Mind if I cheat a little? Part 2 of this three-part report focused on two new resorts in Montego Bay, so you might expect part 3 to do the same for Negril. Well, it does include my take on the three new Blue Diamond properties, but after that, I’m breaking a rule or two.
Royalton Negril Resort & Spa
This is tricky, so listen up: Blue Diamond now has two Negril properties, within which the roughly 400-room Royalton Negril has three sections: the resort rooms and public areas, the Diamond Club, and Hideaway at Royalton Negril, which can be treated as a different resort. A few highlights:
- Many new properties pack a lot of guests onto a cramped bit of beachfront, but not here. The beach stretches to the left and right, and the lobby does, too, with an open wall (there’s a glass railing) that always draws your eyes to the water, which is where they should be.
- A staffer told me that the escalator leading down to the beach is the only escalator in Jamaica. I can’t verify that, but then, I can’t think of any others.
- Royalton Negril has some garden view suites (from $556), but most accommodations face the water, and your clients’ should, too.
- The “basic” Luxury Junior Suite, with its white, contemporary decor accented by earthtones and a bedroom soaking tub placed at a diagonal, looks like the suite I had at Royalton Blue Waters Montego Bay. Maybe Blue Diamond was thinking, the design ain’t broke, so don’t fix it. They’re right.
- Also like Blue Waters, the sophisticated, adult-resort decor belies the fact that this is a family-friendly resort with impressive kids programs.
Hideaway at Royalton Negril
Three features at this 166-suite, adults-only resort caught my eye:
- The perks include Hideaway-only pools, a child-free beach area, restaurants, and bars.
- Moreover, guests at Hideaway may also use the facilities at the larger resort, but not vice versa.
- The suites have that modern-classic Royalton look, but rates are a tad higher (from about $590).
- All ground-floor suites are swim-outs (from $653).
Grand Lido Negril
It’s adults-only and, like the adults-only Hideaway, it offers guests access to the larger resort’s facilities. So how to distinguish it from its next door neighbor?
- Unlike the Hideaway, Grand Lido is an au naturel resort. I believe that qualifies as a difference.
- Perhaps because of the clothing-optional aspect, Grand Lido requires that guests be 21 rather than 18, the minimum age at Hideaway.
- This is a true boutique hotel, with just 26 suites, all with butler service.
- The pool is where the clothing-optional lounging takes place because…
- There is no sandy beach—yet. Management may succeed at creating a beach along its rocky shore.
Save this recommendation for clients who want an authentic cultural and/or foodie experience as part of their visit to Jamaica. Several years ago, a refugee from the Chicago commodities exchange moved to the mountains in near Negril, married a local woman (Alecia, an extraordinary chef), and, starting with a farm, created a seven-key lodge. So no, this is not new, like the other resorts in this series, but it may be new to you.
Guests explore the organic farm (heaven to this gardener), go hiking, visit Rastafarian settlements, take drumming and/or cooking lessons (talk about farm-to-table!), enjoy yoga and river swimming, read in the library, and contemplate the Rasta-themed paintings and hand-crafted cottages, furniture, and sculptures. Other thoughts:
- Menu options include delicious meat and fish dishes and alcoholic beverages as well as meals that follow Ital guidelines.
- Accommodations combine comfort and authenticity. All have screens, and three are air-conditioned. High season rates are about $250 a night, and this tiny retreat does pay travel agent commissions.
- There’s WiFi.
- Lunch and dinner are available to small groups staying at, say, resorts in Negril.
Royalton Negril Resort & Spa: royaltonresorts.com; bluediamondresorts.com
Hideaway at Royalton Negril: royaltonnegrilsparesort.com
Grand Lido Negril: grandlidoresorts.com
Zimbali Retreats: zimbaliretreats.com