A Different View
As much as I love starting off my Jamaica trips with family, it is nice to escape to a different environment every so often. Staying at a hotel allows me to have a little more freedom (especially since my Nan seems sceptical of most taxis) and I now want to discover the eclectic gems of the island, instead of just all-inclusive resorts. My last visit confirmed that for me and whilst it can be convenient to have everything you need in one place, I know that I need to rebel every so often and be able to explore the vicinity.
The Hotel Mockingbird Hill allows you to have the best of both worlds. You can stay amongst the wildlife at the hilltop property spanning seven acres or escape to Frenchman’s Cove beach nearby. I was also touched by the story of friends and owners Barbara and Shireen, who hail from Jamaica and India respectively. Their parents forced them to be childhood penpals but they eventually became friends for real after living in Germany for twenty years and becoming passionate about environmental issues.
The hotel is their way of implementing what they believe in, a small sustainable business venture that promotes cultural understanding. I was fascinated by the 38 page Information booklet they leave in the room, explaining everything from the perils of robot taxis to the history of jerk seasoning. I know Lucy was shocked at the lack of recycling in Jamaica. Most of the time you’ll automatically be given two plastic bags in the supermarket and plastic cutlery in the jerk centres. The hotel do their bit by keeping plastics minimal (water is left in thermos flasks and topped up daily) and using locally produced food/toiletries.
You can also tell how passionate the owners are once you meet them. They’re pretty hands on and willing to chat (Shireen bakes most of the cakes herself) and it really made me consider the effects of tourism in Jamaica. The hotel will gladly recommend local restaurants and services, in order to help benefit the community.
Swimsuit – Peak & Beau, Shorts – Monki
I was given a complimentary room with breakfast courtesy of i-escape but all opinions are my own. We paid for additional meals and transport.
Things To Note
Each of the ten rooms has been designed to work with the environment, so the window shutters allow air to flow freely and there’s a canopy-style mosquito net. One thing to note is that a few bugs may gatecrash the room, since the windows can either be open and let light in, or closed keeping the room dark. I’ve been to Jamaica a few times, so although it’s slightly less shocking to see a gecko scuttling past, it’s still surreal that this is the norm. The gardens are also worth exploring with over 40 species of birds to spot and frogs chilling in the main pond.
We went all out for our first dinner at their restaurant Mille Fleurs, three courses consisting of a beetroot salad, lobster curry and a selection of tiny desserts. It has plenty of accolades and is worth a visit for the sunset views and seasonal produce, even if you’re not staying at the hotel. Their breakfasts also introduced us to the joys of coconut bread with pineapple jam and chocolate tea. Just imagine a spicy hot chocolate crossed with a chai latte and you’ll know why I’m now obsessed.
If you’re looking to explore locally, then I would be strategic about your taxi journeys especially if you’re used to public transport prices. The fare to Port Antonio costs $15 each way, so it may be best to stick to one area per day rather than going from place to place. Fortunately the hotel offers a free taxi to and from Frenchman’s Cove beach plus free entry (you may also be able to negotiate being dropped off at the nearby village along the way). Otherwise the walk out of the hotel is downhill and takes around twenty minutes.
I’ll have a more in depth post about Port Antonio soon but in short, it’s a great place to get an authentic taste of Jamaica. Even though it’s the rainiest part of the island, there’s still a lot to appreciate (the smell beats any English downpour and needs to be a Jo Malone fragrance) and I’d love to see more of the area. Perhaps I can perfect my driving skills over the next few years and find the secret waterfalls everyone raves about?
Have you seen my YouTube videos from Jamaica?