The Villa "Bubble" Experience!
Bluefields Bay Villas, Jamaica
Villas are an extremely popular choice with built in “bubbles” and social distancing. It affords family and/or good friends to vacate in the privacy of their own space, whether connected to a resort or a stand alone.
By: Anne Heintz
Editors Note: Jamaica is one of the easiest islands for Americans to access with good nonstop options from many large city markets. Click Here to book your trip with your favorite Travel Advisor!
Quite popular with my clients are the homes or condominiums that are a part of resort complex. They come in all shapes and sizes to fit different budgetary needs. They exist in domestic ski country, wine country, and beach destinations coast to coast, Mexico and the Caribbean. Obviously with access to a longer list of activities, restaurant options and a concierge. The price point will be higher than a stand alone villa, but for some it’s the best of both worlds!
The end of October I was given a great opportunity to visit Bluefield Bay Villas, a collection of six stand-alone homes on the South Coast of Jamaica. They’re located about an hours drive from Montego Bay airport.
Sun and beach- I’m in!
Ahh,the Jamaican villa experience. Its been around much longer than the all-inclusive resort. A concept that also began on island many years ago. As a British Colony , Jamaica has been a “go to” vacation spot for Brits forever. So much so that many affluent ones embraced the laid back vibe and built homes.
Plantation style is the name of the game incorporating local stone, marble and mahogany for flooring and furniture. Wide open spaces with expansive views of the blue sky and azure sea are typical.Throw in a rum punch and strains of Bob Marley and you have a recipe for fun!
My home for four nights? Worlds away from the “package deal” places frequented by so many. You really do feel removed here. It is much easier to “let go” of stress and enjoy the moment. Let your house manager ,Carmen take over all responsibilities of the day so that you can get out and enjoy all the water toys. Or just read a book by the pool. They arrange for laundry to be done. Take orders and make suggestions incorporating the local catch of the day and fresh fruit in season. In addition you have a butler, housekeeper, chef and night watchman to carry out your every wish. Percy, our driver has been with the owners since the beginning.
Every morning before breakfast our temperatures were taken by the manager and recorded in a book that the local health authorities checked on once a week. There was a hand sanitizing station in the living room of each villa. All the staff remained masked at all times unless we asked them to take them down so that we could see their face. On the last day of our stay we did that so that we could really see who was taking such good care of us. Their eyes were expressive but the smiles, oh the smiles!
There are six villas, five of which are “socially distanced” from one another. The sixth villa, San Michele, sits two miles down the road. When all are rented the owners employ 80 people from the local community. It is a “passion project” for the owners and locals alike. They are proud of what they have and want to share their slice of heaven with their often repeat clientele...many of whom are on a list of “who’s who.”
I am staying at Mullions Cove, which is the original four bedroom villa purchased by the present owners in 1982. I am in one of the Master Suites. It has a typical four poster bed, coffered ceiling, and local antique furnishings. The dual sink bathroom opens up to what I would call an indoor/outdoor shower that has a protected zen-like relaxation area off of it. The main part of the house is open air with multi level outdoor deck space and pool. You find the ocean below down a stone path…
Each of the villas has a personality of its own. Some are set a bit closer to the water allowing you to hear the surf while sitting at your pool or in your bed. Others are set up a bit higher. There is a small crescent beach that can be found by taking a path from any of the villas. That is where you will find the paddle boards, sea kayaks, and glass bottom boat used for snorkeling adventures or sunset cruises. They even have an “island style” walk-up bar that offers rum drinks, beer, water and sodas.
Also important to note is that one villa has an outdoor gazebo on the water and another a small island! They are a perfect spot for cocktails, appetizers and watching the sunset. We were actually treated to two in particular that were extremely memorable. One of which included the famous “green flash” which of course I blinked and missed!
These plantation-style homes are filled with many local antiques and bric a brac from around the world. Every piece has a story behind it and if lucky enough to spend time with the owner you can hear some of his fascinating tales!
This experience is far from the maddening crowd of a high rise resort! The food is “farm to table.” We even got to visit Bluefield’s Organic Farm which sits not too far from the villas themselves. It was born in 2013 and now is home to over 50 types of fruits. They also grow many spices including the indigenous allspice.
Thanks to the farm, with a little help from the sea, we are treated daily to an amazing Jamaican fusion cuisine. Our house manager offers up menu suggestions but is happy to accommodate dietary needs and variations to what they source locally. Calaloo omelette, with fresh mixed fruit of pineapple, watermelon, papaya, and sweet bananas. That was breakfast my first morning.
Because we were guests of the owners we were treated to lovely lunches and dinners at both Mullion Cove and Hermitage, the villa that the owners live in when not rented. Soups such as pumpkin, lobster bisque and cold cucumber were all made from scratch. Fresh vegetables be it Cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, peppers, bok-choy to name a few. There is always a fish option which lured in from the ocean every morning as well as a shellfish, meat or chicken option.
One of the highlights is Jerk Chicken James’lunch. He is the retired gardner that will come back on request. He first marinates the chicken overnight with local spices. The next day he grills it and voila. It is so tender it falls off the bone! I do love an occasional sweet and probably the molten chocolate lava cake with homemade ice cream was my personal favorite.
Are you ready for a getaway? You can take work and school with you if you have to. There was a young family from Silicon Valley there enjoying one of the two bedrooms for a month.
In any event the slow pace, beautiful vistas, salt air, fresh food and wide open spaces is extremely curative! If a hotel is not for you as of yet, a villa option may be just what the doctor ordered! Just let me know your particular requirements and we can start planning and dreaming together!
**Anne Heintz is an independent travel advisor based in Washington, DC who always has her bag packed. She loves the fact that the journey creates memories and connections for her clients. She is affiliated with Worldwide Travel Associates in DC and Tzell Travel in NYC. She is the co-founder & namesake of TravelAnne.com. Anne can be reached at Anne@TravelAnne.com.