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Help choosing b/t 3 Jamaican Villas!

Old Jun 18th, 2007, 05:50 AM
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Help choosing b/t 3 Jamaican Villas!

The fam and I are planning our first trip to Jamaica for Nov '07 (maybe Thanksgiving). Am traveling w/hubby & two boys, 10 and 2. Started with AI, found FDR (love nanny option!), but wanted real beach, ambiance, etc. Scratched FDR, narrowed list to 3 choices of villas w/staff, 2 in Mo-Bay, one at Bluefields. Have searched for reviews w/no luck (except Bluefields, but nothing specific to Mullion Cove property).

Thoughts or recommendations from folks familiar w/these properties or villa renting generally would help. Found other postings on site helpful too. Plan to hire nanny and driver. Will make reservations w/in the week. Also, how is Thanksgiving in Jamaica? Many thanks.

Mo-Bay:
The Wharf House
(charming, small beach, but not sure if appropriate for little one)
Calypso Shores
(in a neighborhood, beach front on bay)

Bluefields:
Mullion Cove
(pricey, seems isolated, a bit formal looking, love that rental includes nanny, driver, cook, food, etc).



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Old Jun 18th, 2007, 08:51 AM
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If memory serves right, Wharf House is the former Norma's and before that the estate of Standard Oil heiress Millicent Rogers. It's an older villa with good siting on MoBay's Marine Park for snorkelling, but the beaches in this area, like that of Round Hill, are on the thin side.

Don't know Calypso Shores.

The villas at Bluefields (choose Hermitage, the best, or San Michele over Mullion Cove itself which is larger and older) are in country Jamaica but just 1 hour equidistant from MoBay and Negril. A path from the villas runs down to Bluefields Beach which is public. The style here is posh
but laid-back and there are more diversions (Black River crocodile cruises, YS Falls, Pelican Bar, private orchid growers, Mayfield Falls,etc.) to
explore in the countryside. Airport drivers and nannies available. Talk to Debbie Montcure, the owner, directly...
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Old Jun 18th, 2007, 09:00 AM
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Wharf House is owned by Suzanne Slessin and her husband, she of CARIBBEAN STYLE book fame.

If Calypso Shores is on the bay, swimming can be choppy and beaches scanty on sand.

MoBay is a city -- and most villas are outside in on the water, with the best on the mountainside with beach privileges at Round Hill.

Would recommend South Coast and
Bluefields, even if pricier, for a more
'authentic' first-time island experience, without isolation.
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Old Jun 19th, 2007, 07:08 AM
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Hi. Thanks for the background, especially about Bluefields. I have communicated with Debbie by email and that's been very helpful. I know there are two schools of thought about visiting Jamaica (the tourist appr and the 'authentic' appr) and most people rarely see beyond the touristy stuff. We're leaning more toward staying close to airport this trip b/c of the kids and not wanting to add another 2 hours commuting (wch makes us touristy, I know). Bluefields is beautiful with apparently much more to do than I thought. We'll see... Thanks for the insight.

If anyone knows Calypso Shores, I'd appreciate some info.

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Old Jun 19th, 2007, 07:31 AM
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We're leaning more toward staying close to airport this trip b/c of the kids and not wanting to add another 2 hours commuting (wch makes us touristy, I know).

Not sure what your price range is but have you considered the villas at Tryall? Tryall has villas on the beach and they are located about 1/2 hour outside of Montego Bay. Not sure about the amenities though.
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Old Jun 19th, 2007, 10:01 AM
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I agree with JAGIRL that Tryall might be just what you're looking for.

There are wonderful villas a distance away from MBJ, but I understand your travel concerns.

Take a look at jamaicavillas.com by Linda Smith. She represents properties at Tryall as well as many with access to Round Hill.

She's a class act and I have never been disappointed in any of her properties.

Marion

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Old Jun 19th, 2007, 10:06 PM
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I'm glad to see the kudos for the Linda Smith group. I'm working with Cynthia from her office on the Montego Bay properties. (She's really knowledgeable btw). I thought about Round Hill and Tryall but was trying to avoid the AI resorts all together. Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought that there'd be so many people at a resort, lines, etc and the reviews on Tripadvisor were mixed about food and accommodations. We have a moderate budget, nothing grand but not exactly pennies. Adding a fulltime driver and nanny adds another $1500 or so (w/tips) to the bottomline. (This is a splurge, but the driver can be a tour guide and I hear that driving could be pretty scary). The Wharf House has a limited membership in Roundhill (I think). Maybe I'll look at both resorts again, but Calypso Shores (on Smith's website) is really nice. The problem is it's in a gated community (don't know which) and I don't have a clue to what it's really like.
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Old Jun 19th, 2007, 10:17 PM
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I'd also love to hear more tips about villa rentals, e.g., should I pay in advance for groceries/tips or tip based on the quality of service after we get there. Should I rent a car or hire a driver? Since Calypso House (if we stay there) is not attached to a resort, we'd need to arrange snorkeling, horseback riding, etc independently, any suggestions?
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Old Jun 20th, 2007, 04:06 AM
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Consider the 1 hour's ride away from
MoBay to the South Coast an education
in itself as you'll go thru citrus, dairy and sugarcane country in the mountains down to the plateau below.
It's not an onerous journey/lol. Gated
community holidays on island tend to feel considerably more 'Americanized'.
Take tripadvisor reviews with a big grain of salt since many come from the
'awesome bubba mug tribe'. Lines won't be a problem at Tryall or Round Hill but you will feel like you're in an elite white resort. Policies on food/drink pre-orders or on island orders, tips, transport, touring, nannies, etc. vary per property and per agent (a key factor) and you'll find costs higher on North than on South coast. Figure a minimum 15% of villa rental rate, before the 8.25% GCT/Jamiacan tax if charged, as the basic staff tip, with generally your
cook getting at least 50%, with addtiional tips depending on services
provided and the bond you may strike
up with individiual staff members.
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Old Jun 20th, 2007, 04:45 AM
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What Tiverton failed to mention is that he represents some wonderful villas a little "off the beaten track" He is also a class act;-) and takes extraordinary care of his clients !

Please take the time to look at www.jamaicaescapes.com.

Marion
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