It’s my first visit to Jamaica, and this was the real deal! Not at all like the time I strolled ashore from a cruise ship and spent a few hours at Jimmy Buffet’s in Montego Bay imbibing “real Jamaican Rum Punch”.
Arriving at Half Moon, I’m greeted by courteous staff and shown to my room, more about that later. On this visit, I’m spending four glorious days at the resort. The resort has a 1950’s colonial English feel with all the modern amenities. The recently remodeled lobby has the feel of a vintage Palais Royale. It’s airy, elegant and charming, yet very welcoming. Half Moon is also a celebrity (Spike Lee, Morgan Freeman, Iman, and David Bowie along with the Royal family) magnet with visitors from around the globe.
Stay in the Imperial Cottage
My lovely lair for a few days at Half Moon is located in the west cottage section, the Imperial Cottage, dating back to the 1950’s. Completely upgraded with a tasteful living room where you can easily entertain guests. In fact, I had guests – Stephen and Janice Cooper, from the neighbouring cottage, from New Jersey, popped in for drinks. This is their second time at Half Moon and they were talking about another visit with family.
The bed is a pedestal, king-sized, and extremely comfortable. It has a spacious adjoining bathroom, complete with whirlpool tub and separate shower, which could hold a small family. I immediately fell in love with the lemongrass scented toiletries.These are made on the premises.
The patio has an expansive dining area plus access to a private pool, which I used daily, to cool off after a visit to the beach.
The resort is spread over 400 acres and has two miles of beach. Sunrise Beach located just steps away from my cottage, was my go-to place to hang out and enjoy the ambiance of what makes Jamaica so famous. Grabbing a lithe foam floater, I bobbed along the waves wishing that my time here would never end.
Tip: remember to wear lots of sunblock, bring hat and reading materials (in my case my Kobo Ereader ) if you are spending a few hours on the beach.
Tip: Sunset Beach which is located further along the shoreline is quieter and a perfect spot to get away from it all. Keep in mind there are no services available here so pack a bag and bring what you need. Have the concierge arrange a golf cart ride over or simply pick up a bicycle.
Dining Well at Half Moon
My favourite spots on the resort included an afternoon visit to the newly remodeled Lester’s Café – where I had my caffeine fix of Blue Mountain Coffee.
There are numerous restaurants on the property and I made a point to visit quite a few. The Beach BBQ Shack I had my Jerk Chicken fix ((Jerk Chicken, Pork and Fish along with Sweet Potatoes) and the Cedar Bar where fabulous cocktails and bar snacks are served. The Mojitos hit the spot nicely.
Seagrape Terrace serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. Breakfast, one of my favourite meals, is served buffet style and everything imaginable is available from custom-made omelets, fresh fruits, in-house baked pastries, and a self-serve mimosa bar.
Tip: Grab the sliced mango; it’s the first fruit to disappear – sweet nectar.
IL Giardino, the Italian dining room, features exquisitely crafted dishes created by the Chef from Naples, Italy. I had the buffalo mozzarella salad and handmade pasta along with an excellent chicken entree.
As far as dinner is concerned, the piece-de-resistance has to be The Sugar Mill. After extensive renovations the restaurant re-opened in January 2016; it’s adjacent to the 17th-century water mill and features a farm-to-table menu and is headed by Christopher Golding, Chef De Cuisine (named Best Chef in Jamaica).
The restaurant has an open concept kitchen and open-air restaurant. The place feels magical with the dim lighting and elegantly set tables. The attentive staff serves Amuse Bouche and delicious house-baked breads at the start of the meal. On the menu is the addition of Wagyu beef and a focus on farm-to-table cuisine with ingredients sourced from local farmers, fishermen, and herbs from the garden.
The Chef creates exquisite dishes like crispily fried jerk chicken rolls with cho cho slaw and dark rum chutney. The restaurant has also introduced a new charcoal cooking technique with Jamaica’s only Josper charcoal broiler oven.
Tip: There’s an extensive cocktail and international wine list for guests to choose from – try the Estate Special cocktail – it’s a potent mix but will start your evening off just right.
Swimming with Horses
The “surf and turf” riding option at the Half Moon Equestrian Centre is one a unique horseback riding experiences I’ve had. I literally swam on horseback, on our very own ocean highway. It’s exhilarating and a bit scary, and i hung on for dear life!
Finally, I let myself slip off and grabbed the horse’s tail, per instructions from my tour guide K. Chase Brown. I thanked my horse at the end for his efforts in keeping me afloat. Brown has worked at the resort for a number of years and gives riding lessons to children.
The Fern Tree Spa
After arriving at the Fern Tree Spa, I relax and sip Lemongrass tea. It’s a peaceful oasis; Just looking around makes me understand the rave reviews I’d been hearing from fellow guests. My therapist Shailan Henry places my feet in a wide bowl with leaves and herbs swishing around. Shailan says “this treatment is a great antioxidant and taps into Jamaica’s traditional healing remedies”, I nod my head enjoying the first ritual of the spa session.
Next Shailan massaged ginger and orange essentials oil into my skin. I can tell she loves her job, her magical massage puts me in a blissful state. We talked about my love of ‘mango” and how it always disappears from the breakfast buffet. After the treatment, I was enjoying the Spa pool when Shailan appeared with a plate of sliced mangoes. At that point, I almost burst into tears – the release of all my stress coupled with her simple act of kindness – well … I was just about undone.
As I was leaving the spa, I took in the beautiful tropical garden surrounding the spa, realizing that this is where they grow the botanicals (aloe, rosemary, ginger, lavender etc.) they use in their marvellous treatments. The Fern Tree Spa is a 68,000 square foot sanctuary and a little bit of paradise, where you can relax and be welcomed, not just as a pampered guest (and you are pampered) but as part of their warm extended family.
It’s easy to see why Half Moon has such appeal, with its stellar accommodations and clear blue waters lapping on the soft sandy beaches. Add to the mix attentive staff and gourmet cuisine it’s easy to appreciate why it continues to be one of Jamaica’s top resorts. Did I bump into a celebrity on this trip? No, but I did see Mark Zuckerberg’s parents.
Note: This is a Sponsored post from tripcentral.ca but all opinions expressed in this article are my own. Half Moon hosted my visit to Jamaica but at no time did they review this article before publication.