Sea Spa: Water music at the Jamaica Inn
by Emma Bamford
Make some time for yourself this Caribbean season. If you're heading to Jamaica on your luxury yacht, stop at the Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, for a luxurious Back to Basics treatment listening to nothing but the sound of the waves nearby...
Why the hype?
Jamaica Inn has been a favourite of the elite, from world leaders and Hollywood A-listers to royalty and billionaires, since Jamaica first began to make a name for itself as a travel destination some 60 years ago. Winston Churchill used to stay here and work on his seascape paintings in the White Suite’s extensive grounds, easel perched on his own private bluff; Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller honeymooned here in 1957.
Yet despite the rarefied guest list, the atmosphere remains casual and relaxed – easy when it’s little more than a few steps from the restaurant to the beach to the deliciously warm waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Find the spa by following the discreet hand-painted signs that direct you through the hotel’s beautifully manicured grounds, past ripe ackee and avocado dangling from tall trees, and butterflies and tiny bananaquit birds fluttering from ginger lily plants to tropical hibiscus.
With all of the open air treatment rooms right on the water’s edge, and a blend of Caribbean and Indonesian style in the décor – think sun-bleached stones, dark woods that run smooth under bare feet and crisp white linens – it is easy to see how this was voted the best hotel spa in the Caribbean, Bahamas and Bermuda in 2016 at the World Spa Awards. One of the treatment rooms is even nestled high up in a tree.
What to have?
The 30-minute Back to Basics massage is anything but basic. Focusing on releasing tension held in the back and shoulders, it starts with a foot and leg massage to relax you before the therapist gets to work on shoulder knots.
Oils are unscented and there is no twinkly spa music playing – in fact, nothing to distract you from the sound of the waves gently breaking right below you. “Close your eyes, breathe deeply and do nothing, don’t even help me with any lifting,” the therapists instructs. “Just listen to the ocean.” Before you know it, you’re breathing in sync with nature.
Where to chill?
Afterwards, enjoy a planter’s punch or a chilled glass of pinot grigio on the hotel’s terrace overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, or take shade under a palm leaf umbrella on a sun lounger on the creamy coloured beach, one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. The hotel’s resident black Labrador, Shadow, might well wander over to say hello.
Best by boat
Moor at Ocho Rios Pier 4.3km away and take a private car the short distance to the spa.