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Girls weekend in Jamaica

Time stands still at Strawberry Hill in Jamaica's blue mountains

As a busy mum, it is a rare treat to escape for a ‘girl’s weekend away.’ The regular choice is of course Miami for the shopping and nightlife but what if you just want to lay horizontal and physically feel yourself relax in another world, away from it all? Strawberry Hill, Jamaica might just be your ideal escape.

A short Cayman Airways flight early Friday morning, and a quick taxi ride through Kingston rush hour and we were soon cruising up into the lush, tropical Blue Mountains. The mountain views are spectacular and the narrow, winding roads are home to quaint villages and friendly locals.

From the moment you drive in past the guard house you would be forgiven for believing you are on the set of a colonial movie. The hotel is set on top of the world, high above the hustle and bustle of Kingston. I could immediately understand why The New York Times selected this beautiful hide-away as one of the “1,000 places to see before you die.”

Various cottages and room options are available offering peaceful seclusion. Simple, chic furnishing and crisp white sheets compliment the breathtaking mountain views. The picture-postcard view across the room and over the balcony was beauty and tranquillity that has to be seen and felt to be believed. Any thoughts of school runs and office life back home literally floated out of the plantation shuttered windows and into the mountain valley below.

Fresh fruit cocktails, supped on a sun lounger next to the infinity pool were the order of the day. I opened a book but within minutes I was mesmerized by the movement of the clouds above and the view below.

During a break from lounging, we explored the various rooms festooned with photos and Island Records memorabilia. Steeped in history, Chris Blackwell fulfilled a childhood dream when he purchased Strawberry Hill in 1972. The property soon became a haven for musicians, with Bob Marley finding shelter and peace there after threats to his life in the 1970’s.

The sun sets over the infinity pool

The sun sets over the infinity pool at Strawberry Hill

In the evening, the twinkling lights of Kingston provided the back drop to our evening dining on the veranda. We found all our menu choices to be fresh and delicious.

The Sunday brunch is often recommended by Jamaican residents and it did not disappoint. A scrumptious spread of local cuisine accompanied by the most delicious Pina Coladas we have ever come across.

With shopping far from our minds, the guilt was short-lived when we booked ourselves a spa treatment or two. We booked in advance but the Spa staff were accommodating and changes or additions were not a problem. They offer specials throughout the year (my ‘Blackwell rum body scrub and massage’ was divine) in addition to all the usual treatments you would expect.

The general atmosphere at Strawberry Hills is undoubtedly relaxed. Walking around in the soft white bath robes was not frowned upon. Smart casual attire for evening meals was totally acceptable. The staff make you feel special and always greet you with a warm cheeky smile.

For those who couldn’t stay still for long, our trusty taxi driver, Dayne was able to take us out on a 3 hour exploration of the villages and communities dotted around the valley. A stop at EITS Café reminded me of backpacking adventures 20 years ago, relaxing in the cool breeze, gazing out over lush, verdant mountains. The terraced gardens below grow the fresh produce on offer here in the form of various mouth-watering dishes. This is the kind of place you want to linger with good friends.

Room with a view

Room with a view

We spent three wonderful days at Strawberry Hill Hotel. I was concerned that I would get bored but on the contrary, we all agreed that we would have been happy to stay on longer!

Cayman Airways flies to Kingston daily. For more information about Strawberry Hill, visit www.strawberryhillhotel.com. Driver Dayne can be contacted on +1 876 459 7539 or by email at dayne_williams@ymail.com

About the author: Kary Claybourn is a mother of three and works for Blue Point Consultants helping families relocating to Cayman.

Photos by Julie Corsetti, professional photographer and owner of Deep Blue Images.

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