It’s hard to believe it’s already been over a week since my husband and I returned from our Jamaican vacation. Coming back to reality is never fun, but it does give me the opportunity to share with you the experience of a lifetime. In the last few years, we’ve been to several popular Caribbean destinations and are nearly always greeted with the phrase, “Welcome to paradise.” Tropical sand, sun and surf tend to fit fairly easily into that category, but at no location is that descriptor more accurate than at The Caves in Negril.
Having stayed at the Hilton Rose Hall in Montego Bay for five days prior to our arrival (a location that in comparison doesn’t even warrant a review), we thought we were relaxed already. Within five minutes, we realized we hadn’t known the meaning of the word. The all-inclusive resort sits atop the scenic cliffs in Negril overlooking the ocean and a more peaceful site, I cannot recall. In contrast to some of the larger “mega-resorts” in which we’ve stayed before, The Caves is a small boutique-style place with less than 20 rooms on the entire property, giving it an intimate, secluded vibe. Each room (designated by names, not numbers) has a unique architecture and décor and is equipped with a bottle of Blackwell rum, white and red wine, fresh-ground Blue Mountain coffee, an insanely comfortable bed and a collection of reggae CDs which a note explains the staff will be happy to copy for you if you like. Some rooms, like ours, come equipped with an al fresco shower.
That being said, we did not spend much time in the room, preferring the view from the cliffs and the company of both the staff and guests to isolation. The Caves is not a place of pretention, rather, it’s the kind of place where you can walk around barefoot, eat breakfast (oh, those banana pancakes!) in your bathing suit, enjoy a soothing sunset and laugh with like-minded people. The staff is the most helpful and accommodating I have ever encountered. Whether you want vegetarian fare or nostalgic cuisine from your island childhood (as was the case for one guest who had grown up in Martinique), the answer is “no problem.” My husband was even scolded for getting out of the hot tub to order drinks from the bar. But the other guests at the hotel were half of what made our stay so memorable. Jumping off a 30-foot cliff into the Caribbean (yes, I did it!) is so much less intimidating when you have a crowd cheering you on.
The Caves also includes several experiences that would be considered “extras” at your standard all-inclusive resort. How does an hour in the private hot tub room at sunset with champagne, fruit & cheese sound? Or dinner for two in one of the caves for which the resort is named? Personalized snorkeling and diving tours? Check. Because we traveled using my Aveda Pure Privilege points, a couple’s seaside massage was also complimentary.
Given all this, it’s easy to see why everyone there walked around with a huge smile on their face, until it was time to leave, that is. On those days, you could tell who was checking out b/c they (us included) looked as though they might burst into tears at any moment. Honestly, my heart is still there, which is why you’re going to see a slew of vacation-inspired posts over the next couple of weeks. In a word, the whole experience was rather magical. If you ever have the chance, run, don’t walk, to book your trip. I can promise you we’ll be back.