Round Hill Hotel & Villas
Get Your Groove Back
So legendary is this retreat, dating back to 1953, that it's synonymous with Jamaica. Mentioning Round Hill Hotel & Villas, sitting on a 110-acre peninsula just minutes outside Montego Bay, will also elicit references to glitterati who have escaped here over the decades, from Jackie and John Kennedy–they honeymooned in Villa 10–to Ralph Lauren and yes, Stella in the infamous movie, "How Stella Got Her Groove Back," starring Angela Bassett (filmed in Villa 11, if you must know). For all its fame and status, the atmosphere at Round Hill–with white-stone floor rooms and plush villas enveloped by fragrant flowers, pineapple trees and 180-degree sea views–is as laid back as I've experienced. Families and couples make up the majority of the guests, who wander about all day in beach wear (ladies even receive courtesy sarongs). What you'll fall in love with, aside from the intimate grounds and friendly staff: the farm-to-table meals (be sure to sample the scotch bonnet ice cream) and the daily afternoon tea spread. When you manage to extract yourself from the multilevel infinity pool, walk along the beach and take the wooded trail toward the spa, past cave entrances and swimming coves. There, a sprawling 10-acre lawn with beds and hammocks offers panoramic views of Jamaica's aquamarine coastline and Round Hill's leafy bluffs.
By Lebawit Lily Girma, AFAR Local Expert
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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.
By Kat Tancock