Right before we left for our January press trip to Jamaica, we read a travel guru’s 2010 prediction that all-inclusive resorts would become increasingly popular with budget-conscious travelers. And now that we’ve seen all four properties in the Couples boutique chain, we’d have to agree.
But between you and me? There’s never a wrong time (or reason) to visit romantic, eco-friendly Couples Negril.
The town of Negril is on the west coast of Jamaica, a little over an hour from the airport in Montego Bay. It’s famous for its Seven Mile Beach, which is split into two portions; the smaller, two-mile stretch of shallow Bloody Bay is home to Couples Negril. Part of a marine reserve, the wrecks and reefs here comprise one of the country’s top dive sites.
The resort itself isn’t too shabby, either. Earlier this year, Travel + Leisure published their list of the World’s Top 50 Hotels, and Couples Negril made #36. The vibe at this lush, 18-acre beachfront property is more laid back than any of the other Couples, while still managing to be elegant: the lobby welcomes you with pale-washed walls, splashes of Jamaican-flag colors, porch swings, and a sweeping view of both the Caribbean and one of the longest swimming pools we’ve ever seen.
Green Globe and Blue Flag certified, Negril makes a big effort to take you luxuriously out of your everyday reality while still being light on Jamaica. Everything in the 234 bright and airy guest rooms (save the electronics) is biodegradable, and the furniture is made by local artisans, often from Jamaican cedar. There’s an option to skip electrical lighting in favor of romantic candle-lit sconces. As part of the resort’s gray water recycling program, sudsy run-off is contained and sold to area soap companies. The resort’s gardens are treated with house-made compost, and just across the street you’ll find their 500-acre native palm reserve.
The spa here was recently voted #2 in the Caribbean by Travel + Leisure, which can be summed up in a few words: tree-house spa hut overlooking the palm-fringed shore. I could bandy around some other phrases, like “emerald pond rimmed with orchids” or “tandem massage by the sea,” but I would hope to avoid stooping to these sorts of shameless tactics.
Did I mention, though, that if you can prove it’s your anniversary during your stay, said tandem massage is the resort’s gift to you? Or that the spa’s tree-house could also be booked for private dinners? Just sayin’.
In case dining in public is more your style, you can graze over special spreads like the huge, Thursday-only sunset buffet by the pool, or visit any of the five restaurants on the property. (So we’re clear, we’ve stayed in some towns that don’t have this many places to eat.)
Eager for Jamaican-specific cuisine, we chose Otaheite for our one dinner at Negril; snuggled side-by-side on a velvet banquette by the light of a feathery wooden chandelier, we indulged in five courses, including gorgeous little nut-crusted crab cakes, a rich rock shrimp bisque and a spicy veggie-and-tofu stew that could quite possibly sway a carnivore.
We spent our last night in Jamaica lolling on the edge of Negril’s pool deck, our feet dug into the white sand, the trill of a steel drum in our ears; it was 78° Fahrenheit at 9pm, palm trees rustled in the breeze and the sky was winking with stars. I’d be willing to bet it’s exactly the same story there tonight.
The icing on Negril’s cake is what’s included: meals, your bar tab, in-room mini-bar, scuba instruction, snorkeling and more.
While rack rates tip $600/night with a 3-night minimum, you can save up to 47% through the website;
check shoulder-season deals here and more time-sensitive deals here.
For high season, December 26-April 3, save yourselves considerable cash by booking 6 months+ in advance.
And, from our previous trip to Jamaica:
Jamaica: Couples Tower Isle – What We Loved
Jamaica: Couples Tower Isle – What We’d Love to See
Traveling Couples: Lyn & Arthur Dobrin
Jamaica: Glory Be to Sans Souci
Jamaica: Dunn’s River Falls
Jamaica: Notes on an Island