Rivers and reggae epitomize the two sides of Jamaica. A bohemian lifestyle beats its way slowly along the white sands of Negril, whilst inland – a verdurous, rolling landscape where the source of its many rivers offers inspiring viewpoints. A National Heritage Site, this includes Firefly Estate, the former holiday home and burial place of English playwright Sir Noël Coward. Meanwhile, Jamaica’s most iconic character Bob Marley is depicted across the large Caribbean island with his smooth melodies.
A place also favoured by Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and the fictitious character, James Bond, where many of the films have been shot – this dynamic island holds vast amounts of culture behind its relaxed persona; from its colonial buildings to a music scene which has a strong global presence. This draws international travellers to its alluring Caribbean climate and beaches, avid to explore Jamaica’s lively population and collection of cultural touchpoints, fuelled by jerk chicken and rum punch.
Many five-star resorts across Jamaica allow visitors to explore various points across the island. From the powder sands of Braco Beach to the old coastal town of Falmouth and its Georgian architecture, is Trelawny and the Excellence Oyster Bay Resort. Easily accessible from the island’s second-largest city Montego Bay and its international airport, built in 2018 the Excellence Oyster Bay, is one of the newer additions to the luxury hotel scene. Mimicking the local town of Falmouth with elegant colonial style architecture, this adult-only coastal retreat with 320 rooms is situated on its very own peninsula and offers accommodation options from beach villas with their very own pools, to spacious suites with ocean views.
With two miles of private beach, the Excellence Oyster Bay offers its very own corner of luxury Jamaican life with an international selection of dining across nine restaurants and bars. From Asian and teppanyaki, French, Italian and tapas which highlight Jamaica’s past Spanish heritage, the resort also features a grill restaurant and lobster house with seafood specialities. Meanwhile, set aside from the main building are the resort’s two ‘Excellence Clubs’, each resplendent with their own exclusive beach area, private pool, Excellence Club bar, and VIP restaurant. Built on the concept of a private members club, here higher paying guests can recline in privacy and exclusivity. With upgraded perks including private flexi-check, access to the two lounges and pool areas, Bvlgari toiletries, shoeshine service and aqua hydrotherapy treatments per person.
Guests at the Excellence Oyster Bay are encouraged to discover the coastline and ocean life with a variety of beach, land and water activities each day, including snorkelling, deep-sea fishing and scuba diving. No luxury resort is without its competitive wellbeing facilities, these extend to a 2,433 square feet fitness centre and spa, housing a hydrotherapy circuit, double massage beds, cold plunge pool, Swedish saunas, steam bath, ice treatment room, sensations, Cuban and tropical rain showers.
On this side of the island, guests are able to book the Port Antonio and Blue Lagoon Day Tour with TUI. Offering a flavour of authentic Jamaican life: start at the local Sun Valley banana plantation, before heading onto weave among Port Antonio’s vibrant market. The tour then guides guests to one of the island’s most intimate and must-see spots: Frenchmen’s Cove. With its name taken from the French soldiers who once landed here, it is considered to be one of the world’s top beaches. A dramatic, Jamaican cove where the carefree ocean crashes in and is met by the mouth of a cerulean river, here is a paradise to swing leisurely on one of the rope swings which are tied to the cove’s old trees. This TUI tour is rounded off at the Blue Lagoon. A deep aquamarine lagoon, home to many Jamaican turtles and lined with luxury oceanfront villas, guests are taken on an intimate boat trip with one of the locals past monkey island, an uninhabited island once the home of an affluent villa owners pet monkey.
Meanwhile, on the far side of Jamaica is another popular tourist destination Negril: home to the island’s famous Seven Mile Beach lining an uninterrupted coastline, dotted with rustic beach bars. Here is home to Royalton Negril Resort and Spa. A 407 room luxury resort that features three distinct sections tailored to all ages – from the family-friendly offerings across its centre to the Diamond Club with its own premium butler service and exclusive pool beach and dining areas and the Hideaway, a strict adults-only section.
Dining at Royalton Negril Resort and Spa also features eclectic cuisines from around the world. A steakhouse with an open kitchen, to tex-mex and teppanyaki, and Asian cuisine, there is also an Italian, West Indies and chefs table offering where a personal chef takes diners through seven courses with musical selections to accompany each dish. A large element of Royalton Negril Resort & Spa is the Royal Spa. From comprehensive spa packages or drop in for 30-minute express treatments, facilities include a hydrotherapy circuit and a full range of massage, body and facial treatments with a beauty centre.
Along the coastline is Jamaica’s most famous destination to watch the sunset. Away from the many other quieter spots the island hosts to watch the sun drop below the horizon, Rick’s Café is a catalyst of energy that crowns the clifftop overlooking the ocean beyond. With fearless cliff divers plunging into the sea, attracting hordes of spectators, a reverberating DJ and trays of cocktails strewn with jerk chicken and a variety of rum cocktails, Rick’s is a hedonistic playground where energy from across the island thunders as dusk draws in.
A favourite recreation of James Bond author Ian Fleming was Jamaica’s answer to punting: bamboo rafting. A leisure activity kicked off by Hollywood actor Errol Flynn who spotted locals shipping bananas from the highlands down to Port Antonio, TUI offer a bamboo rafting excursion down Martha Brae River. A highly relaxing experience that weaves through the thick, verdant Jamaican jungle, float serenely downstream with a local guest to guide and navigate. One of the best ways to get up close and personal with the local Jamaican wildlife as mangroves and palms sway in the wind, there is also the opportunity to learn about the stories and legends of this historic route, including local myths surrounding the rivers secret cave.
Home to author Ian Fleming for almost 20 years, James Bond will return to Jamaica for the latest film which is released in the UK on 3rd April 2020. ‘No Time to Die’ which is the 25th instalment in the iconic series, will see Bond relaxing in Jamaica after leaving active service. Three of his books – Live And Let Die, Dr No, and The Man With The Golden Gun, feature iconic scenes across this striking and fascinating island.
Excellence Oyster Bay
Address: Oyster Bay Peninsula Coopers Pen, Falmouth, Jamaica
Phone: +1 876-617-0200
From Monday 29 June 2020 stay at Excellence Oyster Bay for seven nights for £1,721 per person based on two adults sharing with junior suite, garden view. Alternatively, for a winter sun escape later this year, stay from Tuesday 3rd November 2020 for seven nights at £1,697 per person based on two adults sharing.
Royalton Negril Resort and Spa
Address: Norman Manley Blvd, A1, Negril, Jamaica
Phone: +1 876-632-7401
From Monday 29 June 2020 stay at Hideaway at Royalton Negril (adults only) for seven nights from £1,436 based on two adults in luxury junior suite. Alternatively, for a winter sun escape later this year, from Monday 2nd November, stay for seven nights from £1,256 per person based on two adults sharing.
Both resorts and excursions can be booked at tui.co.uk.