Port Antonio has a wide range of accommodation options with a notable concentration of high-end villas. Nonetheless, budget hotels and guesthouses dot the coast from town all the way to Long Bay. As in many parts of Jamaica, there are no street numbers, and roads are often referred to as the "main." Refer to the maps in this book for exact locations.
Port Antonio and the East Coast
Great Huts (US$60-400 nightly) is a stylishly rustic accommodation option in the heart of Boston, offering Bedouin-style tents, breezy cottages and tree houses. Great Huts is the brainchild of Brooklyn native Paul Rhodes, who has been shuttling between his medical practice in Washington D.C. and Jamaica since the 1970s, building great hunts, coordinating volunteer work and performing what he calls his 'labor of love'. The progeny of this love are 18 rustic bungalows and tree houses, made of wood, bamboo, zinc and canvas, recreating an African-Amerindian village vibe.
Seadream Villa (US$80-200) offers basic accommodations right in the middle of Long Bay Beach. The villa has three bedrooms--two downstairs with two double and two single beds, and one upstairs with two single beds--accommodating up to eight total. Three full baths have hot water. There’s cable TV and a CD player. The library with Internet access is less than five minutes away by foot. The location makes up for the weathered abode.
Ambassabeth Cabins (Bowden Pen, from US$70-90 for two; US$25 for a tent that can sleep eight), owned and operated by the Bowden Pen Farmers Asssociation, is the most remote accommodation option in the Rio Grande Valley, located above Millbank. The famous Cunha Cunha Pass Trail leaves from Ambassabeth, as does a trail leading to Bernard Spring Falls. The White River Trail, begins in nearby Millbank, leading to a series of cascades. An unmanned ranger station is maintained by Ambassabeth caretaker Lennette Wilks in Millbank, just over the border into St.
Geejam (US$595/705 low season, US$2,035/2,125 high season) is a recording artists’ paradise where the likes of Les Nubians, No Doubt, India Arie, Amy Winehouse, and Tom Cruise have chosen to take their working vacations. Sitting on a low hill overlooking San San Bay, the property consists of the main house with three bedrooms, three cabins dispersed across the property, and a one-bedroom suite below the recording studio. Inside the huts, more than the basic amenities are covered: TV, Apple home theater systems with DVD, iPod docks, and minibar are included.
Hotel Mocking Bird Hill has pleasantly decorated garden view (US$195/255 low/high season) and sea view (US$235/295 low/high season) rooms with ceiling fans and mosquito nets. Wireless Internet is available in the lounge, where a computer is set up for guest use. Solar hot-water systems, locally minded purchasing practices, and minimal-waste policies have earned Mocking Bird Hill eco-friendly merits. With stunning views of both the Blue Mountains and Portland’s coast, it’s hard not to love the place.
Kanopi House (US$600-1000 all-inclusive) is the latest addition to Port Antonio’s high-end market. Four self-contained wooden cottages stand on stilts along the jungle-covered slope rising from the eastern bank of the Blue Lagoon. For a Medicine Man rush or even a spoiled-Tarzan kind of feel, there’s no place like Kanopi, and it’s the only accommodation option that actually sits on the lagoon. The most tasteful and simple decor adorns the cottages’ exposed wood interiors.
San Cove (US$7,000/8,000 weekly low/high season) is an adjacent sister property to San Bar which can be annexed to expand the accommodation capacity for larger groups who want to remain close. The highlight of this four-bedroom, three-story luxury villa is its exceptionally large deck with grill and picturesque gazebo, fit for relaxing in the shade or enjoying a fine meal at the water’s edge. Amenities afford all the comforts of home, including AC, WiFi, full staff.
Norse Hill (US$6,690/$8190 weekly low/high season, US$1050/1250 daily low/high) was built by Iris and Reidar Johanssen as their winter home. The Johanssens lived amazing lives, jumping across the globe from their home in Hong Kong in the 1930s. The Norwegian-style chalet is accordingly grand and filled with art and antiques from China. Norse Hill is a steadfast, gorgeous, stately structure, with an industrial-size kitchen, three bedrooms and competent staff.
The Fan (US$160-250) is a private villa in the hills above Drapers with a breathtaking view of Dolphin Bay, Trident Castle, and Blue Mountain Peak. The villa rents two guest apartments. The grand suite, located on the top level, has a king bed, a large living room, kitchen, and balcony. The junior suite, on the ground level, has a king bed and up to three single beds. Excellent meals are prepared to order at an additional cost by the housekeeper, who should be tipped equivalent to 10 percent of the rental cost for your stay, as is the norm for villas.
Frenchman’s Cove (US$125-460, inclusive of tax and continental breakfast) remains one of Jamaica’s prime properties, considered by some to have the best beach on the island. The cove itself is small with a short, wide beach and fine white sand. Fifteen villas are scattered about a large property.