Jakes Hotel is the first hotel BC and I stayed at during our honeymoon on Jamaica’s South Coast and let me tell you, this place is incredible. Here are 20 reasons why.
1. Jakes Hotel was inspired by Antoni Gaudi’s architecture in Barcelona
If you’ve seen the colourful and curvy architecture of Casa Batlló and Park Güell in Barcelona, you might feel a sense of familiarity when you arrive at Jakes Hotel. That’s because owner, Sally Henzell designed this place with Gaudi’s avant-garde architecture in mind. So think vibrant walls and mosaics surrounding the freshwater swimming pool, glass bottles etched into the walls and villas that look like they belong in a fairytale storybook. Her style is truly unique.
2. There’s an interesting history behind the place
Sally Henzell, a set designer, artist and poet was the creative thinking behind Jakes and interestingly, Sally is the wife of the late scriptwriter Perry Henzell, who directed the Jamaican film The Harder They Come – which was the first motion picture to catapult reggae music onto the worldwide stage. You’ll see reminders of this interesting legacy in various places around the hotel – from the movie posters on the walls of reception and the records at onsite restaurant Jack Sprat; to a whole space dedicated to family photos and paraphernalia in the hotel’s library room.
3. The papaya pancakes are out of this world
I love a good breakfast and there are a couple of fantastic places to eat in Treasure Beach, but the papaya pancakes drizzled in maple syrup, at Jakes Country Kitchen Restaurant are particularly worth a mention because they are OUT OF THIS WORLD. The Blue Mountain Coffee here was also a treat. And if you breakfast here, you get to start the day in the best possible way. Outside in the sunshine.
4. The Farm to Table Dining offered by Jakes Hotel is amazing
If you’re lucky enough to stay at Jakes Hotel on the Saturday closest to the full moon – and you book early enough – you’ll be able to join in on the Farm-to-Table dining experience on the Pedro Plains. It’s a steep drive up the side of the Santa Cruz Mountains to get there but once you arrive, you’re rewarded with amazing views over Treasure Beach at sunset.
We were joined by Sally, her son Jason and his wife Laura, plus around 15 hotel guests and we met Dool, the local farmer who has been working on the land his whole life. It was a fascinating insight into this Breadbasket Region of Jamaica. It’s just one of the wonderful ways in which the Jakes family dedicate themselves to sustainable practices and the community tourism that Treasure Beach is known for.
5. Jack Sprat makes the best jerk pizza you’ve ever tasted
There are two places to eat at Jakes. One is the Country Kitchen Restaurant where you’ll get those dreamy pancakes and the other, is the more purse-friendly Jack Sprat, a laid-back food and drink joint on the edge of Jack Sprat Beach.
Make sure you eat at Jack Sprat a couple of times to give you the chance to try a range of authentic Jamaican dishes. This includes jerk chicken; fish (brown stew, curried, steamed or escoveitch), lobster and conch.And you can try a range of traditional sides such as bammy and rice and peas. If you’re feeling a bit more indulgent, their jerk pizza is the best Jamaican-Italian fusion I’ve ever tasted.
We took ours back to our rooftop and devoured the fiery flavours and gooey, cheesy, topping as we watched the sunset. Heaven. On. A. Plate – or should I say, cardboard box.
6. The Williams sisters have stayed here
I’m not trying to call this place a celeb haunt (and if you’re planning your holiday around celebrity spotting, you’re in the wrong place) but it would be wrong not to mention that this place is so special, that the Williams sisters holidayed here.
As well as Jakes Hotel, the owners have a number of separate villas dotted along the coast and Serena and Venus stayed in one of them. They also have the newly opened Treasure Cot which I am dying to visit.
You might think they kept to themselves – and I wouldn’t blame them if they did – but apparently they treated the children at one of the local schools to an impromptu tennis lesson. As such a tranquil and laid-back place to stay, I know that these won’t be the first, or the last to seek peace and quiet in this little piece of paradise.
7. It’s rustic, it’s real and it’s romantic
If you like the opulent, butler service-kind of holiday, Jakes is not for you. But if you like the idea of strolling along near-empty beaches and finding your inner adventurer, then this is the perfect escape.
At Jakes, everything feels real. There’s no artificial hotel bubble that separates you from your destination and you can’t help but feel fully submerged in the island life, meeting locals at every turn. Watching unbelievable sunsets every night, waking up to the sound of the waves and watching pelicans dip into the sea beside me was the kind of romance we were looking for. (Tip: Book the Octupussy Suite for your own little haven) It was a honeymoon adventure that I’ll never forget.
8. They have fairytale honeymoon suites
Jakes Hotel has just over 40 hotel rooms (there’s also the Jack Sprat Shack hostel across the road if you’re on a budget) and each room has a quirky seaside themed name. Some of the coolest rooms are their three Octopussy Honeymoon Suites where we stayed.
With their curvy outlines, glass bottle decoration and candy coloured exteriors (we stayed in the yellow one), it really was like stepping into a fairytale storybook. The curvy mosquito net-draped bed is the focal part of the room and the shuttered doors at the front open out to the ocean at your feet. A set of stairs at the side then takes you to your own private rooftop where you have a gorgeous mosaic table, stripey sun sofas shaded by driftwood and wine glasses to enjoy a romantic sundowner. It was like our own little house and I didn’t ever want to leave.
9. You get the dreamiest sunsets here
You don’t need to book a honeymoon suite to enjoy the sunsets here. You will find front-row views of the most beautiful orange and lavender skies here from hundreds of spots at Jakes and on the various beaches of Treasure Beach area. However, if you do stay in the Octopussy Suite you’re in for a treat. It’s a really romantic place to sit and admire the sensational multi-coloured skies.
10. It’s seriously quirky
From the vintage car at the entrance ‘driven’ by mannequins, to the mermaid mosaics on the pool and the bold fantastical bed head in our room, there’s something undeniably quirky about Jakes Hotel. Did I mention your bathroom is outside? Yes, it feels a bit weird being outside in the nud at first (especially when there are fishermen sailing past you in the distance) but it’s very liberating. I told you this place was different.
11. It’s seriously arty
Sally Henzell is a set designer and hugely creative character, so it’s no surprise that she’s injected this into the style at Jakes Hotel. You’ll find mosaics throughout the Gaudi-inspired design as well as photography and vibrant Jamaican paintings in the guest rooms.
As well as the film-making links, Jakes has attracted writers and many artistic folk over the years who have penned their work here (who can blame them.) Every two years, the hotel also hosts the Calabash Literary Festival, which also attracts an array of famous novelists and writers such as Salmon Rushdie and Colin Channer.
12. It’s an eco-friendly hotel
More and more of us are becoming aware of the importance of responsible travel and it certainly makes for a more fulfilling stay when you know the hotel you stay in has eco-friendly and ethical practices. And that’s definitely the case when you stay at Jakes Hotel. From the solar-heated water and onsite sewage treatment to the encouragement of low-impact activities, there are many eco-conscious practices across the hotel.
The hotel works closely with Breds – the Treasure Beach Foundation that funds community projects. Jakes also supports the Treasure Beach Emergency Response Unit and works with organisations such as the Ital Farmers Association and sustainable fishing practives. So the food you eat here is responsibly sourced. Events such as the Farm-to-Table dinner are also held to support entrepreneurs and farmers in the community.
13. You have some of Jamaica’s best sights on your doorstep
Treasure Beach is a rural spot, away from the more tourist-filled towns of Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. However, you still have many places of interest on your doorstep when you stay here. Black River is around a 40 minute drive, home to the famous crocodile-filled river and the stunning YS Falls is just over an hour’s drive. The Appleton Rum Estate is around the same distance and the beautiful Lover’s Leap Lighthouse is about 30 minutes away. You can also head to the town of Alligator Pond (about an hour’s drive) for the best seafood in the region.
14. You can take a boat to Floyd’s Pelican Bar
If you’ve ever heard about the ‘bar in the middle of the sea’ in Jamaica, that will be Floyd’s Pelican Bar, about a 30 minute boat ride from Jakes. The hotel can arrange a ride over to Floyd’s for around US$80 and if you get there early you’ll beat the crowds. The journey offers a bumpy but beautiful view of Jamaica’s southeast coast too.
15. It’s a yoga and wellbeing destination
Jakes Hotel offers hiking and biking activities, yoga on the sundeck and hosts various local triathlon and running events. In fact, just as we were leaving, a large group of yoga bunnies were due to arrive. With fresh juices, clean air and an onsite spa all on your doorstep, you’re in the perfect place to detox and unwind.
16. The barman is the face of Appleton Rum
While we were at Jakes, we met Christopher, the bar manager at the hotel who is also set to be the face of a new TV advert in Canada for Appleton Rum. When you meet him, you’ll see why. He’s super charasmatic and served us up some excellent rum cocktails while he recited a very romantic poem he’d written. What an amazing guy.
17. You have authentic shops and restaurants within walking distance of the hotel
Treasure Beach is the home of community tourism so when you stay at Jakes, you must venture out of the hotel and explore the other local businesses in the town. Some of the best I can recommend include Smurf’s Cafe for ackee and saltfish brekkie and bottomless coffee (get there early and be prepared for ultra-relaxed service), Eggy’s Cafe on the beach for excellent kingfish and my absolute favourite, Hold a Vibz Cafe for healthy juices and fresh open sandwiches. You’ll also find an ital restaurant, rum shacks and a very cute shop called Callaloo where you can buy kids’ clothes, lovely crafts, jewellery, souvenirs and things for the home.
18. It hosts live music events
Jakes Hotel is the heart of the community in Treasure Beach and owner Jason, is the driving force of all sorts of amazing events here. The land next to Jack Sprat bar and beach hosts a variety of events throughout the year and while we were there, Jamaican singer Romain Virgo performed. If you’re wondering who he is, he’s the winner of one of Jamaica’s top TV talent shows and I believe, is a bit of a heart throb over there (only repeating what I’ve heard, of course). The party went on to the early hours and we were able to dance along from the rooftop of our Octopussy suite.
19. The people are lovely
While the service is not over the top here, you will notice the service at Jakes is very chilled and there when you need it. While we were here, we had some really interesting chats with the owner Jason, who gets involved with so many aspects of the hotel and is incredibly passionate about what he does – a bonus of staying in a family-led hotel. When we headed out to explore the area, we had a chat with our driver like he was an old friend rather than a member of staff. And one evening when we were walking down the road, the manager was passing in her car and picked us up. It really made us feel part of the community and really enhanced our stay here.
20. It’s the ultimate place to kick back and relax
From the ocean-facing patios to the leafy paths and tree-shaded hammocks, everything about Jakes Hotel is super chilled. There’s no agenda, no noise and no hard sell. It’s simply a retreat where the only thing you’re expected to do is chill and enjoy your holiday. And if you go, I promise, that’s what you’ll do too.
Have you been to Treasure Beach in Jamaica? What do you think – would you like to stay at Jakes Hotel? Feel free to leave your comments and thoughts.