Jamaica’s growing popularity for tourism built on ‘an embedded - almost swaggering - understanding of how life should be lived and enjoyed’

PUBLISHED: 13:37 05 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:37 05 March 2020

Hampden rum estate, one of the highlights of any visit to Jamaica

Hampden rum estate, one of the highlights of any visit to Jamaica

Archant

Nearly 60 years ago Jamaica thrust its way to cinematic glory with Dr No – the first James Bond film and which starred Sean Connery; but it’s not just movie buffs that have been beating a path to its door ever since.

Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort

The same year saw the country gain independence and in the intervening decades since it has become tourism heaven for the four million who visit annually to enjoy its eclectic hospitality from street food to luxury, inclusive resorts.

Sandy beaches, glorious sunshine, a dash of history and an embedded - almost swaggering - understanding of how life should be lived and enjoyed, contribute to its sustained popularity.

Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resortHalf Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort

All-inclusive holidays to resorts such as Sandals - the company has built six on the island since starting out 40 years ago - offer top end luxury but retain prices within range of many of us.

I did put it to one of their managers that perhaps the cosseting of guests to such an extent precluded them from experiencing much of the rest of the island; he agreed and said the company was exploring hotel options that combined the best of luxury accommodation but encouraged more island excursions, travel and opportunities for local dining.

Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort

Which is indeed is how I like it and was how a visit to the island had been arranged courtesy of the Jamaican Tourist Board.

We tried out a trio of resorts at both ends of the island - that culminated with a two night stay in a tree-house - but took in street markets, shack like cafes and restaurants that offer memorably good food and visits to two rum distilleries to savour and enjoy the national beverage.

Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort

There was also a chilling visit to Rose Hall, an experience that spooked me then and continues to terrify me. Built in the later part of the 18th century it is a privately owned, now restored, plantation home but also 'home' to Annie Palmer (recalled as a white witch, at least by our guide) who allegedly met a violent death. You can opt for a quieter day time tour or enjoy the more robust experience, as we were prevailed upon to do, of ghostly goings on at night.

There were also countryside and coastal diversions, a bob sled ride through the rain forests where I failed to notice the sign urging caution for those with heart conditions (I do) and an afternoon visit outside of Kingston to learn about the earthquake of 1692 that ripped through Port Royal that had been dubbed the 'richest and wickedest city in the world'.

Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort

In this deeply conservative country, our guide's emphatic support of God's bestowal of horrendous loss of life and devastation had become a well-rehearsed and persuasively recounted narrative. Protestations that God didn't necessarily act in this manner met with stubborn resistance and so I surrendered to the fable and took refuge in a chilled beer and note to self to let the climate, friendliness of the island, and yet another good dinner only hours away prevail.

And rightly - or wrongly - the tsunami of the late 17th century achieved what many later took to be a blessing even at considerable cost. Two thousand died, buildings and ships off anchor were destroyed but it did bring to end the port's predilection for debauchery, slavery and piracy.

Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort

But natural disasters of Biblical proportions aside, the country in the 21st century is a blend of cultures, a potpourri of food and music and townsfolk and villagers alike delighted to gift you their inherent quality of grace and hospitality.

The options for exploration, too, are becoming considerable and particularly memorable remains the rainforest and the chairlift journey up the mountain to enjoy stunning, panoramic views.

Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort

I rejected the allure of zip wiring my way through the treetops (an experience I'm assured is not for the faint hearted) in favour of the adrenalin fuelled roller coaster 'Bobsled Jamaica' descent.

Our trip also took us to Falmouth, a relatively modest but charming example of 18th-century Georgian architecture that for the past 10 years has attracted an increasing number of cruise ships.

Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort

A short drive from Montego Bay it is home to a thriving Caribbean restaurant and fast food economy with lobster and jerk chicken in abundance. And it was here, too, early on in our stay, that we espied an abundance of patties for sale, wonderful shrimps, beef, chicken or vegetables encased in golden pastry.

On one day trip and such was the enthusiasm for traditional Jamaican patties our party split to buy them from three random stores for a taste test.

Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort

Wandering streets, dipping into cafes and restaurants, journeying inland and along the coast, venturing out for river trips, tucking into monster sized slices of pizza overlooking the sea, enjoying sizzling steaks in candlelight restaurants, watching the sun rise from my tree house retreat at Hermosa Cove, all formed part of our circuitous journey around the island.

Part of our time had been spent a Sandals resort, some at the Half Moon and both provide extraordinary levels of service.

Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort

But there remains a special place in my heart for Hermosa Cove, a small villa-based hotel complex near Kingston.

The pool, the cooking, the beach, the bar, but especially the treehouse. Picturesque, idyllic, romantic, peaceful and fun.

Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort

And for those who ask when the best time is to visit Jamaica, I can do no better than quote a barman who (successfully) persuaded me to try copious amounts of local rum.

"Well," he said. "We open on January 1st and close on December 31st - and we open again the following day".

Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort

So anytime you like really.

Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort Half Moon Resort - views of the luxury resort and what you can expect during your stay at this Jamaican resort

Hampden rum estate, one of the highlights of any visit to Jamaica Hampden rum estate, one of the highlights of any visit to Jamaica

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHYHoliday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY Holiday of a lifetime. Personal photos from the album of our writer's perfecrt holiday to Jamaica, It is one of the most hospitable holiday destinations you are likely to experience. And they know how to welcome tourists - over four million of us visit each year. Picture; JOHN ELWORTHY

Sandals Montego BaySandals Montego Bay

Sandals resort Montego Bay, Jamaica, Some of the sights and experiences of your stay at this incredible resort, Sandals resort Montego Bay, Jamaica, Some of the sights and experiences of your stay at this incredible resort,

Sandals resort Montego Bay, Jamaica, Some of the sights and experiences of your stay at this incredible resort, Sandals resort Montego Bay, Jamaica, Some of the sights and experiences of your stay at this incredible resort,

Sandals resort Montego Bay, Jamaica, Some of the sights and experiences of your stay at this incredible resort, Sandals resort Montego Bay, Jamaica, Some of the sights and experiences of your stay at this incredible resort,


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