A Little Piece of Paradise in Jamaica

Katrina Smith on 05 November 2018
I have recently returned from the most amazing stay at the Roundhill Resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica. It was originally opened in 1953 and was the private haunt of style icons and the jet set such as Noel Coward, Oscar Hammerstein, Errol Flynn, David Niven, Princess Margaret, JFK and Jackie, and more recently Harry and Meghan. It still retains the old style glamour and delivers the same high level of service.

The first thing that hits you when you arrive at this hotel is the beauty of it. The most amazing view of the Caribbean Sea. Set on a small peninsula with beautifully manicured gardens and grounds. We were greeted with cold flannels and a lovely glass of rum punch whilst we checked in. We were then shown to our room by Kingsley (who has been with the hotel over 45 years!) who gave us lots of information on the hotel and grounds as he walked us the short route to our oceanfront room in Pineapple House.

Ralph Lauren sits on the Board of Directors for this hotel, and has designed the interiors here. He also has his own villa on the resort.

Our room was a really good size with a patio overlooking the beach. We had a large bamboo four-poster bed with a ceiling fan and sofa and chairs to relax in. There was also an air conditioning unit. The bathroom was large with a huge bath and separate rain shower. The ground floor rooms all have patios and the upstairs rooms have louvred windows that open up to the most marvellous views of the bay. These all have vaulted ceilings. One thing to note is that the rooms in the Pineapple House do NOT have TVs – which we both were very happy about. There is a shared TV lounge if you really cannot manage without.

As well as the 36 rooms in The Pineapple House there are 27 villas dotted around the hillside. These range from 2-bedroom villas to 6-bedroom villas. You can book a whole villa or just part of it, to share with other guests. Most villas have private pools and each is individually designed and decorated. Each villa has its own staff to tend the gardens and to prepare breakfast for you to have in your villa.

There are two restaurants at the hotel, The Seaside Terrace which serves a la carte food and the Grill which serves a mix of a la carte and buffet. The food was amazing! The cocktail bar is lovely with personal service at your table. Large comfortable chairs look out across the ocean. In the afternoon complimentary afternoon tea is served here between the hours of 4 and 5 pm. A very traditional afternoon tea with cucumber sandwiches, pimento cheese sandwiches, scones and jam and lovely cakes, and many different flavoured teas and coffee to choose from. One evening whilst we were at the hotel we had a BBQ set up on the beach for everyone. This was no ordinary barbeque, tables were all beautifully dressed, torches lit and a huge buffet set up with the most fabulous selection of food along with a steel band to entertain us. It was one of the highlights of our stay. Another evening the Managers hosted a cocktail evening for all the guests, and even the Managing Director, Josef Forstmayr attended and ensured he spoke with every single person. Personal service really is high on this hotel’s agenda.

A short and delightful walk along the coast (about 200 yards) is the Spa which is a wonderfully restored 18th Century Plantation House, with a huge lawn facing over the ocean, perfect for afternoon yoga classes and seaside massages. There are seven treatment rooms, including a couples suite. There is also a beauty salon and manicure and pedicure station. There is also a huge fitness centre and gym which has a large outdoor pavilion for yoga classes.

A children's club is available, which is complimentary and is available for children of all ages. Daily activities range from nature walks, football, arts and crafts, water sports, reggae lessons and movie hour.

One morning we decided to venture out on the complimentary glass bottom boat to explore the house-reef. Roundhill is working with local marine scientist to restore the corals, fish and shellfish of this reef. They are growing corals in a nursery and then planting those grown corals back to the reef. These corals, in turn, provide good nursery habitats for baby fish, lobsters and crabs to grow.

We spent most of our time lazing on the beach and swimming in the beautiful warm waters of the sea. The water is shallow and smooth. There is a large infinity pool with delightful cabanas and loungers if you prefer a pool to the ocean, or why not try both. A pool bar services both. You just lie back and your waiter will come to you! Heaven!

I cannot speak highly enough about the amazing service and the amazing staff at Roundhill. Absolutely everyone, and I mean everyone from the gardeners, to the housekeeping staff, to the waiters, to the concierge and managers were first class - their attention to detail and friendliness was exceptional - I have never experienced service like this anywhere before.

A word of warning – if your idea of the perfect hotel is a large all-inclusive with loads of restaurants and bars and loud music and tons of entertainment laid on, then Roundhill is not for you! But if you want relaxation, romance, quiet family time, beauty, exceptional service and great food then this could be your idea of heaven.

Will I go back? In a heartbeat!