way. We continued up to Foxes Cave with Mr. Reginald and his young son. He provided us with miner's hat lights! It was quite an experience! Complete with tiny bats hanging upside down (they don't bother you at all so don't panic), fresh water, glistening stalagmites. Back on the river raft, we floated by vendors. Purchase a miniature bamboo raft at the beginning of your trip ($10US) it's the most authentic souvenir. If you visit a beach, try San San and ask for the boatman Dee (330-3730) to take you on a raft to Monkey Island for snorkeling, fresh coconut water and on to the Blue Lagoon. It is a most relaxing afternoon. One caveat: bring bug repellant and cover your arms and legs in the evenings: the mosquitos are merciless. The Miller's provide a laid back, gracious, serene taste of paradise.

  • Stayed June 2006
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sherman Oaks, CA
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 6, 2006

Our stay at the Rio Vista was wonderful. We hope to return again next year.

The setting is beautiful, and while it’s remote, that’s just what we wanted. We enjoyed taking taxis to various beaches because it gave us an opportunity to learn about Jamaican life, history and the current political climate – our various drivers were friendly and willing to teach us all about Jamaica.

The food at the Rio Vista is outstanding. Sharon Miller truly is a talented chef. We had curried lobster, tropical shrimp, jerk chicken, and other great dishes – we never were disappointed. One of our favorite meal items was the large pot of Blue Mountain coffee with breakfast!

Two highlights of the trip were visiting Frenchman’s Cove (a great place for body surfing at a pristine, sandy-bottom beach) and visiting Boston Jerk Center (where we sampled jerk pork and jerk chicken with Red Stripe beer). We also enjoyed the Rio Grande river rafting experience.

I had read in Frommer’s guide that other destinations in Jamaica are for the “tourist,” while Port Antonio is for the “traveler.” Since we proceeded to visit Ocho Rios and Negril, I must agree with Frommer’s. Staying at the Rio Vista gave us an opportunity to experience authentic Jamaica, and the hospitality of owners Henry and Sharon Miller was unsurpassed!

  • Stayed April 2006
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Houston, Texas
Top Contributor
189 reviews 189 reviews
92 hotel reviews
Reviews in 80 cities Reviews in 80 cities
523 helpful votes 523 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 17, 2006

We visited Rio Vista Village for 5 nights in April 2006. After reading all the good reports on this side – I must admit we were a bit disappointed.
You need to bear in mind that this is Jamaica standard – it is simple and not at all luxurious. The villas are clean but a bit worn out, the kitchen equipment are very old, and not suitable for cooking. The water boiler was ok, but part from that – just don’t plan to cook! The food at the restaurant was good, but quite expensive (Breakfast from 9-12 dollars).
The pool is too small for adults and too deep for kids. The property is situated away from everything – which means you need to drive or have the owner Henry to drive you. He is more than willing to do so – but of course you have to pay for it – more than the cost of a taxi. We would have liked to have the possibility of walking to another restaurant in the evening – the menu is limited so five days are more than enough …. The food is served on the Terrasse, which has a beautiful view over the blue mountain and the Rio Grande River – but unfortunately, a sand mill is located just beneath at the river side, and they kept working from early morning to late night (long after we went to bed!) – The peace and quiet was disturbed all the time – it was quite earsplitting.
Would we stay there again? No – it is too expensive, too worn out, too far away from everything. But if that is what you like – the area is beautiful (Photo showing the view from our window) – and the owners are friendly and nice – all though they charged us extra for some of the food and wine. Unnecessary and unwise, better to increase your prices and stay honest!
The city Port Antonio doesn’t have much to offer –but make sure you don’t miss Frenchmans Cove – a wonderful beach!

  • Stayed April 2006
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Indianapolis, IN.
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 16, 2006

Three of us in my family, including my husband's 83 y.o. mother stayed with Henry and Sharon Miller, the owners of the Rio Vista Villas for a week in February, and we can't wait to go back again in September!
Our villa was spotlessly cleaned every day; Mrs. Miller cooks the most delicious meals we've ever tasted (for an unbelievably reasonable price!); the grounds are a naturalist's dream; the views of the river below are gorgeous; and our hosts treated us as if we were "family". Mr. Miller gave us a tour of his gardens and pointed out the names of all the flowering trees, shrubs, plants, etc. I really can't say enough good things about the hospitality, the affordability, and the value for our money that we received during that week. We are going back and taking our son and his wife in September, even though we've already been to Jamaica twice now, and usually choose another locale after we've made more than one visit somewhere. You will not be dissapointed if you visit Rio Vista Villas!!!

  • Stayed February 2006
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 24, 2006

This is a MUST see! I had the oppurtunity to vist last week and the mountains are beautiful. The property is well maintained and very clean. The housekeepers are very attentive and courteous. Let's not forget Mr. Henry & Sharon,the owners, wonderful people, Mrs. Sharon is one of the best cooks I've ever met. You must try her Jerk Chicken, Mango Chicken, Ackee "Jamaican Breakfast Dish" and the Blue Mountain Coffee (it's to die for). While there we went to the Sun Fest (cultural event) with the Miller's, we took a tour of the river raft and had the joy of walking in the city with the locals (there's so much to see). I can't wait until my next visit. You won't regret it.

  • Stayed February 2006
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Rio Vista Resort Villas

Address: P.O. Box 4 | Portland, Port Antonio, Jamaica
Location: Caribbean > Jamaica > Portland Parish > Port Antonio
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 18 Specialty Lodging in Port Antonio
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 13
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Overlooking the stunning blue waters of St. Margaret's Bay and the mouth of the Rio Grande river, sits the Rio Vista Resort. The hotel is nestled atop a lushly vegetated hill, with breathtaking views of the Blue Mountains, its peaks hovering at over 7,000 feet. The Blue Mountains is home to one of the world's best coffees. The Rio Vista offers a range of beautifully appointed guest rooms and villas. Choose from river/mountain, garden, pool, or sea views. Free continental breakfast included. The gazebo deck is the perfect place to start and end the day with an ice cold Red Stripe beer or a refreshing glass of coconut water. Sit back and take in a picturesque Jamaican sunset, while watching rafter floating by on the meandering Rio Grande river. A variety of Activities are available in close proximity to the hotel. Explore the variety of exciting packages and promotions being offered in the area to enhance your vacation experience. Boat rides on the World famous Blue Lagoon, tours of a Blue Mountain Coffee plantation, rafting on the Rio Grande, water fall climbs at Somerset Falls, nature walks, beautiful beaches and much much more. Rio Vista is a ten acre estate with individual rooms and 1, 2 and 3 bedroom villas. The property is located four miles west of Port Antonio, on Jamaica's north coast, nestled between the Rio Grande River and the Caribbean Sea. We are approx 1 1/2 hours from Kingston (Norman Manley Int'l Airport) through the mountains and 3 hours from Montego Bay (Sangster Int'l Airport) along the north coast highway. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Rio Vista Resort Villas Hotel Port Antonio
Rio Vista Resort Villas Jamaica/Port Antonio

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