For those who aspire to travel as trendsetters in Jamaica, it helps to know that Port Antonio, way out on the eastern end of the island, is the destination to head for. And the address to shelter at is the Trident Hotel, whose 13 waterfront villas would not look out of place on South Beach. Nor would the crowd that hangs around its infinity pool or in its restaurant, Mike’s Supper Club, where local musicians and the occasional celeb sit down to knock out tunes on the 1917 Ferrari-red grand piano. The Trident Castle, a kind of fantasy annex, is a former private residence whose grand rooms, sea-view terraces, and dollhouse-size chapel make it ideal for destination weddings. A hard road to get there? Not for guests who avail themselves of the helicopter pad.
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Two hours from the Kingston Airport by road and farther yet from Montego Bay, Port Antonio is the kind of place you don’t visit on the way to anywhere else. But it is worth the trip. The landscape is as green as Jamaica gets. (Plan on rain and a gentle ride on a bamboo raft down one of the rivers the rain creates.) The beaches are standout, among them Frenchman’s Cove, whose celebrity visits reach back more than 50 years, and Boston Bay, where jerk seasoning was born. The beach at the Trident, in a nearly landlocked cove, is so pleasant, though, that if guests never get any farther that will be enough. For drinks, and maybe to hear some jamming at the Bushbar, head down to the Trident’s sister property, Geejam, where big-name musicians, taking advantage of the full-on recording studio, sometimes stay and play.
Need to Know
Rooms: 13 villas. From $450 low season, $600 high season. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: While a jerk chicken wrap for lunch on the veranda may make thinking about how nasty the weather is up north all the more pleasing, it may not beat perusing the Japanese-Jamaican fusion menu at Mike’s Supper Club, the hotel’s cabaret/speakeasy/Harlem/Calypso Bop musical dining experience, yeah. Spa and gym details: As it should be where the Blue Mountains fall into the sea, highlights of the Trident Spa are the Blue Mountain coffee treatments and the outdoor massage deck perched above the Caribbean. The adjoining fitness center is often a prelude to a few laps in the infinity pool, or going back to bed before breakfast.
Who’s it for: Travelers wanting to get off the beaten path, but in comfort, and with style. Our favorite rooms: There’s not really a bad one, but Villa 10 is the best combination of privacy, view, and proximity to the beach. Plan ahead: Although it is currently available for rent and often serves as a venue for destination weddings and other events, the eight-bedroom Trident Castle is still in its “pre-renovation” stages, so before making reservations see what its updated status is.