Blue Ridge Restaurant & Cottages offers two cottages on a bed & breakfast basis. Peacock Cottage (US$110) sleeps two with king bed, private bath with hot water and a private balcony. Butterfly Cottage (US$125) sleeps four with a king bed and a sofa bed in the living room. It too has a private bathroom with hot water and a balcony. Soap, shampoo and moisturizer are provided. The cottages are perched on a steep hillside below the restaurant deck surrounded by coffee and fruit trees.
The Blue Mountains
The highest mountain range in Jamaica, the Blue Mountains harbor a rich history, having provided refuge for runaway slaves, transplanted French-Haitian coffee farmers, and even Bob Marley, when he sought safety and seclusion at Strawberry Hill following the attempt on his life in 1976. Today the area attracts visitors principally for its lush nature, colorful birdlife, delicious coffee, and fresh air.
Blue Mountain Peak, the highest point in Jamaica at 2,256 meters, offers a stunning view of five parishes: Kingston, St. Andrew, St. Thomas, Portland, and St. Mary. The Blue Mountain range forms a physical barrier to the northeasterly weather fronts that frequently descend on the island, giving Portland and St. Thomas especially copious amounts of rainfall compared to the southern coastal plains of Jamaica, where drought is common.
During the rainy season (October and November), the mountain peaks often cloud over by mid-morning. Skies are clearest June–August and December–March.
Within an hour's drive from Kingston, Irish Town, Hardwar Gap, and Mavis Bank are great destinations for a quick escape from the urban jungle. This is where rural Jamaica is at its coolest. The elevation and lush greenery are a welcome retreat from the heat on the plains and foothills around Town. The road up and the rugged terrain are not for the faint of heart, but the prized Blue Mountain coffee, breathtaking views, diverse vegetation, and abundance of native birds are more than adequate rewards, and few are sorry for making the effort.
Prince Valley Guesthouse (US$35-40 per person night) is located on a small coffee farm in Middleton Settlement in the Blue Mountains. The property is managed by Bobby Williams and has five guest rooms, each with its own bathroom. Linens and towels are provided. A basic breakfast of coffee and toast is included. Dinner is available at US$12 per person. A common room has a refrigerator, books, couch, work table and Wi-Fi. The lodging is ideal for backpackers.
Coolshade (USD 250 for up to six guests in three bedrooms, USD 350 for eight guests in four bedrooms) is a charming, quaint English countryside-style B&B in the misty cloud forest across the B1 from the Twyman's Old Tavern Coffee Estate and a short walk from Holywell National Park. This is an ideal spot for a romantic getaway or for groups of family and friends.
Serendipity Holistic Resort (US$125-659) is a collection of six one-bedroom cabins, five of them double occupancy, and one that can hold up to four on two king beds or a king and two singles. The cabins all have private bathrooms with showers, cable TV and Wi-Fi covers the whole property; one cabin has a kitchenette. The main house, Rock Stone, has a master bedroom with a king and a second bedroom that holds queen or two singles. Both rooms in the Rock have private bathrooms with shower tubs.
Experience the Blue Mountains in style with direct views of the tallest peaks
Forres Park Guest House and Spa (US$75-220) is the best option for bird-watchers and hikers, especially for groups looking to stay in the immediate vicinity of Mavis Bank. A two-story main house and four cabins are surrounded by a small coffee farm that attracts many endemic and migratory bird species. The large veranda is a great vantage point, as all three of Jamaica’s hummingbirds--vervain, Jamaica mango, and streamertail--frequent the bushes all around the chalet-style main house.
Portland Gap has six wooden cabins, lead-tos and camp sites. One cabin one has six bunks sleeping 12, at US$27/night; the second cabin has nine bunks, sleeping 18, for US$40/night; Cabins 3-6 are unenclosed with no beds but space for up to 15 people to on the floor. Foam sleeping mats can be rented for US$1 per night, but hikers should carry their own sleeping bags. Pit toilets and fire pits are available. A US$1 user fee is assessed at the ranger station or when booking the cabins.
Strawberry Hill is a sophisticated mountain hideout where the upper crust are compelled to feel hip again
Quite possibly the most cozy and inviting abode in the Blue Mountains
Strawberry Hill was once the site of a British naval hospital and remains a place where people seek health and refuge from the heat and dusty air on the plains below. Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records and Bob Marley’s first international producer, bought the property in 1972. Shortly thereafter, Marley took a retreat here after an attempt on his life during a spell of particularly heated political violence in 1976. Strawberry Hill is the highest of St. Andrew’s limited high-end market, both in ambience and elevation (945 meters).
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