Stepping Stones is an airy retreat in Greenwich, the mountain hideaway enclave of Kingston's most fortunate, located just above Newcastle and a short hike from Holywell National Park and Catherine's Peak. The home sits at the center of expansive gardens boasting spectacular views of Kingston and the surrounding plains. An attentive staff and flexible rates (USD 500 for up to six guests in three bedrooms, USD 700 for up to 10 in five) make Stepping Stones one of the best options for comfort and relaxation on this side of the Blue Mountains.
Maryland to Hardwar Gap
Turning left at the Cooperage onto the B1 leads up a series of some 360-plus hairpin turns that can leave unaccustomed passengers a bit nauseated. The windy road first passes through the lower hills and valleys of Maryland before reaching the principal hamlet along the route, Irish Town. Irish Town has as its centerpiece St. Mark's Chapel, a quaint little church reached by taking a 15-minute walk along a footpath.
Colonel's Cottage (US$150) at Belcour Lodge is the perfect getaway located in the cool Blue Mountain foothills just 10 minutes' drive from the Kingston city limits. The cottage sleeps two in a queen bed and is surrounded by lush, verdant splendor with two verandas fit for breathing deeply and relaxing to the sound of the gurgling Mammee River below. It's located a stone's throw from the old great house of Belcour Lodge, home of Belcour Preserves, a cottage industry producer of jams, pepper sauces and honey.
Cool Shade (USD 400 for up to eight guests in four bedrooms) is a charming, quaint English countryside-style cottage in the misty cloud forest just up the road from the Twyman's Old Tavern Coffee Estate and a short walk from Holywell National Park. This is an ideal spot for a romantic getaway or for groups of family and friends.
Serendipity Holistic Resort (US$150-250) is a collection of six one-bedroom cabins, three with king-size beds (US$250), three with queen-size beds (US$150). The cabins all have private bathrooms with showers. Each room has cable TV. Wi-Fi covers the entire property. One cabin has a kitchenette. The cabins overlook the banks of the Hopewell River, which feeds the Hope River that ultimately ends up in the Mona Reservoir. The spa offers Swedish, deep tissue and full body massage, as well as manis and pedis, by reservation. The resort opened in March, 2014.
Strawberry Hill is a sophisticated mountain hideout where the upper crust are compelled to feel hip again
Quite possibly the most cozy and inviting abode in the Blue Mountains
Dustry Bed & Breakfast (US$100 d) offers rustic accommodation at the home of expats Andrew and Lisa Gordon, self-described hippies who have been living in the Blue Mountains since the 1970s. The rustic homestead cannot be seen from the road and is best suited for the fit and adventurous, as it requires a 10-minute walk uphill to reach.
Mount Edge Guest House, run by Michael Fox, has six units with hip names: Gong (US$60) is a stand-alone cottage with a double bed and private bath. Rock (US$50) has a double bed and a single bed and private bath. View (US$60) has a king bed, space for an additional single and a private bath. Roost (US$60) has a double bed with private bathroom, mountain and city views. Revolution (US$45) has a double bed and a single bed in a loft, shared bathroom. Adventure (US$40) has two double beds sleeping up to four and shared bathroom. Internet is included.
Starlight Chalet & Health Spa (US$80) is a quaint retreat past Hardwar Gap. Reach Starlight Chalet by heading north from Hardwar Gap. Where the road forks, keep to your right and go straight ahead until you reach Section. Turn right at Section and travel along the dirt road until you reach Starlight Chalet & Health Spa at Silver Hill Gap adjacent to a Wallenford Coffee farm. The kitchen on property serves Jamaican dishes at reasonable prices (US$10-25), bakes cakes and pastries from scratch, and prepares natural juices with seasonal fruit.
"Barbeque" Heritage Gardens of Cold Spring (US$250 for entire cottage with up to 6 guests, US$120 for two in the Master Suite, US$90 for single room, add US$10 per person for breakfast, US$20 per person for three meals) is an old coffee estate with large barbecues, the flat areas where coffee is laid out to dry, hinting at the property’s illustrious past as an important coffee processing estate. Irish naval officer and botanist Mathew Wallen established the coffee farm when he came to Jamaica in 1747.
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