Kareem’s Quest: Jamaica Inn – a piece of tourism history
Since the early 20th century, Jamaica has always been a getaway spot for the elites. When renowned laureate Ian Fleming saw the majestic St Mary coastline, he immediately called the place home – writing many of his James Bond novels at his house on the island.
There was a Playboy Club and Hotel, located in Oracabessa, where all the gentlemen would go for recreation. I’m trying to write that last line with a straight face. The point is, this land has a rich history that incorporates people from across the world.
Jamaica Inn, a majestic hotel, has been in existence for over 60 years when the tourism landscape was a bit different. “When it was built in the 1950s, only the aristocrats and very wealthy were able to travel to the island. Even with Pan Am, the plane fares were very expensive,” stated Kyle Mais, general manager of the hotel.
Back then, many famous Hollywood stars would frequent the island, and this was one of the hotels where they would stay. “Ian Fleming was introduced to Jamaica through this property. We have also had visits from Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, Kate Moss and Kate Winslet, who have all enjoyed their stay at the property,” revealed Mais.
Sitting on such a glorious past, the owners decided to retain the hotel’s architecture and décor rather than upgrade it, which means that they kept a mid-century modern design theme throughout the property. “When guests come here, we want them to have an experience that is unique, and one of the ways to do so is to keep things as original as possible. Our nostalgic layout makes them feel as though they have gone through a time machine.”
The lobby area is clean and spacious with pronounced black and white tiles, which screams of English influence. Adjacent to this is the lounge area, equipped with a piano, books and a functioning telescope, which adds to the nostalgia. The walls are plastered with pictures of celebrities, which makes the space feel like a museum. On an elevated ground, this area allows you to have a beautiful panoramic view of the rest of the property. On the left is the dining area, which extends to a deck in front of the Caribbean Sea. While beside it is a garden with dense zoysia grass and various trees, which presumably gets nutrients from an underground water source.
Walk a hundred metres from the garden and experience the beach, which sits on a concave outline. It’s outfitted with hammocks, cabanas, and a bar. If you are lucky, you will see the resident Labrador on a surfboard.
Despite the rise of all-inclusive hotels, Jamaica Inn has kept its occupancy high by offering its visitors a unique service. It has a combination of 55 rooms, which includes bungalows, suites and cottages, all of which are filled with elements linked to a regal lifestyle.
If money is not an issue, I’d say go for the premier suite, which has the calming seawater as its backdrop and soothes the mind. As the louvre windows are opened, the waves can be seen gliding on the ocean, bringing with it a crisp and pleasant air.
The interior walls are immaculately white and complemented by furniture and fixtures made from natural material like mahogany and leather. This harks back to a time when authenticity was synonymous with premium content. The woodwork speaks to the superior skill set of the artisans who worked meticulously to ensure that their craftsmanship remained timeless. “Being that we are beside the sea, we have maintenance workers upkeeping the property daily. So all our fixtures are constantly being checked, and new paint is constantly applied to ensure we uphold our standards,” said Mais.
Who is it for: Nostalgic persons
Tip: There are no TVs in the rooms, therefore, go with good company.
What to try: Take a sea taxi from the hotel to Dunn’s River Falls
Location: Ocho Rios, St Ann
Other Hotels with a similar feel: Half Moon hotel and Trident Castle
Length of journey from central points
Kingston: 1 hour 8 minutes
Montego Bay: 1 hour 44 minutes
Savanna-la-Mar: 2 hours 35 minutes