All photos by Jeff Burgess
Jeff Burgess - Travel Invasion
I had never really put alot of thought into the idea of visiting Jamaica. There were so many other places that ranked higher on my mental list which needed to be explored. Places more desolate and somewhat
unknown to the masses.
But then I read about the
So what if this place had already recieved quite a bit of attention!
I stumbled across the Rockhouse while doing some research for Travel Invasion. Having recently returned from a palapa stay in Yelapa, Mexico, I think I was still suffering from Hut Fever.
Looking out from Unit #7
View from Restaurant
The more I read about the Rockhouse Hotel, the more
intriqued I became. I found
myself falling into a daydream like trance when trying to imagine what it would be like.
I knew where Travel Invasion
would be heading in the near future.
Arrangements were soon made for a four night adventure to the island of Jamaica. Limited to only a few nights, only so much could reasonably be accomplished. I decided a split vacation in Negril would be the plan. I would be cheating myself by trying to squeeze in a night in Montego Bay. It was decided that two nights would be spent at the Rockhouse Hotel with the additional two nights being in the more budget concious Blue Cave Castle. (Also reviewed)
Looking into the caves
To me the allure of Negril was not the famed seven mile beach or the hedonistic activities played out by the saggy pot bellied Americans.
What I was going for was the peace of the West End or "The Cliffs". Located southwest of the main beach is what becomes large rock formations disguising various caves, stretching along the shore for a few more miles finally coming to an end by the Lighthouse.
I would be spending my third and fourth nights at the Rockhouse with my traveling companion Jennifer. We arrived late in the morning and left our off bags before heading out in a rental car to see the island. The weather had been holding up nicely even though October is normally the rainiest month of the year, and also considering a hurricane had swept through only a few weeks before. Arriving back at the Rockhouse later in the afternoon, we were ready to see what this place had to offer. The front desk told us we would be staying in Villa #7. A young man led the way to our room and showed us in. Finally, I was here!
The Rockhouse consists of 28 rooms with approximately 1/2 of them being
octagon shaped modern huts with palm thatched roofs. Some were constructed with wood while others were made of stone. These rooms are known as the villas and typically are spread out over or near the water. The resort also offers studio and standard rooms. These rooms are located in a garden setting but appeared a bit lifeless as compared with visually appealing villas. If you come all this way, splurge for once and treat yourself like a king.
Jennifer and I dropped our bags and decided to take a walk around the property.
Stone paths led us through some very lush vegitation until we finally sensed we were nearing the pool area which I had read quite a bit about. At the pool we met up with Paul Salmon who is one of the owners of the Rockhouse. He told us the story of the grueling effort required to construct the pool on what was basically a giant formation of volcanic rock. The results are stunning. The pool is considered to be a horizon pool and is 60 feet in length. It visually appears to be hovering over the ocean in a harmonious way. Large corner stairs are perfect for just doing nothing but taking in the expansive horizon. Picture postcard perfect indeed!
Siding the swimming pool is the bar area and two fin walls which mimic the aquatic design of the bar. Sadly since the weather was starting to become questionable and also because October is traditionally the slowest month of the year, the poolside bar was closed. We decided to head back to our villa and save the pool experience for the following day which would consist basically of just us chilling around the grounds.
Scenes from the Rockhouse Pool
Walking back through the jungle paths we stopped to take a look at a few of the other villas offered. The mixture between the colored timber villas and natural stone ones seemed well thought out. The structures appear to be invited guests of the tropical landscape which forms a natural blending sensation.
Once back to our room, we had a chance to take a look at all the features offered. The interior consists of a room which is divided by a free standing wall. A ceiling fan hangs above the four-poster bed which has a sliding mosquito net. The net was attached to the bed in a way which seemed to work better at staying on, as compared with many of the mosquito nets I have experienced in the past. The furniture is basic and simple, constructed of natural polished timber. There is a CD player in the room. As you head to the bathroom, there is a small dressing area which has a closet and stocked refrigerator. Prices for the mini bar were considered to be non gouging and offered Red Stripes, Soda, Ting and bottled water. A safe is also located in this area. Into the bathroom there was a toilet and tiled sink area with tile flooring. The main area of the villa had wood flooring. I was told by Paul that the Rockhouse is in the process of updating all the villas with natural stone flooring to be added. This should be a nice addition and restore a more natural feel to the rooms. The shower is outside of the bathroom in a somewhat open air, but private area. Hot water was never a problem with decent pressure always available during our stay.
Each room comes with its own attached patio area and each of the villas appear to have some type of extra as well. Our room was located closest to a sun deck and platform which were down a flight of stairs near the water, while the stone room next to ours was situated next to a somewhat private sun deck only a few steps from their door.. My only gripe in this review is the fact that people in the room next to ours (a different couple each night) left their extremely bright porch light on all night. Here are a few reasons why you shouldn't leave your porch light on. 1. It's an open invitation for a bug invasion 2. It shines like a floodlight into other rooms 3. You are on vacation, quit being so paranoid.
There is a menu located in the room with room service available any time the restaurant is open. We had planned to eat off premises the first night, but after seeing the creative selection offered on the menu we decided to dine in.
The Rockhouse Restaurant and Bar includes a modern lounging area with some relaxing comfortable couches and chairs, as well as a hip selection of games and magazines. All the staff are very attentive and fun to talk to. Everyone we met seemed pleased to be working at the Rockhouse. Each night offers 2 for 1
happy hour drinks from 5 to 7 PM. Think about this: You are in paradise and you are even getting a bargain on a large selection of killer drinks. Does it get any better?
The bar and lounging area are covered with a thatch roof and also include a few covered tables when the weather isn't permitting. The main eating area is on a balcony suspended over the cove. A peaceful feeling creeps over your body while sitting at one of the tables observing the surrounding landscape and all the well placed lighting. I consider these rare occasions as mental health repair kits.
The Rockhouse Restaurant serves what is known as "new Jamaican cuisine". After much debate we settled on the Lobster Fuselli and Chicken Fajita platter. With both of us starving from a long exhuastive
day, we were hoping the portions wouldn't be too small. I was shocked when the food finally arrived.
Both meals were huge, and both meals delivered. The spices covering the chicken were strong but effective. The Lobster Fuselli was over the top. I couldn't have picked a tastier selection. The large chunks of lobster complimented the noodles and ground vegatables mixed in a rich creamy sauce. This was one of the finest meals I have ever sampled. Prices were extremely reasonable with most entrees running in the $13 +/- range. We were stuffed and passed on dessert that night. We would be back again!
It was now time for bed so we would be well rested for our last full day in Jamaica. The following morning I awoke and realized the weather was no longer holding up. A major storm was moving in and it was highly likely there would be little or no sun the rest of the day. We got up and drove the rental car back for drop off. We were hoping to eat breakfast
somewhere on the 7 mile strip but the rain began falling heavily so we decided to head back to the Rockhouse. The restaurant was changing over to a lunch menu by the time we got back. I was disappointed to see that I would be missing out on some banana pancakes. Our server sensing my dismay, said "no problem". A few minutes later a delicious plate of banana pancakes arrived for me, while Jennifer dined on lunch.
Let me just say this, it sucks spending your last Caribbean day under cloudy rainy skies. Photographs always seem to be short changed in these conditions. I couldn't seem to escape a storm last year in St. Martin and I wasn't too happy about what was going on today. We had planned to take a Kayak out so we could have a chance to take a few pictures from the water, and also so we could explore and photograph some nearby caves. When we finally realized that wasn't going to be happening, we needed to make the best of it. With beers in hand we headed down to the pool area to enjoy the storm while in the water. No one else was around so Jennifer and I decided to spend some juvenile time racing against each other in the pool. Exhausted, we headed to the edge to watch the waves slap up into the pool.
The fresh water has a slight salty taste from the encroaching ocean spray.
The final evening was spent at the Rockhouse Bar and continuing on to the restaurant for one last meal. Jennifer laughed and said she actually wanted the Lobster Fuselli once again and I couldn't have agreed more. This dinner was topped off with a banana flambe for dessert. It was such a relaxing way to end this Jamaican adventure. An Irish Television crew were at the resort that evening to film a dinner with Paul. I overheard the host of the show telling a friend while heading to the bathroom that the food was just delightful. Everyone seemed to be singing the praises of this fine Jamaican retreat.
The Rockhouse Hotel and all of its staff can be highly recommended.
Various Rockhouse Photos