Experience Jamaica like the celebrities and royals do in beautiful Montego Bay and Ocho Rios

Shanda Deziel

Jamaica has always had a lot to offer, from endless beaches and jerk chicken to reggae music and dark rum. But lately it’s become the place to see and be seen for celebrities and Hollywood royals.

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Island fans include Beyonce and Jay Z, justin and Hailey Bieber – and Kirsten Dunst and jesse plemons just tied the knot there. If you have something to celebrate or need to get away from it all, Jamaica is happy to roll out its extra luxurious red carpet.

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You only need to visit the Half Moon resort library to understand how long this hotel has been a paradise for luxury-loving travelers. Along the walls are throwback shots of the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince Harry and Jacqueline Kennedy (who wrote a version of his last will and testament on hotel letterhead).

Jackie Kennedy and Prince Charles are among the royals and celebrities who have spent time at the Jamaican beach resort Half Moon. Photos: © Shanda Deziel

More recently, Half Moon hosted the Prince William and Kate Middleton during their tour in Jamaica. Stopping “unofficially” at one of the hotel’s four-bedroom Estate Suites for lunch, they marveled at how their three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louiswould like to visit this scenic place.

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“They didn’t want to leave,” says Guy Steuart, the station’s president. “William said, ‘I don’t want to go. Can we have more mango please? “”

We can understand why the Cambridges did not want to leave Half Moon Resort!

There’s no doubt you’ll be as wowed as the Duke upon arriving at the 68-year-old property, which offers stunning views of greenery and the ocean as soon as you enter the reception area.

From the spectacular infinity pool to the adorable blue bikes parked at almost every turn for guests to use, it’s the attention to detail that stands out at Half Moon. The sprawling 400-acre property offers different types of accommodations, so you can be as social or under the radar as you like.

But even if you came to hide, be sure to register with the hotel’s four-legged tenants.

Trina is entirely dedicated to the horses of the equestrian center

At the Half Moon Horse Rehabilitation Center, Trina tends to a stable full of rescue horses, and in just half an hour she can teach you how to communicate non-verbally with one of these majestic animals, by getting him to trust you and befriend you. And the adventurous guest can join the horses in the ocean for their early morning swim.

It’ll take you a two-hour drive from the Montego Bay airport to stay at the Jamaica Inn (unless you’re really a celebrity and can afford to book a private helicopter). But it’s worth the detour! With just over 50 rooms all on the seafront, this boutique hotel is steeped in history.

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It also has a library full of photos of famous guests, from a 1950s snap of Winston Churchill painting the seaside, to Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller dressed for dinner during their honeymoon at the hotel. Also, there is a photo of Meghan Markle in a wedding dress hugging her father, Thomas Markle. Meghan had her first marriage to film producer Trevor Engelson here in 2011.

The Jamaica Inn has a gorgeous beach and incredible snorkeling opportunities in its waters

But the Jamaica Inn’s greatest claim to fame remains its connection to James Bond author Ian Fleming, who, despite having his own place on the road, always preferred this hotel’s beach. According to legend, one evening Ian and his good friend playwright Noel Coward ordered martinis at the bar and wanting them to be as cold as possible, they suggested that the drinks be “shaken, not stirred”.

Meghan Markle and her father Thomas at the Jamaica Inn

When you arrive at the property, which is nestled in the heart of Ocho Rios town, chances are you’ll be greeted by the hotel’s pet dog, Shadow, a friendly black lab who runs the hotel. place. Now eight, he’s a quiet, loving presence, but any longtime staff member will tell you funny stories about his puppy antics (including when he took off with the Tiffany diamond ring of a guest.)

Shadow is an incredibly good dog who is sure to be your new best friend while staying at the Jamaica Inn

You’ll want to follow Shadow’s lead by bathing early in the morning, but be sure to return to your room to order breakfast. After all, it’s the hotel’s super-luxe terraces and decks, which either overlook the ocean or sit directly on the beach — and feature comfortable furnishings for lounging and dining — that make this accommodation stand out. brand. (That said, Jamaica Inn runs a turtle conservation program that’s also pretty notable.)

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For special occasions, book room 21, an oasis in paradise, complete with private pool, wrap-around terrace and direct ocean access. With a policy of no televisions or radios in guest rooms, every detail at Jamaica Inn is designed to provide complete rest and relaxation.

Having dinner

If you’re taking a five-star vacation, you’ll want to add some jaw-dropping meals to your itinerary, and Half Moon is a great place to start. The property has two award-winning restaurants, possibly worthy of a Michelin star, that only get better through friendly competition with each other.

Sugar Mill, which sits on the site of a former sugar plantation next to the resort’s golf course, is overseen by chef Chris Golding, who is so proud of his braised short ribs only when no one at the table is ordering them. , he takes out a part. And he’s right, they are not to be missed.

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And then, no more than oxtail ravioli or Solomon’s skewer, a skewer of beef, pork, sausage, fish and lobster all drizzled with rum and ignited at your table.

The cocktail options at Half Moon are spectacular

But before sampling any of these specials, start your evening at the bar where the rum cocktail menu is extensive – from classics like Pina Colada, Mai Tai and Dark and Stormy to their own concoctions, including the Estate Special , which pairs dark rum with mint, bitters and that iconic Jamaican soda, Ting.

At the Half Moon’s beachfront restaurant, Delmare, expat Italian chef Claudio Facchinetti blends the tastes of his homeland with Jamaican dishes, with an emphasis on fresh seafood. Anything with octopus on the menu is a must!

The food at Miss T’s Kitchen in Ocho Rios is delicious! Mouth watering?

To experience the best of contemporary Jamaican cuisine, you’ll want to find your way out of the resort and head to Ocho Rios to see what some of the country’s creative chefs are up to. Anna-Kay Tomlinson cooks up island favorites like curried goat and jerk chicken at Miss T’s Kitchen, but it’s her oxtail stew – with melty meat – that is truly a revelation.

Suzanne and Michelle Rousseau of Summer House both attended Western University in London, Ontario

Incorporating a sophisticated vegetarian ethos into their country’s cuisine, Kingston-born, Canadian-educated sisters Suzanne and Michelle Rousseau are making waves at their new restaurant Summer House. With a focus on salads and fresh summer dishes that reveal a new twist on Jamaican ingredients – from honey breadfruit and eggplant plantain parmesan to ackee pasta and soufflés – the Rousseaus offer an unexpected and delicious culinary experience.

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Plus, the restaurant even has a clothing boutique, offering unique and stylish finds from local designers, for a little post-meal therapy.

Don’t miss

Relaxation is guaranteed at the Jamaica Inn’s Ocean Spa. A range of treatments are provided in their open-air cliffside cabanas and can be followed by a lounge in their naturally healing saltwater sea bath.

Soma Yachts in Montego Bay is a true luxury getaway on the water

No celebrity-inspired vacation is complete without some time on the water, and a quick call to Soma Yachts in Montego Bay gets the party started. With a professional crew catering to your every whim, you’ll find yourself on a private cruise tucking into bottomless mimosas and plates full of coconut shrimp.

If reggae is your thing, time your visit during one of the island’s music festivals, like Reggae Sumfest and Rum Fest. And follow it up with a few nights of relaxation at the legendary Geejam Resort and Recording Studio in Port Antonio, where pop stars like Drake, Rihanna and Katy Perry have all come to work, play and pay homage to the island’s musical history.

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