Jamaica’s 7 best boutique all-inclusive resorts
Your vacation needs are simple: You want to relax and swim in Jamaica’s teal waters, but you don’t want to share the beach or pool with college kids sporting all-you-can-drink wristbands. You’re down to pay a flat rate up-front (who wants to waste precious vacation time logging every travel expense?) but the thought of staying at a stereotypical Jamaica all-inclusive, where the vibe ranges from boisterous to nonstop party, gives you pause.
To the rescue: these seven boutique-style all-inclusives in Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. In stark contrast to neighboring all-inclusives and megaresorts, these upscale beachfront properties are quiet, intimate and relaxed — no pool parties, no rum-fueled ruckus, no R-rated antics. Take a look at the best boutique all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica.
Tucked into the beautiful cliffs of Negril, the SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel is a stylish and intimate all-inclusive with an adults-only policy that ensures utter tranquility. All 18 rooms are two-story stone cottages with large bathrooms and private porches (some have rooftops as well) overlooking the ocean or garden grounds. Mini-fridges are stocked daily with selections guests make at check-in, Wi-Fi is free and you won’t find a TV on-site.
In lieu of televised entertainment or live animation, the resort offers beautiful views of cliffs, sunsets, and the Caribbean Sea — plus an outdoor saltwater swimming pool (fed by said Caribbean Sea) and direct ocean access for snorkeling. All-inclusive, full-board and half-board dining options include farm-to-table meals (like freshly caught snapper, grilled lobster tail, and traditional charcoal-roasted jerk chicken) from Blue Mahoe restaurant and bar.
This elegant inn sings of a remote and long-ago Jamaica. On the decor front, everything is breezy and bright, with a white and blue color scheme that’s complemented by chic art and hardwood furniture. All rooms are spacious, with multiroom floor plans that include furnished, living-room-style verandas with sea views. Cottages offer even more floor space; most of these units feature separate living rooms, private infinity plunge pools and direct sea access.
There are a few mingling opportunities, but Jamaica Inn’s vibe is decidedly low-key. Among the hotel’s most notable features are a small pool and bar, an intimate waterfront spa and an alfresco dining terrace with lovely sea views, nightly live music and an upscale Caribbean menu that always includes a grilled, blackened or jerked catch of the day. The secluded, soft-sand beach is immaculately clean and large — 700 feet — impressive for such a small property. A dozen private palapas provide more than enough shaded seating for the hotel’s 52 rooms’ worth of guests. Even at or near capacity, the beach never feels crowded. It’s one of the best in Ocho Rios, with calm water that’s ideal for swimming or snorkeling.
In the near decade since our first visit to Round Hill Hotel & Villas, we’ve consistently and enthusiastically awarded the immaculate resort accolade after accolade — naming it everything from one of the top luxury hotels in Montego Bay to one of the best honeymoon spots in Jamaica. Round Hill’s dense, tropical grounds create a secluded and gracious haven, and its rooms, suites and villas are arguably among the best hotel rooms in the world; oceanfront units are designed by Ralph Lauren and feature white stone floors, four-poster mahogany beds, and incredible ocean views.
Built into a cliff edge, the resort’s 24-hour infinity pool is its most popular feature. The excellent restaurant, run by award-winning chef Martin Ian Maginley, focuses on upscale cuisine with a Caribbean twist, like lemongrass lobster bisque, chicken liver pate made with 30-year-old rum and seared snapper with callaloo puree. In the background, you might hear Vivaldi crossed with some ska, but the music is always discreet and second-fiddle to the waves crashing against the rocks. At the bar, a remarkable jazz pianist takes over in the lounge each evening. Round Hill’s remote location outside Montego Bay has clear advantages, namely more stars, quieter nights and a comfortable distance from the party-crazed Hip Strip.
Hermosa Cove – Jamaica’s Villa Hotel is a tiny eco-friendly resort in Ocho Rios with nine villas, three cascading pools and a private beach. Terraced walkways with stone walls wind through the grounds, which are graced with multiple sundecks, gazebos and groves of shady palms. The bright and earthy guest bungalows are filled with wood carvings, local art and sculpture pieces and furniture painted with ornate floral designs. Every villa has a separate living area, kitchen and furnished terrace, and some have a private pool or outdoor shower.
Hermosa Cove’s private beach is small, but the turquoise Caribbean waters and twin piers with thatched huts create a truly memorable scene. A beachside bar and grill serves cold drinks and dishes like jerk chicken and conch. More authentic and locally sourced fare is served at Christopher’s, the quaint, ocean-facing restaurant that draws guests from around Ocho Rios.
Opened by a Rastafarian artist couple and subsequently acquired by Island Outpost, a hotel group owned by the legendary producer who helped bring Bob Marley’s music to the world, The Caves is a fantastic collection of quirky cottages set along Negril’s dramatic limestone cliffs. Every element of the hotel feels in sync with its natural setting, from the jungly landscape enveloping the cottages to the limestone tables and chairs carved into grottoes at the base of the cliffs (where private five-course dining by candlelight is free with the rates, but requires a reservation).
The romantic candlelight cave dinners are beyond compare, but most meals are served in an open-air bungalow and a cozy cottage with alfresco treetop seating. Room service is also available, and the hotel offers cooking classes on request once a week. With bamboo lounges and sandy floors, The Sands bar is perfect for star, sea and sunset gazing in hippie-chic style. There’s no sandy beach, but stairs carved into the cliffs provide direct access into the water and deck chairs on limestone platforms and in private nooks allow for sunbathing in privacy.
With just 85 rooms, this adults-only, Bali-style resort is one of Jamaica’s most intimate all-inclusives. All rooms are located in romantic, eco-friendly tree houses with massive private balconies and daybeds, dark and tropical décor and luxurious slate bathrooms. Dinner is served by candlelight and the resort’s chef is renowned for his inventive cuisine. Sunset at the Palms is across the street from the beach but this makes its gorgeous, flower-filled grounds feel extra private and perfect for intimate strolls. Between the warm staff, intimate setting and great food, this upscale and mellow retreat is a far cry from the crowded chaos at most all-inclusives.
In contrast to Montego Bay’s sprawling oceanfront resorts, Zoetry Montego Bay Jamaica is an intimate all-inclusive, with designer accents, blossoming grounds and a beachy wellness vibe that’s ideal for couples. By all-inclusive standards, the Zoetry is extremely generous and packs tons of free extras into its rates, including non-motorized water sports at the beach, top-shelf drinks at the bars and tasty food from three ocean-view a la carte restaurants. The 49 attractive rooms feature free minibars (restocked twice a day), full liquor bottles, laundry service, Wi-Fi and dedicated butler service.