No communal pool (though some of the villas and private homes have their own)
No direct beach access (guests must take the free hotel shuttle)
No full service spa (though guests can arrange private in-room massages)
Some nightly stay minimums throughout the year
Difficult to reach -- the nearest airport in Kingston is nearly a three-hour drive
Children are welcome, but there isn’t much for them to do here
Arguably Jamaica’s most luxurious hotel, the tiny Geejam (pronounced G'-jom), is an exclusive hideaway with five private villas and a loyal celebrity following. Thanks to an on-site recording studio, Geejam has welcomed the likes of John Legend and Rihanna, but also regularly hosts couples and families seeking solitude in Port Antonio. Though it doesn’t have a spa or communal pool, Geejam is usually most appreciated for what it lacks: crowds. The hotel’s ultra-private rooms feature minimalist decor with vibrant island accents and eclectic touches, like original Banksy wall murals or private hot tubs. All-day dining is available at Bushbar, or guests can take a free hotel shuttle to one of the nearby beaches, including Geejam’s own beach club across the street. Geejam lacks a communal pool and a full service spa, so travelers in search of these amenities might prefer the much larger, but equally luxurious GoldenEye Hotel & Resort.
A secluded boutique resort that stresses privacy and relaxation
Perched on a hill in the midst of thick jungle foliage, it’s difficult to find Geejam -- especially considering the hotel’s lackluster directional signage on the street. An ode to the hotel’s private nature, there isn’t much fanfare surrounding Geejam’s entrance -- just a high stone wall and a seemingly impenetrable wooden gate. Upon arrival, guests ring the bell, the gate opens, and staff members stand expectantly at the end of the driveway. Guests are then led to the Bushbar, Geejam’s only bar and restaurant that also functions as its reception desk. After check-in, guests are shown to their room -- one of the hotel’s five bungalows that lie scattered across the property.
Geejam is renowned for its privacy. It’s not rare to spend days at the resort without encountering other guests; and while staff members are always present, they’re not obtrusive. In fact, guests are encouraged to call staff with all their requests from provided cell phones, so that staff doesn't intrude. Many travelers take advantage of Geejam’s in-room dining options, and take all three meals on their private terrace rather than at the communal Bushbar. Because of its privacy and quiet atmosphere, Geejam is almost exclusively visited by couples. Children are welcome, but the hotel encourages families to stay in the three-bedroom Sanwood villa, or one of its additional private homes. Though kids are technically allowed on property, we definitely wouldn’t recommend Geejam for families with little ones. The hotel’s atmosphere is way too quiet for kids, plus there’s no communal pool or kids activities here.
Rock stars are a more common sight than kids. With its own state-of-the-art recording studio, the resort was once a musicians’ refuge -- thanks to Geejam's owner, the producer turned hotelier Jon Baker. The studio has drawn such notables as Bjork, Common, Drake, Rihanna, John Legend, Gwen Stefani, and India Arie. Throughout the resort, music is a focus, and the eclectic reggae playing at the Bushbar restaurant far surpasses the cheesy '90s pop tunes at virtually every other resort.
On a lush hilltop near Port Antonio, a whopping three hours from Kingston’s Norman Manley International Airport
Geejam is located on a secluded hilltop in Portland Parish, about 15 minutes from Port Antonio, a laid-back beach town with an authentic Caribbean feel. Portland Parish doesn’t draw the same tourist crowds as Montego Bay or Negril, but adventurous travelers tend to appreciate Portland’s “locals-only” atmosphere. The historic, small town of is about a 15-minute drive west of the resort (courtesy of the resort’s free chauffeur). 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 make use of the ATMs. Instead, many travelers use it as a base to explore the nearby natural wonders of the lushest -- and rainiest -- part of Jamaica, including the Blue Mountains, Rio Grande Valley, and the Blue Lagoon -- the same one featured in the 1980 Brooke Shields' flick by the same name (which happens to be a five-minute drive from the hotel.)
One serious downside to Geejam’s secluded location is its distance from major airports. The nearest one, Kingston’s Norman Manley International Airport, is a whopping three hours away. And the roads between Geejam and Kingston aren’t exactly super highways -- they’re often riddled with potholes and tend to flood easily.
Five stunning villas, plus two hilltop mansions for larger groups
Each of Geejam’s five villas is nestled among dense tropical foliage, which gives them a treehouse-like feel, and also provides privacy. Rooms have peeping ocean views and expansive balconies which encourage indoor/outdoor living. Decor is decidedly minimalist: white walls, white furniture, and crisp, clean lines -- but rooms are livened by colorful accents like pink area rugs or canvas paintings. The three-bedroom Sanwood Villa features eclectic elements like original Banksy wall murals and framed Sex Pistols posters. Named for different eras of Jamaican music, Villas Ska, Mento, Rocksteady, and Drum and Bass are all studio-style rooms with queen-size beds and nice amenities like (some) Apple TVs, fully stocked mini-fridges, and free cell phones for guests to use during their stay. Rooms have flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi, and some even have private whirlpools.
Bathrooms are on the small side, and lack countertop and storage space. However, they have a sleek look with polished concrete walls and floors and glass enclosed showers. The Sanwood Villa has three bedrooms, each with a private ensuite bathroom. Additionally it has large living and dining spaces and its own small outdoor pool. The Sanwood Villa is ideal for families or groups traveling together. If the Sanwood Villa isn't booked, staff will allow other guests to use the pool.
For travelers seeking even more space and privacy, Geejam also manages two private homes. These come equipped with private pools, multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, full kitchens, and tons of living space. The private homes, Cocosan and Panorama, are a bumpy 10-minute drive uphill from the main Geejam property. The private homes have a retro-glam aesthetic that looks completely different from the hotel. The homes’ personal concierge can arrange everything from private chefs and butlers to island excursions and activities.
No pool or spa, but an excellent restaurant, beach club, and a recording studio
For a luxury hotel, Geejam has surprisingly few features. Most notably missing are a full service spa and a communal pool -- though guests can book in-room massages, and the Sanwood Villa has its own pool. Geejam isn’t directly on the beach, but the hotel provides free transportation to its private beach club, which is across the street. Geejam’s manmade beach sits above a stunning natural cove that has calm shallow waters, great for swimming, paddleboarding, or kayaking. The beach is equipped with thatched palapa-style umbrellas and cushioned lounge chairs. Staff is on call to provide food and beverage services at the beach. Geejam also provides free transportation to the famed nearby beaches of Frenchman’s Cove and the Blue Lagoon.
Though Geejam isn’t an all-inclusive property, many guests choose to eat all of their meals here. Bushbar, the hotel’s combined bar/restaurant, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner on its outdoor terrace. Bushbar’s menus change seasonally, but generally features Jamaican and Asian-inspired dishes -- like coconut shrimp curry or sesame stir fry. Breakfast is included in the nightly room rate, but lunch and dinner must be purchased a la carte. One night per week, Geejam’s in-house mento band, the Jolly Boys, perform at the Bushbar. Their performances receive rave reviews, and many guests consider them a highlight of their stay. The hotel also provides free transportation to guests who’d like to dine at one of the nearby restaurants. Guests can also request to have their meals in their room or on their private balcony.
Geejam has a small fitness center with a few cardio and weight machines, but is otherwise pretty small and unimpressive. The private homes, Cocosan and Panorama, each have their own private gyms. Wi-Fi is free throughout the property.
Geejam’s most unique amenity is without a doubt the on-site recording studio, where the likes of Gwen Stefani, Drake, John Legend, Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Bijork, and Amy Winehouse have all worked on projects. Unfortunately, the studio isn’t open for anyone to use -- guests must book private sessions if they’d like to test the sound system. But, staff members are always willing to offer tours of the space, and explain a little of its history.
Dedicated 24-hour service summoned via a private cell phone
Service is by request only (this includes everything from turndown service to a trip to the beach). All rooms come with a free cell phone preprogrammed with the numbers for room service, guest services, the Bushbar restaurant, or (as needed) the owner himself, Jon Baker. But guests rarely, if ever, are approached by the staff unless they're summoned.
The staff is small -- only 30 folks, top to bottom. They all make a diligent effort to know every guest by name, but the service approach is distinctly unobtrusive. The Geejam’s welcome book explicitly asks guests to make special requests. 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. Room visits are only by request, and the staff members always forewarn their presence with a call to the guests’ cell phone and a hearty hello from outside the room.