We were here for a weekend wedding in Ocho Rios. Despite the fact that we happened to have chosen the grayest, rainiest weekend to be in Jamaica, I had a wonderful time. I absolutely loved Mystic Ridge and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise that we were not on the beach... because it was not beach-going weather anyway.
What I loved:
This place is very very elegant. Every time I would walk the grounds, I felt like I was in a Southern plantation surveying my properties. The outside is impeccably manicured and inside, the rooms are very stylishly decorated. Obviously, no one books a hotel in the Caribbean because they are looking for a design haven, but this place is very fashionable and bright. A nice juxtaposition of modern and antique.
The service when we were there was IMPECCABLE. Nakisha and Renato were the ones who greeted us and they were absolute gems. Ironically, when I had called from the States prior to the trip, the person who answered me was so surly that I got worried. When we got there, everyone was tremendously warm.
What I did not love:
The sign on the main road looks like a sign you would see for a rundown amusement park. It was bright yellow and tacky, and I was horrified when our tour bus pulled up and let us down here. We looked like we were staying at a motel that charges by the hour. Why such an achingly elegant place would have such a shlocky, kitschy sign on the outside is beyond me. Yes, you shouldn't judge a book by its cover... but after seeing the grand entrances of the other hotels on the way from the airport, this entrance was such a disappointment. Especially when you come all the way in and realize how beautiful everything it. Mystic, please change your awful sign. You are selling yourself so short.
What you should be aware of:
I think Mystic Ridge should be renamed Mystic Mountain because the hill it is on is STEEP. I am in my 20s and when I got back to America, I didn't recognise my body: it was so toned from all the walking I had done up and down the hill. Obviously, 1 person's toned is another one's throbbing. If you have any type of leg/knee problems, or if you are over 40 (seriously, I'm not being ageist), this hill is daunting. There is a shuttle to take you up and down the hill. But, if you want an excellent workout (especially after stuffing your mouth with every land and sea creature within a 10-mile radius), then this 'ridge' is a godsend.
Other thing, you are not on the beach. Because of the rain, this was no problem b/c there was no beach to see. If you want to roll out of bed and be on the sand, this is not your hotel. If you don't mind a 5 min jaunt and you prefer to be in the center of town, then this is a perfect hotel. I was able to shop for gifts easily and the only time I paid for a car was to get to the wedding. Otherwise, I walked everywhere.
What needs improving:
If you accept that island time is a part of the bargain, then you'll be fine. If you are in rush, then this may be an issue.
I ordered a spa service with Verona. Everyone is on island time so I learned that you have to be flexible. If you want to start at 5:00, make a 4:30 booking. The spa comes to your room. I wish it could last longer, and I hope someone brings this business model to the US. A lot of us would love to have spa service at home. I hadn't been to a spa in 5 years or so, this was a real treat.
The views when you walk around the property are achingly mesmerizing. it waslike being in the countryside and the jungle. The hotel could be a bona fide tourist attraction and I think they should invest in more tables and chairs in its mountainside, to encourage guests to walk around. There is a gazebo up top and it was just begging to be married in :).
So the flaws are:
- tacky entrance sign
- not enough hot water
- an underdeveloped (but beautiful) mountainside
- decorative pillows that are not quite clean
- steep hill
The advantages are:
- Elegant elegant elegant setup + decor
- Embarrassingly affordable
- Center of town
- Dazzling mountaintop views
- Wonderful, wonderful service
- Relaxed, peaceful setting (I walked by some of the beachside hotels and it sounded like a nonstop 80s frat party. Such loud music).
- In-room balcony. I had the most basic room and it still came with a lovely balcony.
- Friendly, gracious staff who were not over the top the way so many are (which leaves you feeling like you are being made fun of.)
I am not an island person and was only here for a wedding. That said, I would book this hotel again if ever I were in Ocho Rios. It is 5 stars with an asterisk b/c none of its flaws are dealbreakers. Bear in mind that it rained throughout and I still had a lovely time. Thank you for a fantastic stay.
ps. On my last day, I bought exquisite jewelry for my picky (ritzy) mum from a vendor named Trevor Basie. His stall is in that open air market right on Main St (make a right onto DaCosta, a left onto Milford, a right onto Main St.) Ask for Basie, the vendors all know him. The necklaces look like something out of a Neiman Marcus catalogue. Treat your wives/girlfriends/mother...
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A modern gated complex complete with swimming pool, bar area, restaurant and tennis court. Air conditioned rooms with jacuzzi with king and queen side beds. Can sleep up to 8 people. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Crane Ridge Hotel Ocho Rios
- Mystic Ridge Resort Jamaica/Ocho Rios