More than any other of the luxury beach-colonies that opened in Jamaica in the 1950s, Tryall has retained the feel of a private club. Yet this 2,200-acre property, with 87 villas, almost all having views that sweep down to the Caribbean, is Jamaica’s largest all-villa resort, and home to one of the Caribbean’s finest golf courses. Created by a group of Texas investors that included a future governor (John Connally) and future senator (Lloyd Bentsen), the resort, backing its own private beach just west of Montego Bay, continues to add villas notable for their luxury and individuality, one with a gallery devoted to Jamaican art, another with its own basketball court. Each villa has a dedicated staff, including a chef, housekeeper, butler, laundress, and gardener. And although each villa is essentially self-contained, the resort’s restored 1834 Georgian Great House, with its restaurant and bar, where events such as the manager’s cocktail party are held, serves as focal point for guests who want to “get out” without leaving the property.
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Located about 12 miles west of Montego Bay, Tryall is so self-contained, even having its own grocery store, that many guests never leave the property, especially if they are golfers. The 18-hole, par 72 course, designed by Ralph Plummer and substantially rebuilt in the early 2000s, has been lauded for its beauty and its challenge. For guests wanting to get away for a while, the table setting at Scotchies, an open-air cooking shack on Falmouth Road, is paper plates and aluminum foil, but the jerk chicken is often judged the best in Montego Bay. Another fun Montego Bay restaurant is The HouseBoat Grill, located on, yes, a houseboat, anchored in the Marine Park Fish Sanctuary. They’ll give guests a ride from shore, but whether to navigate the extra-spicy pepper shrimp is a decision each diner must make on his or her own. Another kind of boating experience is riding a bamboo raft on the Martha Brae River, 20 miles east of Montego Bay. The 30-foot rafts are guided by a captain over a three-mile stretch of gently-flowing river in such a stately style that past riders have included HRH Queen Elizabeth II.
Need to Know
Rooms: 87 villas, ranging from one to nine bedrooms. From $395 low season, $550 high season. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Because most villas have their own chef, guests commonly eat in. But for those wanting to explore the property, or who are staying in one of the 13 Great House villas (which do not have a staff), Executive Chef Ansel Beason oversees a Jamaican and international menu at the Great House Restaurant, with its candlelit terrace dining, and the more casual Beach Café, which has live reggae music on Wednesday evenings. Or for family dinners, groups of 12 or less sometimes gather at the Beachside Gazebo. Spa and gym details: Many guests choose to experience Tryall’s spa and beauty services in their own villa, although there’s a salon and massage center, too. A complimentary fitness center is open 7:30 a.m.–8 p.m., although there’s a charge for the daily yoga and personal training classes.
Who’s it for: Golfers, multi-generation return guests, and people who prefer their home-away-from-home to be as expansive as their home. Our favorite rooms: Even the largest of families can be happily accommodated in the 12,000-square-foot Twin Palms villa. It has seven bedrooms, seven interconnecting pools, a dining room that seats 20, and a master bedroom with its own private gym. Join the club: Because Tryall is a private club, villa rental guests must become temporary club members. The fee is $25 per day or $115 per week for each guest 18 and older. Membership includes complimentary access to the kids' club, gym, tennis, most water sports, afternoon tea at the Great House, and the manager’s cocktail party.