Round Hill Hotel and Villas

John Pringle Drive, Montego Bay, Jamaica

On the still-bucolic site of a former coconut plantation just west of Montego Bay, Round Hill is another of the legendary hotels created in the early 1950s to accommodate wealthy Brits and Americans who were discovering the pleasures of a Jamaican winter. Since then, it has evolved into a thoroughly modern resort that manages to retain its original, exclusive, clublike spirit. In the beginning, Round Hill consisted of a group of shareholders (British playwright Noel Coward was one) who rented out their private villas when they were absent. That’s how it still works, although the celebrity shareholder most mentioned these days is designer Ralph Lauren, who rents neither of his two villas. Along with 27 other villas, which can be divided into 86 suites, there’s the Pineapple House, a seafront block of 36 rooms, all decorated, predominantly white on white, by Lauren. The ambience is quiet luxury, the service is relatively formal (the doorman wears white), and the children among the guests are treated as the heirs and future holiday decision makers that they are. Almost every villa has a story, whether it has to do with Coward, the Kennedys, or How Stella Got Her Groove Back. And Montego Bay, whose city lights can be seen only from the highest villa (#28), is still another world away.

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Dancing with Fire

Friday night at Round Hill is Jamaica Night: a buffet of local delicacies plus local entertainment. On this night we were treated to amazingly talented dancing, with and without fire. Most of the time they moved too fast for my camera to catch, but this dancer limboed slow enough that I managed to capture the moment.

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