A perfect villa in Jamaica
By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor
“I think I’m in love with my masseuse.”
It’s a bold declaration indeed, one rarely heard beyond the hushed, lemongrass-scented treatment rooms of a spa. And it’s a statement even more striking when you consider that it was shared with utmost sincerity on the sun-dappled veranda of a Discovery Bay, Jamaica villa by a man I hardly knew.
Let me explain.
We’d arrived on the island two days earlier, a group of journalists from all over the U.S., most of whom had never met before. The plan was to experience Jamaica like locals – albeit very well-heeled locals – at Sundown Villa. Perched on the curving north-coast sweep of Discovery Bay, and accessed by a nondescript narrow road known as Millionaires Row, the house is one of a cluster of posh country retreats owned by some of the island’s wealthiest families, who, when they’re not in residence, rent them out to vacationers. Although it was Heroes’ Weekend and a Jamaican national holiday, we’d been invited to experience firsthand the pleasure of feeling at home in someone else’s.
Welcomed with cold towels and rum punch by the villa’s staff, we’d each settled into one of nine rooms (five in the main house, four in a neighboring annex), and swiftly into a leisurely and indulgent routine: a morning dip in the warm water of our pocket-sized private beach; then indolent moments spent sunny side-up on an almond tree-shaded chaise; punctuated with alarmingly frequent consumption of hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, graciously delivered by butlers Rocky and Dujon.
Every meal had presented us with even more (futile) opportunities to exercise restraint. Chef Norman wowed us with spreads of Jamaican specialties: jerk pork; roast breadfruit; ackee and saltfish with fried dumplings and festival; and lobster grilled to moist perfection, glossed with lashings of seasoned butter. We’d savored mangoes and guavas and kiwi-like naseberries, served as we stood waist-deep in the sea by Dujon, who waded in unexpectedly, bearing the sweet bounty on a silver tray.
We’d sipped Blue Mountain coffee with a farmer who taught us how to make the perfect cup during a private tasting. Discussed everything from our careers to current events with a local doctor, politician and artist over dinner; and ventured to the nearby Juici patty shop to sample the fare and debate the superiority of their beef patties over Tastee’s. (BTW, no contest; #TeamTastee all the way.)
In the last couple of days we’d experienced side of Jamaican life that you simply can’t see while staying in a hotel room, developing the intimacy with each other that being in such close quarters fosters.
And now we were spending the afternoon having massages administered by a crew of therapists who’d set up their tables and aromatherapy oils in our rooms so we wouldn’t even have to move after the muscle-melting rubdown.
So no, I wasn’t in the last bit surprised when this almost-stranger declared his feelings for his therapist. I completely understood how he felt.
Because while he’d been falling in love with his masseuse, I’d already fallen in love with Sundown.
Weekly rates for Sundown Villa start at $10,500. Guests may add an all-inclusive food and beverage option for $840 per adult, per week.