I recommend Rockhouse to everyone I know, so it’s about time I write a proper love letter to this still-somewhat-hidden gem. My first visit to Rockhouse Hotel in Negril, Jamaica, was about 10 years ago for a friend’s wedding. I had never been to Jamaica, and had admittedly never had much of an interest in going, but I fell in love with Rockhouse at first sight and was completely smitten with the island after a glorious two-week stay. I have since spent many a vacation – including my honeymoon last year — relaxing in their private villas (only 34 on property), eating callaloo at the Pushcart Café and sipping Jamaican rum from fresh coconuts while watching the sun go down on the rocky cliffs perched (at jumping/diving distance) above the turquoise sea.
While I have also enjoyed staying – and eating way too many tea sandwiches — at the more formal (and expensive) Round Hill Villas in Montego Bay (decorated by Ralph Lauren, who also has a private residence on the property), there’s just something about the understated elegance of Rockhouse that is unparalleled. Although it’s only a four-hour flight from NYC, upon arrival, it feels like you’ve landed in a tropical paradise on the other side of the world.
Quiet, unspoiled, beautiful, tropical, exotic, non-commercial.
While at Rockhouse Hotel, my primary activities include eating (I did a lot of exploring during my first few trips but now rarely leave the resort grounds because the food is so good); snorkeling in the private cove (I have spotted clownfish, rays, puffer fish, squid, eels, etc., and was even inked by an octopus who didn’t appreciate my too-close-for-comfort investigation); oceanfront morning yoga; spa treatments (the spa is one of the best I’ve ever experienced); buying up as many locally-made, coffee-scented candles as I can legally carry (these local treasures are not available online), and lots and lots of lounging (the individual oceanfront, thatched-roof, TV-free, open-air-shower villas make it easy).
The vibe, as you may have guessed, is extremely casual, but the natural beauty and vibrant colors are a spectacular backdrop for brightly colored kaftans, oversized straw totes, bold bikinis and body-skimming sundresses. Packing for Jamaica is always an adventure in and of itself.
Oh – not that anyone needs another reason to love this place, but besides the fact that it also operates the Rockhouse Foundation which helps create local schools, some of the resorts’ original visitors in the 1970s include Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and Bob Marley.
Rock On, Rockhouse.