We have just returned from a trip that included Jamaica, the Turks and Caicos and Nassau and we can say that our stay at the Hotel Mockingbird Hill in Jamaica was a major highlight of the whole trip. Getting there is a bit of a challenge - we rented a car in Montego Bay and ended up driving after dark on roads that were either full of potholes or full of detours because of road construction. NOTE to other travellers -time your drive so you can make it to the Hotel in the daylight - AND don't be fooled by the good road between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios - it gets a lot worse after that! It might be better to fly into Kingston than Montego Bay - it's a shorter drive from Kingston.
Enough about the roads - getting to Mockingbird Hill makes it all worthwhile. What a wonderful place! We were greeted by a smiling lady with lovely cool damp towels to wipe off the travel grime and were immediately offered a complimentary beverage. Our bags were whisked to our room - a very nicely decorated and airy room with a king size bed, balcony, full bathroom, fresh flowers and even a CD player with a CD of Jamaican music. We arrived just before 9 pm and the restaurant normally closes at 9, but we were told that there would be no problem to get a late supper. We had a delicious light supper and fell into our comfortable bed. Mosquito nets are provided in all rooms - a good thing because although there weren't that many mosquitoes when we were there, the occasional one wanders into the room. We woke and wandered out to our balcony and what a sight! - We overlooked the gardens of the hotel which sloped down to forested hillsides and then to Port Antonio and its harbour with the sea gleaming in the distance. The Blue Mountains formed the backdrop. We sat and had our breakfast on the outdoor patio while watching hummingbirds dart about. We decided that we had come to the right place!
The hotel staff were very informed about the various outings that can be taken in the area and helped us book a guided hike through the forest and a rafting trip on the Rio Grande River. We spent the next 3 days happily exploring the Port Antonio area - which offers lots of opportunities for people interested in pretty beaches, waterfalls, rainforest, rafting down a river that still feels like the wilderness, and interesting little towns perched along the coastline. Port Antonio itself is fun to walk around and explore and its market is a bustling and lively place - check out the wood carvings offered by a man who calls himself "Rock Bottom" (because his prices are rock bottom apparently). There are not that many tourists in the Port Antonio area, so be prepared to feel a tad obvious as you wander into the Boston Beach jerk stand centre or browse through the market. Vendors will approach you, but will also take No for an answer and are always courteous. Our favourite vendor experience was at a public beach called Winnifred Beach (recommended by the hotel staff) where we met two really interesting ladies and had a great chat as we looked at the crafts they had for sale and enjoyed the delicious soup prepared right there in a little stall on the beach.
Although there are opportunities to eat dinner elsewhere, the food is so good at the Mille Fleurs restaurant at Mockingbird Hill that you will be tempted to eat there every night. The hotel offers a package that includes breakfast and dinner - we didn't take it but in retrospect we should have. Nothing else in the local area comes close. The menu features local produce as much as possible and the tood is prepared with skill and style. There is also a good wine list.
Hotel Mockingbird Hill places great emphasis on being as environmentally sustainable as possible. Water is carefully managed - rainwater is collected and supplemented by water hauled up the hill by truck - so guests are reminded to be water-wise. The hotel has good air flow and ceiling fans - we didn't miss A/C and it is much nicer to sleep with the fresh breezes wafting over you than the stale air of an air conditioner unit. Dinner is by candlelight on the deck overlooking Port Antonio. All electrical light fixtures are fluorescent. The owners are currently asking guests to contribute to carbon offsets for their air travel by contributing towards the planting of trees in the area. All of these measures (and more that we have not listed) are commendable - we just wish the other places we stayed on our trip came even close to Mockingbird Hill's environmental performance!
In summary, if you are looking for a superb location a bit off the beaten track where you can experience the true Jamaica and be treated royally, choose Mockingbird Hill.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Best eco boutique hotel in Port Antonio, Jamaica. Set on a hilltop on Jamaica's northeast coast between the majestic Blue Mountains and the Caribbean Sea, Hotel Mockingbird Hill is Jamaica's foremost 'green' hotel minutes from the most romantic Frenchman's Cove Beach. A tranquil, serene, sanctuary with breathtaking vistas, laid back luxury and world class cuisine, Hotel Mockingbird Hill is the ultimate, authentic Jamaican experience. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Mocking Bird Hill Hotel
- Mocking Bird Hill Port Antonio
- Hotel Mocking Bird Hill Jamaica/Port Antonio