New in Ocho Rios: A jewel of a resort

Story and photos by Barbara Penny Angelakis

Travel Features Editor, LuxuryWeb Magazine

There’s a new kid on the block and its name is The Jewel Dunn’s River Beach Resort & Spa. This gem of a resort is an adults-only, all-inclusive, luxury property situated on the white sandy beach in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and just a few minutes from its namesake, the fabulous Dunn’s River Falls.

Ocho Rios means eight rivers – although in reality there are only four – and Dunn’s River Falls is a natural cataract located where the Dunn’s River meets the Caribbean Sea. You can climb up the rock-strewn falls for a truly unique adventure, or walk up the steps from a relatively dry perspective while watching a human chain slipping and sliding on the rocks as they wind their way to the top; either way it’s a rare treat.

But location to the falls is an incidental plus to the brilliance of The Jewel. Besides its beach attractions, the resort sports a beautifully designed pool complex with meandering waterways and clustered seating areas – to cater to different tastes for quiet or partying – swim-up bars, and its own mini-version of the Dunn’s River Falls, which when lit at night makes a gorgeous setting for a romantic dinner for two at the gazebo situated on top.

The Jewel offers several different types of accommodations and levels of service. There are the Emerald Lanai garden units on two levels located near the spa, the exercise open-air pavilion, the tennis courts and of course the lovely, verdant garden paths. Then there is the Sapphire six-story wing which is connected to the main building that also houses the lobby, bars and restaurants, and the five-story Diamond stand-alone building with upgraded butler and concierge service available.

All the rooms have recently undergone, or are in the process of being refurbished, with bright jewel-colored fabrics and lush comfortable bedding. All rooms and suites have balconies or patios facing the water or the mountains and are large enough to enjoy meals in privacy. Each room has elegant amenities such as a four-poster king-sized bed (with welcoming pineapple carvings on the posts), individually controlled air-conditioning, in-suite safe, daily stocked mini-bar and nightly turn-down service, along with all the other conveniences that you would expect from a luxury hotel.

There are six restaurants and five bars giving you the option of fine dining in air-conditioned comfort, or al fresco if you prefer balmy Jamaican breezes…your choice. The Coral Café serves breakfast, lunch and dinner while the Platinum serves gourmet International fare with white-gloved service for dinner. The Moonstone offers Italian food, while the Jade Samurai entertains with Japanese style, cooked-to-order at table, festive dinners. And for those special occasions, dinner can be served under the stars on the boardwalk or the aforementioned gazebo, both for an extra fee.

At anytime during the day the Aquamarine Grill is open for burgers and salads, while the Court Jester serves pizza and snacks. Bars start serving drinks at 10 a.m. and continue until 2:30 a.m. During the day you can avail yourself of friendly camaraderie at the swim-up bar poolside, or on the beach, and for those honeymooners or romantics who prefer privacy, room service is always available. Regardless of your preference you will be accommodated by smiling, friendly staff, eager to make your stay as enjoyable as possible.

The moment you arrive at The Jewel you are warmly greeted by a smiling attendant offering you a refreshing cool towel and your choice of the “Gem of the Day” cocktail or a flute of champagne. The day I arrived they were serving “Golden Lady,” a delicious concoction of coconut rum, creme de banana, pineapple juice and ginger… yum! And while I settled into a comfortable chair to cool off, another attendant painlessly registered me and handed the keys to a bell hop to accompany me to my luxurious room in the Diamond wing.

The Jewel is an all-inclusive resort with food and drink available at any time day or evening and fun activities and games to participate in – or not...again, your

choice. I really appreciate the offer without pressure to join in so that if all you want to do is luxuriate around the pool, or read a book while sipping a rum punch…indulge yourself and do just that! But for those looking for excitement and adventure, there are tours outside the hotel to delight, such as swimming with the dolphins at Dolphin Cove where you can interact with the patient, intelligent, magnificent animals, at your level of comfort.

Or you can visit Mystic Mountain and ride a chairlift to the peak, soaring 700 feet above the sparkling Caribbean Sea. From there, hop into a dizzying, 1,000-meter gravity-driven bobsled to zoom through the treetops (you control the speed of descent) or fly through the tropical rainforest canopy on a zipline…or do it all, day or night!

Or simply indulge yourself at the Radiant Spa and surrender to the soothing strokes of a well-trained therapist while your body is treated to one of their three signature essential aromatic oils blended specially for your treatment: lemongrass, ginger or peppermint. I enjoyed a Jewel Signature Massage with Lonia, using my aromatic oil of preference, lemongrass. The relaxing treatment rebalanced my aching muscles and the scent of the lemongrass lingered on my skin leaving me feeling refreshed and renewed.

Wanting more after such a lovely experience, I returned to Radiant Spa for an individualized facial, based on my skin type and age, with Kadene. It left me looking and feeling years younger and wishing I had time to luxuriate in the large indoor hot-tub room with its alternating multi-colored lights and handsomely painted walls.

Jacque Giscombe, the Radiant Spa manager, treated a group of us to a “Sparty” on the Spa terrace, where she plied us with martinis made from some of the treatment options available, such as a Brown Sugar Martini (used to exfoliate) Lemongrass Martini (signature scent mixed to order) and my favorite, Coffee Martini (used for body wrap and bath). Jacque shared her dream of enlarging and enhancing the spa as part of the ongoing refurbishing the hotel is undergoing, and I look forward to seeing the fulfillment of her desire to make the Radiant Spa the best on the island.

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