Catcha's quaint cliffside cottages, warm service, and simple homemade cuisine make it a popular mid-range choice. Built into the rugged coral cliffs in Negril
and overlooking the western sea with its breathtaking sunsets, this mid-range resort has
thatch-roofed buildings, an open-air restaurant, and tucked-away lounging areas
throughout the premises. On-site activities include cliff jumping and snorkeling. Even with fees for breakfast and the airport shuttle, it's a great value for its category. Guests under 15 years old are not allowed, so families with kids may want to check out the beachfront Negril Tree House.
Guests come to this serene oasis for an authentic Jamaican vacation without the loud party factor.
Catcha Falling Star attracts travelers seeking a more authentic, serene Jamaican experience. Most guests range from their mid 20s to late 50s; like most hotels on the cliffs, no children under 15 are allowed on the property for safety reasons. The vibe is peaceful, and guests can expect to listen to the slight patter of flip-flops and the tide pushing against the rocks rather than screeching reggae or blenders electronically screaming from the bar. At night, guests might hear crickets, a neighbor's outdoor shower (don't worry, they're all enclosed, save a flowered trellis overhead), and the occasional bass boom of a passing taxi on its way to Rick's Café up the road.
Catcha Falling Star's walkways and a maze-like landscaped garden have lush tropical plants and trellises covered in
flowers. Tucked-away lounging areas provide a sense of privacy for sunbathing,
reading, or napping. Guests can look out at the ocean from the
centrally located pool area, ascend some stone steps to the hot tub, or climb
down a ladder directly into the ocean. The terraced stone common
areas and large verandas with ocean views, hammocks, and daybeds are
positioned so that guests can take full advantage of this resort's memorable
views and cliff-top location. Low stone walls are the only barrier between guests and the cliff's edge, so those who cannot swim, or are at high risk for falls, should be cautious when staying here. Note that children under the age of 15 are not allowed.
This is one of the better deals on Negril's West End cliffs. Both nearby Tensing Pen and Rockhouse Hotel tend to be pricier -- though not without reason, as both have nicer rooms and on-site spas. If you're looking to stay on the beach, check out the similarly priced Negril Tree House Resort. Also, Jake's Hotel, on the beautiful but less touristy South Coast of Jamaica, is another great option -- it has nicer rooms, better food, and it's closer to more exciting outdoorsy attractions like YS Falls and river rafting beside black crocodiles.
Guests can cliff dive into clear waters, then walk into town and grab a bite from an authentic jerk joint -- but the road isn't great for pedestrians.
Catcha Falling Star resort is on a narrow cliff road in Negril's West End, and it faces the ocean, which gives a sense of privacy and distance from town. Coral reefs and coves provide excellent opportunities for swimming and snorkeling, and some lucky guests may see dolphins frolicking below. On Negril's West End, there are no beaches; instead, rocky inlets function as diving platforms and the water is much clearer. If tempted, guests here can leap from the 20-foot cliff ledge into water so clear that it looks deceptively shallow. You can also see some of Jamaica's most beautiful sunsets (a big advantage to staying on the West End).
There's no shop on-site, but you can walk to the market across the street for chips and cheaper Red Stripe than what you'll find at the bar. It is
only a five-minute walk to local arts and crafts shopping as well as assorted
dining options along the main road, which include local Jamaican fare and French cuisine. Along West End Road are plenty of great jerk joints like Three Dives (try the chicken), "brownie" stands (which include, on request, an illegal Jamaican seasoning in the cake), and other less-than-attractive markets. However, the main road here is nothing short of treacherous
for pedestrians, with limited sidewalks and nary a crosswalk to be found. The
resort is about a 10-minute drive from Norman Manley Boulevard, where shoppers
will find an array of duty-free stores, the Bayside Village shopping
mall, and a medical clinic.
In the opposite direction, Rick's Café, a Negril icon since 1974, is about five minutes on foot from Catcha. Every cab driver from Negril to Montego Bay will bring Rick's to your attention. With nightly live reggae performances and famous cliff-diving demonstrations, Rick's is the most popular spot in town for sunset cocktails. However, once it gets dark and the techno starts blasting, most guests return home.
Also note that Negril is a pricey two-hour cab ride from Montego Bay International Airport; there's a regional airport in Negril, but most visitors fly into Montego Bay.
Air-conditioning, nice decor, and many attractive features
Catcha Falling Star has 17 cottages and suites, each with its own defining features. Each room is named after an astrological sign, and decor is simple and classic; most units have ocean views. Hand-carved wood furniture -- including four-poster beds in some units -- create a pleasing contrast to white walls, white bedding, and light-colored
tiled floors. All but one of the cottages and condos have either porches
or patios. Individuals in wheelchairs may not find bathing facilities at this resort to be suitable, as there are no handrails. Bar soaps and towels are provided in all bathrooms, but no other grooming or hygiene products.
Suites are located in the newest section of the resort and have
separate living areas with stereo systems and kitchenettes with stoves, fridges, and microwaves. French doors open onto spacious verandas made of cut stone. Air-conditioning is found in suite bedrooms, but the living areas rely on
ceiling fans and open windows for ventilation.
Cottages range in price quite a bit depending on their size. The Pisces is a single-room, box-frame structure and is the kind of simple place Henry David Thoreau would be proud to call home. Wood-planked shutters on two sides open for ample light, but because the heat can be stifling you might have to be a bad member of Team Earth and run the AC unit with the planks closed, and the room dark. Some of the cottages are not well insulated and in-room mosquitoes or other insects can be a problem. Cooking facilities are more limited in the cottages than the suites, and guests will typically find an empty mini-fridge, microwave, and a toaster. The outdoor showers in some cottages are a highlight.
An ocean-view pool, hot tub, and restaurant with room service -- plus cliffs for jumping
In addition to a small pool and hot tub installed at the end of 2009, the on-site features include some snorkel gear (free to borrow) and a few grocery store paperbacks left over from other guests. In addition, there's a fairly strong free wireless connection throughout the property -- a rare treat in Jamaica. Parking is free.
The food at Catcha Falling Star is a highlight for many -- it is reasonably priced, tasty homemade fare. The breakfast is excellent, and during our visit we especially liked the perfectly ripe mango and freshly baked croissants and banana bread, still warm at 8 a.m. (something rarely seen at buffet-style resorts). There is even high-quality coffee (another rare treat).
For lunch and dinner, the food is simple yet well prepared. Seafood dishes such as seafood linguine and lobster tend to be popular. But unlike at the all-inclusives, you're not chained to the property. For an excellent, slightly more upscale meal, visit the Rockhouse Hotel, and don't leave Jamaica without first trying the jerk chicken at Three Dives. The touristy Rick's Café is fine for an overpriced cocktail, but don't bother eating dinner there. Room service is available.
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