Travel: Chris Blackwell's Jamaica
The view from Firefly, British playwright Noël Coward’s former home atop Jamaica’s Blue Mountains
The lilting melodies of the isle’s indigenous birds are the first sounds you’ll hear when you wake in a cottage perched high on the slopes of Jamaica’s Blue Mountains. And I’ve always thought the songs were a fitting introduction to the island’s hypnotic pulse. When I’m here, 3,100 feet above sea level at Strawberry Hill (the luxury resort and spa I own in Irish Town), I like to rise early—around 6:30 am—and head out to the patio for a pot of Blue Mountain coffee, brewed from beans grown on the surrounding hills. There’s nothing like sipping a hot cup while looking out over the downward-sweeping tropical landscape as Kingston comes to life far below.
My ideal day in Jamaica usually continues with a brisk morning walk, which always provides new discoveries. Although I’ve been here for much of my life, I remain in awe of the island’s natural beauty. At this high elevation, roses grow comfortably next to tropical plants, and the hiking trails and orchards burst with lively color and scents from native long weekend exotic fruits, flowers and spices—which you’ll often find used in the kitchens, baths and spas throughout the island: lemon mint, blue ginger and otaheite apples, to name a few.
As the morning gives way to midday, I like to take a car down the mountain near Oracabessa Bay, a historic port town known for some of the most beautiful amber-tinted sunsets in the Caribbean. It’s home to the beach where the Bond classic Dr. No was filmed, most notably the infamous scene where Ursula Andress emerges from the water like Aphrodite in a white bikini. Sting also wrote “Every Breath You Take” while vacationing there. During the drive, I often stop at Big Tree for a quick roadside Jamaican snack—usually a patty filled with spiced chicken or callaloo, a tasty native stew of leafy greens much like kale.
photographs courtesy of I sland O utpost (blackwell); Adrian B oot/Islandoutpost (strawberry hill);
Matthew Donaldson/Islandoutpost (goldeneye pool); ISLAND OUTPOST (FIREFLY VILLAS); HEIDI ZECH (RAFTING)