Travel Spotlight: Port Antonio, Jamaica

According to legend, Hollywood heartthrob Errol Flynn fell madly in love with Port Antonio in 1946, when his yacht “Zaca” got caught up in a storm and the actor came ashore. Those were the area’s glory days, when Flynn declared Port Antonio is more beautiful than any woman he had ever seen, and transformed the sleepy town into a luxury destination. Today, this “other side of Jamaica” is becoming a hip destination spot again, where visitors experience an authentic vibe amidst the island’s breathtaking nature.

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Opening this spring, Trident Castle and Trident Hotel are the newest luxury properties by The Geejam Collection - owned by music producers Jon Baker and Steve Beaver.

Trident Castle

The former private home, available for both individual bookings and exclusive hire, incorporates 9 large guestrooms in its 4 wings, including 1 capacious Master Bedroom with its own patio and incredible sea views. Guests dine in the Castle’s gorgeous dining room and enjoy refreshing drinks at the outdoor lounge, poolside, or anywhere else on the property through Trident Castle’s drinks service. If guests wish to relax in the shade, the property has a Library, TV room, and a study. And for indoor activity seekers, the Castle has a fitness area and a game room.

Trident Hotel

The waterfront property has 13 one-and two-bedroom large villas and 1 VIP Guest Suite. All villas include a living room, music systems, a steam room in the bathroom, and a private outdoor bathtub with sea views. The Trident Hotel also has an infinity swimming pool with 10 private cabanas, a private club with screening room, a study, indoor and outdoor dining/lounge areas, a fitness room, two indoor bars, and its own private beach with a bar. All the essentials for a laid-back luxury escape.

-MARIA DELIS

Big names like Ralph Lauren and Stella McCartney have gotten a lot of press for their Olympics 2012 designs, but what about the others? Check out the story behind one of my favorite olympics designers, Cedella Marley, here.

Terral

PS- Happy Independence Day to Jamaica. Celebrating 50 years!

Super Bowl XLVI in Jamaica with the Ultimate Tailgate Beach Party

Will you party like a Giant or party like a Patriot? 
Hmm, now, this is what we call Fantasy Football! Ditch the mobbed tailgate at this year’s Super Bowl XLVI for a tailgate party on the white-sand beaches of Ocho Rios, Jamaica at Jewel Dunn’s River Beach Resort & Spa, where fans will enjoy the game from the comfort of the resort’s plush couches and loungers, each with equal viewing access to 10 beach-ready big screens. Jewel’s staff will be sure to represent each team with flying colors! And, just in case the beach hits a chilly “78 degrees,” the resort will have a bonfire to keep everyone comfy throughout the game.


Trucks, cars and buses will be filled with food representing the cities of the two teams: think New England clam chowder for the Patriots or New York-style pizza for the Giants! Of course, classic football game favorites such chili, burgers, wings and hot dogs will all be available along with a fully-stocked bar and beer truck. And, don’t forget, victory cigars are a must for after the game!

And, for the ladies not aiming for the end zone, they will find refuge from Super Bowl Sunday by indulging in a special beachfront spa sessions, or at the hotel gift shop, which will also be set up on the beach.

 


Jewel will also sponsor exciting activities such as raffles and giveaways with unique sports souvenirs. Photo-ops will also be available for sending pictures to adoring fans back home. The resort even has craft venders who will paint guest’s favorite team on coconut footballs, tailor made for throwing at the other fans in frustration – just kidding! But, that’s not all Jewel has in store, book online today to find our what other surprises will be revealed at the most luxurious tailgate in football history. Regardless of whether your team wins or loses, a stay at Jewel Dunn’s River Beach Resort & Spa is a touchdown!

Do Not Disturb: Seven Sultry Spots Guaranteed to Spice Up Your Valentine’s Day

Since chocolates melt and roses wither, treat your Valentine to something truly unforgettable. With February right around the corner, we’ve rounded up some of Cupid’s most targeted—and desirable—destinations, with savings that will leave you starry-eyed! These exotic locations will help you spark that flame into a passionate fire (or make it burn even brighter!). Choose from seven top hotspots and let Cupid’s arrow strike again!

Jewel Dunn’s River Beach Resort & Spa, Ochos Rios, Jamaica 

Is This Love That I’m Feeling?
Where better to pop that proposal than at The Jewel in Ocho Rios, Jamaica? Let this adult-only, all-inclusive resort help pop the question in the most beautiful place on earth, a stone’s throw away from Dunn’s River Falls. Pop a bottle of sparkling champagne on the evening of your arrival out on your balcony with a warm breeze facing a beautiful Jamaican scenery. Pop down to your choice of several locations by the gorgeous Caribbean Sea for a private candlelit dinner for two. Then, let a team of entertainers and staff pop out as a flash mob in a rendition of Bob Marley’s “Is this love that I’m feeling”. The team will cue you in during the flash mob to pop that question…And, it doesn’t stop there! The Jewel will provide a souvenir DVD of your proposal to pop it into your computer and have your friends and family witness the love that you’re feeling. www.jeweldunnsriverresort.com
CasaSandra, Isla Holbox, Mexico
Have a sweet loversation at CasaSandra…
A true reflection of the arts, this 20-room beachfront retreat is brimming with exquisite details and original works of owner Sandra Perez, screenwriter, poet and full-time artist. So, this Valentine’s day, serenade your lover with an intimate poem (hotel provided!) in one of CasaSandra’s lavish ocean-view suites. Return to your suite from a day on Holbox’s white-sand beaches to discover a bathtub filled with rose petals, surrounded by burning tea lights. Other in-suite surprises include a special breakfast in bed, a complimentary bottle of Moet Rose Champagne and a romantic dinner for two in the privacy of your room or a torchlit beach setup under the stars. Top off this romantic experience with special Reiki couples therapy session. www.casasandra.com 
Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman
An Arabian Romance Package
Sequester your loved one between the Hajar Mountains and Bay of Oman on an intimate vacation. With inclusions such as paraglides, sunset cruises, in-villa BBQ’s, and spa treatments such as the Couple’s Spa Journeys, Six Senses Zighy Bay is the perfect place to escape for adventuresome lovers. Can’t make it in time for Valentine’s Day? This sultry package is available through May, 2012. www.sixsenses.com

Pink Sands, Harbour Island, The Bahamas 
You had me at Pink Sands…
Soft, sensual, passionate, and also the location of a pink swath of sand on a legendary beach so genuinely romantic it will take your breath away.  This February, indulge your lover with a 5-day Romantic Getaway Package at the Pink Sands Resort on Harbour Island in The Bahamas. Get cozy with your honey in one of the resort’s one-bedroom cottages nestled in lush gardens, steps away from dreamy, hand-in-hand trysts on the three-mile rosy sand beach. Prepare to be treated like royalty with Champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries upon arrival, a nightly treat of chocolate truffles, two on-hour massages, and a private dinner for two in the Garden Terrace restaurant or on the couple’s cottage deck. www.pinksandsresort.com

Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino, Sint Maarten
Island romance… A romantic retreat for two
There’s a reason the island of Sint Maarten was recently ranked #5  among “Top 25 Destinations in the Caribbean & Mexico “ by TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards 2011. We like to call it… Romance. Rekindle the passion in your life at the newly-renovated Sonesta Maho Beach with its delightfully dreamy Just for Two romance package. The Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino has put together a perfect weekend getaway package inclusive of a four-course private dinner, a bottle of Champagne and fresh strawberries upon arrival and a 10% discount on treatments at the Maho Serenity Spa. www.sonesta.com/mahobeach


Hotel CINCO, Punta Mita, Mexico 
Pure Passion on the Pacific 
From February 2-16, Hotel Cinco will offer a romantic retreat for couples just in time for Valentine’s Day! Set on the picturesque Pacific Coastline of Punta Mita, Mexico, the package includes a complimentary SUP session (that’s stand-up paddle boarding for those not in the know) with Oso Negro at the hotel’s Gerry Lopez AquaCenter. After their aquatic adventure, guests are free to indulge in the spa’s Salty & Sublime SUP Scrub and Rub, a 60-minute re-energizing massage treatment used with organic, raw agave to moisturize the skin, bringing it back to it supple state of being. Dining is available at the Café des Artistes del Mar, owned and operated by the award-winning and internationally recognized chef, Thierry Blouet, or guests can wind down with cold cervezas or organic-cocktails at CINCO’s Barefoot Bar, heaven-made for watching the sunset or counting stars. www.cincopuntamita.com


Parador Resort & Spa, Costa Rica 
A Honeymoon Extension… ¡Gratis!
Costa Rica’s Parador Resort & Spa knows that newlyweds don’t want the honeymoon to end, so to help newly minted couples celebrate their love in style, this Costa Rican gem has put together a honeymoon package with a truly fabulous extra: the fourth night is free- just so they have a little extra time to take in breathtaking views from ocean view suite. Come celebrate loving la pura vida with the Just You and Me honeymoon package at this award-winning eco-resort, where couples will indulge in daily buffet breakfast, private gourmet dinner, couples massage at Pacifica Spa, herbal steam, welcome gifts and more. www.hotelparador.com


Villas Unplugged

No crowded pools. No long buffet lines. No surprise accommodations. Need any more reasons to spend a summer holiday with family and friends in a private, tucked away villa? Whether it’s celebrating a reunion or just a desire to bond with loved ones, homes away from home are becoming the ideal choices when planning group vacations, especially considering the high personalized service guests receive in addition to great value.  Below are 5 AMPR-handpicked save or splurge secluded coves:  

1. Haiku House, Saba, Dutch West Indies: Located on its own private hilltop just up the road from Queen’s Gardens Resor, this luxury mountain hideaway is inspired by a 16th century Japanese villa. A feast for all the senses, this private three-bedroom, three-bathroom house includes a private swimming pool, Jacuzzi and stunning views of the Caribbean Sea. Rates start at $695 per night. Minimum three nights stay.

2. Villas Sur Mer in Negril, Jamaica: the sounds of steel drums mixed with crashing waves are rhythmic at the stunning Seaside Villa. Dubbed as the “gem of Jamaica,” the 6-bedroom/bathroom Seaside Villa, overlooking the cliffs of Negril, offers plenty of room for a family reunion or getaway with friends. With a spacious kitchen (private chef available), swimming pool and hot tub overlooking the beautiful beaches of Negril, this villa also plays host to intimate weddings. Rates start at $1,600 nightly or $11,200 weekly now through December 5. Minimum three nights stay.

3. La Mer Azure (Pink Sands Estates), Harbour Island, The Bahamas: The iconic haven Pink Sands Resort recently launched a series of private homes for even more privacy. One of two ready for vacation rental, La Mer Azure is a stunning two story, three-bedroom house with jaw-dropping views of the ocean and bay. Designed as an inspiration to the historic part of Dunmore town, La Mer Azure still possesses all the modern amenities perfect for large families and milestone events. Pink Sands Estates guests have access to the legendary three-mile pink sand beach, the resort’s restaurants and bars, tennis courts and more. Private butler and golf cart included in each estate. Rates start at $1,900 a night or $11,305 a week during low season. Ask about the Banyan Tree home too.

4. Casa Azul, Trancoso, Brazil: Set right on the water at Praia dos Nativos, this stunning and modern-styled house is ideal for large families or friendly reunions. A mixture of sophistication meets authentic Brazilian flavor, this house is unpretentious and perfectly in keeping with its surroundings. Tucked privately in nature yet steps away from the tropical Brazilian beaches, Casa Azul welcomes up to 12 people (two bedrooms are spread out in the main house and three stand-alone, private bungalows). Daily maid service is included and for a small fee a local chef cooks up fresh, delicious and traditional Brazilian cuisine.  Weekly rates start at $14,500 now through December 15.  


5. Villa Cap au Vent, Pointe Milou, St Barths:  Perched high on the cliffs of Pointe-Milou, this villa offers some of the best views of the ocean in all of St. Barths which can be seen from each of the four bedrooms. Here, idyllic settings are made perfect for the bons vivants with a swimming pool overlooking the ocean below, a lounge area for private relaxation, and a brand new fully equipped kitchen with open terrace for decadent celebrations.  Resident housekeeper also available. Rates start at $17,900 for four bedrooms now until December 14. Minimum seven nights stay.

AMPR’S ‘HIGH FIVE’ IN TRIPADVISOR AWARDS

Our fave 5 of the Top 25 Caribbean & Mexico destinations from TripAdvisor’s 2011 Traveler’s Choice Awards. 

St. Maarten: Explore the cultural diversity of this half-Dutch, half-French Island at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino, the island’s nightlife hub and Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort & Casino, a white-sand oasis in Great Bay Harbor. Great Bay, St.Maarten.

Negril, Jamaica: Offers travelers beautiful sun-soaked beaches and the serene Villas Sur Mer located atop the cliffs of Negril’s West End. Known as the “gem of Jamaica,” Villas Sur Mer’s stylish villas provide a peaceful getaway from the crowded touristy beaches.Villas Sur Mer, Negril, Jamaica.

Ocho Rios Jamaica: Rain Forest Adventures Mystic Mountain pays homage to the sporting spirit of Jamaican athletes, including the bobsled team of “Cool Runnings” fame. Climb the lush mountain peak with a ride up the SkyExplorer chairlift, and then zoom down the Rainforest Bobsled Jamaica, Lighthouse Waterslide or zip line course.Rainforest Adventures Mystic Mountain.  

The Bahamas: This may be the quintessential vacation spot of the Caribbean, but Pink Sands Resort on Harbour Island is anything but typical. Steps away from the world famous Pink Sand Beach, this resort invites guests to relax and experience the calming sounds of the ocean in their rooms looking out to the beaches. Guests can enjoy fine local cuisine and a stunningly chic design by Biba founder Barbara Hulanicki.Pink Sands Beach, Harbour Island. Pink Sands Resort, Harbour Island. 

Antigua & Barbuda: The sweetest escape in Antigua is Sugar Ridge hotel. Perched above the west coast amidst a hill of namesake sugar cane, Sugar Ridge offers the island’s most stunning panoramic views from rooms that wrap around the building. Don’t miss Carmichael’s fine dining restaurant and its Aveda Concept Spa. Sugar Ridge Resort, Antigua.