Nestled atop 26 acres on Jamaica’s Blue Mountain range, Strawberry Hill Hotel, Spa and Gardens is on many bucket lists, especially since being named one of the 1000 Places to See Before You Die, a New York Times bestselling book of the same name.
On a clear day, one can see up to 40 miles from the property’s infinity-edge pool, and at night the city far below becomes a twinkling mirror of the night sky. The property’s 12 Georgian-style cottages, spa, exotic gardens and restaurant offerings underwent an extensive refurbishment in October 2011.
Guests are greeted with a complimentary rum cocktail upon arrival to help set the tone for a stay that can be tranquil and relaxing or a mini-adventure with surrounding mountain trails with difficulty levels that range from easy to mildly insane. Nature lovers will get a kick out of the botanical gardens’ 350 recorded species of plant life as well as the Cinchona Botanical Gardens, a rare high-elevation botanical garden and the only such institution in the Caribbean.
History buffs may want to tour St. Mark’s Chapel, a charming and interesting landmark with gravestones that date back to the 1800s; while java lovers may satisfy their curiosity about the bean’s harvesting process by touring the island’s premier Blue Mountain Coffee Estate.
Whatever the day brings, guests may unwind in Strawberry Hill’s full service, stress-relieving spa before taking in the resort’s thriving night life. The Strawberry Hill Living Spa, one of the highlights of the property, incorporates organic healing based on the five elements practiced in Ayurvedic philosophies. Guests may indulge in the spa’s five treatment rooms, which include a specialized hydrotherapy room and a deck for yoga and other outdoor activities.
The resort’s bar, overlooking Kingston’s glimmering city lights is the central meeting point and pulse of the property. Guests may cozy up to the bar’s fireplace for exotic elixirs and traditional tipples while feasting their eyes on the photographs of famous guests, including Bob Marley, Grace Jones, Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Lee “Scratch” Perry, U2, Tom Waits, and Keith Richards; fitting since Strawberry Hill is owned by Grammy award winner Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records.
The attentive staff leaves no need unmet, offering a library with access to local and international newspapers as well as board games and wireless Internet access in the main areas. Guests may also embark on an excursion to the picture perfect Lime Cay, a small uninhabited island easily accessible by a combo car and boat ride that is approximately 80 minutes away from Strawberry Hill and well worth the trip. The area is home to white sand beaches and clear seas. Cold drinks and cooked Jamaican food are available on the weekends with abundant picnic tables and shaded areas for relaxation.