Onwards and upwards goes the gal, to one of the most beautiful and thoroughly enjoyable luxury resorts in the whole wide world – Half Moon Bay, ten minutes’ drive east of Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport (the only airport to use for a Jamaica vacation). Dream, dream, of two miles of coast line, a total of 400 acres, with, it seems, marvellous weather day-in and day-out. This is the spot that 17 friends, led by Washington DC entrepreneur Curtis Steuart, saw back in 1954. The friends bought 35 acres, and each put up a holiday home. When they were not there, why not turn the whole thing into a hotel?
Hence the beginning of what is now an idyllic spread-out village of immaculate white buildings with a total of 398 bedrooms – of these 197 are in hotel-type villas, mostly two floors, and the rest, oh so ideal for multi-generational holidays or wedding parties, are in 31 big palace-villas, with anything up to seven bedrooms (23 of these villas have private pools, but in total there are 54 pools throughout the complex). I was in villa 78, downstairs in a four-unit building. I had 1,200 sq ft, of big living room, bedroom with office alcove, and a terrace in front. Each room is, by the way, unique. All decoration and upholstery is done here, in the ‘village’: 60 of the total-398 employees are in maintenance, which includes all decoration, nonstop exterior painting, and looking after 160 Club Car buggies which come with most units.
And then there are those pools to clean! The pool right next to 78 seemed to be mine exclusively as I never saw anyone else swimming in it. Even with 100 percent occupancy, by the way, the hotel seems amazingly empty by day, with some away playing the 18-hole par-72 Robert Trent Jones golf course, others trying the putting green. There is swimming with dolphins in the ocean, horseback riding and swimming with your mount, or more traditional swimming in the 100-foot lap pool or one of the curvilinear family pools. Right now, over Easter, the hotel seems to have the maximum number of children – two kids in with each adult couple – and judging by overheard conversations many come back again and again. We see this other family every year, I heard on several occasions.
For once, there were no kids astride the pair of bronze lion that flank the hotel’s main entrance (the animals are so popular that their bronze backs have become shiny). Sandro Fabris, who arrived here as GM last April, has apparently really opened up the lobby, taking doors off here, and turning what was a closed VIP area there into a fascinating library. Look at photos of such past guests as The Queen (twice) and Prince Charles, looking amazingly young. See family groups of the current Chairman of this luxury hotel, Guy Steuart III, descendent of that intrepid developer 62 years ago.