Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Five private, modern villas choreographed casually -- and environmentally soundly -- into the corners of a remote mountaintop.
The Geejam (pronounced G'-jom), which opened 2008, is a self-proclaimed “private hotel.” This means that it’s designed to offer privacy above all else -- there’s no communal pool and no direct beach access, and guests often take all their meals in their individual cabins, each fenced off from the common pathways. The hotel doesn't really cater to families, instead setting the tone for a couples. There are only about 20 or so employees on staff, and they all make efforts to know everyone by name, but they’re rarely obtrusive. It’s neighbored by a few modest villas, agrarian shanties with rusted tin roofs, and the dense flora of one of the world’s rainiest regions.
Each of the modern, all-white private cabins functions like an autonomous cell -- there’s no lobby or front desk, so all that business is performed either inside the rooms or at the Bushbar restaurant. The Bushbar, with its pool table, Apple desktop, and slight collection of board games, acts as the only communal hub of the property. It’s the only place guests have shared access to, except for the small fitness room. Most guests, it seems, opt to remain in hiding. The Geejam’s three-page check-in questionnaire even inquires whether guests are recovering from plastic surgery. (Even stranger, the survey also asks guests about the status of their menstrual cycle for some reason.)
Ask and (hopefully) receive -- chauffeur, unrestricted menu requests, or anything else -- but you do have to ask.
Service is by request only (this includes everything from a turndown to a trip to the beach). While most resorts in Jamaica pride themselves on being passionately chatty, the Geejam staff shakes loose the assumption that any of their guests want to make friends. They offer assistance as needed, and they’ll chat only when it’s welcomed.
Fifteen minutes outside Port Antonio, Jamaica’s least-developed, rainiest region. Ten minutes from the beach, and about two hours from Kingston Airport.
Wedged between the lush foothills of the John Crow and Blue Mountain chains, the Geejam’s huts are literally hours away from the mega-resorts in arguably Jamaica’s most beautiful region. But keeping things lush also means a lot of rain. Even during the late winter and early spring (Jamaica’s driest season), guests can still expect daily downpours.
Spanning a simple six acres, the Geejam’s private cabins and villas see banana trees, dense hibiscus and wildflowers, and a trickling creek (which it calls a “waterfall”). If you strain your eyes, you’ll spot the rusted rooftops of a neighboring village. The town’s single paved road hosts unseen but easily heard traffic -- at least from every room but Mento. From our room, Ska, we were also privy to some roosters’ crows, off in the distance.
The historic, small town of Port Antonio is about a 15-minute drive west of the resort, courtesy of the resort’s chauffeur (fees apply). However, shopping and dining in Port Antonio is fairly limited -- it’s basically just a scant commercial center for locals, with a few music venues on the weekends. Most guests only venture to town for the ATMs.
The Kingston International Airport is a more than a two-hour drive from Geejam.
On-site beach, and also a 10-minute drive (by helicopter or free chauffeur) from distinct neighboring beaches
Geejam has its own private beach at the foot of the property, appropriately called Geejam Beach. Sitting on Mack Bay, a historic waterfront pathway leads down the beach to a former boat-landing.
Five minutes away (by car) is the small private beach Frenchman’s Cove -- voted by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the "World’s Most Beautiful Beaches" and easily one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. Fed by a nearby stream, the water is a mix of natural spring water and the profoundly warm sea. Flanked on both sides by dense plant life, low-hung vines, and sharp cliffs, the calm, shallow water is kept warmer than the other Jamaican beaches. The lush, mountainous setting is more like Thailand than anywhere else in the Caribbean. The beach is private (not associated with the resort), and though resort guests can visit the beach for free, others can pay to settle on the sand with a lounge chair beside the resort guests. There’s drink service and an on-site Jamaican grill, serving some simple jerk chicken, fish, Red Stripe beer, and soft drinks. (Beach service is a rarity in Jamaica.) Crowds here are scarce.
Five other beaches are also nearby, but Frenchman’s Cove is the highlight. The closest of these beaches is the trashy San San Beach (also private), which jumps off to the scenic Monkey Island (on which there are no monkeys). Winifred Beach, the only public beach, is about 20 minutes away. Sold as the “Rasta” beach, the beach is swarmed with pushy vendors selling jewelry, coconut-carved handicrafts, cheap beaded wristbands, and pot, occasionally soliciting donations for “taking care of the beach.” Farther out, near Boston Bay, about 30 minutes from the resort, there’s Long Beach, which is popular among surfers. Given the fierce waves and strong currents, this isn’t the best place for swimming.
The famous Blue Lagoon is 20 minutes from the resort. The film of the same name was shot here, starring a young, near-naked Brooke Shields, as was Cocktail, starring Tom Cruise. But there’s no actual beach there, and much of the space has been destroyed by hurricanes. (Locals argue about which one did most of the damage.)
High-tech, extremely private cabins with astounding terraces, clean white design, and not a single bug
The resort is comprised of only five private abodes sheltered from prying eyes by dense flora -- think: cabin, bungalow, or Japanese teahouse. (These are not your typical “rooms.”) Though spacious, all rooms only come with a dainty “queen-size” bed that’s actually closer to a full-size mattress by U.S. standards. Still, they all have feather duvets, pillow-top mattresses, and some of Jamaica’s softest 500-thread-count linens.
Holding to the resort’s past as a recording studio, each room is named after a phase in Jamaican music (Ska, Sandwood, Rockstead, Mento, and Drum and Bass). Geejam’s unique construction minimized its impact on the natural environment, as evidenced by the concrete molded around the tree limbs. But every structure is seamless -- in-room bugs are not an issue. This is extremely rare among the bungalow set.
Quiet, adult-focused resort. Nothing for kids to do -- no kids’ club, no pool, no kids’ menu, nowhere for kids to sleep (outside the three-bedroom Sanwood villa).
Clearly designed for low-key couples, the Geejam has very little for kids to do, nor is there anywhere for them to sleep in most rooms. For a low-key luxury hotel better suited to the little ones, check out Round Hill or the more conventional Ritz-Carlton in Rose Hall.
Asian and local fusion restaurant, as well as private chefs for Sandwood guests.
Recording artists and high-profile guests came running when it opened in 2008, but don’t expect as many sightings nowadays.
Like most of Blackwell’s Island Outpost properties in Jamaica -- including the Caves in Negril, Goldeneye in Ocho Rios, and Jakes and Strawberry Hill on the South Coast -- the Geejam brings in a fair share of celebrities. Given its overwhelmingly private nature, though, you’re not likely to spot a famous face.
Shortly after the resort opened, a barely clothed Sharon Stone could be found sauntering about the property. Gwen Stefani, Bjork, and Grace Jones have also all stayed at the resort, but the celebrity presence has subsided a bit since the resort went public in March 2008. (Before then, it was a private hideaway for recording artists)
The Geejam is made up of only five private, high-tech cottages on the lush (rainy) foothills of Port Antonio. The setting is gorgeous, the service is extraordinary, and one of the Caribbean's most beautiful beaches is only 10 minutes away. Quiet isolation it has; a pool, spa facilities, and direct beach access it does not.