Jamaica: The Ritz-Carlton Golf and Spa Resort, Rose Hall, Montego Bay
When it comes to island paradise, where finer a destination than Jamaica? Featuring warm tropical breezes, clear blue water, white sand and reggae beats, there’s no better place to forget about your worries and relax than surrounded by the easy hospitality of the Jamaican people.
Spa culture in Jamaica is shaped by treatments that incorporate some of the best of Jamaica’s natural bounty. Coffee and sugar are two of the most popular ingredients used in scrubs and massage. But Jamaican spas also draw on island inspired essential oil blends,fresh coconut, seaweed and native herbs like Jamaican basil. Yoga classes are offered at most spas with expert teachers providing quality instruction.
What's on offer?
The Ritz-Carlton Resort in Rose Hall has a full-service spa featuring a classic Jamaican-style experience, heightened by the expertise and sophistication that the Ritz is known for. Upon entering the elegant reception area, just off the main lobby of the hotel, guests are guided to the spa lounge and provided with robes, slippers and offered a refreshing drink. Wet and dry saunas, a cold water plunge and luxurious showers are just a few of the amenities available in the spa lounge. The nearby fitness centre and salon are available to spa guests and yoga classes are also offered daily, either outside on the beach or on one of the Ritz’s patio areas.
Before my spa visit, I made a quick trip down to the beach to get a little sun in. Though crowded, there were plenty of loungers available near the water. I chose to forego the offers of help from the many beach attendants and just set my own lounger up, but noticed a nearby wedding party getting their towels fluffed and loungers carried to just the right spot.
Small catamaran rides and swimming were just two of the activities that seemed popular on the beach, with most guests choosing the sun bathing option rather than more active pursuits.
What were the treatments like?
Getting away from the crowds at the beach, I was happy to enter the quiet calm of the nearby spa, located in the main building of the hotel. I was booked to receive a Jamaican Coffee Body Scrub and after being greeted I was whisked away by a very friendly spa attendant, provided with robe, slippers and a locker and given a tour of the facilities. Old-world elegance is the overriding aesthetic of the Ritz and this carries through to the spa. The lounge area features several couches, a wide selection of current magazines and tea and lemon water.
I was just expecting a simple scrub with coffee and maybe a bath, as the menu description of the treatment was not very detailed. I was not fully prepared for the body extravaganza that followed. My very warm and gracious therapist Andrea first led me into the spa’s steam room to sit for about five minutes. Andrea then took me to the treatment room, where she applied the yummy smelling coffee/sugar scrub. I knew immediately I was in good hands, because Andrea had a firm but nurturing touch and carefully applied the scrub to every part of my body. She then gently guided me into a waiting bathtub to soak and wash away the scrub. One of the best parts of this treatment was thefresh coconut she handed me to sip on while in the bath.
The combination of cold coconut water and the heat of the tub was perfect, but the massage she gave me after I got back on the table was even better. Using a lovely cream from Eminence, an organic skin care company from Hungary, she gave me a full-body massage. Often, with these multiple part treatments, the massage feels a bit rushed and seems to cut corners. In contrast, Andrea really made me feel like we had all the time in the world and thoroughly massaged many tight corners of my body that were still holding out even after the relaxing efforts of the treatment.
Booked into a sumptuous Ritz suite, I found the décor a bit outdated; a tropical, colonial style, with large marble-floored bathrooms and island-themed art. On the upside, my patio opened up to a view of the nearby beach and I was within yards of the enormous swimming pool and “Mangoes” restaurant.
The Ritz caters to business travellers and families, and plenty of both were much in evidence throughout the property.
After my treatment I had lunch on the patio of Mangoes restaurant. The fish sandwich I ordered was so-so, but after remarking on how much I loved the coconut water during my treatment, I was brought another fresh one to enjoy.
Later that evening I enjoyed a five-course meal at the upscale White Witch restaurant overlooking the golf courses. Curried lobster, freshly made ravioli and a decadent chocolate dessert were just a few of the highlights on the menu. A Jerk barbecue centre nearby adds to the variety of food options available.
Who would like it?
Honeymooners and brides-to-be: The Ritz offers full-service wedding planning, catering, etc.
Families: The Ritz has an incredible children’s programme, featuring games, activities and classes. Events include a pirate’s night, pajama party, wild card party and a movie night. A whole food menu has also been designed specifically for kids.
Golf fans: Try 600 acres of rolling courses on for size. Apparently golfers flock to the Ritz Montego Bay for golfing vacations. Golf widows will find the spa welcome compensation.